Writing is a Business
What I should also be saying is that I am a business person. When I am moving around in the real world and spending my book royalties paying bills and buying things, I am proud of my publishing and sales accomplishments and for being able to say that I’m a published author. I’ve waited most of my life to be one. So what’s keeping me from complete author bliss? Now and again I run across published and non-published authors who view my independently published work as a betrayal of some sort of writer’s code. Maybe they think I got out of paying my creative suffering dues and “settled”. This is not true. And for the record, Indie publishing is most certainly not vanity publishing. I’ve heard that one, too.
I tried the traditional route twice in my lifetime without success. I know how difficult it is to send out a query letter and a 10 page synopsis along with a partial manuscript only to be told that each of the bazillion places you mailed your manuscript package to weren’t interested in it even after all the work you did to polish it.
I know what it’s like to be so close to tasting traditional publishing triumph that you are working diligently to satisfy the last nine things the acquisitions editor didn’t like about the book that maybe will get them to take another look at it. The last time I chased that golden goose, I made seven out of nine requested changes before I came to my senses on Dating A Cougar. I spent from August 2010 to December 2010 collecting soft rejections that all began with “great story premise” or “great writing” and ended with “but we just can’t place it at this time”. The heroines in my stories are older women (ages 42-50) and their stories are filled with lots of humor, but they are outside the existing norm for the genre. But I was writing the stories of my heart and believed there was an audience for my work even when it seemed no one else did.
Around Christmas time, I had three and a half unpublished manuscripts finished and potential financial ruin looming, so being a realist about earning a living I asked myself some important questions. Which did I want more? Did I want a chance to be famous and on the NYT list like my favorite romance authors Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, or Jennifer Cruise? Or did I want to save my house and pay my bills with real money earned from my writing? Since I like to eat, Indie Publishing turned out to be the only sensible, logical business choice for me. I lowered my goals just a tad and took a chance of putting up my work. Honestly, it wasn’t nearly as hard as writing a mega impressive query letter or a clever synopsis to an overwhelmed editor bombarded with hundreds of them a day.
Do you want to know what happened? It took half a year, but I did finally make enough money to pay my bills. And do you know what else happened? I found readers who like my work and frequently write to ask for more books from me. But do you want to know the biggest surprise? I am having more fun than I’ve ever had making money because these days it comes from my books. I’ve been a writer and will always be a writer, but now I’m a published author. I can’t believe I ever spent time waiting for someone in the business part of my industry to provide a validation of my craft and/or permission to make a living with it. If there is one truth I have learned as an Indie author, only readers can decide if you’re good enough and they do it with sales.
My first two books were published in March of this year. My royalties from Amazon sales the first month on one free book and one for sale was $35, second month was $123, and the third month was $450. As that was happening, I finished two more books. Downloads of the free book picked up in June and all sales jumped in July and August to what passes for me as “real money” which is enough to make my house payment and pay for my coffee shop habit.
At the time of this post, I have a total of 6 books published (5 for sale + 1 free still) and another coming out in October (Created In Fire, Book Two of my second series). I talk to my readers and write almost every day. When readers ask me how many more books I intend to write, I tell them I’ll keep writing for as long as they keep buying. I’m in the business of making them happy.