I have been meaning to add this page for a while now. Mainly because there are some major, and I do mean major misconceptions about authors out there. Or perhaps just about me, because honestly, I can’t speak for others, only myself.
To tell you the truth, I’ve been rather taken aback by some of these myths. It just never occurred to me that folks would think this, about me, or about other authors. I hope this clarifies what it is like to be 99.9% of authors out there in the world today.
Myth #1: Authors make money writing books
This is a big one folks. Would you like to know how much I made writing books in the last few years?
2014 – $169.16
2015 – $73.06
2016 – (to date) – $144.29
Actually, that is gross income. Since I am self-published, I do not get any “free” copies (more on that below) and have to BUY MY OWN BOOKS from Amazon in order to give them to folks to read and review. If I am on a roll, it takes me about one hour to write 500-750 words. This means that a typical book (which usually ends up at around 100,000 words) takes me at least 133 hours of writing, plus at least that in planning, organizing and getting my details in order prior to ever writing the book in the first place.
Then I have to edit the book. More on that in Myth #6.
I also need to pay for a photo and sometimes design my own cover or pay to have that done. It isn’t cheap. And because covers drive sales, even if we are talking about a Kindle book, it has to be a good cover. So figure $100 minimum.
Then there is uploading, reviewing, fixing, uploading, reviewing, fixing (this sometimes happens at least five times) before ordering a hard copy. Then reviewing again, fixing, uploading, ordering more copies (all of which cost me money $5 per book plus shipping), before at least two months after I have finished a book having it done, live, and available for sale.
Figure that I’ve got at least 1,000 hours invested in writing and editing a book, possibly more. Then a couple of hundred of my own money (earned cleaning houses) that purchases cover art, line editing, and proof copies.
So in case you were wondering…that leaves me with an income of less than 1/100 of a cent per hour. Yes, that’s right. Sweat shop workers in third-world countries make more money than I do. And I won’t even talk about marketing at this point. Suffice it to say it entails giving away my book to hundreds of people in the hopes that at least a couple of them will post reviews.
Myth #2: Authors get tons of free copies of their books and therefore can easily afford to give them away
Nope. No books are free. Either they count against your potential income in sales (if you have a publishing contract), or they are used to hopefully buy you reviews. And let me tell you, for every hundred books I give away ($3.50 plus shipping costs each on my end) I might get ONE review. ONE. And if they don’t like your formatting, or it isn’t a good match of genres for the reader, or they are having a crappy day, they have no problem leaving a really nasty and rather inaccurate review of the book in their hands.
And reviews, by the way, don’t even begin to really count until the numbers hit double or preferably triple digits. Then, and only then, will folks consider buying your book. I had one reviewer admit that he wasn’t sure he wanted to read the free ebook offered…just because it didn’t have that many reviews!
So basically, if you ask me if you can borrow a book I figure I’m giving it to you. And I’m hoping that this means you will return the favor by posting a positive review. Because, my goal is to make more money than I spend on the book this year!
Myth #3: Authors write sequels instead of putting it all in one book in order to further cash in
Uh…no. I write what I think folks can take in one sitting. I write what I can stand to do, before I need to move on, to another completely different book, or because that’s a natural place to break. Heck, sometimes I stop because I don’t know what happens next and I recognize it is going to take a while to figure it out.
I think this goes back very strongly to Myth #1. We don’t make money, most of us simply DON’T. Sure, we want to make money at it, and hope for the day we do, but we aren’t sitting there gleefully rubbing our hands together and thinking, “So, how can I write a page-turner, leave it hanging, and con folks into buying book #2?”
It just doesn’t happen that way. And yet, I see comments like this in my book reviews…
“I usually don’t buy sequential books, as I feel the authors drag out the stories for the benefit of the dollar.”
Yeah…NO. Again…what dollar are we speaking of? I’m still making 1/100 of a cent here!
Myth #4: Authors fiddle with font size, formatting or add line breaks in to make their books look longer than they really are
Okay, on this one I have to say, I have seen it happen. [whispers…Bobbie C] But NOT BY ME. I would say that this is a very, very rare thing. It goes over badly with readers. Very badly. My intent is to entertain, encourage, enrapture…et cetera…see all those ‘e’ words?! If I use a larger than necessary font, add in too many line breaks or otherwise mess with the formatting of the book, I take away from the story that I am trying to write.
Believe me, I’m not out to get you. I’m sharing my dreams with you (as odd or dark as they might be), I’m handing over a piece of me to be examined, interpreted, and even picked apart. The last thing I want to do is take your money (however little of it I actually end up with) and give you a shoddy product.
Myth #5: Authors cut and paste materials from one story to another to somehow make the book artificially longer
By the way, the same reader I quoted above in Myth #3, accused of me of this. What he was referring to was a preview.
At the end of War’s End: The Storm, I wrote…
“Coming Soon … War’s End: A Brave New World
Here is an excerpt from Book Two …”
And then I placed a chapter from the sequel, War’s End: A Brave New World”
That’s known as a preview, folks. Again, I’m not trying to screw anyone out of their blessed hard-earned dollars in order to make my whopping 1/100 of a cent. I’m not.
Myth #6: I found typos – obviously this author has not even bothered to edit.
I happen to have excellent spelling – however outdated that might be with built-in spell-checkers everywhere. My grammar needs work and it is something I try to improve each and every day. My books go through at least four major edits. First, there is a content edit. Is the story arc making sense? Do I have my facts straight and my characters correct? How does the story flow?
After that, there are the line edits. I do employ a line editor to catch those little typos, and grammatical faux pas, but some things get through, despite my (and others) best efforts.
In the last round of edits, I read the story out loud to my husband. This is to catch odd sounding sentences and wording.
After that, I format the book, upload it to CreateSpace and start passing it around to my beta readers. If you are reading my book for free and didn’t download it off of Kindle during a promotional period, YOU are a beta reader. And that means that you are going to find errors.
Please tell me about them. Not in a review online for God and country – because that stops many potential readers dead in their tracks. They envision a train wreck of a novel when someone says the word typos, despite the cold hard fact that even in bestsellers you will find the occasional typo.
Correcting those typos is so important to me. I don’t want them detracting from the story. I don’t want people to stop reading, or worse, being unwilling to ever read my books because of a comment in a review on typos. Tell me. Send me an email, I’ll fix them with a smile on my face and a flutter of joy in my heart and update the book within days on Create Space and Kindle.
My point is this…writing is a labor of love…kind of like raising a child. It’s worth it, but it sure sucks up your time, money and patience along the way.
I do all of this with the remote hope that someday, I’ll write something that falls in the right hands, moves the right person, and makes all of those 1/100 of a cent per hour that I have been earning somehow worth it financially. However, I’m not counting on it for my retirement fund.
After All That Complaining…
But you know what?
I still think it is worth it.
And I’ll keep thinking that way until everything becomes too much and I’m too tired to write anymore.
I hope that day never comes.
I figure I’ve got at least twelve more books in me, and possibly a lot more. And I’m going to keep writing, and keep dreaming, and keep improving.
I hope you will stick with me – even if I do whine and complain sometimes.