Join Prism Book Alliance® as Clare London goes Outside the Margins today.
I recently read an article originally in the Guardian, from early in January 2014. Its headline was: “Figures show the vast majority of authors, both traditionally and self-published, are struggling to make a living from their work.”
So. Nothing’s changed there, then, now we’re half way through 2015! is my first thought.
The survey highlighted the fact that, while a few select authors hit the news for huge advances and 3-book deals, “a survey reveals that 54% of traditionally-published authors and almost 80% of go-it-alone writers are making less than $1,000 (£600) a year.”
More than 9,000 writers, from aspiring authors to seasoned pros, took part in this survey, representing four camps: aspiring, self-published only, traditionally-published only, and hybrid (both self-published and traditionally-published).
The results were sobering, even if you bear in mind that any survey is only a small slice of real, whole pie of life. Just over 77% of self-published writers make $1,000 or less a year, according to the survey, with a startlingly high 53.9% of traditionally-published authors, and 43.6% of hybrid authors, reporting their earnings are below the same threshold. A tiny proportion – 0.7% of self-published writers, 1.3% of traditionally-published, and 5.7% of hybrid writers – reported making more than $100,000 a year from their writing. The profile of the typical author in the sample was “a commercial fiction writer who might also write non-fiction and who had a project in the works that might soon be ready to publish”, according to the report.
So why am I writing at all?
One of my first pieces of advice to any fellow author is always: BE HONEST with yourself. Examine WHY you’re doing it, and WHAT you want to achieve. My one objective was always to appear on Amazon! but when I did, I didn’t give up writing.
Only a minority of the survey respondents listed making money as “extremely important” – around 20% of self-published writers, and about a quarter of traditionally-published authors. But authors’ top priority was not divorced from commercial concerns, with around 56% of self-pubbers, and almost 60% of traditional authors, judging it “extremely important” to “publish a book that people will buy”.
“Most authors write because they want to share something with the world or gain recognition of some sort,” is according to the report’s co-author and Digital Book World editorial director Jeremy Greenfield. “There are, of course, outliers. The top 2% or so of authors make a good living and the most successful authors – including self-published authors – make a tremendous amount of money.”
“The question of money is a tricky one,” said Greenfield’s co-author, professor Dana Weinberg. “Publishing a book for sale is a matter of both art and commerce. I would argue that for most writers publishing is not only about money; it’s about a lot of other things including touching readers and sharing stories, but the money is important in a lot of ways.”
BE PRAGMATIC about your hopes.
The dream of quitting the day job to pursue writing is only a reality for a tiny fraction of writers, per Dana Weinberg. “Writing good books is a big time commitment, as much for many writers in the survey as a part-time job, and income gives writers something to show their family and friends for all of their effort and hard work. Some writers are looking for validation, and in the world of self-publishing, where you don’t have the prestige of being chosen by a press, the money is a tangible and rewarding substitute. While writers aren’t motivated purely by money, the money does matter on many levels. The high royalty rates in self-publishing also give writers higher expectations about their potential income.”
But for many of us – me included – it’s now an essential source of income that needs to be maximised.
If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to try everything you can to MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU. Find the route that brings you income; find a genre that appeals to both you and reader. The explosive growth of e-publishing has given many of us the chance to publish books quicker, more easily, in more formats and genres than before, and with a higher financial return per book – again, me included.
For the author Hugh Howey, who sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his dystopian novel Wool himself on Amazon before landing a publisher, self-publishing plays a vital role by allowing writers to “hone” their skills. “I would say the results of this survey cloud how nearly impossible it is to make a single cent through traditional publishing (because only the top 1% who ‘make it’ are tallied). The simple fact is this: getting paid for your writing is not easy. But self-publishing is making it easier. How much easier? We don’t have sufficient data to know. But a conservative estimate would be that five to 10 times as many people are paying bills with their craft today as there was just a few years ago. And that should be celebrated.”
