Monthly Archives: August 2007

More On Numbers

Back in 2004 when I temporarily quit my day job and decided that what I really wanted to be when and as I grew up was a writer, I gave myself ten years to switch my income from 100% IT and 0% writing to 100% writing and 0% IT.

It’s three years later and now (thanks to hours of obsessive data entry and Quickbooks) I can report that in 2006 writing represented — wait for it — .3% of my income.

However! Numbers can do anything, up to and including giving hot oil erotic massages. You just have to know how to ask. Behold the data:

Decided to be a writer2004Writing income = 0
Sold some stories2005Writing income = $325
Sold some stories2006Writing income = $410Increase = 26%
Sold some stories and reprints2007Writing income = $690Increase = 68%

Yes, the dollar bits are not promising, but let’s play with those percentage increases, which themselves show an increase at a factor of 1.6. Math, start warming up that oil, ’cause we’re gonna plot those three little data points out to ten:

Decided to be a writer20040
Sold some stories2005$325
Sold some stories2006$410+26%
Sold some stories and reprints2007$690+68%
Sell more stories and reprints2008$759+110%
Sell more stories and reprints2009$1,336+176%
Sell first novel for modest advance2010$3,754+281%
First novel royalty returns2011$16,892+450%
First novel royalties + second novel advance2012$121,622+720%
Oprah loves second novel.2013$1,401,090+1152%

Oh, yeah, math, yeah.

You think that’s hot, check out what happens if I sell just one more story by the end of the year, pushing the percentage increase factor up to 4.1:

Decided to be a writer20040
Sold some stories2005$325
Sold some stories2006$410+26%
Sold some stories and reprints2007$960+134%
Sell first novel for modest advance2008$5,347+557%
First novel royalties + second novel advance2009$122,130+2284%
Skyrocketing royalties and advances + film rights = ka-ching!2010$11,435,037+9363%
No one understands why my books do so well.2011$4,389,796,35438389%
My prose discovered to have hallucinogenic properties. By the time authorities figure it out I have purchased a series of nuclear-capable nations and am extorting further book sales and fannish essays in the New York Review of Books.2012$6,909,319,971,378+157395%
Oprah loves my latest novel.2013This is where the calculator weeps for the sweet release of scientific notation and accountants depreciate into Lovecraftian madness.+645319%

This is also how the lending industry works worked.

Carrying the One

I’ve done some version of Serious Math prit near every day for the last month or so. That would be in both the day job and the life job, money math and calendar math and the movement of the stars math, all of it headed toward an ever-drifting bottom line. I love Serious Math because it creates the illusion of a longer event horizon, even though all kinds of interesting stuff comes crawling — and will always come crawling — over the edge of the sphere with little or no warning. Serious Math sweetly kindly tricks you into thinking you’ve got enough information to make decisions. And so decisions get made, as they must when you’ve got 360 degrees of horizon and no swiveling eyeballs.

Excuse me while I decide to stand staring straight up wishing for swiveling eyeballs. There. Done. Where was I?

Oh, yes: in praise of math.

Except I am so sick of math right now. Excuse me while I stand staring straight up wishing for a club with which to hit things.

Yes, It’s Stupid, but It’s My Stupid

Today I traveled all the way across London to get my paws on a couple of reams of 8.5 x 11 paper, and paid 4 cents a sheet for the privilege (that would be versus 1 cent at home). Why? Because I had the fetishistic need to see my novel manuscript printed out on the familiar blockiness of US Letter before sending it off to the agent who responded to my query with a request for the ms. I could have sent it on A4, the paper with the Mac-clever design and PC market share. Or I could have asked S to print and mail it from the States (as indeed I did, until my inner control freak put the kibosh on what would have been a smart and economical move).

But no. It was just too weird. I wanted to sign the cover letter, and print the SASE, and slip the chunky little manuscript into the envelope myself. And if that meant crossing this town to cradle a thousand sheets of quirky paper in my arms, then so be it. Piss-poor aspect ratios be damned.

Even Quickier / D’Oh! / Announcements

What I wrote last Thursday night:

The vegetative state persisted, but the Fierce Week is over and now I’m running off to what may very well be woods. At least there’s a tent involved. And fleece. And waterproof jackets. It’ll be just like camping at home, although perhaps with more instant coffee and less Sasquatch dander.

More when I’m back on Monday, claims the Blog Tease.

Then I forgot to post it.

No woods, but a beautiful valley. And sheep. And mud. Magic, light-shedding mud that taught me more about English colonialism in one squelchy weekend than a shelf of books and many days of reading. Also, good music, good food, giant tents. One bout of annoyance with academic colonialism (can you throw a rock at an animist and just claim to be making an introduction?), but even that was without regret.

So yes, a good head-clearing weekend.

And now a couple of writing related things I’ve been meaning to announce:

  • My story “Atalanta Loses at the Interpantheonic Trivia Bee” is in the September issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and — thanks to newsstand time dilation — is available now.

  • “Just Do It” will appear in the upcoming Polish anthology KROKI W NIEZNANE edited by Konrad Walewski. This will be the first published translation of one of my stories, so it’s especially exciting.

Must sleep now…after I actually post this.


It’s 5:40 a.m in London and the sun is just about halfway over the horizon. I’m almost entirely ready to head out to work (everything but the suit jacket), which explains a thing or two about the recent silence. More explanation to follow, maybe around sunset (8:30 p.m.), provided I’m not vegetative. Or rather not too vegetative, since it’s really just a question of degree at this point.

In the meantime, via Defective Yeti, here is some of the coolest visual world-building I’ve seen since La Planete Sauvage. Motor proteins rock.