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