And last of all, BE SENSIBLE. Remember your raw materials are your imagination, your typing skills, and your TIME. These are often under pressure, and their performance not always steadily reliable. Writing is a creative art. But to make money from it, you need that extra dimension of profitability. Watch what books of yours do better than others; keep a note of your deductible expenses; offer yourself sensible deadlines. Consider the mix of self and mainstream/indie publishing, if it allows you a more regular stream of income; don’t be waylaid by comparing yourself with other authors – because to a large extent, you can’t do anything about their careers, it’s yours you need to nurture! And above all, remember to put money aside for your tax bill.
Yes, I wear an accountant’s hat as well as an author’s – and no, I’m still not making money! LOL
Title: BOYS IN BRIEF
Author: CLARE MITCHELL
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 08/19/2015
Cover Artist: LOU HARPER
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay, M/M Romance
A collection of Clare London stories full of sweet, sexy romance, and boys seeking friendship, fun and inspiration.
SALT ‘N VINEGAR
Brighton in the summer is a great place to be for a young, gay man looking for a good time with no strings. Psychology student Joe’s spending his uni vacation working in a chip shop with a succession of ever-worse punning names and picking up guys on the beach for casual hook-ups—but something makes him want to take it slow with gorgeous chip shop regular Steven.
The trouble is, Steven’s shy smile hides a dark secret, and his past is about to come back to bite them both.
Originally included in the anthology Summer Lovin’.
THE BETTER PART
Chas’ growing up is fraught with trouble but it’s always been accompanied by his own irreverent humour and determination – and the continuing presence of his lifelong companion and friend, Adam. While Chas stumbles on through delights and disasters, life and love, Adam remains wise and supportive and… never changing.
Originally included in the anthology Wishing on a Blue Star.
Max is doing all the right things, as is his lovely girlfriend, Elisa. They don’t share a grand passion, but they know that they’re expected to get married, which would further Max’s military career, and secure Elisa’s social standing. Max does have one grand passion, though, for fellow soldier, Ryan. Will he live his life the way he wants, or will he and Elisa be forced to do what people expect?
Originally published 2008 by Torquere Press.
When Joey takes his boyfriend Gaz to their friend Chris’ unruly “Tarts and Vicars” party, they cause an unholy stir. Why is Joey so proud of Gaz – why can’t their friend Vincenzo take his eyes off Gaz’s costume – why is Bren’s cousin Ginger so obsessed with waxing – who sat on the archbishop’s mitre – and just how much alcohol DID Chris put in the punch?
Originally included in the anthology Lashings of Sauce.
A young man receiving the most intimate teaching from his mentor and crush… but in Gerald and Stephan’s hands, is that scene really what it seems?
From: Salt ‘n Vinegar
“Why haven’t you asked him out yet?”
Mandy rolled her eyes. “Oh, maybe I mean the Sinatra soundalike who’s playing the Casino on the seafront. Or the man in the blue Smurf suit at the end of the pier, handing out discount hot dog coupons. Or… let’s see, who else can I think of that’s even less likely?”
I stuck out my tongue, the last resort of the speechless.
She ignored it. “You know who I mean, Joe. The cute boy who’s been coming to the shop for the last few weeks.”
“There’s plenty of them,” I said. Brighton was known for attracting some of the prettiest and most outrageously dressed lads in the summer months. And lucky for me, only some of them were straight.
“He comes at least twice a week. Comes into the shop, that is.” She smirked, tipping out the fresh basket of chips on to the drainer.
“Always one portion of chips, lots of salt. Sometimes I think I’ll offer him a battered sausage, but I’m pretty sure he’s not interested in offers like that from girls like me. Besides, it looks to me like he needs a lot more to fill him up. What do you think?” She chortled loudly.
My twin sister Mandy’s sense of humour could make a display of ketchup sachets look obscene, and create double entendres from the shipping forecast. Just sometimes, though, it got very tiring.
