This is going to be a hated post by a lot of people. It’s a reality post. The reality of writing. And it sucks. Big time. There are no escaping simple facts, among them, is if you plan on being an author who gets paid for their work, you have to deal in business. No editor or publishing house is going to let you escape it… The fact remains you must know business. Feel free to mutter all you want but it doesn’t change that you must know business. Artsy-Fartsy or Grinder, you must know business. Or resign yourself to not selling or giving it away for free.
Yes. it sucks. And that’s all you are getting on that end.
You must know your market. You must watch that same market and realize that cozy little nest you created is going to die at some point. Reader tastes change and you can either figure them out or die. Westerns sold at one time. They don’t sell now except for a few and their loyal devoted fans. I cut my reading Romance teeth on Regencies in the early 70s. The books today are not those Regencies. And the reader demographic changed. I could point to the writers but did the writers change or did the readers change and the writers coming in survive because they changed to suit them? It comes down to business.
Write what you love, money be damned is nice if someone else is paying the bills but the reality is if you want to earn a living from it, you must write what sells. If it doesn’t sell you are going to either find a rich sugar to support you or get a day job. And please, we do NOT care you are working XX hours a day at XX job and that is why you can’t…. fill in the blank. Honestly? That’s your problem. I’m not going to tell you get up at 5 a.m. to write or stay up to midnight. I’m not going to tell you that you really don’t need to watch Dance Moms. We all make our choices and those are yours. No one is going to hand a special free writing ticket just like they aren’t going to hand you the “get published and everyone will love your book” ticket. You make your choices and you get what you get. But I will tell you that 99.8% of the time, luck is hard work meeting opportunity. And stop sounding like such a snob when you turn your nose up at someone else who grabbed it. You don’t fool anyone.
You cannot escape business. After all the rest and the choices, you MUST know how to market. You must know how to promote. You must have enough brains to read a contract and understand it. You must understand TOS. You must know how to google the hell out of something to understand it.
Look at the sales of the person giving advice to you and ask, is this what I want? If they are all excited because their book just hit double digits in royalties after a month out? You may want to look elsewhere. They may not be your best choice to give you advice and direction. Those who make four digits in 2 weeks may not tell you. Look at their sales rankings on release. Look at what their fans are saying. Look if they even have fans. Do not include Aunt Mary, Uncle Bill, their boss… trust me. You want writers who have fans they never met. Standing Stone has yet to sell to anyone in my family or who I personally know [go to their house and have coffee know]. Those are the writers you want. Not the one who pins every person at their Toastmaster’s club to the wall until each one buys the book to shut them up and some even buckle into the demands of review my book to shut them up. [Yes, this person does exist]
I am piddling with my promoting and writing the next book. Part of it was protecting my health insurance which is now in place. I also have reached triple digits in sales for this month and may be at double digits. But it’s been 4 months since release and that’s a long time in books. I’ve dropped from the top 20s in the USA and the top 10 in AU in my subgenre which tends to be a bit broad. Again, I’ve done no promoting or marketing. I’ve had no releases.
This is what happen. And unless you do one book and out, it tells you what you have to do. It’s called work. It’s called business. There are over 3,000,000 books in the genre I write in. That’s not static. That’s old being pulled and new flooding in. If you don’t know how to swim or you try to simply hang on to a rock, you are going under. You must know more than how to doggy paddle. Unless your name is Stephen King, James Patterson, Johanna Lindsey, or… well… E.L. James [she’s a one trick pony so you can count on that ending when her sales tank], no one is holding your hand or doing the work. That glorified “When I get a publisher” is a pipe dream. When you get a publisher… IF you get a publisher and I don’t mean Indie… sorry… you will be midlist. That means you get to do all the work. Same as if you self-published. You might have an edge by having a well-known publisher but since Pronoun lists MacMillan as publisher if you want, that’s not much of an edge anymore. Basically, you are doing XX for say… 45%. That might be worth it not to format, edit or otherwise do the publish BS. Indie, you must find someone to do all that [trust me, you are not talented enough to do it all], but you get 70% for that same XX. It’s a tradeoff. And a business decision.
Then come all the other choices and rights problems. Audio? Gaming? TV/Movie [Hey… look at James… ] It is a business.
Gear up your google and start to learn it. You don’t have to pay someone XXX to learn it, it’s out there free. You must search and read. And if you want to earn anything, you must do this.
I’ll let you in on another secret… Money isn’t there just for money. It’s a scorecard of how well you can write and how good of a businessperson you are. Praise is free. Will they part with $$$?