: views from the Hill

Monday, February 28, 2005

Charlie Stross talks about "what goes into making a successful novelist?" and "why I am able to write"

Haven't stopped by Charlie Stross' Diary from the link over >>>?

Stop by today and read his Why I am able to write entry from yesterday, 27 Feb 2005 (Sun).


So what goes into making a successful novelist? Dogged persistence taken to an irrational extreme: check. Willingness to work for years without reward: check. Crap wages: check. For every best-seller there are a thousand writers making £2500-5000 off their books. Even if you hit the jackpot, the return on your investment of time isn't that great. (Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a publishing sensation with a reputed million pound advance, but that's the return on ten years of work with no guarantee of success, and if it doesn't earn out (or at least deliver break-even to Bloomsbury) it might be the last novel she ever sells, in which case that's all she gets for her entire career: megadollar failures stain reputations indellibly, rendering it impossible for the writers to sell subsequent work however different it might be or modest their expectations.)

So let's add "selective stupidity" to the list of attributes that go to make a successful writer and move on.


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