The Everyday Author

For authors who can't quit their day jobs...yet

Month: October 2015

So how do you make money as an author these days?

It’s time we all faced a certain, somewhat deflating fact: no matter how you slice it, making a full-time living from writing books isn’t an easy thing to do these days. In fact, for most of us, it may be close to impossible.

Kameron Hurley wrote a great post that delivered some cold hard truth on the matter. Although you should read it in full, I’ll give you the CliffNotes version to help move things along:

  • Whether you’re traditionally or self-published, the average book doesn’t sell all that well in its lifetime
  • Your book has to be in the right place at the right time to gain traction (I’ll add in that some of these variables you can control, but luck is still a factor.)
  • No matter how bad things suck, keep working on the things in your control. “Level up your craft.”
  • Don’t quit your day job. (For more on this, I highly, highly recommend this Austin Kleon post.)

In a well-crafted response to Hurley’s post, Chuck Wendig gives some honest insights and helpful advice to combat this grim reality. Essentially, you’ve got to spread the wealth. There will be good times and there will be bad. During the good times, prepare to weather the bad.

Depending on who you ask, it’s the best of times and the worst of times right now. One day, indie authors are outselling traditionals on Amazon . The next, ebook sales are falling. Blah blah blah. No one’s sure if the sky is falling or raining dollar bills. As far as I can tell, success differs from author to author.

One thing for sure is this: more people are publishing books than ever before. We’re all fighting like rabid alley rats for a piece of the pie. The semi good news is we’re all getting some, albeit most are getting crumbs and crust. More people than ever are making money selling books but the majority aren’t making enough to march into the office and tell their boss to take this job and shove it.

Unfortunately, it’s a long, slow build for most of us. But the good news is, it is possible, especially if you’re willing to think outside the box and be smart about your income streams.

So how do you make money as an author these days?

Thing is, ebooks don’t really have a shelf life. And, as far as I care to look into the foreseeable future, they aren’t going anywhere, even if their popularity ebbs and flows. When I read that a digital-only book will sell less than 250 copies in its lifetime, I can’t help but scoff a little. How can you predict the lifetime sales of something that lasts forever? Sure, the grid might go down, but in that case, you’re going to be more worried about collecting canned corn and fighting off zombies than selling books.

In the meantime take some sick, twisted comfort knowing we’re all in the same boat and keep your eyes open for other opportunities. You never know where a gold mine might be hiding.

wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.

Author Origins: Jacqueline Garlick

Jacqueline GarlickJacqueline Garlick is an author of young adult, adult, and women’s fiction. She loves strong heroines, despises whiny sidekicks, and adores a good story about a triumphant underdog. (Doesn’t everyone?)  Her edgy, rule-breaking, Tim Burton-esque style of writing has earned her the nickname…the Quentin Tarantino of YA…among close writing friends.

In her former life, Jacqueline was a teacher (both grade school and college, don’t ask) but more recently she has been the graduate of Ellen Hopkin’s Nevada Mentor Program, and a student of James Scott Bell, Christopher Vogler and Don Maass. An excerpt from Lumière earned her the prestigious Donald Maass Break Out Novel Intensive Scholarship, in 2012. Lumière—a romantic steampunk action adventure fantasy—is also the winner of the 2013 LYRA award for best YA, and was also awarded an indieBRAG Medallion, in 2014. Contact Jacqueline on her website www.jacquelinegarlick.com or catch up with her on Twitter @garlickbooks  or on Facebook.

Introduction: Tell us who you are, how and why you decided to be an author and where you’re at right now in your career.

I’m Jacqueline Garlick. I guess I decided to be an author around grade three. Or so the story goes. Apparently, I drove my teacher Mrs. Martin, crazy asking to write and illustrated my own stories on a daily basis. She was very supportive; thus, I started my first series right there in her room. After that, it took me forty long years to take writing seriously again. The loss of my career (due to an illness inflicted by my employer…long story, another blog), an extended sick leave, and finally, expulsion from my teaching position (over sticking up for my rights!) were all motivators in my decision to pursue my life-long passion of writing as a career. Right now, career wise, I’d say, I’m ticking along nicely, still learning the ropes, but swinging from most. One happy writing monkey over here!

What was the hardest thing about balancing writing with a day job. What’s still the hardest thing to balance with everyday life?

Well, for me, as I said, I’d lost the day job, so that took care of that pesky little detail, HA! But seriously, ultimately, that put more pressure on me to succeed as a writer. I felt the need to succeed, and hurry up about it, which I don’t recommend to anyone. Self Publishing (as is Traditional Publishing) is more of a slow burn game. Publishing Rome is seldom an overnight sensation kind of thing. The hardest part about balancing writing with everyday life is that fact that I want to write all the time, all day long, and there are things like dinner, and husbands, and kids, that need tending to…occasionally. HA! I’m a bit of a workaholic. I find it hard to take breaks. If I’m on a break, I feel like I’m cheating my business, slacking off…which is unacceptable when you’re running your own business, or at least in my books. So, taking time for myself is a tough one, but a very necessary one, to preserved creativity. A double-edged sword for sure.

Tell us about your schedule and habits from this time (or what you’re doing now if it hasn’t changed).

