It’s Getting Expensive To Be A Writer

broken piggy bank

One of my favorite magazines from my days as a young Heavy Metal fan was Circus Magazine. A series of articles I always looked forward to was by Twisted Sister guitarist Jay J. French that chronicled the trials and tribulations of taking a band from the garage to the arena. Thinking back on that helped me with this post.

So, you’ve finished writing your book and have joined an elite group of writers who can say they have written a book. Time to break out the checkbook. I cannot stress the importance of paying to have your work edited. You do not have to mortgage your home but be prepared to spend around 200 to 300 dollars depending on what you feel comfortable having done. A good cover is worth more than a hundred good reviews so you will want to hire a graphic artist to do your cover. 100 to 500 dollars will cover that and give you a cover to take to the bank. Once it is edited,  you will need to format your book for printing. This too, unless you are a word processing guru, would be better left to the professionals. Prices can vary and services can cover much. Don’t forget about the eBook version as well.

By this point you have a finished product. You also have a slightly or majorly smaller checkbook balance. Now comes the part where you have to try and recoup some and hopefully all of these expenses. It’s now time to put on your snappy suit and barker’s hat and sell your work. You are going to need business cards,  bookmarks and other materials. This is also time to stake out a place in cyberspace. That entails purchasing a domain and leasing space to host your site. Hiring someone to create your site used to be a luxury that has since come down to earth enough to make it an alternative if you are not technologically inclined. Of course if you are selling your books, the government is going to want their cut. Make sure to apply for a transaction privilege license, (sales tax), in your state,  county, and municipality. You will pay a fee to start and then a renewal on the anniversary date. Some states consolidate the license across all three so check first with your state’s department of revenue first.

Now that you have your book, your materials and are square with the government you need a place to sell your tomes. Of course your book is up on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or Lulu, or any other online marketplace. You may even be lucky to be in good with a local book seller and have a place on their shelves. Personal appearances have been the most lucrative for me, even outstripping my online sales. The hardest part, aside from scheduling, is the cost involved. Different events will charge different fees for a table. Generally, and predictably, the more attended the event the higher the cost for a table. An event like Comicon here in Phoenix can cost upwards of $500. Smaller events will be in the range of $100 to $200. To get a better sense of what these costs mean let’s look at the math. For Undead Heart, if I sell a copy at $10 I make $5.79 a book. In addition I have chosen not to  charge customers for the sales tax so that comes off my bottom line taking my $5.79 down to $5 a book. To even break even at an event where I’ve paid $100 for the space I’d have to sell 20 books. Most of these event last a day, so assuming a standard work day of 8 hours I would have to sell 2 1/2 books an hour. Doing that I still have not made anything for myself, and are still in the hole for the business cards and bookmarks. I essentially spent the day working for free. There is some value in these events, I get to sit at a table with my business cards and receive the ego stroking of seeing my name listed as author on the place card. to be fair these events serve a larger purpose, so they can be rewarding even if no sales are made. Your name is out there, your books are out there, plus you can network with other authors opening up other opportunities.

Can you ever make money doing this. Sure just be ready for a long haul. I don’t mean to discourage you, but at some point reality will come around and you need to look at what you’re doing as a business. You will only last so long reaching into your own pocket for these costs. I’m not hear to burst your bubble or rain on your parade, just think of this as that little dose of reality peeking around the corner as you reach for your dream.

Blog Re-Cast: Is Talent Overrated?

I will state this now, I am not a talented writer. I am a skilled one. My first few stories blew as many chucks as the next writer’s. I listened, studied and learned, and I still have more ways to go. For me, the first step in becoming a success at any endeavor is knowing and understanding what you don’t know. For more I suggest you read this great post from Anne R. Allen’s Blog – Is Talent Overrated? 8 Things That Are More Important Than Talent for Writing Success.

“We Will Need Writers Who Can Remember Freedom…”

Author Ursula K. Le GuinHere is a transcript of Ursula L. Le Guin’s speech at the National Book Awards. Her words touch a number of topics that I have worried over, primarily turning the book into a commodity by publishers and sellers alike. Funny in the middle ages owning books was seen as a indicator of wealth. We now have books written as a gateway to wealth no so much for the writers but for a whole crop of middle men and women. We all want to make money, who doesn’t, but at some times it takes a brave person to step up and ask what the costs are. Enough of me read the speech by clicking on this link.

