Monday, August 11, 2014

Money, Money, Money

Note I: This is a vent session I've had bottled up for over a year. I'm sure it's a topic most of you can relate to.

Note II: I cancelled the scheduling feature on this post three times. That's how much I hate publicly admitting my frustration. LOL Oh well. If nothing else, it proves I'm not a robot...

Being an author is similar to, if not the equivalent of, running a small business. I could go into all of the reasons why, but one in particular stands out—if you don’t have the funds, it’s ridiculously hard to compete.

Yes, writing is steeped in imagination. We live in places where anything is possible. But at the end of the day, we want to publish our stories. That drags us kicking and screaming back into a cold, green world.

With enough money, you can:

    •    Hire an assistant or publicist
    •    Purchase exclusive photography/model releases
    •    Gain widespread exposure (BookBub, etc.)
    •    Pay for fancypants reviews (Kirkus, etc.)
    •    Reach a multitude of reviewers (NetGalley)
    •    Network with industry professionals via large conferences
    •    Bait readers with major incentives (giving away iPads, e-readers, etc.)
    •    Artificially inflate your social media presence (which is stupid)
    •    Advertise and promote posts
    •    Etc.

It’s a huge advantage over those of us who struggle to justify our careers, because we can't always pay the bills. And that’s not even including the costs indies have to factor in: editors, stock photos (or photographer fees), graphic designers, formatting for paperbacks and e-books, giant blocks of ISBNs, copyrights, etc. Yuck.

So, why don't I push myself to make more money and save for these things? It's complicated...

My background is in marketing—and if we’re being honest, I was really good at it—but I still can’t force myself to write for the market in order to earn a living. My stories are too tame for NA's present, mainstream audience (even though my series was one of the first on the NA scene.), and I can't afford to highlight/angle them as something outside the box. So, where does that leave me?


I plan on continuing my efforts to help NA expand and diversify, but there’s only so much we can do from the industry side. Readers have to want/accept change. So, until them, I’ve decided it doesn’t matter. I’m going to cast a wide net, writing in any category or genre that inspires me, and plod along. Since I don’t have a paycheck parachute, I’ll keep doing most things (formatting, design, etc.) myself.

Even if it puts me behind schedule

Even if I sometimes feel like I'm drowning.

The way I see it, if I’m stuck with the role of underdog, I may as well play the hell out of it. Onward!

Question of the Week:
What’s one thing about this industry/path that frustrates you?

P.S. This chorus is semi-on-topic, and the cheesiness of the video cracks me up. Enjoy. ;)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Write what you enjoy and don't worry about it. I know it's frustrating to put that much effort into something that doesn't take off. But at least you'll be true to you.
What frustrates me is I'm a slow writer. Wish I could crank out books faster. I know authors who do that have a distinct advantage since they can stay in front of their audience longer.

ELAdams said...

It's hard. I find it impossible to write for the market, but it can get a bit disheartening to have a series languish in obscurity. Between that and querying agents, it really does feel like quicksand!

Publishing with a small press means the only costs to me are in marketing, but it still adds up. The costs are what initially put me off self-publishing, but I'd definitely consider it in future. Apparently, I'm incapable of writing mainstream things (and sticking to one category/genre!), so casting a wide net seems a good plan!

JeffO said...

I read an article attached to someone's blog post a few days ago. The article was a couple of years old and was about marketing and promotion and the essential message I got out of it was, you have to have money. I think the figure thrown out was something like $15,000. Not a happy thought for me. Or you, apparently. Hang in there.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Yes, what Alex said. Write what you enjoy. I hate that NA is now considered young erotica.

Loni Townsend said...

Money does frustrate me, especially when it comes to the options where I *must* rely on someone else to get what I want. As a habitual DIYer, I don't mind extra work. And I don't mind paying someone when I can do it, but know they can do it better. But when I can't do it and I have to rely on someone else, then money starts getting me down. I guess it's all about control for me.

Your comment about NA's present, mainstream audience made me think of Steve Jobs and how they forced him out of his own company. I still think you're a genius and I love your series. Especially Cole. *teehee*

Botanist said...

As soon as I decided to go Indie, I knew I had to treat it like a business - no matter how lowly the goals I set myself. I do as much for myself as possible, and have a small budget for essential expenses and the things I can't do.

