Monday, May 31, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
This is a strictly reader to reader help out. There's a 40% off sale at Fictionwise right now. Not sure how long it's going to last, but if you've been waiting to buy a book because it's too much, now's the time to buy! I know I am.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Just How Much Money Can You Make Writing eBooks?
I remember years ago how excited I was to attend my first romance conference. Everyone had so much to say about the writing process, about promotion, and about dealing with the highs and lows of writing. But no one would talk about money. At the time it was 2003,and I had not yet written a full book. I had plans to quit my unfulfilling 60 hour a week job and write for a living. I had it all planned out. I would write a category romance for Harlequin, then snag an agent, break into single title, and soon I’d have a career ready to rival Nora Roberts. (Please, hold your laughter.)
So I worked up the courage to ask an approachable author just how much money one could make from a writing career. Taking pity on me, she told me that for category romance—what she knew—an author could make anywhere from $2000-$5000 depending upon the author. Newbies made the low end, established authors made the high end. And from contract to payout, the author normally had to wait a few years.
There went my hopes for the instant Nora career.
Though much of that conference is now a blur to me, I’ll never forget that author who finally broke the taboo barrier and gave me a realistic view of the business. One book a year, which is what a lot of authors were putting out, sure the heck wouldn’t put food on my table, feed my kids, or content my husband who would have to work extra hard to make up for me quitting my job.
Fast forward seven years. It’s 2010. After a furious struggle with traditional publishing and thanks to a bottoming economy, ebooks are now an accepted and even welcomed medium through which to tell stories. I first learned about them back in 2004 and decided to give them a shot. Where the NY print world demanded I wait anywhere from 4 months to a year to hear back, the electronic world of publishing answered my queries in weeks. I sold a book. Then another. I started to devote myself more than part time to writing.
So enough. I’m getting to the point of this post right now. What most writers want to know but are afraid to ask: Just how much can you make from writing ebooks, and romance at that? Can you make a living? Is it lucrative or just ridiculous to expect any kind of earn out with ebooks? I can only speak from my experience, and here it is.
In 2005, I earned $1984, spent much more on conferences and supplies, and took a loss on my taxes. In 2009—several publishers and 35 books later—I grossed $38000, paid my friggin’ taxes (OUCH), and earned a nice profit. It might not be what the big guns are making in New York, but I’m only paid for what I sell, and I don’t have to wait a year or two to see returns. My royalty percentages range from 35-40% on every ebook I write, depending upon the publisher.
When I first started writing, I considered it part time. Between raising a baby, then adding another, and dealing with teenagers, I didn’t have as much time to write as I’d have liked. This year my littlest guy attended preK. I worked full time and managed–if not great, still acceptable—full time pay. It wasn’t easy. It was actually a lot of work. And yet, I love what I do.
I write ebooks, some of which have gone to print. I make most of my money off the ebooks, though, since my print returns are usually small and net me the lowest royalty rate. I write every day (mostly). On the days I don’t write, I do promo or fiddle with my website and blog. I have over thirty books under my belt, and I consider writing my job. The publishers I write for have great reputations. They don’t charge to edit my books, they actually EDIT my books, and they pay on time. I get monthly checks from all but one of them, and that publisher pays quarterly. All of my publishers sell through various means: the publisher’s website, third party distributors, to include Fictionwise and Amazon (Kindle), as well as other sites.
With so many epublishers out there, it’s hard to know where to submit. This is not a hobby for me, and I write because I enjoy it, but I also write to make money. Samhain and Loose Id are my major money makers. I’ve written successful series for both places, but I think I earn more at those places because they have broader readerships and are smart publishing houses. I also write for Total E-Bound, Amber Quill, and have a book with Whispers. All of my publishers act professionally, pay on time, and listen to their authors. I recently contracted a book with Ellora’s Cave and am curious to see what they’re like. So far, so good.
The formula to make money in this business is easy. Because electronic publishing is still a niche market, you need to write what the readers want and a lot of it. Backlist is more than just a word, it’s the key to financial success. So if you’re a slow writer who wants to make a lot of money writing, electronic publishing in smaller presses might not be for you.
Some facts and figures that might be of interest:
I make great money at Samhain on my backlist, even when I haven’t had a book out in months. My novella Enjoying the Show is my best seller to date. I’ve been paid monthly on this sucker, in addition to my other books, since January 2008.
A History of Enjoying the Show:
I submitted the story, was rejected, made the improvements suggested (thank you, Laurie), and received a contract from Samhain in January 2007. The book released from Samhain nearly a year later, in December 2007. It’s a vanilla, m/f contemporary romance with an awesome cover. The novella cost $3.50.
In 2008 (to include my Dec 2007 take), I grossed: $3670 and sold 2672 copies.
In 2009 I earned: $3901 and sold 2790 copies
And so far, in 2010, I have grossed: $1496 and sold 1069 copies.
In total, just from this one book, I have made $9067. Now, that’s over the course of two and a half years, but that’s not bad for one novella, especially since if folks like it, they might go back and purchase my other books, all of which are still listed and available through all my publishers.
