Tuesday, September 04, 2012

"I have to make money from my book!" he said.

A major rift I hear between the traditionally and self-published authors out there centers around money. The self-pubbed profess they want all proceeds, not the little eight percent royalty. As so many have quoted to me, almost verbatim . . ."I have to make money from my book!"

Listen to me . . . unless you have an established platform, you will not make money on your first book. Maybe not your second, either. Unless you have the brand in place, unless you are already recognized as a specialist, expert or wonderful writer, you will not bank much at the end of the day with your first book.

An author wrote me recently with a concern about this subject. "While certainly some authors do (make money), we know most don't, and it seems to me an unreasonable expectation. Have you written about this?"

So I decided to write about this.

Are you selling books or are you grooming a career? You can sell widgets or you can improve quality of life with your invention. It's how you look at your writing, your career as a whole that makes a difference. Are you planning for the long haul or trying to break even in six months before deciding if this is what you want to do?

The longer you envision your writing career to be, the better the odds of you becoming successful.

In other words, if you think you have to make money on your first book, then you are looking at your career in terms of that one book. It will make or break you. That's amazing pressure.

Few businesses start off making a profit. That's why start-ups so readily fail. They fight to make a profit right now instead of planning long range. They have to endure the "trial by fire" before coming out on the other side as an entity able to handle difficulty. But all too often they cannot see that far.

Making money takes times. You are usually an unknown with the first book. Heck, when you see that new small business on the corner, do you say, "Hey, that's a new business. I'm
going to give them a chance and check them out."

People may not be inclined to try a new business if they have a current one they love. I have a list of well-known authors I love who are famous. I can rely on what they write, for the most part. Do you read new authors all the time? Probably not, that’s why it’s difficult for new authors to get started. So the next time you see a new author on the shelf, pick it up and give the back cover a read. You just might be pleasantly surprised.

That's the obstacle. Becoming known.

So why do we wonder why we can't quit our jobs and write for a living after only one or two books?

You can be proud of a book, but are you even more proud of your profession? Are you willing to do anything to make it work? That fight, that effort to write better, that tenacious drive to stick to this climb for the long haul is what will introduce readers to your work.

Sure, some make splashes with a first book. But most of the time, the first book is a case of paying your dues. And you need to be very happy to do that . . . so you can move on to the next step, then the next, and then the next.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Giving a chance to the small, new businesses...reading an unknown author...

I'm ALWAYS rooting for the underdog.

Unknown said...

This bussiness of writing books has so much myth around it, due to the fact that it deals with media who strive to keep the carrot in front of people's noses.
It would be great if everyone were real about the way it works.
But they believe in lying.
After all these centuries they don't trust the truth will sell.

Heather Dudley said...

Publishing has never been a money game. But for the very few, even most traditionally published writers still have day jobs.

Hope Clark said...

Yep - books take a long time to turn into an income, and even then, you have to keep churning them out like clockwork. A very hard business.