Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Give me a sign...

Every human in the world reaches a point of no return. It's not so much giving up as finally reaching that place of diminishing returns where the results just don't support the effort.

I am quickly approaching that point. Oh, not this week or the next, but soon. The signs are all there. Sales are flat-lining. I give parties and no one shows up. Most visitors to my blog and webpage are accidental and according to my meter, they leave almost before they arrive. That can't be a good thing.

Lest you think this is a whine and cheese event, I will hasten to say none of the events listed in the paragraph above are NEW. No, that's been the situation for quite a while. So why would I suddenly 'fess up? Perhaps it's simply a matter of facing reality and economics.

What is my time worth?

At least five days a week (sometimes more) I sit at my computer and write. From eight to nine I take care of business--e-mail, blog, social networking. Then from nine until around five I write. There's a break until seven-thirty and then more writing until ten. Close down the computer. Start all over the next day. So I work a minimum of forty hours a week just writing.

My income last year was six thousand dollars.

Hmmmm. Forty hours a week multiplied by fifty two weeks = two thousand eighty hours. Divide six thousand dollars by two thousand eighty and you have...? Two dollars and eighty nine cents per hour. Not exactly a stellar income.

I never expected to sell my books like a Nora Roberts or J.K.Rowling. I understand the economics of erotic romance vs. all other genres. But there's a little factor known as piracy. I hate that word. It lessens the reality. The truth is there are book thieves out there stealing from me.

The publishing world is one of the few where bold-faced thievery is tacitly condoned.

John Smith has a little woodworking business and he produces Adirondack chairs. If I decide I want one of his chairs so I just take it...good ol' John would have me arrested.

If I decided I liked your necklace and took it, you would complain loudly (and possibly have me arrested).

If you bought a book and I tucked it in my bag and walked away, you would be incensed that I made off with something you bought.

All of those instances are clearly thievery. Yet, there is a school of thought that it's okay to steal a book if it's over the internet. Yes, I know all the creative ways people have come up with to justify their thievery.

Not one person has presented a valid argument to put the resulting missing income back in my pocket. No one has a creative way to provide restitution for the loss of book royalties. And NO, I can categorically say that free books do not increase my sales in any meaningful way.

Writers seldom receive feedback. The reality is we don't get bags filled with mail extolling our books. We count ourselves fortunate (and leap around with excitement) if we receive a two sentence note from a reader saying they enjoyed our book. Really. The occasional visit to our webpage is just that. Occasional. And blogs? They seem to be dwindling at an increasing rate except for those focused on dissemination of professional information--or the most controversial ones. As for chats, I suspect they will soon disappear entirely in favor of something new.

Our feedback is the number of books we sell.

Based on my current feedback, I need to find another job.



  1. I HAVE noticed the chatting is down, as is several of the blogs I used to read daily. Three years ago, y'all were saying 'Blog daily; you'll lose your readers if you don't...' and now, sometimes the only time people blog is right around their release dates.

    That's why I started the interviews; it's how I built my TBB list in the first place, along with the chats. I'm more apt to buy an author's book if I've chatted with them, or 'met' through a blog interview (meaning, commented/asked questions and they've responded).

    Just my two cents. Had a great time last night Anny:)

  2. Oh Anny. I feel you and for you. I think for most of us writing has to be a labor of love because we don't earn a whole lot - no matter how hard we work at it. In two years with my previous publisher, I made a total of $150 for four books. It was so hard to keep plugging away! I cannot imagined feeling more discouraged about this path! Thank God this year is better with my new publishers! I don't think it's that people aren't reading, I think people are really busy and stressed...I know I am. I don't have time to participate in chats. But don't give up! You are an amazing writer and person - I do know how you feel - I know every single day that I can make a lot more money as a nurse!

  3. Chatting? Never saw the value of it because only other authors turn up and 'squee' over each other's books until it because painful. Book theives? Should be kicked in the arse until their noses bleed. Dodgy publishers who give themselves five finger discounts when it comes to royalties? See Arse kicking above. When you do get to the point of letting go - and only you know when and if and no one else can tell you that - I reckon you would be amazing as a life skills coach

  4. Ladies, thank you for your thoughtful comments and your encouraging words. I truly appreciate them.

  5. Anny, I could have written that post (probably have at some point) with a few minor changes. I made far less than 6K last year writing. And to make things worse, I didn't like what I was writing. Got an agent. Broke up with an agent. I haven't blogged in ages. Couldn't care less about all the places I used to "visit" to network. Burnt out. I know you're talented because I've read your work. I wish I had an answer--but the truth is, I think the market is glutted. Write if you love writing, and try something different. Try somewhere different. Or don't. Nothing says you must do something just because you can. This is your life--live it, you know? xoxoxoxo

  6. Ack, just typed a long diatribe and lost it. The gist was "I feel ya." xoxoxo

  7. Nope it made it. Thank you so much, Ciar. I admire you tremendously! You'll never know how much I appreciate your words.

  8. Anny, love...

    Please do not give up because you feel insignificant. That's MY line! :( When I first came into this business about this time last year, you were there to support me and many others. I have ALL of your books (even before winnings and gifts) :) and I enjoyed them all.

    You have a unique, tongue-in-cheek voice, and your wry, wonderful wit shines through every page.

    We'll have to discuss this in more detail elsewhere.

  9. Yep...I know what you're saying! I've made less than I'd hoped, and work harder for it!
    You're right about chats...I don't do them anymore and really don't have the time to join others who have them.
    On my yahoo site, I've offered chat days but warned I won't be around and it's the author's responsibility to handle it.
    I worked hard with my first publisher, and felt like I got screwed by a cover I had no input in...and got lousy sales.
    Second publisher doesn't seem to do a lot of promo, so I work my tail off doing promo...but sales are low. Who knows? Maybe the story topic isn't of interest.
    Are we writing what readers want?
    Or, still writing what we like and want to write.
    More and more, life seems to get in the way as family responsibilities have increased/health issues pounced on me. I feel like I'm running behind that publishing bus, frantically trying to catch it.
    Will I continue? Yeah, for awhile longer. I've got some good friends and fans.
    But, Anny...I know what you're saying and wonder when it will be time to retire from my second career!
    Stick around with me a little longer, okay?!

  10. What Ciar said :)

    Honestly, you've made several hundred times what I did last year, even if it was a low year for you. But things are different now than they were when you started, and if you feel like it's not worth your time anymore, then maybe you need to readjust your least for a while. Whatever else you do, I hope you keep blogging. You have a whole lot of life experience and wisdom to offer people and I would be sorry to see it end.

  11. I feel exactly the same way. I'm at a crossroads at my day-job. I could ditch writing and push 100% to better my career. Maybe I'd be happier if I did that. I tried to give up writing but I can't. I guess we have to find some meaning in it other than money, such as number of books published or growth in our craft, or we can't justify it. Hang in there.