Friday, April 24, 2009
This has little or nothing to do with writing except as an excuse for not getting my work done. The contractor is installing my appliances today, or at least making a lot of noise while attempting it. So I'm poking around in my files to see if I can find "before" pictures of the kitchen per Sherrie's request. But the selection is rather pitiful. The one on the left shows mostly the portable island I had to use because half the kitchen was a desk (on the left in the left picture). The picture on the right was moving day, shows the sink, dishwasher, and my one dish cabinet, and the stove, all lined up like soldiers. Bad juju, I'm here to tell ya. And here's what the place looked like after we had it ripped out:
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
After the doom and gloom of my last few posts, I can't resist adding a bit of silliness. I've found a new way to lose weight! I'm not recommending this method, but I swear to you, I've lost four pounds in two weeks...
While my kitchen is under construction, I'm washing dishes in a bar sink off the family room, eating and microwaving in the dining room, going to the refrigerator and the pantry in the kitchen, and tracking down plates and silverware everywhere. I am apparently walking miles extra each day just preparing meals. So there you are--climate controlled weight loss without joining a gym!
Of course, now that it's spring, it's time to get outside and walk. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I like the idea of a magic hat for making money....
Just looking at Brenda Hiatt’s Show Me the Money Survey (http://www.brendahiatt.com/id2.html) will show you there are perhaps four publishers capable of paying our theoretical living wage of $14,000 (see Money Matters, Part I) in advance for mass market genre fiction. In the current economy, a beginning author will be lucky to receive a $2000 advance. And with a print publisher, it is highly unlikely that a beginning author will sell more than one book a year (unlike e-authors who can often sell many books a year). I know of some beginning authors who have sold a trilogy that is published all in one year, but it took years of writing, editing, and revising before those books saw the light of day. In other words, they had to survive for years on whatever advance the publisher decided to pay, and chances were good that wasn’t our $14,000 per year figure.
The good part about big print publishers is that they can reach many more readers than an e-book publisher can--which will establish an author's name much faster than small print runs. The bad part is that their royalty rate is considerably less. Traditionally, a mass market print publisher pays 4-8% of cover price on the first books sold. For the sake of ease, let’s say on the first 100,000 sold. Over that, they should earn 10%, but only the New York Times bestsellers can expect sales like that these days. (and not even bestsellers sell that many sometimes--see Lynn Viehl's link below)
A publisher has a good idea of what size print run they’re expecting when they offer an advance. On a first mass market romance book, they might expect to print 30,000 books and sell half of that. If we assume this publisher pays a 6% advance on a $6 book, the new author might expect an advance of $5400 ($6 x .06 x 15000), but publishers are trying to save cash flow in the current market, so they’ll more likely offer $2500. And then make the writer wait two years to see how the book does before buying another. Mileages vary, but that's the sad reality for many.
All the expenses that held true for small press will hold true for big print publishers—the author still needs to work on marketing, they still have to pay agents, self employment taxes, and business expenses. The above author can hope she sells better than the 15,000 books the publisher expected and earn out more than the $5400, but that still isn’t a living wage, especially if she has to wait two years for another contract!
And for those who think reaching the New York Times bestseller list is the road to riches, here’s an equally rude awakening thanks to Lynn Viehl: http://www.genreality.net/the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller
Beginning writers in mass market fiction must reconcile themselves to writing for love of the process and a prayer that they’ll win the ticket for the gravy train sometime in the future. Once upon a time, I would say at least half of all beginning writers would move on to earning at least $20,000 a year, which should approximate our theoretical living wage of $14,000 after commissions, taxes, etc, although they’d best hope someone else in the family has health insurance. But I’ve seen so many of those writers fall off the gravy train as the market tightened that I can’t predict what will happen tomorrow. I know experienced, multi-published, well-known authors who can’t sell their books now because the market has become so narrow. Today’s new writers are expected to achieve a far higher level of craft and marketing savvy than writers ten years ago, and they’re expected to produce faster while rapidly improving these levels if they wish to increase their production and their income.
As writers, we may not be able to give up writing, but we need to be prepared for the reality—like musicians, we may have to start finding other ways to make money from our craft. T-shirts anybody?