Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

Interview with Kris Calvin, author of One Murder More: one year on

July 3, 2016

Interview with Kris Calvin, author of One Murder More: one year on

Note: Kris Calvin, who is interviewed below, is my sibling. I’ve been keeping readers of ILMK informed about the Kris’ experience as a first time author. I do not, though, have any financial interest in the book. We have had discussions about the book and the business, but that’s the extent of my involvement

ILMK: It’s been a bit over a year since the debut publication of your first novel, One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), a Maren Kane mystery. I appreciate you taking the time to check in with the readers of ILMK.

You mention a lot of books on your Twitter feed, so you must have had some thoughts about what it was like to be an author before One Murder More was published. What, if anything, has turned out pretty much the way you expected?

Kris Calvin: I’m not one of those people who thought “I had a book in me” or “always wanted to be an author”. I’ve been an avid reader all of  my life, but never gave any serious thought as to what it would be like to be on the other side of that partnership.  So, in that sense, all of it has been surprising. If I had to choose one thing, it would be how much I want to be writing whenever I’m doing something else, and yet how difficult it can be when I sit down to write to actually begin.

ILMK:  How important do you think it is as a writer that you are still reading as much as you do?

Kris Calvin:  It’s essential, I can’t write unless I’m  also reading. It’s kind of like priming the pump. I average about 2 to 3 novels a week. Conversely, although many of my author friends find that watching television series is another way to spur their creativity, if I watch TV or movies it seems to create a barrier to my putting words down on the page.

ILMK: In addition to reading and writing, it’s clear that you travel to a lot of literary events. Some of my readers know what’s it like to attend these as an audience member, but what it is like as an author? Do you see some of the same authors at different events?

Kris Calvin: Literary events  run the gamut,  from a  single author reading his or her work in front of 10 people in  a local bookstore to massive international conferences where many hundreds of authors and readers gather for several days of back-to-back speeches, interviews and panels, and all kinds of venues in formats that fall in between the two.

Attending as an author varies in experience, depending on timing and related goals. When I’m launching a new book I’ll spend the bulk of my time promoting it, often doing a signing and connecting with readers. If not, my schedule is more relaxed—I might  sit on a panel that is topic-related,  for example about creating a strong woman protagonist or writing a political thriller. But most of my time is spent doing the same thing I would do as a reader: attending other writers’ panels with the hope of being entertained and learning something! 

ILMK: One Murder More has gotten great reviews on Amazon, with an average of 4.7 stars out of 5 with 87 customer reviews. Take a look at this graph of the number of reviews the book has been getting.

OMM Review Distribution.JPG

Not surprisingly, the most reviews happened when it was first released, but the number of reviews has been trending upwards again this year. What have you done to maintain interest in the book?

Kris Calvin: The recent spike may be related to my doing a number of events, including speaking at rotaries and book clubs in-person and via Skype. These aren’t often large groups, but they are friendly and responsive and we have a lot of fun! I  don’t push purchasing my books when I speak, I share my experiences writing and in politics but I do specifically ask attendees to leave an honest review if they  get a chance to read the book. I think many folks don’t know that they can review a book on Amazon even if they buy it elsewhere, so maybe giving them that information has also helped.

ILMK: Generally, marketing must take some real time and energy. How do you prioritize your time between writing and marketing?

Kris Calvin: I’m a morning person, so that’s when I write.  It’s when my creative energy is best. I don’t do much direct marketing, but I’m aware that being active on social media connects me with people, some of whom then try out my books!  So I do that later in the day. 

ILMK: I understand that you are currently working on the second Maren Kane mystery. Was the plan always to make it a series?

Kris Calvin: I enjoy reading series a great deal, not only mysteries and thrillers but also sci-fi fantasy, and because I  work in politics in my day job I have no shortage of  motives for murder and mayhem!  I don’t outline, but I have a  premise in mind for the next five Maren Kane books. 

ILMK: Some authors have written several books in a series before releasing the first one. In your case, you are hearing from readers about what they like before you write the next Maren Kane mystery. How do you think that will affect it? Are there characters who may get more story line because the readers liked them more than you might have expected?

