Tag Archives: Making Money as a Writer

Author Services – Watching Out for the Predators

The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy

This is my big excitement for the week – a friend spotting my new book in Minneapolis-St. Paul, right next to Guy Gavriel Kay. Funny how these little joys make it all so fun.

Because, we all know that getting our books published and out there doesn’t always bring joy and fun. Far from being the Golden Ticket that transforms our lives and brings us Eternal Happiness, publication brings a new set of problems. Once we get over the shock of this revelation, it makes total sense. After all, life is like this. Any grown-up knows it. Each new step, every new phase brings its own joys and sorrows. The trick is to manage the sorrows and savor the joys.

One of the biggest discoveries that publication brings to most is that it doesn’t pay all that well. Especially to begin with.

It’s part of the mythology of the author – that it’s a career guaranteed to bring in wealth. Maybe we believe this because we hear the book deal numbers for those high-profile authors. We see the JK Rowlings, the Stephenie Meyers and the James Pattersons making literal fortunes and extrapolate that to all writers. Again, once we get a grip on the reality, it makes total sense. Really in no profession does anyone make the CEO salary when they’re at entry level. Any grown-up knows this. We figure out how to manage our expectations and move on.

What’s difficult to manage is the expectations of other people. Especially the predators and parasites.

I’m seeing more of them than ever. I think this is because of the boom in self-publishing, with so many high-profile voices publishing their sales figures, trumpeting their financial success. (How prevalent that success is would be a whole ‘nother discussion. Suffice to say, I think a small percentage still makes the really high dollars.) Like coyote populations expanding after a boom in bunny rabbit births, like mushrooms after a rainy summer, “Author Services” are popping up everywhere.

I can think of five people offhand who’ve started businesses as author assistants or ebook formatters in the last six months. Several times a week – sometimes several times a day – I receive “offers” for some kind of service meant to help me write or sell books. I see notices of new followers on Twitter that are book publicists, publishers, cover designers, author assistants – you name it.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing.

But I think it’s not always a good thing, Certainly not for all authors.

Sure, it’s great that these services are out there, if you need them. If you can afford them. But there’s increasing competition for the prey. Once there are more coyotes than the bunny population can sustain, the coyotes start to get hungry. These folks are getting hungry. Which means they need to convince more authors that their services are not only necessary, but crucial to success.

They can instill panic. DO THIS OR YOUR BOOK WILL FAIL.

I’ve seen it.

So, my point is – beware of author “services.” They might be very nice people, with great stuff to offer, but you’re not necessarily their cash cow. They figure you can afford it. That you are the wellspring of wealth, with so much that it could spill over onto them. Most of us – particularly early in our careers – simply can’t afford that outlay. Most of us have day jobs for that reason. If you can’t afford it, don’t feel pressured into ponying up for it.

Services are lovely to have and they can help us out. But they’re luxuries, not necessities.

How to Make a Damn Good Living as a Writer

By J.A. (Julie) Kazimer

 

With a title like that you’d think I’d have an answer, right?

Well I do.

Just not one writers like to hear. So let’s get the nasty part out of the way now.

Here goes: Only a very small percentage (under 8%) of working writers are making a living strictly on their writing alone, and those that are have a backlist a mile long. Whether you buy into Digital Book World’s latest report that 85% of writers make less than $1,000 a year or not, the possibility alone is a stunning one.

At least to those not involved in the publishing industry.

We know better.

We have author friends who make little more than a college student during their internship at McDonalds. We just received a check from our publisher which was less than the stamp it cost to mail, and worse, our agent took 15%. We live in a world where daily checks of our sales, in order to determine whether or not we can afford to spurge on the whole wheat bread or just buy the white, mushy crap again, are a regular occurrence.

Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit. But for most of us, if we didn’t hold a day job or better yet, an understanding spouse/partner/sugar daddy we wouldn’t be able to support our writely habit. A habit, yes. Because, let’s face it, we aren’t in this business to become rich.

Which is what I said a few weeks ago during a presentation I was giving on social media for writers. One of the attendees disagreed. He was, in fact, writing to make money. He’d done the research, found a niche, and wrote a book, a book he admits isn’t the best, in order to make a living as a self-published author. And he was making some dough at it. Not enough to retire for good, or even make rent (but close).

Now my publishing/artist ego (the one who suffered over 10 years of rejections and strife to become a published author) immediately reacted. How dare he! We write because we can’t do anything else. We write to live, to breathe, to be titled, WRITER. Those who write for money are hacks!

And then I took a step back, let go of my emotional baggage, and thought about what I now want from my writing career, which is the ability to make a living as a writer. At one point in my life, I wanted nothing more than to be published. To hold the title of author. Now, a total of 12 books in, I want to make a living wage doing what I love.

Maybe he was on to something.

Now I don’t necessarily agree that your book shouldn’t be the best book you can write. If it’s in the world, it should be the best you can give. That being said, I do think we, at least I am guilty of this, I don’t take advantage of the cold-bloodied business side of publishing. I can research who my audience is, and then gear my work toward that audience and advertising. That makes complete sense. There is nothing wrong with writing what you love, and turning it into a revenue stream.

After all, doctors don’t just cut you open and start digging around until they find what ails you. They test, and retest, looking for what needs to be added or removed, and then they get to work. And then you get a huge bill in the mail. See, the system works.

All that being said, you do have other options for making a living as a writer. In fact, I’m currently exploring one of those opportunities.

Online dating.

Or better yet, trolling the internet for anyone will to support my writely habit.

I’m a catch!

So far I’m weighing my choices. It’s a toss-up between a Nigeria Prince and a guy selling Viagra online. Both are very interested in getting to know me better.

As long as I send $50 for a processing fee.

I’ll have to check my sales…