The one thing I do that hasn’t changed is…I write every single day. Whether it be for one hour, twenty mins, two mins, or the whole day…I write EVERY SINGLE DAY. My schedule is easy. I get up, shower, make a protein shake, and I write until my family comes home again. I work on marketing in the evenings. Then I wake up and do it all over again. It is nothing for me to work from 7:30 am to 11:00 pm, sometimes 2 the next morning, around other things, but uninterrupted until at least 4 pm everyday. As I said, I’m a bit of a workaholic.

If you don’t mind, would you tell us how your sales first started out? How many books did you have out before you started seeing traction?

Lumiere had only been out for the first year, so I had really just gotten started when Amazon came calling and bought the series from me. I had planned to bring out Noir on my own (book two) as book two’s usually generate a leap in sales, but, as I said, Amazon/Skyscape made me a deal, and I sold them both, so I don’t really know. I can say; however, that my other series (actually a serial) IF ONLY, really started to take off in popularity by book three, IF ONLY SHE HADN’T. I like to theorize that it’s because it features Aubrey, my villain, and people love to hate her so much that they rushed to read it, but then again, it might just have been that by book three, readers trusted in me enough to finish the five book serial and were willing to invest. I’d say, it’s tough to make too much traction with just one book (although there are one-hit wonders out there, for sure!), by two or three books, readers are willing to jump in and check you out. They’ve seen your work around and been impressed by your covers (hopefully)(covers are KEY), and by writing multiple material you’ve proven to them that you’re a serious artist in it for the long haul, so they are willing to try you out.

At one point in time did you make the decision to support yourself/your family as an author? What was that decision like and how did you feel afterward?

As I mentioned above, the decision was sort of made for me, but I can tell you, it was a terrifying one. Change is always nerve-racking, you know you what? If things don’t change, they’ll always stay the same!

Do you support yourself completely from writing books or through a variety of work? If so, what else do you do to pay the bills?

I do a variety of things, but mostly, I focus at this, point on the writing. For example: I’m a well sought after story development editing coach, (not many people know that) helping writer’s write their best books. I very much enjoy story developing, but I only take on a handful of students each year. If I do more, I find I end up neglecting my own writing, and as I say, that is my focus at the moment.

What is one thing about your author career that not many people know of? What are some of your interests outside of writing?

One thing that people might not know about me is that I LOVE to public speak. What makes other’s sweat, makes me SMILE. In fact, just for fun I’m starting up an new Book Tuber channel tomorrow, called “Two Old Chicks Pics” with a long-time writing friend of mine, Rosemary Danielis. Together will be reviewing books we like to read and suggesting more! So, come by and check us out, won’t you?

What’s the single best piece of advice you have for authors who can’t support themselves with their writing yet? What should they be focusing on?

Focus on the writing. In this game, productivity is key. You need to just write and write and write. Write YOUR best book, put it out as flawlessly as possible, with an alluring cover, and then get onto the next product. I say product, because that is essentially what your manuscript becomes. First it’s art. Then it’s a product. For consumers to consume. And you want them to keep consuming; thus, you need to produce more products…so, get that but in your chair and CREATE!

Molding your story

A few weekends ago, I spent some time in the mountains, cleaning out the head of our irrigation ditch. (In addition to writing and publishing on the side, I also work on a family farm). Over the course of the summer, a layer of silt about a foot deep formed over the tarp dam of the creek, followed by another layer of red clay, about half an inch thick.

As I watched the backhoe clearing out the sediment along the ditch, I peeled back a handful of clay and started rolling it in my hands. The red-brown clay molded easy under my palms and fingertips, but when I’d removed it from the layer of dark silt beneath it, some of the silt stuck to the clay. Shaping it in my hands, I found the veins of dark silt running through the clay crumbled and refused to mold with the clay. I also found no matter how many times I rolled and pinched and smoothed, I couldn’t make the clay ball into a perfect circle with my mean skill — there was always a lump sticking out somewhere.

No matter how much I caressed the clay and picked out the “flawed” silt from the clay, it would have still been impossible to make a perfect ball of clay. Eventually, I reached a point where all my little tweaks and pokes made no different. It was as good as my skills could make it.

I continued to turn the ball of clay over in my hands and my thoughts drifted to the revision process. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the revising process with a couple of authors. Although we all did some things a little different, in the end we were all working toward the goal of a shaping a book that’s ready to be enjoyed by readers.

Much like shaping that ball of clay, writing is a process of picking out the flawed parts and turning the words over in your mind and on the page — kneading them with perfection in mind. But eventually, we reach a point where our skills are played out — we can’t make the book any better. Much like a master potter could have made a better circle than me, there are master authors out there who can craft better stories than us. If we keep working at the craft, however, we’ll eventually get to a point where the lumps get smaller, the flawed parts are picked out and we’ve got something special in our hands.

This can only happen if we keep pressing onward. As important as continual improvement is, you’ve also go to realize when a book is as good as it’s going to get. When you reach that point, it’s time to get it out there and start another, remembering everything you just learned and applying it to the new work. Keep on molding.

wpid-imag0065_1-e1410915663557-960x913Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.

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