Friday went willingly into the ice, to be thawed out when we need it most.
About Jim Hines
Posts by Jim Hines:
Problem: Surgical masks don’t work well with long beards. Beard hair keeps getting pressed into my mouth, and when I take the mask off, I end up with bizarre-looking mask-beard.
Problem (cont.): Since Amy will be receiving chemo for several more months, which weakens or wipes out her immune system, I’m going to have to keep wearing the masks to visit her.
I mean, they did warn us that chemotherapy would lead to hair loss…
It’s a new year, and that means it’s time for another look back at last year’s writing income. I’ve been doing this since 2007, because I think it’s important to have open conversations about trying to make a living as a writer — as well as dispelling the myth that we’re all making Rowling- and King-sized paychecks.
My Background: I’m a primarily “traditionally published,” U.S.-based SF/F author with 13 books in print from major New York publishers. The first of those 13 books came out from DAW in 2006. I’ve also sold about 50 short stories. I’ve never hit the NYT or USA Today bestseller lists, but my last five books have been lead titles for my publisher. In late 2015, I mostly-quit my full-time day job. Since November of 2015, I’ve worked 10 hours a week for the State of Michigan, and spent the rest of my time as a writer and stay-at-home Dad.
2018 Summary: 2016 was my best year as a writer, thanks in large part to a three-book deal I signed with DAW. I spent the next two years working on those books. My agent has also been shopping around a middle grade project, and will begin shopping a second in the coming weeks, but those won’t boost the income levels until if and when we sign a contract.
In total, before taxes (but after any agent commissions), I made $38,812.29 from my writing last year, down about $4000 from 2017.
Here’s the annual income graph going back to 2002.
The biggest check of the year was for the delivery and acceptance payment on Terminal Uprising. The smallest, if you’re interested, was a $0.89 royalty payment from Smashwords in September.
2018 Breakdown: I added a category for Audio book advances and royalties this year, since that’s becoming a more important source of income for a lot of the writers I’ve talked to. The bulk of the self-published income came from the release of Imprinted early last year. Interestingly, I didn’t have any new short fiction sales in 2018; all of that is royalties, primarily from one anthology that’s done surprisingly well.
- Novels (U.S. editions) – $26029.29
- Novels (non-U.S. editions) – $4406.39
- Self-published Work – $3569.10
- Short Fiction – $810.62
- Audio – $3396.89
- Other – $600
Other Notes: With my wife’s health issues, I’ve written pretty much nothing for the past two months. I’m hoping that will change as she continues to get stronger, but this is going to continue to impact everything. I’m hopeful that 2019 will see the sale of at least one of those two middle grade projects, but like so much else, that’s out of my control.
Anyway, I hope this is helpful to folks.
Amy has gotten through the second round of chemo, which meant the hospital was finally able to discharge her to an acute rehab facility. (She’s been in a hospital bed for more than a month, so she needs some therapy to rebuild muscle and such.) Unlike the hospital, which was an hour+ from home, the rehab facility is only 20 minutes away, which means I’ve been able to split time between there and home.
There’s not really much else to report. From what they can tell, the chemo is doing its job so far. Amy’s in much better shape than she was a month ago. But we have a long way to go before we’re through. The current plan is for 3-4 more rounds of chemo, followed by a bone marrow transplant. We’ll be back staying at the hospital for the next round in a couple of weeks. Not sure if subsequent ones will be able to be done closer to home or not.
Thank you again for all of your support for my wife and our family. It means a lot to know we’re not alone.
I’m back home for the first time in a while, and I’ve been given permission to talk more about what’s going on. Last month, my wife Amy was diagnosed with cancer — an aggressive form of lymphoma, to be specific.
This all started with a flare-up of lower back pain. Unfortunately, Amy has chronic back pain, and we’ve had flare-ups before. So the initial doctor visits just led to more painkillers and rest. It wasn’t until I took her to the Emergency Room last month that they discovered what was going on. By then we were dealing with a blast crisis (proliferation of immature white blood cells), dehydration, some organ failures…
I can safely say that was the worst week of my life.
