Monday, October 1, 2012

Where the Book Sales Go

It seems there is a misconception about the writing world.  Okay, more than one.  But there is a certain one I decided to lightly address today: Money.

Not all authors are JK Rowlings or Stephenie Meyers.  Those ladies wrote great stories, managed to snag great agents, great publishers, go on to make great movies... And no doubt have great bank accounts.  While it is true that authors can and do strike that luck in their career, it is not something that happens over night, and not something that happens to every author out there.

I recently had a conversation with a friend.  It went something like this:

Friend: So, how are your book sales going?
Me: Pretty good, this month.
Friend: But you have a published book.  Aren't you making tons now?
Me: Uh, no.  Not really.
Friend:  I would think by now you would have enough to get a car or house or something.
Me: *thinks of my 95 Astro van...* Nope, sad to say, book sales aren't that high.
Friend:  What was the point of publishing then?

I just smiled and changed the topic.

People, at least many I have talked to, seem to think that as soon as you have a book published, that's it.  You get to sit back and watch the money roll in.  Buy houses and cars.  Quit your day job.  Sign that movie deal and cast that ideal cast.  In all honesty, the bookish life is far from that.  While I won't lie and say I make nothing, I make no where near enough for the easy life.  Here are some answers to some common misconceptions:

  • I use my book sales to buy new, pretty cars.
Sure, yeah.  I do.  In my dreams.  I drive them nightly.  Then in the morning I decide it would be a better choice to use my Astro van.  Wait, nevermind.  I can't do that.  Because we are a one car family and my husband uses the car to get to work.  Daily.

  • I use my book sales to buy a nice, huge house.
It's true.  And every night in my dreams I park my stack of pretty cars inside the house's ten car garage.  Then, when I wake up in our two bedroom, bottom floor apartment with our noisy neighbors pounding on the floor and wish I had a yard to let my kids play in, I fondly remember my million dollar dream house with heated pool.

  • Book sales fund my extravagant, monthly vacations.
Are you kidding?  I take daily vacations.  I go to the grocery store and try to balance kids with coupons with "Can I splurge and get this candy bar today?"  Who needs Hawaii or Vegas or France when you have WIC appointments, diapers to buy, doctor check ups and bills to pay.  All while begging for rides most days because hubby has the car at work?

  • Book sales are so amazing I quit my day job.
Well, to start: My day job is being mommy.  So I can't fully quit.  But yeah sure, I have my British nanny who takes care of my kids night and day for me while my husband gets to sit and game nonstop because he too quit his job in hopes that my sales will never dip and cause us to give up our mansion, ten cars, daily vacations...

Alright.  Sarcasm aside.
Book sales, as awesome as they can be.  As excited as I get every time I see a new reader has given my book a chance.  As ecstatic as I get when I get my monthly payment... They aren't that dependable.  I would never invest my faith to my sales to support my entire family.  At least not yet.  Day jobs are important.  Having a roof over your head, even if it consists of noisy neighbors, is important.  Having a running car even if it is far from your dream car, is important.

Who knows where my books will take me in the future.  But for now, I can tell you the two things my book sales ARE paying for:

See that food in my fridge?  In my cupboard?  The food my little kiddos are eating?  My book sales pay for that.  Crumbs and all.

And see this adorable face, of this adorable preschooler?  That is my son.  And each month my book sales are paying for him to attend his school.  To learn, grow, make friends.  And get more and more excited about writing.  That is what my sales pay for.

And that is why I appreciate my readers like nothing else.  You have helped my baby go to school.

One of the best supports you can give an author is the simple purchase of their book.  Being an artist is a struggle.  Money-wise.  Confidence-wise.  Sanity-wise.  We struggle daily with our passion.  And at the end of the day, one of the main things that keeps us creating is you.  Our fans.

To answer my friend's question on why I even bothered to get published:

I don't write for the fame of it.  I write for the love of it.  And how rich am I?


Ellie Garratt said...

Well said. I've given up trying to explain why I write and how even I am published the chances are I'll only make a minimum wage. The worst but most frequent comment I get is this, 'Remember me when you're J K Rowling!'.

Your son is adorable and blessed to have a mother like you.

Trisha said...

I totally agree with this. I want to publish my stories, not to make stacks of money, but because I want them out there, for people to read. And hopefully enjoy. I definitely don't expect to ever be able to quit my day job. I'd honestly be more excited about a good review than about making money off a book.


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