Writer’s Guild writers are going on strike. The headlines about T.V writers wanting more money caught my attention. What exactly do T.V. writers make? I wondered. Not one article brought that one to light.
So then I wondered what do most writers make. A quickie internet search brought me to a Guardian article from October of last year “Most U.K. authors annual incomes still well below minimum wage” and a current article fro the NZ Herald “Kiwi Writers struggling to make a living from their craft.” I could relate although I live in the States.
Fine so what about U.S. writers? I had a hard time finding data. Some of that may be due to the search engine’s pay system of making sure that people who want you to find their stuff get in there first. So a lot of what I found are articles that said, Make money at home, writing! I found a neat report from May of 2016, “May 2016 author Earnings” at Authorearnings.com that compare indie author sales and best sellers
Then there was a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics that I immediately dismissed as fiction about the median annual wage for writers and authors being $60,000.00 with half making less.
I think most of us have day jobs and there are a heck of a lot of us writing for way less than that. But here in the U.S. we are not as up front about pay as Kiwi and U.K writers. Either that, or Kiwis and the U.K pay google to get results in the top of the search field.
I’ve always believed in promoting my books locally. By this I mean, I will do talks for local groups or attend author events at libraries or bookstores. Promotion online is good too but people seem to like to talk to authors and enjoy finding out that a book is set in the place where they live or that it mentions places they know. I find these kind of promotions difficult though. I am uncomfortable with selling and even more so with talking in front of a group of people plus, they’re limited by your time and availability.
Lately though, I’ve wondered about other marketing. What about giving out coupons for a free download in the community welcome wagon package? What is a win win way to draw people in to a local bookshop and sell my book? I want something different than to be that author sitting at the entrance, so that customers coming in avoid gazing that way, because they DON”T want to be sold something. I even sat in the movie theater the other day looking at an ad for local ads there and wondered if that was an effective idea.
I keep remembering hearing about one best seller who loaded the trunk of his car with books, then went out and sold them, going across the country, and sitting on street corners doing it. I can’t quit my day job and do that, but there has to be another way.
Your writing is a business and that means you will need to do some bookkeeping. But really, it’s not hard. First, open a bank or credit union account for your writing–don’t use it for anything else.
So the money you make from your writing is what you deposit. Money you spend on writing (copies,ink,computers) are what you use your debit card for. Make sure it is all writing only.
Keep all of your receipts for your writing related purchases. Your filing system doesn’t have to be elaborate, an envelope or a shoebox will do. Just make sure you don’t lose them. Also keep a notebook in the car. Write down the odometer number from the beginning of the year. Each time you do something writing related, write down the date, the purpose of the trip, the mileage, along with the odometer reading when you start out and when you return. In case you have a doubt, writing related activity includes everything form attending a signing to buying your paper or going to the bank. That’s it. You need nothing more complicated than this. Next year, come tax time, you are ready. You’ve done the bookkeeping you need.
I am officially free to figure out what I want to do with my first book. It’s not as much a relief as I thought it would be. My print publisher, who held both electronic and print rights on my first book, as well as print rights on my second book, which is still out electronically from another publisher, announced earlier this year that she was going out of business. But she wasn’t well, her husband wasn’t well, and she asked all of her authors to give her time. I didn’t think much about it. My own life was a bit busy right then, and by the time I realized I should have heard from her, my emails bounced.
I didn’t know what to do. Heaven forbid I harass her, when she was ill, and besides, I was coming to the end of my real world job and well, I let it slide. Last week, another author from that publishing house contacted me about a book of devotions that I had contributed to. She had all of her rights back and was going to try to get the devotional published elsewhere. Was I interested?
Was I? How did she get her rights when I didn’t have mine?
Long story short, I now, finally have the rights back on both books, in writing. But what to do? I have been in this position before, starting over to find a new publisher, but frankly, it’s different now. Even a few short years back, there was a stigma involved with being self-published. But now, it seems to me to be much more open. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
The problem is that self publishing is so work intensive. You have to promote, promote, promote. And while many small publishers don’t help much with individual titles, they do maintain websites, list your book with places like Amazon, and help by promoting themselves and the books they have for sale overall. As far as I can see, promotion is like the constant drip that can turn into the river, all those bits help.
What to do? What to do?
I was listening to NPR today and heard an interview that would have been rather startling just a few short years ago. The reporter was interviewing the owner of a rather large East coast used bookstore and he asked her what her take was as to why Borders didn’t make it and Barnes and Noble is still in business.
Her thoughts? Barnes and Noble jumped on the e-bandwagon and that saved the day for them. The Nook, their e-reader is a competitor of the Kindle and the fact that Barnes and Noble came up with that, along with content for it, was, she believed, the reason they are still viable.
Mind you, this isn’t a woman who reads e-books, if the interview is to be believed. She has a used (paper) bookstore.
Who would have thought…say back in 2000 that anyone would think that e-books could save a huge bookstore’s business.
Now if only we would use them to save…say our school budgets. Think of it, no more having your kid work with out-of date geography and science books. And no more backpacks that give the kids backaches.
The writing profession is a fairly complicated one right now. The recession is affecting it, changes in technology are affecting it and changes in how we spend our discretionary time (and dollars) are affecting it.
So how are you keeping up? I logged online this weekend to find a story about Borders refinancing, and another about a contest for unpubbed or self-pubbed books but for the most part, I feel as though, I’m just not keeping current on the stuff that impacts…well, my stuff.
So how about you? How are you keeping up with changes like e-books, the recession’s impact on book buying and changes in the publishing industry in general? Do you have a handle on this you can help us all with?