Skip to Content

How and what to expect.. REF on Writing

From: Raymond Feist
Date: 02 June 2003

OK, on writing.

I can't tell you anything "about the life of a successful writer." I can only comment on this particular writer, who happens to be successful. The first thing you have to realize is you can't generalize out. Publishers would love to have a formula to sell books like grocers sell cans of beans, and retailers would love to have interchangeable authors so that they knew books would sell at a pre-determined rate,but the simple fact is every book is a whole new product. I make more money than most writers; I make far less than John Grisham. All of us together make less money than J.K. Rowlings. As a result, no general thesis can be made about how a given writer will do financially until said writer is actually getting published.,

My hours depend on a variety of things. I am currently rushing to finish King of Foxes, the sequel to Talon so I am now working close to twelve hours a day. Most of the time I work between three and four hours a day.

As for it being viable for you? Who knows? See above. You might be another frustrated kid who tries to peddle the same manuscript for ten years, or you might hit one out of the box your first time at bat (American baseball metaphor alert).

So, when asked, "What can I expect to be paid?" the answer is, "Expect nothing. That's the only thing I can guarantee. You might, however, make more than that."

I first got an agent. I was fortunate in getting Hal Matson, who was one of the very best in the industry. His son is now my agent and carries on like the old man.

He approached Warner Books, which turned it down, then Doubleday, which bought it. After that, we sold it to Granada (now HarperCollins) in the UK and German and Japanese publishers.

I edit and rewrite as many times as it needs, but in my case that's not much. I try to get as close to final draft as possible as I write, because I'm lazy and don't want to live my life rewriting. I haven' t gotten to "perfect in first draft," but I'm shooting for that. But then I've been doing this for 25 years, so I've had a lot of practice. You will almost certainly have to do a lot more rewrite to get the story where you want it to be.

When I started was it a viable income? Well, it was money. I lived below the poverty line for a number of years before becoming a best seller. My advice to any writer who sells a first book: don't quit your day job. When an advance is equal to a year's income, and you can do a book a year and expect to sell,then quit your day job.

Best, R.E.F.

FAQ answers attributed to Raymond E. Feist are copyright by Raymond E. Feist.
It should also be born in mind that the answer given was only applicable on the date written, and to a specific question. You may find further, similar questions, in the FAQ.


More things to See