But not all books sell that well. And honestly, I’ve written better books that haven’t earned half that much, so go figure. I write paranormal, futuristic, contemporary, and am making a foray into romantic suspense. But all my books are erotic romance. Readers seem to like a good story, and sex sells. Like it or not, it’s the truth.
The more your name is out there, the better your chances of making more money. People can’t buy you if they have no idea of who you are or what you write. Writing for several publishers broadens my readership and allows me to publish a book a month, or thereabouts.
I have to write constantly. There is no one book a year in my path toward financial success, not using the electronic medium to sell. But I write fast, and thus far in my short-lived career, I’ve never hurt for ideas. Some authors write one or two books a year. I write anywhere from 7-10. This year I have reissues I’ve revised and reedited. I’ll have 12 releases out this year alone by December, pending any publishing catastrophes. I normally have between 6-9 romances out a year. Some are novellas, some category-sized (40-60K words) novels.
I look at writing as a calling, a love, and a business. I do believe you have to put money into it to get money out of it. Advertising, conferences, supplies… All of it goes back into my brand and hopefully attracts new readers. Now I have to finish a contracted book before I hit another novella I have planned for June. And my fingers are crossed that Enjoying the Show continues to sell. God bless the Kindle.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Do certain genres sell more? Why or why not? What's a recent trend that's selling through the roof, and how fast can I write a book like that?
We all think it, want to know about it, and gobble up information on the Net about it whenever possible. Which publishers sell more? Which sell less, and who the heck has all this information in a nutshell that I can crack?
Different authors have shared vital information from time to time I find fascinating. Jennifer Ashley posted some on her blog, as did Lynn Viehl about being a NYTimes best seller. Great stuff, and information worth having.
In the military, I had a pay chart. Hell, we all did. You knew exactly what a corporal, a lieutenant, and a colonel with 15+ years made. But in the writing industry, it's so contrary. Publishing houses, book lengths, book types, and author branding all factor into earn-outs.
And still, no one likes to talk about what's possible. When you've been around for a while, you hear things. But newbies and responsible authors (not me) who don't listen to Internet chatter won't know what's what until someone speaks out.
My friends and I have been bugging the crap out of each other to speak up and share what we know. Several years ago, when I was a newbie with grand (and unrealistic) plans, I had to beg a kindly author to give up the ghost, and was shocked at what I learned. And that was in the print market. The electronic market is just as mysterious and ever-changing. Hard to figure out at the best of times.
At a recent conference I attended, my friends and I got chatty. And I made the mistake of saying we should put up or shut up. So tomorrow I'm going to put up.
You've been warned...
Monday, May 24, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
I'm going to try to be better about blogging regularly. Sigh. We'll see. Enjoy your weekend!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with SAINTE CONTEST in the subject line for a chance to win. That's it! And remember, contest ends June 1st at 8pm EST.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Chuck: “Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end , but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch, there’s always gonna be holes, and since it’s the ending, it’s all supposed to add up to something. I’m telling you, they’re a raging pain in the ass."
One of the best descriptions of an ending I've ever read or heard. Kudos to Chuck, er, God
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
My friend Cat and her husband Todd hosted me while I went to Arizona for the Desert Dreams conference. Todd happens to be the Fire Chief of their town, so I got the royal treatment.
Holy crap, that suit is not only stifling, but it's friggin' heavy. There is no way you can be a slouch when fighting fires. Seems obvious enough, but you just can't understand what it's like until you step into their boots. And heck, I wasn't anywhere near a fire. Just playing around in the fire station.
Then I was told that in a fire, you very rarely are standing. So I was forced--yes, forced--to crawl on the ground with an ax in hand, to mimic clearing my way through a house. Man, was that hard. I have a lot of new respect for firefighters, and for Todd, who somehow managed to trick me into the suit. But hey, I did get to sit in the firetruck and feel important.
So that's my explanation for the suit. Never let it be said I don't keep my promises.
*Big thanks to Todd, and to Cat, for the experience, and for not making more fun of me than they could have.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Frederik Gunnar Tersch has anger issues from an abusive past. He's worked hard to put it all behind him, but he's never dealt with the trauma he once suffered, and because of this, he shies from serious, committed relationships with the opposite sex. In comes Ava Belle, a woman who knows what she wants and she's tired of waiting. She's snarky, possessive, and a lot stronger than she looks.
The fireworks between this pair have been building since Fallon's Flame, book one in the Dawn Endeavor series. And it's time to stoke that fire.
I've completed a second set of edits for Julian's Jeopardy, which comes out next month from Loose Id. So now it's up to me to finish Gunnar's Game before May is finished.
I have a tight timeline. School lets out at the end of May, and I have a high school senior graduating this year. When the kids are out of school, that's less time for me to write during the day without distraction. Unlike some writers, I need quiet to function. No TV, no music, no dancing kids. Just a vision of Gunnar to inspire me.
I need to make things happen rather quickly with this story. Some key points that will be handled in Gunnar's Game: