Can I Call Myself a Writer Yet?
Some time back I wrote this post on calling myself a writer. Getting up the courage to do that? It isn't easy. But calling myself a writer is not the only pitfall or stumbling block in this career. (Because once I put that on my income taxes…that's what it became. A Career. Not a hobby or a pastime… Pardon me I have to pause to let that sink in. I am a self-employed writer.)
*gulps coffee* Some time ago, I began to self-publish some of my work. There were many deciding factors in this, and I don't mind admitting that some of them were financial. You see, along with calling myself a writer came the necessity of making writing pay for my living expenses. So I had to make money not just create art.
*sighs* I know. I'm crass. I've desecrated sacred art. I should starve for my stories… But I like food too much for that.
Art for art's sake. It's an interesting concept. I've no doubt that if people suddenly stopped buying, and I had to get an "evil day job" like so many other authors, I'd still write. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't rather be able to pay my way doing something I love. Putting a price on my work has always been one of the most difficult aspects of writing. I do believe that I deserve to be paid for my efforts. But how much? Should I compare the price of an hour or two of entertainment to the cost of a cup of fancy coffee? Or to an hour of television or a movie that you rent? Should it all be free so that as many people as possible might enjoy?
Right. Tell that to the dentist who fixes my teeth, the doctors who cure my illnesses and the grocers who supply my food.
They should do that out of the goodness of their hearts? The farmers throw their hearts and souls into producing a crop, and getting it to market. They don't let beautiful produce languish and rot on the vine.
Dentists, lawyers, doctors, farmers, all create a product or provide a service. And they are recompensed for that at rates they set. You have the option of saying, yeah that's too costly for a root canal. Or I'm not paying four dollars a pound for hamburger, and taking your business elsewhere.
The same is true with writers.
We write. We put our whole selves into a piece of work that consumes hours, days or even months of our time. And from all this effort emerges a thing. A story. A bit of entertainment for our readers.
But it's not free. It comes at a cost.
So, recouping that cost has to be a part of our writing paradigm. NOT ALWAYS. Sometimes, we write things as gifts, for our readers and fans. Free stories that we give willingly as rewards for loyal readers, or to entice new readers into sampling our wares. I have plenty of free stories, some perma-free, some free only at certain venues, and some free in regularly scheduled promotional events.
In order to call myself a writer, I have to make sufficient money writing that I don't need a second job. So, I self-publish some works because of the math.
A publisher- and e-book publishers are much more generous than traditional paperback publishers- will generally give an author 30-45% in royalties on books sold. That's after the vendors take their cuts. Amazon only pays 70% royalties on books priced at 2.99 and over. Below that price point, you get 35%. Pardon me, the publisher gets 35%. All Romance pays 60%. Smashwords pays more.
So follow the money.
Let's talk Amazon because they're the biggest e-book market. That 2.99 book with a publishing house will pay the publisher 2.09 per copy sold. Of that, the author receives 0.84. 84¢ per copy sold. Now, if the publisher prices your work at… say 1.99, putting you below that 70% rate right out of the gate?
At $1.99, the publisher makes 0.70 cents a copy. The author makes 0.28.
TWENTY-EIGHT CENTS A COPY.
At $0.99, the publisher makes 0.35 per copy. The author makes 0.14.
Self-publishing buys more bread on the table, electricity to run the computers, gas in the car and health care than working with a publishing house.
You'll notice in the coming days that I have added a new option when purchasing my work. It's a Direct From Author Link.
Don't be afraid of this link. It's a Payhip link that takes you to a book page. I admit, it's not the sleek and pretty page that Amazon and ARe offer. It's succinct and to the point.
Payhip is a service offered by PayPal that allows authors to sell e-books online without going through a third party vendor like Amazon, All Romance, and Smashwords. What you're purchasing is the exact same product that is available at All Romance, Amazon and Smashwords. It was edited by the same fabulous editor, the cover was designed by the same talented artist, the story is identical.
The difference is, Payhip takes 5% of the sales and gives the author 95%.
And it’s the same secure, trusted Paypal system of payment that many of us use every day.
Currently, I have two books with Payhip links, but I do plan to eventually get all of my work up there.
With a name like Valentine Michaels, he could have been
anything. A rockstar, a super spy...
Pulp Friction 2015
Jack of Spades #1