I’m happy to say they were able to treat the immediate health crisis. The messed-up white blood cells have been cleared out, organ function is back to normal, dehydration and malnutrition have been addressed. We’re onto focusing on the long-term treatment plan now.
There’s no prognosis or percentages here. You can find survival rates for her particular type of cancer, but she’s significantly younger than the average patient. And five-year rates are based on patients who were diagnosed at least five years ago — we have five more years of research and advances now.
She’ll still be in the hospital for a while. She’s awfully weak after everything she’s been through. She’s not quite up for visitors yet, but she’s getting closer. I’ll be heading back tonight or tomorrow. I’ll still be mostly offline, and I haven’t written a word of fiction in more than a month, which is likely to continue.
To any of our friends or family who are hearing this for the first time, I’m so sorry. We’ve tried to update people, but Amy has so many people who love her, and my brain has not been at its best. Please feel free to text or email me.
My family has been holding up okay. Everyone has come together to offer support and help out, and I’m so grateful. The kids have been amazing, each in their own way. It’s hard, and that’s going to continue for a while, but we’re all doing our best to take care of each other as well as taking care of Amy.
She’s had really good care. We’re making sure that continues. So far, the insurance side of things has gone pretty smoothly. I’m not holding my breath for that to always be the case, but I’ll deal with that when and if it goes sideways. I’ve also taken care of things like her FMLA leave from work, and applying for short-term disability. The main priority right now is helping her keep getting better.
Oh, and I know the photos might be a bit odd — what can I say. Taking pictures is one of the ways I cope with the stress. Even with a relatively old iPhone camera.
I’m not up for answering a lot of questions online/publicly, since it’s not about me. And we’re not currently looking for advice. But your love and support and encouragement are always appreciated. Thank you.
I’m still offline, but wanted to share a guest post from my friend Andrea Johnson, aka the Little Red Reviewer…
Hi! My name is Andrea Johnson, and I’ve run the book review blog Little Red Reviewer since 2010. I review primarily science fiction and fantasy, I interview authors, attend local conventions, buy books like its going out of style, and generally talk to everyone all the time about some book I really liked. I’ve done radio segments, been on live TV, and now I’m kickstarting The Best of Little Red Reviewer, a print book of my best reviews! Because why dig through the archives of my blog to find the good stuff, when I can package it in a beautiful little paperback just for you? Can blog posts and book reviews exist outside of a computer screen? Let’s find out! Click here to learn more about the Kickstarter and what The Best of Little Red Reviewer is all about.
In the meantime, here are some Useful and Interesting things to know about running a Book Review Blog.
What are some of the pitfalls of running a book review blog?
I think the biggest pitfall is overextending yourself by setting unrealistic goals, and then getting burned out. Your blog is a hobby, right? So set realistic goals for yourself. Pushing yourself to post 4 book reviews a week, do three cover reveals a week, download 20 books a month from netgalley, and accepting every review request that comes your way are all sure recipes for burn out and having a really un-fun time with this whole book blogging thing. And trust me on this: the moment it stops being fun, the moment it starts to feel like “work”, you will stop posting content to your blog.
It’s OK to say no to a review request, it is OK to remove your contact information from your blog if you’re feeling overwhelmed with review requests. It’s OK to take a break if you are feeling burned out. It’s OK to read something you feel like reading, even if everyone else isn’t reading it. It’s OK to have an unpopular opinion. It is super OK to do as many blog memes, blog tours, cover reveals, and non-book-related posts as you want.
To avoid common blogging pitfalls, just be honest with yourself about why you are blogging. Stay true to your personal goals, and you’ll be fine. Don’t beat yourself up if your blog doesn’t look like someone else’s or if your content is different than theirs. And if your goal is to download 20 books a month from netgalley and read and review all of them? Go for it! But don’t beat yourself up if you only read and review 15 of them.
How to Get People to Read Your Reviews
Be social online. Be authentic in your reviews, and develop your own style.
