Tag Archives: George Ivanoff

Paying for Our Passion – George Ivanoff

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

I have waxed lyrical about the welcoming nature of the Aussie spec community on many an occasion, and one person who typifies that is today’s guest, George Ivanoff. Since I have met him, he couldn’t have done more to make me feel welcome and to help me out. Add that to being perhaps one of the best dressed authors around (with the coolest jacket you can imagine)–and one of the most talented–he’s one of my favourite people in the scene. Welcome, George!

Everybody, sing with me: “Money, Money, Money. Must be funny. In the author’s world.” Sorry…had to get that out of my system. My journey from unpaid writing to making a living from it, was a long and slow process—a process indebted to my wife and to my children.

When I started getting published, back in the 90s, writing was a hobby. I had a nine-to-five office job. I didn’t have children. I had plenty of spare time and I used it to write. Money was not the issue. Getting my writing into print was the goal. Most of what I wrote was unpaid.

In 1999 I had my first two books published—a YA short story collection called Life, Death and Detention and a non-fic book for the primary school education market called Real Sci-Fi. I got a small but reasonable advance for each of these books. Suddenly, I had dollar signs in my eyes. After years of writing for nothing, the allure of getting paid (and along with it, the notion of being more valued) took hold. I wasn’t planning on giving up my day job, but I decided that writing could provide me with some extra pocket money, perhaps even contribute to my income.
LDDcover_webThe short story collection didn’t do wonderfully well…but the educational book did. Real Sci-Fi led me to a string of other education market titles. These books, although often quite short, were also frequently research-heavy. I spent more time writing.

After being made redundant at work, I went to a contract position in web development. And after the contract was finished, I made the decision to go freelance in web development and project management. This decision came about partly because the opportunity presented itself in the form of a potential major client…but also partly because I wanted more time to write. I figured that if I was freelancing, I could devote more time to writing when needed. It worked. And I wrote more education books.

cover_definingpatternsWhen my first daughter was born in 2003, my wife and I decided to tag-team on parenting and work. After about of year of this, we realised there was a better solution.

By this stage I was doing less web development and more writing, which meant that my income had decreased. Meanwhile, as my wife shifted from a salaried position to her own graphic design business, her income increased. It made more financial sense for her to work full-time and for me to be the stay-at-home parent. This decision was helped along by that fact that I was the more naturally domestic of our partnership.

So, we decided that I’d become the full-time stay-at-home dad. I would stop freelancing in web development and spend all my spare time working on building a writing career, with the goal of eventually being a full-time writer.

Along the way we had another daughter.

GRcover_webFor a number of years I continued to write books for the education market. And I re-entered the trade market with Gamers’ Quest, a teen novel that eventually became a trilogy. I wrote when my kids napped. I wrote in between games of hide-and-seek at the park. I wrote in the evenings after they had gone to sleep and I wrote on weekends while my wife looked after them. And, when there were pressing deadlines, I wrote while they were baby-sat by the television (yes, I know…it’s award-winning parenting).

Slowly, over this time, my income increased. I solidified my reputation in the education market. I had lots of books in school libraries, which meant a decent annual ELR (Education Lending Rights) payment. And I started to build a reputation in the trade market with the Gamers novels and with stories in anthologies.

Fast forward to 2015. Both my daughters are now in school. I’m still not a completely full-time writer, as I do school drop-offs, pickups and lunches, as well as shopping and meal preparations…but I’m pretty close to it. I am now earning a living, albeit a modest one. And my income continues to slowly increase.

yc07_smLots of people think that now, because I have a successful series with a major publisher (You Choose with Random House), my writing income is secure. Let me shatter that illusion. The You Choose books certainly go a long way towards my income, but they are not the be all and end all. I still write for the education market. And I also get a reasonable portion of my income from speaking and running workshops at schools, libraries and literary festivals. With two kids and a mortgage it would be extremely difficult to survive on my income…if not for my wife and her higher income.

I used to earn a lot more money in freelance web development than I do now as a writer. But (and this is a really big BUT) I am now a much happier person.

