I have over 1500 likes on my FB author page. These are genuine likes. I didn’t pay for advertising. Yet…out of all of those likes, only 14 are talking about it–whatever that means. Sometimes I’ll receive an influx of likes and my activity will rise to the 100s. But then just as quickly, it will die. I’ll admit I haven’t been that busy on my page. Recently I started posting more: The original number was 5. Yet, even when I do post continuously, I can get, at most, probably 50 or 60 actually talking about it. Out of all those likes, that’s EXTREMELY frustrating. One time I had over 300 talking about it because there was a point where I just had a flood of likes, and I didn’t even know where they were coming from! But, of course, it died…fast. This video explains my frustrations perfectly and why I have considered abandoning my FB page numerous times. It’s not like my fans are really seeing anything I post. FB, after all, WANTS you to spend money on promoting your page, and it wants you to keep doing that.
Rachel Thompson recently addressed the topic of the reality of how much indie authors can truly make. I apply this to people who are even traditionally published, be it with a small press or big press. First-time authors end up finding out that they have to use their advances to pay for the marketing of their book, but with the proliferation of the internet, there are some cheap alternatives to actually get your book out there, and there are plenty of authors who have found success with the internet alone.
Now I don’t know what sales on my book are, but they might be low, and they might not be. I’m just starting out, so I hope to get to where she gets one day. I mean, really, the reality she seems to posit is actually fairly good, compared to the reality of most indie authors, which is actually much lower for the average one. But I suppose you just have to be business-minded to find success with this market, and I am not–hence, why I have a publisher.
Rachel Thompson, on the other hand, uses much of what she makes to pay for travel to conferences, conferences, Google Adwords (which is such a difficult thing to use that her husband has made a business around it), still having taxes taken out of what she makes, paying money to market her social media effectively, editing of all books (which is understandable, considering she is indie), and the fact that she still has to have a day job–which, well, most authors do.
Okay, so let me break it down for you on the figures Rachel Thompson puts forth. She makes 36,000 dollars per eighteen months, which is about 2,000 dollars a month. Me being with a press and all, I could live off 36,000 dollars a year, 2,000 dollars a month, considering where I live, too–this is assuming I’m not having to sink money into marketing costs myself–also, the fact that I will be getting married to someone who makes about that much money, so our incomes combined would allow me to be a full-time writer. I actually use some of the money I make at my part-time job to pay for blitzes and other things that help increase exposure, as well as my publisher helping out with the marketing aspect of my book. So perhaps this post is preaching more toward people who are with small presses or traditional houses, where they don’t really have to sink too much money into their own books.
In any case, after all costs, Rachel is left with 7,000 dollars, which isn’t even the average advance a first-time author makes. In fact, a 7,000 dollar advance from a house is pretty darn good. She says this covers 3.5 months of rent, but if she’s working another job, she still seems to have 7,000 dollars left over. She admits she isn’t complaining, but when I was going into her article, I expected the figures to be abysmally low for an indie author, and they’re apparently not.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I would kill to make 2,000 dollars a month for my book, even if I did have to sink it into the marketing of my book. If 7,000 dollars were left after it all, that’s extra money to me, extra money to do whatever the heck I wanted with–an advance, essentially. Now I will admit that money is not my priority, but I do want to make money off my books so I could eventually go full-time. However, I may never go full-time because there are other things I love, like editing and PR and all that, and I don’t think I could quit those, even if my writing alone afforded me to.
All in all, I thought the figures she would posit would be much lower–which is the whole point of this article. To me, she is very successful, money-wise, to be making 2,000 dollars a month, even if most of it has to go toward the marketing of herself and her books.
Now tomorrow I will talk about how much I do love marketing my own book–and how all authors, even with big houses, should do so. After all, that book is their baby, so why wouldn’t they want to help out with marketing it? You can’t rely on your house alone to do so.
***In Other News***
There is a cover art contest going on–I think it is, you can’t really see the covers–and I would love it if you could all vote for When Stars Die. The top ten people will receive something awesome. So just click here. Thank you!
I’ve been seeing this post circulating around WordPress. I assume it’s a prompt, but I have no idea where to link it back to, so I’m not even going to worry about that. In any case, I don’t want to spout off the same things everyone else has, like keep writing, or keep reading. Those should be no brainers, even for newbie writers. My advice is going to be given with the assumption that these aspiring writers, whoever this group is, want to be published.
