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?        

     

Ebook Release Day! Sultana: The Pomegranate Tree is here!

After a year and a half, the ebook version of the novel is out. It's been like giving birth to a really big baby, who had some troubles...