Just a Little Something Interesting, to Me
My obsessions tend to be serial. Many years ago it was growing roses. For a while I collected vinyl records of Perry Como; I also briefly collected miniature teacups. There's been counted cross-stitching and crocheting, playing the piano, and so on. Now there's knitting and kittens, singing, watching TV, Ravelry, librarything, and, mostly recently, making a list of books I want to check out at the bookstore.
My new and much beloved already PDA includes a program that transports and even edits Microscoft Word, among other programs. This means that I can type up a file in Word on my desktop and transfer it to the PDA, when then goes wherever I do. In my old PDA I had in the notes area a sort of list of authors I wanted to check out, but making any sort of extensive list was more frustrating than I could manage. I transferred the list to a Word file and felt all successful. Then it occurred to me to include in the list any books I hadn't read, which meant I needed to figure out all the books published by an author and which ones I had read.
librarything was a big help with that -- they list the published books in various series and recommend new books and/or authors depending on your library. My library on librarything is far from representative of what I've read, but it's a good start. And for most of the books there are descriptions and/or reviews. But not all. Which lead me back, inevitably, to Amazon, which I've long used as a sort of free Books in Print. I discovered that librarything doesn't include books scheduled but not yet published, unless Advanced Reading Copies are out there. So I went through my expanded author's list on Amazon, adding upcoming titles.
At first, for new authors, I only listed the first couple of books. I have been known to buy a whole series at once, but with so many more to check, I figured that checking out the first couple of books and then deciding on the rest would be smart. Then I figured that it would be labor saving to put in all the books in the series, so that if I liked it I wouldn't have to look them up again. And I added the number of the book in each series. So far, so good. I did actually, eventually come to an end to this process. Really. I did.
Then someone on Ravelry (I'm getting a lot of my news on Ravelry these days, and I don't mean just knitting news, either) mentioned the website Stop, You're Killing Me! (A website to die for ... if you love mysteries). OMG.OMG, omg, omg. They list every mystery author, alphabetically, and all the books they've published, with links to Amazon for books in print, as well as author websites, where available and include announced and upcoming books.
I've already emailed one favorite author to ask if there are going to be more in her series, which has a couple of years gap since the last one. I've explored the website and life of an author who lives near me that I had heard of but not read, but at least one of whose series I know I'll love. My list of authors to look for, which had probably been somewhere between 25 and 50 when I thought I was done, is now over 150. And I'm nearly at the end of the Cs. Obsessed? Who, me? (Is there a similar website for sci-fi lovers? Fantasy lovers? Please, tell me. No, don't! Yes, tell me! ... )
However, that's not what this is about. Over the last 30 years it has been noted that it's almost impossible for a writer to support him/herself only with the income from writing. Except for the J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, and (I think) Dan Brown, and probably a few others, writers need a day job or a spouse with a good income or something. Even though books seem more popular than ever, it's just not a way to get rich. But writers did use to support themselves by writing. Writers in the early decades of the last century could make a reasonable living with writing, as did writers in the century before. (See, for example, Mark Twain, who made and lost more than one fortune during his life.)
For the mystery writers, though, I think I may have figured it out. Stop, You're Killing Me! lists *all* the books an author published, including those published under other names. Take, for example, the page for Michael Collins (real name: Dennis Lynds), who died in 2005. I count 8 pen names, including his real name, and I am not taking the time to count all the books. Some others just have really, really long lists under only one or two names, like Manning Coles, the main pen name of Cyril Henry Coles and Adelaide Frances Oke Manning. The list for them is not as long and there are only 2 pen names, but still. We talking about a lot of books. I read most, if not all, of the Manning Coles books when I was a teenager, prowling the mystery aisles of the Texarkana Public Library. And I think A Toast to Tomorrow is a classic which I recommend. In fact, somehow my mom scrounged up an old library copy (possibly from the library-obsessed aunt) that I still have somewhere. (Probably the spare bathroom. No, I don't have bookcases in every room of the house. There are none in our bathroom (no place to put them) or in the hall. So there!)
Clearly, though, these writers worked full-time, if not more so, churning out books. It looks like some of them had the output volume of Nora Roberts! (Who, I'm convinced, is at least three people. One of whom writes stuff I actually like!) As has so often been the case, hard work is the key.
And now you'll have to excuse me. I want to finish the Cs.