1. Don’t just start sending out your manuscript once you’re done with it. You need to research the publishing industry right down to the period. There are scams out there, and people will take advantage of you. You need to know what an agent is, what traditional publishing is, independent publishing, and self-publishing. You need to know all the nuances of these before you start submitting. Know your query letters, book synopses, and book proposals. There is a girl in my dance class falling in the trap of hysterically searching for a company because she desperately wants people to read her work. She knows nothing about publishing and claims a company already called her. I don’t know if she’s lying or not, but I fear if she isn’t, she’s landing herself in a nasty trap, especially because she has only just written this book. I did my best to arm her with information, but the publishing bug is tempting, especially for a young teen.
2. As a newbie writer, don’t expect your first manuscript to be the one you’ll start subbing. You’re still developing your craft, and both your writing and storytelling skills are likely going to improve from book to book–as in very noticeable improvements. It’s rare for the first book to be it, but it does happen. When Stars Die is my fourth book, and it took me about 1,000,000 words later to have my writing of publishable quality. Now you’re going to keep improving even after, but the point is is that you want to bring everything to publishable standards. The only way you’re going to know this is through beta readers, possibly having experts look at it through webinars and book conferences, or getting a freelance editor. You’ll also develop a gut instinct as a writer that will signal to you when something is still severely wrong.
3. Don’t expect to make bank. Most authors are mid-listers in the traditional field, and they’re increasingly drowning because the current model is no longer designed to help them but those that are potential bestsellers. Your advance will not be that great compared to the blood, sweat, and tears you poured into it, but keep trying. You can also go the independent house route, where your money is based of royalties alone, or self-publishing, where you’ll have to spend money to make money.
4. Expect rejection. Rejection slips can average about 50-100 before you get an acceptance. I know someone who received 500 rejection slips, and it wasn’t that her book wasn’t good because it was. They just didn’t think it was marketable. I know another who received 100 before finally getting an agent. So don’t get discouraged on the 10th rejection because, on average, it will happen. I got lucky and got an acceptance on my first try to the only publisher I sent my manuscript to (it was on a total whim). But my short stories are a different story.
5. Last, write for yourself first, then edit for your readers. The story comes from you and so when drafting, let it flow from only you and no one else. Then once you get revising, you have to start doing it with readers in mind because who will be reading it? Readers of course. They’re why publishing even exists. When you do your final read through, you’ve got to do it from a reader’s perspective: is this sentence too long winded, is this character melodramatic, are there any noticeable plot holes that would confuse readers on a quick read through?
There is a lot more advice that I’d give, but I don’t like to do really long posts, so I think this is a good enough list.
For the past few days I have been having to remind myself that I’m not manic. When you’re bipolar and you start to feel great, you often have worries that you’re becoming manic because you’re not used to being in between. So when you start feeling great (and sometimes it’s not gradual), you have to take a step back and examine symptoms of mania with your normal mood.
Yesterday at work I was so confident, outgoing, and competitive that I had to wonder if mania was fueling the heat in my veins. But my thoughts weren’t fast, my brain wasn’t telling me to “Go! Go! Go!”, I didn’t have thoughts of reckless behavior, I didn’t have psychomotor agitation, I wasn’t over excited, and I wasn’t overindulging myself in my work.
I am a naturally hyperthermic person, I have come to realize. According to psychology, hyperthermia is a step below hypomania, which probably explains why even a small dose of an antidepressant or even an atypical antidepressant makes me either hypomanic or manic. I am a naturally driven person. I am naturally optimistic and sociable. But after everything that has happened, I am much stronger.
Bipolar disorder has taught me a lot. I am not romanticizing this illness, but I might as well make the best of an overwhelming illness. I am a much more thoughtful, sensitive person. Mania can remind me that my life can be great–just not to such an extreme degree. Being able to compare my current thoughts to my depressive thoughts makes me realize I am a much more confident, caring person. Yesterday at work I gave up my coat to a co-worker who was barely dressed for the occasion. Certainly I was cold, but she probably would have started crying with how she was dressed. I also don’t smile and bare things anymore that I don’t need to tolerate. My co-worker was playfully criticizing the way I tried to get people over for the drawing, and I just said, with confidence, not meanness, that I’ve been at it for more than 6 months and my method works with my personality. I don’t want to add a Southern drawl to my words when that is not me. And I was proud. Before I probably would have just done it to appease, but no more.