Kris Calvin: Each time I do an event with readers I ask them who their favorite and least favorite characters are, and what they might like to see happen to Maren and her friends next.  I’ve gotten lots of good ideas that way, although I also found some plot twist that I was already working onto be unpopular and  decided to rethink them! For example,  Polly, Maren’s British-born best friend, was sadly a victim of Sacramento  gang violence in the first draft of the second book. When I raised this at one event a woman told me she was going to start a #SavePolly  campaign as she couldn’t stand to see her go! So now Polly’s only been injured, and I’m pretty sure she’s going to be fine…

ILMK: You’ve also already had published a Maren Kane short story in the anthology, Tinsel and Temptation (at AmazonSmile*). How do short stories fit into the mix in your writing life?

Kris Calvin:  This story that you reference, That Merriest Murder, was the first short story that I’ve ever written,  at least since high school, and I’m not sure I wrote any then.  The most challenging part for me was the inability to put in false leads and “red herrings”  like I would normally do in a full-length novel. I felt like it would be obvious who the murderer was if I didn’t have room to create those alternate suspects.  You were quite helpful with that!  I don’t  know if you remember, but we had a discussion around that time about my frustration and you told me that short stories are fundamentally character-driven: that if I could create a compelling character, readers wouldn’t mind so much that the puzzle wasn’t as difficult.  That seems to have turned out to be true, as I had readers of that story tell me that they figured out who the murderer was, but that they enjoyed it nonetheless!  Since then I’ve written a second short story which is not out yet, and I greatly enjoyed the process.  It doesn’t require as much deferral of gratification  for the author as  writing a 300-page book! 

ILMK: One Murder More was published as an e-book, as a hardback, and now as a paperback. Do you find any differences in the reader reaction from the different formats? Do you do special marketing to appeal to readers of different formats?

Kris Calvin: It was my publisher’s idea to start with a hardback, as they feel it is the preferred format for reviewers. I’ve also since learned that it’s favored by many libraries.  I think they were right that that enabled me to get more attention for the book at launch. However, I think the typical consumer prefers to pay less for a new author’s work, and that makes both the paperback and the e-book far more appealing. The paperback is my favorite, I really like the way that it came out in terms of production value, we were able to add more “praise quotes” than we could at launch, which is fun,  and silly as it is to say, it’s much more lightweight and easy for me to carry around. I generally have a paperback copy of my book tucked in my purse to share with people that I meet who say they are avid thriller and mystery readers.  In terms of marketing, the only difference is I did a $.99 promotion for the e-book and that clearly had an effect. It lifted it into the top 100 Mystery and Thriller series out of approximately 64,000 titles in that category, and although it didn’t remain there,  sales  are still elevated.  Since my  primary goal is to gain readers,  having an available e-book at a low, low price is a really great way to do that. [Bufo’s note: the ninety-nine cent sale is still happening at time of writing, but I don’t know how long it will last]

ILMK: Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

Kris Calvin: If writing has taught me anything, it’s that it’s important to stay curious. As I mentioned, I didn’t begin writing my book because I “knew” that I wanted to be an author. I was just curious as to whether I could use the twist I had thought of to craft a mystery like the ones that I enjoy reading.  I’ve tried other things before this, running for local office, owning a vintage clothing store.  They were both interesting, but neither one landed as my “passion” the way writing has.  I know that being “a dilettante” is often viewed negatively, but I think there’s something to be said for dabbling in a number of different things until you find the one that truly lifts your heart.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Authors are nice people

April 21, 2016

Authors are nice people

I originally considered a more “click-bait” title for this post: “Are authors nice?” I decided not to do that, because from my own experience, some certainly are.

It’s interesting…writing is, generally, a non-social activity. Most writers, I’m sure, write in isolation…maybe with the door closed. We see fictional representations of authors’ families knowing not to “disturb” them while they are writing. Those stories are written by, well, authors, so you would think they would know.😉

I can write with my Significant Other in the room, typically, but it can really bring me out of the flow if I get asked a question.

Fiction authors can “create their own friends”.😉 Of course it isn’t the same, but it’s a complete misunderstanding that authors completely control their characters. For characters to be effective, they need to have character…which includes them “refusing” to do something out of character.

It seems very likely that some authors become authors in part because they are uncomfortable with flesh and blood people. They aren’t comfortable socially, but they are still instinctively driven to explore social situations.