“He’s one of the regulars, that’s all. We get a lot of them,” I said. And we did, especially in the busy summer months. The tourist families arrived, of course, but also a lot of young people flooded into the town. There were local students who stayed over the summer holidays if they could get the accommodation, chattering groups of language school students from Europe and beyond, and the unemployed or between-jobs people who came to Brighton. Maybe they thought the beaches were paved with gold. Of course they weren’t, and we all struggled to survive just as much on the south coast as we did anywhere else in the country. But the sea as a backdrop was a worthy compensation, in my opinion.
“You can’t take your eyes off the boy, moron.”
I smiled to myself. “Like you said, he’s cute.” And he was all man. No boy left, except maybe the eyes.
“You’re not usually backward in coming forward.” Mandy was teasing me, but she looked intrigued too. “You and your cheeky chappie chat-up lines. I reckon they work with nine out of ten unsuspecting victims—the gay ones, anyway. So why haven’t you mobilised yet with One Portion?”
“He’s just here to eat, that’s the reason everyone comes here. A fact we rely on for our wages, remember?”
It was Mandy’s turn to stick out her tongue. I laughed and started making up cardboard takeaway boxes, stacking them on the shelf behind us.
When Mandy and I had both taken up a place at Brighton University, it had seemed sensible to share a place. We’d been lucky to find a two bedroom flat within our budget, around the back of the Lanes. Okay, so the area was a tourist trap for most of the year, with its quaint, narrow streets and quirky shops, but we loved the community. In the summer, at the end of our first year—Mandy reading Food and Hospitality, me battling with Psychology—we’d both taken a job at the fish and chip shop opposite the entrance to the Pier. “Chip ‘N Fin”, it was currently called—Barry the owner was fond of changing it every few weeks to something equally cheesy—and I winced every time I looked up at the sign, showing a fat, leering cod waving a credit card in his flipper. Barry did the sketches himself. But apart from cheesy humour and no future in cartoon art, Barry was a decent employer and continued to call us up when he needed staff in the busy season. It meant Mandy and I could stay down in Brighton over the long holidays. In our spare time, she could practice developing healthy menus for a hundred diners, incorporating the five main food groups. And I could lie on the beach and boy-watch, only half in the spirit of social sciences research.
And the bloke Mandy was talking about? He’d caught my eye the first evening he came to the shop. I was always going to notice a naturally gorgeous man, and although I couldn’t see one single feature or another as the cause, he was truly striking. He was slimmer than I was but a little taller. Not particularly well built, but he wore very thin, very tight t-shirts, so I could see every muscle across his chest—and the slight ridge of what were possibly nipple rings under the cloth. His hair was dark and messy, which was probably more to do with fashion than a lost comb—I lost mine regularly and never looked that good. He was quite pale, so I’d assumed at first he was a tourist chasing the sun—what there ever was of it—but after a week of his visits I’d changed my opinion. He seemed to know his way around the prom, on and off the pier. And one night, after he’d collected his chips, I saw him dart across a couple of lines of traffic, weave through a batch of manic, lycra-clad cyclists, circumnavigate a Nemo kids’ ride outside the rock and sweet shop, then stride away up a zig-zag side street. You don’t steer a course like that through Brighton seafront in high season unless you know where you’re going. After that, I often watched him on his way back to wherever he was going for his supper.
One evening, he looked back briefly, just before he vanished down the side street. We were a long way apart, and the traffic was heavy. Mandy was working beside me at the time, and she reckoned he was looking straight at me. But I couldn’t be certain. I just hoped so.
I was pretty sure he was gay too. I was pretty sure there’d be something I could work on, to introduce myself. And I was really drawn to him. I mean, I liked men, no two ways about it. The more the merrier. No point in getting too bogged down in relationships, when fellow students finished their courses and went home, and tourists were only around for the summer in the first place. I was well practised in casual but fun hook-ups. But there was something about this guy that was different.
So why hadn’t I mobilised yet? Well, maybe that was my answer.
About Clare London
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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