Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Are you writing for money or writing for the sake of writing?

A common misconception many non-writers have about authors is that they are millionaires. In fact, when I approached a paranormal investigator to interview him for Spook City, he lashed out at me for trying to make money off of his hard work with my book. I had to assure him I wasn't being paid a handsome advance for my book. In fact, I hadn't turned a single profit out of all the work I was doing in putting the book together. The money would come later, not right away. Still, many writers expect the money to come right away and, when it doesn't, they give up.

I was thinking about this sad truth this morning while I was reading Writer's First Aid by Kristi Holl. I read the chapter "Money Maxims" and noticed how the author touched on the fact that many writers expect to be paid handsomely for their first sale and, when it's not forthcoming, they give up. She reminded readers of how it takes a long time to earn a handsome profit from the work they do, and that this is time well spent, because they are given a chance to hone in on their craft and sharpen their skills as a writer. If anything, I think it's also a chance for writers to find that elusive "voice."

This really made me think. Earlier in the day, I'd been surfing various Web sites to see what kind of education and training are required for someone to be a psychologist. As many people know, a psychologist earns a good income. I was surprised to find out that this "good income" does not happen right away. In fact, it takes a lot of effort before that good money is made in psychology, but mostly, it takes time. A lot of time. There's the 4 years of a college education, the years invested in graduate school, the internship and time used for research and study. It would be a total of 12 years before anyone can become a licensed psychologist. If that. Then add 3 or 4 more years, maybe longer, before the tidy income starts coming in. One site noted that a psychologist could earn up to $80,000 a year, but not until after an investment of 20 years of training and working in the field. Twenty years before being able to live off the fat of the land. Twenty years is a long time, but worth it in the end. It gives our psychologist the chance to obtain further wisdom, experience, and a sense of professionalism in dealing with tough patients.

All of that time invested makes a person a good psychologist -- maybe even one of the best psychologists -- who has earned that very nice paycheck. The same can be said of the writer. If the writer puts in all that time, that effort, that practice and discipline to write every day even if it doesn't mean getting paid for that writing, all of it will contribute to the Holy Grail of writers: Good money.

So if someone wants to be a writer just to make money, then they'd better look into something else. The money will not come right away. Yes, yes, we all know of the first novelist nabbing that multi-million dollar book deal or the freelance writer who sells her very first article submitted to Good Housekeeping and gets paid $2,000 or more for it, but these cases are rare.

During the early part of your writing career, don't write for the money; write for the love of writing. And to hone your craft. For the desire to be a good writer and the dedication to put words down onto paper because that is what you need to have in place
first before you can expect to earn good money from your writing. Yes, you should definitely aim to make good money from your writing. As it should be, if you turn out to be a great writer who is deserving of that nice payout for your work. But above all else, be willing to put in the time, training and effort to reach that goal. Just because you don't earn money right away as a writer, it DOES NOT mean you won't earn good money later on. (Sadly, I know of some writers and authors who snub these very people who don't make thousands or millions of dollars early in their career.) You will make good money as a writer, just not right away. Meanwhile, keep writing.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Awesome review of the Tips book!

A book usually gets reviewed shortly before or after its release. This time around, however, I've put new energy into promoting an old book of mine, mainly because it was recently re-released as an E-book. I am especially delighted to see that sales of the E-book have been impressive, because this can only mean that this book, published in 2004, is reaching a whole new audience of readers and writers who could find the book helpful.

Fellow author Lillie Ammann, who is also an editor, took the time to review 365 Tips for Writers for her blog, A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye.

You can find the review here:

Review: 365 Tips for Writers

Thank you so much for your fantastic review of my book, Lillie! I am excited to see commenters asking about it and expressing interest. Your review was superb and it totally made my day!

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010


When I first started working on the haunted houses book, I had no idea what I'd be in for. As the project grew, I knew I needed to find someone who could be a part of this project. I found that someone with Martha Jette, who agreed to be a co-author for the book. Pretty soon, we got the book into final shape. Not long afterwards, we found a publisher for this book -- or so we thought. As can happen in publishing, things did not work out well with the publisher, so we had to cancel our contract with them and look elsewhere. Our search consisted mostly of publishing companies, yet Martha surprised me one day with the idea of approaching a literary agent for our book. I agreed to proceed, and we waited to hear back from the agency.

When a contract from the agency appeared in my inbox one day, I couldn't believe my eyes. I even asked Martha, "Is this for real?" Sure enough, the contract was the real deal. There were certain clauses in the contract we wanted to negotiate first, and I held my breath, waiting to see what happened. I wasn't ready to celebrate yet; I first wanted to see how the negotiations went.

I am pleased to announce that all went well and now Martha and I have a literary agent for our book, Totally Scared: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses. Hooray! We now have an agent!

Our agent's name is R. Travis Shortt and he is a member of the team behind Black River Media, LLC. The company has worked mostly as a PR firm in the past, and the decision to take on the job of also working as a literary agency came after many of Mr. Shortt's clients expressed a desire for him to be their literary agent. He agreed and has since been working in this capacity for Black River Media, as well as his position as Vice President. Here is their link: http://www.blackrivermediallc.com/ Because this is still new for them, there is not a whole lot on the site about their work as a literary agency. Yet I am confident that this will change very soon.

Also, I have spoken with Mr. Shortt through E-mail, and he has opened the door for me to pitch my other book projects to him when that time comes. So not only do I "share" an agent with Martha for our haunted houses book, I have the opportunity to submit my future book projects to my agent without going through the trials of finding the right publisher for my books. Additionally, having an agent means we and I will receive a better contract from a reputable publishing company.

So that is the latest development for the haunted houses book. I'm very excited about this and feel relieved that, in addition to Martha finding an agent for our book, we both have an agent for our other book projects, as well. What a wonderful accomplishment! We have an agent and I have an agent! Now I hope the next thing to report on is that we'll have a publisher for our haunted houses book -- a publisher that will actually end up publishing our book. Fingers crossed!

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