Monday 23 May 2016

Ten years!

I've been writing in some form or other for decades. In fact I earned $30,000 running part of a play-by-mail (PBM) game in my spare time in the late 80s and through the 90s. That's probably why I came late to writing traditional fiction. Running Saturnalia scratched my creative itch.

Anyway, in 2001 I moved to the States, tripled my salary as a research scientist and stopped having the time to run my area in the PBM game. I started writing short stories and poems instead. Less labour intensive.

In 2004/5 I started to think about sending my short fiction to magazine. In May 2006 I got my first check for a story. It was for $31 from Fictitious Force magazine. I've kept it in a frame ever since.

Ten years later I've had quite a few checks and have, for the past year, earned my living solely as an author.

That's actually quite a rare thing these days. Most authors have day jobs. What's often called the mid-list no longer pays enough to live on. Authors you'll have heard of if you pay attention to their genre, but who aren't regularly hitting the New York Times best selling list, very often have to work a day job to make a decent living.

George RR Martin and JK Rowling aren't going to be delivering your pizza any time soon. But there are authors who have sold tens of thousands of books and still sell thousands each year who may well be ringing your bell with a hot treat from Dominos in hand.

We live in a changing world with many more writers coming to market chasing fewer readers with more distractions to tempt them toward other media. Also it's ridiculously easy to steal books from the internet and the culture of entitlement is getting so pervasive that people will steal just to avoid the momentary inconvenience of paying.

I never expected to make my living this way, but it's been a pleasant surprise. Many thanks to the readers out there who made it happen.


  1. Living the dream! And thanks for all the stories

  2. I envy your talent and competence in many different areas.
    I'm happy that you have become a successful author and I hope you don't stop writing these amazing books until you are 120 years old or hopefully even more! :)

  3. Same problem for song-writers - the only reason to bear the cost of producing an album nowadays is that it provides an audience for gigs. Just about everyone in the audience will have downloaded the album for free, they don't regard it as stealing, and don't see any connection between what they've done and the fact that songwriters can no longer make a living from their work.