Some authors appear to fit that stereotype, perhaps becoming virtual recluses (J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Pynchon…).

It’s different for contemporary authors. In today’s social media climate, many authors communicate regularly with fans, and are much more open. Amanda Hocking comes immediately to mind…one of my favorite Twitter feeds (although there hasn’t been as much textual content recently, it seems).

There have always been nice authors, though.🙂 Writing fiction (and even much of non-fiction) requires empathy…you have to understand how people feel.

I’ve had  a few experiences where authors were kind to me, and I wanted to share them with you.

I want to be clear here: these three experiences had nothing to do with me being a writer. In each of these cases, I can guarantee you the authors were already established…and had no idea who I was.🙂 I was just part of the public…I say that to eliminate any possibility that they were being nice to me because of what small influence I may currently have as a blogger.

Loren Coleman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’ve been interested in “cryptozoology” since I read Gardner Soule’s The Maybe Monsters when I was in elementary school. That led to an interest in all sorts of things “Fortean”, and in critical thinking and why people believe what they believe.

Loren Coleman is a titan of the field, having written several truly significant and bestselling books. The author appears on television shows and radio.

Importantly, Coleman is also dedicated to public service, and is famously generous with other interested people (well-known and not)…not always the case in that topic (or in many others, of course). One example? Creation of the

International Museum of Cryptozoology

which is currently being expanded in Maine. Loren is often there in person, speaking to schoolkids and adults alike.

The museum didn’t exist many, many years ago when I started an online presence which I called “Weird World”.

It turned out that Loren Coleman had already used the name for (as I recall) a TV pilot which didn’t go to series.

It would have been easy for an established author like that to simply make me, at the time a “nobody”, stop using the name.

Instead, Loren gave me permission to use it.

That wasn’t necessary. That didn’t give Loren Coleman any advantage. It was just an act of creative generosity.

I did start calling it “Bufo’s Weird World” to differentiate it, but I’ve never forgotten that act of unnecessary kindness.

Forrest Ackerman (at AmazonSmile* )

“Uncle Forry” was a science fiction fan from the 1930s. Forry is credited with having been the first “cosplayer” (wearing a costume to one of the very first science fiction conventions), coined the term “sci-fi”, and was most legendarily the editor of “Famous Monsters of Filmland”. I’m sure my love of puns comes in part from “4E”, although Oz and Alice helped as well.

There are many prominent filmmakers today who credit Forry and Famous Monsters for inspiring and encouraging them.

I was young and at a World Con. I had a ride to the airport…so I spent the remainder of my money on the last day in the “Dealer’s Room”.

Then my ride left without me.

I had no way to get to the airport. I didn’t have credit cards…I had nothing at that point.

I saw Forry across the room (I was a Famous Monsters subscriber).

I had some Super 8 rolls of film I hadn’t shot yet.

Not sure what to do, I went over to Forry and asked if this celebrity wanted to buy some of my unexposed rolls.🙂

Naturally, Forry asked me why, and I explained my dilemma.

“Uncle Forry” gave me ten dollars.

No way to know I wasn’t scamming. No way to know I’d actually use it to get to the airport. Just out of…humanity.

Years later, I happened to see Forry Ackerman at another convention…and returned that $10.

Perhaps most heartwarming to me, Forry said, “Oh, you were that [person].” I was surprised that I was remembered…it had certainly been a few years.

Sort of like Loren Coleman, Forry had a museum…the family house.🙂 It was called the “Ackermansion”, and strangers would be taken through to see thing like a real Bela Lugosi Dracula cape, or an armature from King Kong.

The irreplaceable  collection was eventually broken up and sold off…something that can still spontaneously strike me with sadness. That’s right…out of nowhere, I can be sad about a garage sale. I think they may regret it now, but I’ve always been  disappointed that one of the millionaire “monster kids” of the 1960s who became huge successes in later decades, didn’t buy it and keep it together.

Michael R. Hicks (at AmazonSmile*)

This situation is a bit more modern, and perhaps different…but I’m still very grateful.

When I wrote my first book for the Kindle store, I didn’t know much about formatting an e-book. I’d taught computer programming, so I do know tech, but each technology is its own thing.

I didn’t know how to do an Active Table of Content (AToC), where you can click/tap and go to a chapter.