Labeling Books

Would you read an R rated book, or how about a XXX one? Well CDs already have content labels, that parents ignore. Movies have ratings, again ignored by many parents. Even video games have a rating system, still largely ignored by parents. I guess it was only a matter of time before someone suggested that books need the same treatment. Don’t take it from me read the article. Then make up your mind and let me know in the comments what you think.

I tend to write stuff that is more violent than sexual but I find this idea reprehensible. Books come with descriptions, here’s a hint, read them. Who would be in charge of assigning these labels? How would this impact libraries? What about classic literature? Will those works be rated too? Will sellers have to see an ID to sell certain works? I am sure these questions won’t enter the discussion. It’s for the protection of the children right. Maybe I’m jaded but this just reeks of the culture nazis at it again. Hopefully this won’t go anywhere.

Projects Update

As fall gives way to winter, yes we notice that even here in Phoenix, I’m reminded of time going by. I decided to send out an update of what I’m working on. I continue working on writing my 10th novel, “Midnight Detail.” This week I crossed the 50 thousand word mark. It is all coming together now with the final battle among the vampires. It’s all action so the writing will go fast.

I am working through the first batch of rewrites for my Steampunk novel, “The Fourth Prometheus.” This is going great and I hope to have it on e-readers by the spring. Oh, and it will be in print to for those whole like a book in the hand experience. I had fun writing it and even more fun fleshing out the characters and making the action crisper. I’m thinking these characters have some more stories to tell.

My collection of short stories, “The Hole In Your Mind,” has seen some recent additions and some more edits on others. It’s really close to being done now. I should have it out by the end of winter. That is as long as I don’t keep writing stories to add to it. Oddly enough, this has nearly as many sci-fi stories as horror.

The sequel to “Undead Heart” is written. I am doing some edits on it before handing it off to my editors. The story of Larry and Tzgane takes them to whole new places. The werewolf pack plays a bigger role, hence the title, “Undead Heart By a Blood Red Moon.” I’ve asked my friend Chris Wilke to do the cover for me as he did with the original. I have envisioned this work as a trilogy but the third one is a ways off just yet. That is all that I’m juggling right now. Though, as my fellow writers know, that could change at any time.

Author Earnings October Report

This quarter’s Authors’ Earning report begins with an interesting examination on what Kindle Unlimited borrows can do for the author’s projected earnings. As for me I only have one title in Kindle Unlimited and have seen nothing from it. Still you should read through the report to get a feel for what is happening in the marvelous world of eBook sales.

The Best Advice I Had Not Heard Yet

interesting artI sometimes surprise myself when I come across great advice from the most unlikely of sources. Case in point, while watching one of my favorite video game reviewers, Zero Punctuation,  I came across this little gem of writing advice.

“Is this the most interesting period of your character’s life and if not why aren’t you showing us that?”

Now let that sink in a little bit and if you have heard it before kudos for you. I had never heard it, but now that I have I feel silly that I hadn’t come upon it in my own way. I know as a writer I can get bogged down in trying to convey to my reader all the machinations that went on in my heard to get my characters to this point. This information can be useful, even necessary at some times but it should not come at the expense of keeping the readers’ interest meter in the red. The good news is as the writer if these periods aren’t the most interesting I can certainly make them that way. Details are not interesting. Characters and events are. A simple rule and a helpful one to keep on an index card by your computer monitor.

This also leads me to the use of prologues. A couple of my novels (currently shelved ones if that says anything) do make use of prologues, but I find myself drifting away from them. Think of it like this. How would you feel if your significant other came home from work one day and said? “I have the most interesting story about something that happened at work today, but before that, let me tell you how I got the job in the first place.” Kind of a buzz kill ain’t it. Before the comments section fills with angry protests on the right to prologue existence there are times when the prologue can be a very effective tool and fundamental part of the work, but it must be interesting. That is after all the message of that little gem of advice above.