It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible

The cost of doing business

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During the Bank Holiday weekend, while working on Apollo Quartet 3: Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above, I stumbled across a book I’d not known about and which would prove very useful for research. So I promptly tracked down a copy on abebooks.co.uk and ordered it. As I added it to the bibliography, it occurred to me that I’d spent more on research books for Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above than I had for the previous two novellas of the quartet.

It’s a somewhat unfair observation as both Adrift on the Sea of Rains and The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself were written chiefly using books I already owned – books I’d collected for my A Space About Books About Space blog over a number of years. But because Apollo Quartet 3 is partly based on something about which I don’t already own reference books… I had to buy them. But exactly how much had I spent?

Totaling up the cost of all the books, and DVDs, mentioned in each of the Apollo Quartet books’ bibliography proved a bit of an eye-opener. It looked like this:

AQ1 £480.02
AQ2 £452.81
AQ3 £477.77
Grand Total £1410.60

That’s a hidden cost of writing, that is. Yes, I write science fiction, so I could just make it all up. And it would cost me nothing. Or I could just rip off ideas from other science fiction novels (I have quite a few of them too). On the other hand, maybe I could borrow books I need from the library – although I suspect at least 80% of the ones I used wouldn’t be available, even through inter-library loans. However, if I include only the books I bought specifically as research for the three novellas, then the figures are considerably reduced:

AQ1 £9.86
AQ2 £62.52
AQ3 £262.93
Grand Total £335.31

That’s not to say that reading all those books for research has been a chore. Having said that, don’t read about the Mercury 13 unless you need more anger in your life. But, on the whole, everything I’ve read for research has proven very interesting. Who knows; I’ve read books on women aviators before – such as Diana Barnato Walker’s Spreading My Wings – and so I might well have sooner or later ended up reading about the Mercury 13 anyway. I’ll certainly be hanging onto the books, and perhaps even re-using some of the research in later fiction… So it’s not like they were a waste of money.

Besides… books.

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2 thoughts on “The cost of doing business

  1. Sadly, I rely heavily on Google for my research. This will have to change. I’m curious: how difficult did you find it to break into the online publications?

  2. I’ve been told by professional writers that you can get tax relief on books bought and even films seen ‘for research’,
    Just a thought.

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