George002_sm-213x300George Ivanoff is an author and stay-at-home dad residing in Melbourne. He has written over 80 books for kids and teens, including school readers, non-fiction books, chapter books, novelletes and novels. He is best known for the You Choose series and the Gamers trilogy. He has books on both the Victorian and NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge lists, and You Choose: The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove has been shortlisted for a 2015 YABBA. George drinks too much coffee, eats too much chocolate and watches too much Doctor Who. Check out his website: georgeivanoff.com.au

2012 Aussie Snapshot: George Ivanoff

George Ivanoff is an author and stay-at-home dad residing in Melbourne, Australia.

He has written over 60 books for children and teenagers, including fiction and non-fiction. He has written school readers, library reference books, chapter books, novelettes, novels and even a short story collection. He has books on both the Victorian Premier’s and the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge booklists.

His teen science fiction novel, Gamers’ Quest, won a 2010 Chronos Award for speculative fiction. The sequel, Gamers’ Challenge, has been nominated for a 2012 Chronos Award.

George also writes short stories and articles for adults as well as kids. Of all these, he is most proud to have had the opportunity to write a Doctor Who story for the Short Trips: Defining Patterns anthology (Big Finish, UK, 2008).

Occasionally, George has been known to moonlight as an actor. He has had small roles in numerous productions including the television series Neighbours and the feature film Frozen Butterflies.

George eats too much chocolate and drinks too much coffee. He will sometime indulge in a nice bottle of wine or a single malt Scotch.

He has one wife, two children and two cats. And he is very content!

Your current novel, “Gamers’ Challenge”, is the second in the Gamers series of books. Did you feel any pressure in trying to follow up “Gamers’ Quest”, or was it easier going back to a familiar world?

There was definitely pressure. The first book sold quite well, so there was the pressure to produce something that would sell as well or, preferably, better. But I did find it an easier book to write. I had already done all the work of creating the world, with lots and lots of background that never made it into that first book. So slipping back into it that world was quite comfortable, and that gave me the chance to concentrate more on the actual plot.

You’ve previously been published in a collection of Doctor Who short stories which must have been a huge thrill. Are there any other shared worlds/franchises that you would be particularly excited to be involved in?

Ah yes, my one shining fanboy moment — “Machine Time” in Short Trips: Defining Patterns. I loved writing that story and I’ve been desperate to write more Doctor Who. As it happens, apart from reviewing lots of Doctor Who DVDs on my blog, I’ve recently had the chance to write essays about Doctor Who for a couple of upcoming books. That was great… But I so want to write some more Doctor Who fiction.

As for other franchises — I’d love to write for the TRON franchise. I love the films and I’m really looking forward to the animated series. TRON is definitely second on my list (after Doctor Who, of course), but I’m a fan of many different tv shows and films. I would happily write for numerous franchises. My problem is that I have no idea how to get a foot in that particular door. Getting that Doctor Who story was a combination of luck and persistence… But Big Finish is no longer publishing the Short Trips anthologies. 🙁

I see from your website that there is another Gamers novel in the works. Will there be more novels in that series, or do you have plans for something different once “Gamers’ Inferno” is done?

Actually, “Gamers’ Inferno” is a short story that has been published in a new anthology called Trust Me Too (ed: Paul Collins, Ford Street Publishing). It’s a spin-off story — Same world, but a new game environment and a whole new set of characters.

But, there will be a new novel as well, to be published in 2013. I’m currently working on it. The working title is Gamers’ Rebellion (but that may change) and it will definitely finish up Tark and Zyra’s story. Of course, if it ends up being a runaway success (one can dream) then there are many more stories I could set in the Gamers world.

I do, however, have ideas for other novels as well. In fact, I’ve got notes for at least six potential novels. It’s a matter of deciding which one to go with next.

What Australian works have you loved recently?

I’ve just finished reading Carol Wilkinson’s Blood Brothers, the latest novel in the Dragonkeeper series. Loved it! Carol is one of my favourite Australian writers. And I’ve just started reading Kerry Greenwood’s Flying Too High — the second of her Phryne Fisher mystery novels. With the novels having been turned into a tv series, I thought it was about time I caught up on them. I read the first one a few months ago and really enjoyed, so I’m now reading the second. And I’ve finally been catching up with Michael Pryor’s The Laws of Magic. Brilliant stuff!

Two years on from Aussiecon 4, what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?

There seems to be more spec fic being published — both by small press and by the major publishers. I’m hoping this trend continues. Every one of those potential novels I mentioned earlier is spec fic, so I have a vested interested in the genre continuing to be popular. 🙂

This interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 1 June to 8 June and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus. You can read interviews at: