Dayton-area writer earns big publishing payday

Contract for 13 books worth $3.4M

A Dayton-area writer is celebrating a book deal — a really big book deal.

John Scalzi, a Bradford resident, has signed a decade-long $3.4 million publishing agreement with science fiction and fantasy publisher Tor Books for 13 books, Scalzi’s website announced.

The contract involves a planned 10 adult novels and three works for young adults.

Reached at a New York City hotel room Tuesday afternoon, Scalzi, 46, acknowledged feeling good. But he also noted that years of hard work led to this contract. He became a published novelist after a senior editor at Tor Books first spotted his fiction serialized on his blog 13 years ago.

Scalzi posted “Old Man’s War” to his blog in December 2002 and Tor executive editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden made an offer to buy it, Scalzi said.

“He said, ‘Hey, that’s pretty good. Do you mind if I buy it?’” Scalzi said. “And that was in 2002. So I was one of the very early people who had been discovered on the web, as it were.”

“Old Man’s War” was published by Tor on Jan. 1, 2005.

Some of the planned books will continue the story in the “Old Man’s War” series, the New York Times reported.

In a “fake interview” on his website and blog, Scalzi acknowledges that the deal is a large one. And he said expressions of congratulations have come fast and furious in recent days.

“My general response has been, ‘Thank you,’” he said. “I’ve been having a surreal couple of days.”

Scalzi has written professionally since 1990 when he started doing freelance work for the Chicago Sun-Times while still a college student. He got his first full-time writing job at the Fresno, Calif. Bee — and he has written for pay ever since.

Since his first novel was published 10 years ago, he has published about a novel a year since.

The contract is “nice,” Scalzi said, adding: “But it’s the residue of work, as opposed to just something that happened by crazy coincidence.”

“Old Man’s War” was nominated for the Hugo Award for best novel in 2006. Another Scalzi work, “Redshirts,” won the 2013 Hugo Award for best novel. He has written many other books, fiction and non-fiction, as well as several connected series of books.

Writers need to take responsibility for their careers, he said.

“Nobody loves your career more than you do,” he said. “If you aren’t willing to put in the time and make the effort and do the things required … then no one is going to make that job easy for you.”

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