Be social! I’m an introvert, so this one was hard for me. Being social online is easier than it looks. See a post on someone else’s blog that looks interesting? Leave a comment. I love WordPress “reader”, it helps me find recent blog posts on any topic I want, and I when I find cool posts on science fiction, book reviewing, Star Trek, etc, I comment on ’em! Many of those bloggers end up visiting my site in return, and we’ve both found a new blog site to follow. Are you on twitter, facebook, instagram, or whatever the cool kids are using these days? Follow authors you like, follow publicists, follow other bloggers, talk about books you are excited about, link to your posts, and most importantly, interact with people on social media. Tell them you liked their book, or liked their review of a book you read.
The secret is to make sure you are starting a conversation. Talk with people, not at them.
Be authentic and develop your own style. Authenticity is a fancy word for being honest. If you loved the characters in a book but thought the plot was undeveloped, say so. If certain kinds of books work for you and you know you struggle with other kinds of books, say so. Be super honest, be authentic, be yourself. You’ll develop a style in time. It probably took me 5 years of writing book reviews to develop my own style. I shouldn’t have been surprised that my book reviewing style matches who I am in real life: Snarky, sarcastic, sometimes sweary, sensitive and sometimes poetic, brutally honest, and sometimes shy and unpredictable.
Be social so that people know who you are, what your blog is all about, and what content you’ve recently posted. Be authentic and they’ll keep coming back for more.
What happens if I don’t like a book I’m reading?
This is a toughie! If you dislike the book so much, maybe because it is a genre you really aren’t into, just DNF (do not finish) it and be done with it. Life is too short to waste on bad books, right? Some book bloggers only post positive reviews, and will stay silent about books they didn’t finish. In my “5 Books 50 Pages” posts (here and here), a good half of the featured books got DNF’d. Nothing was inherently wrong with those books, they just weren’t the book for me.
If I’m committed to reviewing a book I didn’t like, I try to find something positive to say about the book, and then I discuss the reasons the book didn’t work for me. For example, I know for a fact that I struggle with books that have large casts of characters and lots of different POV chapters. My review will tell you that perhaps that aspect didn’t work for me, but here are some other things I enjoyed about the plot or the world building, so maybe this book will work for someone else who is reading the review, especially if you love large casts and different POV chapters.
Not every book is going to work for every reader. We all have things we love in books, and things we don’t like. It’s OK to not like a book. It’s OK to respectfully talk about what you didn’t like about it. Be respectful, be honest. And if you attend conventions, be prepared to come face to face with an author whose book received a negative review on your blog. Because that will happen. It will be awkward. You will survive.
Now that we’ve gotten through all that, let’s talk books and reviewing!
What’s your favorite book review that you’ve ever written?
What book was a surprise for you?
Do you go back and reread your favorites? Why do you enjoy reading them again?
Andrea Johnson runs the science fiction and fantasy book review blog Little Red Reviewer (littleredreviewer.wordpress.com), where she has published over 400 reviews since 2010. In 2012, she founded the #VintageSciFiMonth blogging event, and she has organized read alongs and blog tours. She was a contributor to SFSignal, and is currently the author interviewer at Apex Magazine. Andrea and her husband live in a college town in Michigan, and their home looks like a library that exploded. In January of 2019, Andrea will be running a Kickstarter to print a book of The Best of Little Red Reviewer, which will include her best reviews.
We’re dealing with some family stuff. I may go into detail later, but for now, just know that blogging and social media are going to be sparse to nonexistent for the foreseeable future. I’m also going to be worse than usual about responding to most emails and such.
For readers wondering about book three, this does mean Terminal Peace is likely to be a bit delayed. How much is impossible for me to say right now.
I know this is … well, a bit ominous, and I’m sorry for making people worry without providing any specifics.
Love to you all.
Friday was up at 5:30 this morning and why is 5:30 a.m. even a thing???
- Pets are Unimpressed with Christmas
- Elf on the Shelf ideas (some more twisted than others)
- Cats on Glass Tables
- Photos from the 2018 National Geographic Photography Contest