For me, the most frustrating aspect is marketing. It's not just a matter of knowing (or not) what to do, it's that the act of marketing fundamentally violates many core personal values. The trouble is that I'm now seeing for myself just how important it is :(

Carrie-Anne said...

I'm frustrated by how a lot of the books coming out of the Big Five these days seem rather corporate and flavorless, with agents, editors, and publishers less willing to take a chance on the kinds of books I grew up on—super-long, ensemble casts, complex storylines, quieter and more character-driven than fast-paced and plot-centric. A lot of these books seem really derivative, not original or line-breaking. And what is up with so many books being exactly 288 pages? Is that a popular word count asked of writers?

Having published two books as an indie, with a third planned for November and three more next year, it's frustrating that I don't have the kind of publicity as big names. Some people have even expressed surprise that I have books out, since I don't have the connections or money for a virtual book tour or 30+ people doing cover reveals and reviews. Maybe someday I'll pay for the $150 10-tour stop on Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, the smallest package available.

Nancy Thompson said...

I feel your pain in exactly the same way. There is no easy answer or way out of this. We will just continue to write and hope we get noticed at some point. At the very least, we will enjoy what we do, all marketing aside. I'll never have the money to properly promote my books, or make this anything more than a grand hobby, but it makes me happy, and that's enough -- for now anyway. I'm not convinced it always will be though. (((HUGS)))

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

As others have said, you can only write what your heart is in. I've gone down the same road with trying my hand at something contemporary New Adult. I know very well what the expectation is in that market, and it's not my typical style. So I had to do it on my terms to make it work. I tried to find a balance, and only time will tell how well I did it. The one thing I'll say: I had way more fun writing the story than I thought I would. So it's a case of trying something new and being surprised.

The money is a huge thing for all of us who are being honest. You have to spend it to find readers in most cases, and you can't make it without it finding readers. I think more of us are in your boat than openly admit. Our reality is we have to rely on slow growth and hope for lightening to strike.

You're putting out a great product. I've talked with lots of authors recently who aren't making it on any of the "big lists" but they're making a good living from publishing their own books by being consistent and nurturing the fan base they do have.

We share a lack of patience, which makes this excruciating at times. LOL But if you stay the course, I can't imagine you won't eventually find success. (Determination is a funny thing that way.)

Melissa said...

My biggest obstacle right now, being a working mother of three, is finding time to write. It matters not if one has the resources, if one doesn't have the time to write the story in the first place.

And no matter our situation, it's hard for any writer to write something that his or her heart isn't in. At the end of the day, we have to be true to ourselves.

Hugs, Carrie. I wish things were easier for you.

ilima said...

Thanks for this post. It's frustrating indeed. And just so you know, when I think of NA, I think of you, not what it's become. You've made such an impact on the writing world. Keep pushing forward despite these're doing a good thing. <3

Anonymous said...

It is very frustrating. I feel like making such little money is the dirty little secret of our industry. Sadly, I feel like telling newbies to not waste their time. If I added up all the time I put into this, minus the money I also put in to it, it'd probably add up to a penny an hour or something ridiculous. And I do love that people, especially teens, loved my book & tell me it changed their lives. But some green would be nice!

Crystal Collier said...

I think we all understand. Even if you've got a contract, you're left wondering how many of your own funds you should sink into promotion, because really, no one is as invested in you succeeding as you. I guess you push until it sustains itself, eh?

Mason T. Matchak said...

I think it's always better to stick to writing what you want than trying to chase a market. I mean, do you really want to look back on a book that made you a ton of money and hate it? >_< Granted, I'm saying that as an utter idealist because my day job pays me enough, but still. I can understand why this is so frustrating, though. Gah.

cleemckenzie said...

I can relate to all you've written, Carrie, but I can't write what I can' t write. If I did, then the one pleasure in this business would be gone.

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks for the advice, Cap'n!

You know, I used to be a somewhat fast (by my own standards) writer. I could knock out a manuscript in 2-3 months. Now it's a year of stealing time here and there, trying to keep distractions at bay. Yuck!

Carrie Butler said...

The costs were what initially put me off of self-publishing, too. Then Pubpocalypse 2013 happened, and I didn't have a choice. LOL I do like it, though. I just wish it came with a little more career justification.

Carrie Butler said...

Yikes! It was take me like three years just to make that. Maybe it's time to break into my emergency rum stash under the desk...

Carrie Butler said...

I hate it, too, and you're right. I have to stick to what I enjoy reading/writing!