I work today at 12. I woke up just before 9. No longer am I thinking I don’t want to get up because everything feels pointless. I am waking up, and even though I am still tired when my mind shakes me awake, my thoughts are positive. They are not irritable, grouchy, upset, despairing, or hopeless. I am also appreciating the fact that I am alive when my mind tried too many times to count to kill me. I have a joie de vivre, joy of life. It’s so surprising to me how extreme I can become. I go from hating life to loving life so much I am grateful I have never even attempted suicide.
But there is the fear of becoming depressed again because of how I am right now. Why would I want to go back to feeling suicidal, hopeless, angry, hateful of myself? It’s hard to accept there is a possibility of that happening again. I was terrified it was happening yesterday, until I realized my anxiety was doing it to me–for no reason. I might need meds to help with the anxiety side of things, but I also know getting up and doing things helps it. And caffeine. But I’m no addict, I swear.
In any case, today promises to be a good day. I will work hard at work to make extra money for a few surprises, I will come home and proofread my novel, I will possibly watch Naruto with the fiancé, and I will come home and blog again, possibly proofread some more, and go to bed for the surprises of tomorrow.
In today’s post, I am going to talk expectations here because many writers need a reality check–or some need to be reminded of essential things before going either the traditional or the self-publication route. I am not here to talk about which route is better or the goods and bads of either route. I am simply here to tell you what to expect when you go either route so you don’t jump in blindly thinking you don’t need to do much.
Let me start with expectations for the traditional route. I will have to touch on the expectations of the other route in another post.
Don’t expect it to be easy. That is such obvious advice, but many writers are flummoxed by a few rejections, and I just think ‘Expect your average to be around 50 or 100 before you land an acceptance. Also, expect that the agent or editor may not even be looking at your work. It is very possible a slush pile reader or an intern is looking at it first. You might even be going at it for a year or two for one book.’ For my literary magazine, I am the one doing the final vetting so the ones Mariah rejects (Executive Editor Extraordinaire) probably haven’t even been looked at by me. Don’t be upset. It saves time so you’re not waiting even longer than you would be without those readers and interns, and the slush pile readers or interns or whoever do have some skill in knowing what works and what doesn’t or else they would not have been chosen.
Also, even if you do hire an editor to work on your novel and that editor gets back quickly, expect it take a little while longer before you can start querying or whatever because if you find a good editor, that editor will tear your manuscript to shreds. I know many writers who hire editors, the editors get back to them within a month, and the writers are subbing the next month. That tells me either the editor didn’t do a good enough job or the writers were in such a hurry they didn’t bother really delving into their editors’ critiques (and some just work super hard, but many writers do have other jobs). Because a good editor will make you reconsider your story. It is very rare a writer can implement an editors’ suggestions flawlessly (it does happen but not a lot of writers can do it. Writing is a process, after all).
Now, of course, if you find a critique group and that critique group is just dang good, an editor might not have to tear your book to shreds. In which case, you probably don’t need one. You might just want one for proofreading.
This next point ruffles my skin in many ways because I can’t believe the nauseating naivety of even those writers who do study the market. Many will choose the traditional route because they don’t want to do the marketing themselves. Well, guess what? You’ll probably have to. Unless you’re a big name or your book has money-making promise, you might have to do it yourself.
I dare you to go into a bookstore and show me a book the author didn’t have to market him/herself. Many books I never would have heard of unless I scrounged through the bookshelves. Many books I would not have heard of without the authors marketing the books themselves. Oh, sure, some books get marketing bonus points because they’re shoved to the front at your chain bookstore, but that might not be your book. Most authors are mid-listers, and those ones will have to do the grunt work of marketing themselves.
So have a website, make sure it has a good following a year before publication; Twitter your fingers raw; Facebook, with a fan page; join writers’ forums and prepare to be involved in those; blog tours are amazing; press releases; perhaps your publisher will set you up with book signings, or you’ll have to set them up yourself; be prepared for the verity you may have to spend your advance on marketing. Some smaller presses have marketing packages, but you’ll still have to be involved in social media. Regardless of how much a publisher helps you or not, expect to have a presence in social media unless you’re rich and can hire an assistant to do that for you.
Now if you’re the lucky one with an entire package from your swanky publisher, the above is not for you. In any case, have any expectations to add, feel free to comment. I’ll have the next post tomorrow.