As I recall, Michael Hicks answer my question at what was then Amazon’s DTP (Digital Text Platform), now Kindle Direct Publishing.

Again, no selfish reason to do that for Michael Hicks…it was just being kind.

Out of that kindness, I did read the In Her Name book…which is what converted me to reading on a Kindle. It was a great book (the series as since been…reconstructed, so that particular volume isn’t available that way).

In all three of these cases, it was simply an author being nice to a stranger…proof for me that (at least some) authors are nice.🙂

What do you think? Do you have stories of authors being nice to you? Feel free to share them with me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

March 9th: Mickey Spillane’s birthday

March 9, 2016

March 9th: Mickey Spillane’s birthday

Hard-boiled crime author Mickey Spillane was born on March 9th.

That’s a pretty rare date. It’s one of only five square birthdays in the years.

What’s a square birthday?

It’s one where the day is the square of the month…March is the third month, and three times three is nine. So, the square birthdays are

  • January 1st (1×1=1)
  • February 4th (2×2=4)
  • March 9th (3×3=9)
  • April 16th (4×4=16)
  • May 25th (5×5=25)

and there is no June 36th.🙂

I find it a bit ironic…because I don’t think Spillane’s most famous character thought much was on the square. In the grimy world of Mike Hammer, “fair” ain’t nothing but a hair color.😉

Mickey Spillane didn’t invent hard-boiled fiction…Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler were already established when

I, the Jury (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

blasted on to the scene.

Spillane would go on to sell hundreds of millions of books, and Mike Hammer would appear in comics (Spillane had been a comic book writer), TV, and movies. Hammer has been played by Darren McGavin, Stacy Keach…and even in one movie, by Spillane.

There are 35 Kindle editions listed at

Amazon’s Mickey Spillane author page (at AmazonSmile*)

If you want to get a solid Mike Hammer library (or give one as a gift…recognizing that these are violent books with what was at the time shocking sexual themes), Amazon has an interesting way to do that.

There are three collections, each one with multiple books (the first one has I, the Jury; Vengeance Is Mine; My Gun Is Quick).

On this page:

Mike Hammer Collection (3 Book Series) (at AmazonSmile*)

you can buy all three collections with one click…not as an omnibus, but as three separate titles.

There are advantages in having separate files…it’s smaller, for one thing.🙂 That can make searching and navigation easier. I have an “emergency book” on my device which has over 100 books in it (it’s no longer available)…I can’t easily go from chapter to chapter, or example, because it thinks a book is a chapter.

If you want to try it, get a sample…probably at the beginning, with I, the Jury. The books are not available through

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I’d say, “Happy birthday” but that somehow doesn’t seem appropriate: “Hard-boiled birthday, Mickey Spillane!”😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

 

Round up #309: cool reading, peripheral problems

September 29, 2015

Round up #309: cool reading, peripheral problems

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

An author on the cover of People

I do think that in the past, oh, ten years or so, authors have become a bit more cool.

Generally, when people think pop culture, it’s movies, TV, and music. Videogames, while sometimes the biggest revenue generators, are too introspective for a ton of coverage…and they don’t feature human beings about which magazines can gossip.😉

That last point might, I suppose, help to explain why books are less likely to be featured in pop culture coverage.

Oh, all the popcul mags do it some. The book coverage may be my favorite part of Entertainment Weekly, and regular readers know I use the term “People Magazine books” for the very popular mainstream titles.

That’s why I was honestly a bit surprised to see

Jackie Collins

get the full cover of the October 5th issue of

PEOPLE Magazine (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Certainly, Collins was a (very) popular author, and does have a Hollywood tie-in (with sibling Joan and some minor acting experience)…that might have had some influence.

However, there was a special circumstance: they had an exclusive interview from just a few days pre-mortem.

Still, they obviously thought readers would be familiar with Collins.

People Magazine readers would also know Stephen King, John Green, J.K. Rowling, and perhaps another ten or so authors (excluding authors who are well-known from other fields, including movies, TV, music, and politics).

