Friday, May 31, 2013

It's not about the money. It never was.

I saw a great article today at Wise Ink entitled Should Indie Authors Care About Money and immediately, my blood was up. It could also be that it's another hot day in the underworld aka New York City. Why did this article's title send me into a tizzy? After all, how dare someone even ask the question? Isn't an indie author just like any other author? Don't we sweat blood and tears over every word on the page? Don't we work with self-imposed deadlines to get a book out? Don't we scour the internet and bug other writers for the name of the best freelance editor / cover artist / proof reader we can afford? Don't we care as much about our books as those who've been "picked" by traditional publishing? My books are a second, full-time job. I take no vacation and lose countless hours of sleep until they are done. I spend at least $1,200 - $1,400 per title on the artwork, editing and proofreading alone. I won't add the costs of research books, because honestly, that's part of the fun of being a historical fiction writer. Damn straight, I want to get paid for what I do.     

The article talks less about money, more about the mission of writers and what our goals may be. I have a mission. Mine is to put forgotten places and people on the map, to make them as well known as Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII in the Tudor Age, or the sea rovers of the Viking age. Does my mission serve the greater good or change someone's life like a self-help book might? Of course not. It does (hopefully) entertain and enlighten readers who might not be familiar with certain periods of history, by introducing foreign concepts and people of the past who are at times strange and familiar. There's a certain magic that happens with a new historical fiction novel, where readers can learn about another time and place. This article made me wonder, would I still be a dedicated writer if I wasn't getting paid every month?

In my first month of self-publishing back in 2010, I made $99.01 with On Falcon's Wings. In the first quarter of this year, I've made $3,359.18 from six titles. I'm paying a few bills and enjoying little extras. Most of my writing income gets set aside for estimated quarterly tax payments with some towards the next title. If I stopped earning, of course I'd be disappointed. It would never stop me from writing. Self-publishing has never been about the money. If people are actually considering self-publishing because they hope to get rich right away, please reread the Wise Ink article again - Hugh Howey and Bella Andre are NOT the norm. The norm includes people like me. For me, self-publishing is still about the mission, which is at the heart of my passion for writing. I got started when I found certain periods of history interesting and wondered if there were readers out there who would like to know about them too. A bit of change in my bank account every month is a nice plus, but even if I didn't have a profit to show, lack of revenue right now wouldn't stop me. I'm thinking long-term, about the journey, rather than just the destination. The fact is my books won't be booted or buried by one distribution channel if they don't take off like a rocket making gobs and gobs of money. There are many things I admire, even envy, traditional writers for, but that particular pressure is not one of them.

I'd love to hear from other writers - what got you started and how important is the revenue for any future publishing plans?        

     

6 comments:

Tara said...

I agree with you Lisa. While it's not about the money, it sure would be nice to break even, huh? I only make maybe $200 a year. I still haven't made back the editing money I spent on my first novel two years ago. My goal was to inspire women to be strong, be brave. Now, I just give up. LOL. I figure at this point the world is giving me a huge HINT and I need to listen: Nobody is interested in what I'm putting out there, so why throw out more? But you have true talent. Your books transport me to another world entirely. Keep up the good work and great article.

Lisa Yarde said...

Tara, you've been incredibly supportive since we've met and I can't thank you enough. Breaking even is a good bar. Everything else is just a blessing. You haven't given up; you're still putting out books. You're about to get an email. Sorry.

Michelle Gregory said...

i go back and forth between wanting to cover the costs of printing the books, plus shipping, and wanting to give it away. at least with Kindle i'm not out anything if i give those away. great blog post.

Inge H. Borg said...

Lisa,
Most of us will say that "it is not about the money, but about our passion to write." But for others to assume we don't want to be appreciated, i.e. compensated, for our work is simply ignorant--nay,I say, arrogant!

And if it weren't for selfless reviewers (like you, thank you), we would lose a lot of important input which, in the end, helps to get exposure and--hopefully--some sales to shore up not only the penny-jar but the confidence.

Inge H. Borg

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks Michelle. I think the dividing line is often found in creating art or getting paid. I feel both have equal merit, but each of us has to find the path that works best. The goal is still the same though: get those readers and get them hooked!

Lisa Yarde said...

Inge, I'm at the HNS 2013 conference now and one of the speakers, a very gracious and talent author named Christopher Gortner spoke about what's near and dear to my heart: the fellowship among writers. It may seem like we are competing for the same audience and their hard-earned dollars sometimes (at least Amazon appears to think so by removing author reviews of other authors), but I say there's more than enough to go around.

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