• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



Writers: do we really starve in a garret?

Whoever commands a stormlord, commands the water of a nation ...

Pictured above: a 'get out of garret' card

I’m none too sure what a garret is, but it sounds small, cramped and unpleasant. And, of course, only frequented by starving artistic folk of some kind, striving to sell the product of their genius.

However, as soon as you mention authors and income, someone mentions you-know-who and those books about a boarding school. I hope you all know that 100% of writers don’t make half what she did, and 99.99% probably don’t make 1% of her take-home pay! (OK, so I don’t really know, but that sounds about right.)

So how do we make enough money to upgrade from garret to hovel?

Well, one way is to sell the rights to our books more than once. Sneaky, eh? We sell Australian versions, American versions, and British versions. Or we sell them to be translated into another language, anything from Hebrew to Japanese. The really great thing about selling for translation is that it often happens just when the sales are tapering off on the English versions. You agent suddenly pops up and out of the blue says, oh, by the way, I’ve had a French (or Czech or Spanish) offer for that book of yours we sold back in 2003…

That has just happened to me, twice in the last two months. My Isles of Glory trilogy, which was published by Harper Voyager Australia 2003-4, and later in Russian and French, has just been accepted for German translation by Blanvalet (Random House). And the Mirage Makers, first published in English 2006-7, is going to be translated into French for Pygmalion (Flammarion).

Do we usually get as much advance for a translation as we did on the original sale? No. For a start some non-English markets may be considerably smaller. Secondly, an author usually ends up paying two agents, not just one. And thirdly, the publisher has to pay the translator as well as the author and the usual production expenses, so there is less money to go around.

So how to upgrade from hovel to mansion, then?

Keep writing. Even before the last book is published, we have already handed the next in for copy edit, and begun to work on the one after that. I reckon by the time I’m a hundred and fifty, I’ll be buying a castle in France.

And that is why in a few more days you should be able to buy a brand new book by me – not as yet published anywhere but in Australia: The Last Stormlord, available in September, first book in the Watergivers trilogy. Read it and let me know what you think!

You can follow me on Twitter @glendalarke;
read my blog at http://glendalarke.blogspot.com ;
join my facebook.com/group page at Glenda Larke;
or watch for updates at my webpage: http://glendalarke.com

Check out all Glenda’s books at www.harpercollins.com.au

10 Responses

  1. Hi Glenda,

    I didn’t know what a garret was either, so I looked it up–an attic, usually a small, wretched one. Better than a basement anyway!

    It is all about o/s rights, foreign rights and long night writes. . . What do you think about eBook rights? Will that be another support to authors I wonder?

    I’m looking forward to The Last Stormlord!


  2. I’m wondering, too, if ebook rights are usually sold with the paper book versions, or if you can separate them as author, or if that is even advisable. Do you have any ebook experience?

    I managed to snag an advance copy of The Last Stormlord in Voyager’s Twitter competition (I knew there was an advantage to being on Twitter),and hope to be starting it on the weekend.

  3. Yes, I saw that Patty! Hope you enjoy it.

    About ebook rights – I don’t think anyone really has a handle on them yet, they are still too new a concept. Different publishers have vastly different ideas of how much to offer with regards to ebook royalties. It seems to me that if the publisher already has the book rights, it is not going to cost them a cent more in copy editing, cover illustrations or whatever, to publish an ebook. No paper is involved, just the website. There is a bit involved in re-formatting the book for download, but one wonders how much that costs. However, I have heard that some publishers – lacking experience in it – outsource the ebook side, which probably costs a packet.

    I know some publishers offer authors peanuts for ebook rights. I’ve heard the word “ripoff” bandied about by writers!

    The general rule that writers like to follow is to offer as few rights as possible at any one time, and to sell the rest separately. The general rule that publishers like to follow is to get as many rights as they can!

    The more popular the writer, the more their agent can demand along these lines. For those just starting out, it is hard to demand much at all. And let’s face it, a brand new author signing their first contract, tends not to be all that fussy…

    I will be interested to see what happens with ebook sales, particularly to see if including them – or excluding them – from the standard contract becomes the norm, and to see if the royalty % is eventually more or less standardised for all author ebook sales, the way normal royalty amounts tend to be.

    I must admit, I wonder just how popular ebooks are going to be when they don’t seem to be much cheaper than paper ones. None of my books are offered as ebooks yet.

    • Thanks for that background, Glenda. Very helpful.

      And what you said about new authors is so true! If it weren’t for my agent, I could have been offered a contract that simply said, ‘We agree to publish your trilogy and see how it all goes . . . ,’ and I would have signed it! (Fortunately my agent is very . . . exacting!)

      I’ll be watching closely to see what happens in the world of ‘eTailers’ and eBooks over the next few years. The great thing about electronic delivery is that the visually impaired can access more literature, and that’s no small thing.

      Publishers, authors, editors, printers, programmers, retailers, readers–we are all in this together!

  4. Aw. When you said “garret” I thought you meant “Garrett Hedlund”. Rawr!

    I’m damn lucky when it comes to making a living: I still live at home with my parents, and I have a day job. One that entails wearing a dorky polo shirt and looking after other people’s children, but even so. There’ll be time to worry about money when I have a mortgage.

  5. Authors, artists and musicians have always been identified with the ‘garret’ – that small, miserly, unpleasant closet-sized room (particularly associated in Paris, I believe). go figure.
    Latest figures I have is that most Aussie authors earn around $11,000 per annum, but of course this is not a real indication of most of us – simply because the high earners were also foctored into the question and with million-dollar figures flying over the place, that does tend to lift the “average”. I know some US e-book authors of erotica who are making $10,000 pa. The royalties are on average 45% of sale price in ebooks. And if the book goes to print (usually POD), then the royalty figure reverts to around 10% sale price. The third party sellers (such as fictionwise, etc.) charge different percentages if the book is up on their site — whether print or digital. I’m still waiting to see how sales go with my latest print book – the ebook novellas did quite well, but nowhere near US$10,000. If I had that sort of income I’d not be chewing my nails and looking at the bills piled on my desk. Of course, food for me can sometimes be a luxury (after my animals have had their food bought).

    Most authors I know – if they don’t have an official day job – will resort to the inventive to get extra cash (one of my romance writer friends got a job distributing eggs in the Mall – she had to dress up as a chicken — fortunately she has the legs to make a darn good lookin’ chicken.

    Glenda – good luck with the book. It sounds wonderful!


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