Now, that’s not to say that they wouldn’t have known some authors in the past: Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway…but I do think there has been a shift. I’d like to say that the impact of the Kindle on the e-book market since its release in 2007 may have impacted the “cool ratio” of reading…but that’s just speculation.😉

The problem with peripherals

I think it’s understandable that companies producing gadgets focus on the gadgets themselves. I recently wrote about

Amazon hardware announcements! $50 tablet, 10″ tablet, Fire TV 2

There wasn’t a lot of talk about the peripherals: power supplies, remotes (although I was pleased to see that the game controller for the Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition ((at AmazonSmile*)) has a headphone jack ((Dolby enabled)), one of my favorite features of some models of Roku).

I do think that matters…it’s been perhaps my biggest frustration with some gadgets which I otherwise like very much.

I really like the inexpensive

ARCTIC P324 BT (Black) – Bluetooth (V4.0) Headset with Neckband – Headphones with integrated Microphone – Perfect for Sport (at AmazonSmile*)

that I use with our Fire TV, and at work with my Kindle Fire HDX, my laptop, and my phone at times.

That’s the alternative to the headphones that plug into the remote that I mentioned above.

The sound is good, the microphone works…the only negative to the device itself, really, is that the battery seems to discharge pretty quickly even when I’m not using it. If I don’t use it for a couple of days, I still need to plug it in to charge before I use it again.

I can live with that, though.

The weird thing is that it came with a simple carrying case. The headphones fold, and fit into something…oh, about the dimensions of an old audiocassette, except as thick as about four of them.

Shortly after I had the headphones, the zipper broke on the carrying case.

I can still use the case…it goes in my laptop case with me to work, so that pretty much keeps it closed.

It is, though, disappointing: I paid for the case (not much, certainly), and it doesn’t do what it was supposed to do.

How about Amazon hardware?

Amazon did a great job with the headphones for the Fire Phone…I use mine a lot (the Fire Phone is still my daily use SmartPhone). Since that device is now not in their current line-up, though, it’s hard to count tht as a win.😉 There may be people at Amazon who said, “You know, if we hadn’t spent that much development money making good headphones, the Fire Phone would have been a hit.”😉

I’ve never really been impressed with the chargers for the Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) and Fire tablets. The EBR chargers notoriously end up having the coating peel away from the raw wires…I’ve had that happen many times, and I need to replace them.

I don’t find that they fit very well, and they don’t charge very quickly.

That’s why I use the third party

Pwr+ Extra Long 6.5 Ft AC Adapter 2.1A Rapid Charger for Fast Charging Hd, Hdx 6″ 7″ 8.9″ 9.7″ Tablet and Phone, Tab Power Supply Cord (at AmazonSmile*)

It’s $14.90 right now…a reasonable price, as far as I’m concerned. Amazon’s PowerFast charger is $19.99…and seems much slower.

The Pwr+ works great…until it doesn’t work at all.😉

I went back and looked: they seem to last me a few months, and then they just die. That’s not Amazon’s fault, of course.

Then, there are the remotes for the Fire TV.

I just had (another) one die.

That’s happened at least twice now. The first time, it was at under warranty.

This last one was a voice remote which I got when the Fire TV was first released…in April of 2014.

Amazon wouldn’t replace it, which is fine…they did give me a $5 credit towards some other things.

I could replace it for $30…but I have the 2nd generation

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*) $99.99

on order now, and that will have a voice remote.

Is it a big deal that the remote stops working?

Yes!🙂

You can’t tell the box what to do without communicating with it, of course…its just a paperweight without some sort of control.

Fortunately, I have the free

Amazon Fire TV Remote App (at AmazonSmile*)

on both my Fire Phone and my Kindle Fire HDX tablet.

It works pretty well…even does voice search. That should be how people can pay $40 for the

Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) $49.99 with voice remote, $39.99 with standard remote

new generation, and get the Alexa Voice Service (like we have on the Amazon Echo ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)).

Still, I’m often charging my phone or tablet when I would be watching that Fire TV Stick, so it’s a bit inconvenient. Naturally, when we have true wireless device charging (which I believe is coming) so we don’t need to plug in the devices at all, that would solve that problem, but that’s in the future).

Tom Clancy quotation via Kindle Nation Daily

I liked this one:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1082917348392890

🙂

What do you think? How important are peripherals to your feeling about a device? Is reading cooler because of e-books? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Authors Guild: full-time authors income down 30% since 2006

September 21, 2015

Authors Guild: full-time authors income down 30% since 2006

I recently wrote about

On Labor Day: how writers make money

I didn’t talk about how much money authors make.

I think most of you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it isn’t much.

Oh, sure, there are a tiny percentage who make a lot, but consider this.

According to a survey by the Authors Guild, full-time authors reported making $17,500 annually.

Payscale.com says that a McDonalds “fast food worker” (http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Employer=McDonald%27s_Corporation/Salary) makes between $14,802 – $19,086. Averaging out those two numbers, we get $16,944…about a McDonald’s medium coffee a day’s difference.

Remember, that’s a full-time author…part-time authors reported a writing income of $4,500.

At  least with all of the new books being published through digital means, and all the new datastreams, those salaries may finally become comfortable in the next few years, right?

Again, according to the

Authors Guild report: The Wages of Writing

full-time authors income has declined 30% since 2006 (when they last did the survey).

Part-time authors’ salaries declined even more sharply.

I’ll let you read the report for the rest of it…I don’t want to take too much away from it.

However, we can talk about what this means…the Guild speculates a bit about causative factors: I particularly suggest you read the introductory two paragraphs.

First, it’s possible that there are authors not included in this survey who have seen incomes increase.  The first-year dues to be a member are $125, and you have to meet a standard that has to do with publication and/or income. Certainly, my personal income has a writer has increased a lot over that period.

That doesn’t mean I think that even a sizable chunk of independently published e-authors are making a living wage…that’s going to be an itty bitty percentage.

Second, while this is pretty much the Kindle era (the Kindle was introduced at the end of 2007), this survey isn’t just about e-book income. For indie, newbie authors, I am quite sure that a much higher percentage of their writing income is from e-books than is the case for established, brand name authors.

I want to point out something else…the e-book market, and publishing in general, is not mature…it’s still in flux.

There have been several revolutions in publishing…it’s never entirely predictable, but it was relatively stable for some time.

Some of the big turning points:

  • about 1455: the Gutenberg Bible is published, and books start moving out of being entirely for the elite
  • 1920s: the Book-of-the-Month Club makes affordable versions of curated book titles available
  • 1930s: the rise of paperbacks (1939 in the USA with Pocket Books’ first paperback title, Lost Horizon (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)
  • 1970s: chain bookstores become a force
  • 1994: Amazon goes online,  establishing the internet as a major place to buy books
  • 2007: Amazon introduces the Kindle, revolutionizing the then micro-market e-book trade

E-book growth may have, to some extent, become more steady, but paystreams are still changing rapidly. In particular, the subsers (subscriptions services), like Amazon’s

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(and Oyster and Scribd) are too new to really judge the impact on authors’ incomes.

For physical books, print-on-demand may matter…including, perhaps, printing at home.

As a reader, do you want authors to make money?

I hope so!😉

That’s not just for my personal benefit.🙂 I make my living as a trainer (I have a different title and I do some different things, like workflow optimization), although the money I make as a writer is certainly welcomed by me and my family! You make that part possible…I’d have a lot harder time justifying the time, focus,  and energy I put into this without it.

Authors need to experience life, of course, but I want authors to be able to concentrate on writing. That’s true for fiction, and it’s especially true for non-fiction.

My Significant Other would like me to retire at some point (we could spend more time together…I want that, too, although I love my job), and I can see that…if I was writing a lot more.🙂

If authors do have declining income, that may not mean you have fewer books to read…but they may be different. There might be fewer “quality” books, and more…books which might be considered not fully formed.

What do you think? Are authors making less money? If they are, do you care? Do you think authors will find some way(s) to make up the losses (if they exist)? If so, how? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Jackie Collins has reportedly died

September 20, 2015

Jackie Collins has reportedly died

Jackie Collins (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) was an incredibly successful novelist.

Reportedly selling over half a billion books throughout six decades, Collins’s works were consistently popular.

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, we could always count on a Jackie Collins novel selling well.

Before the first hit novel

The World Is Full of Married Men (at AmazonSmile*)

was published in 1968, Jackie Collins had acted in several movies and TV shows (including Patrick McGoohan’s Danger Man series, with the famous theme song “Secret Agent  Man” and the unofficial forerunner of The Prisoner series). Collins’ older sister, Joan Collins, had had more success as an actor by then…but Jackie was to bring a scandalous (and believed by many to be a true insider’s) view of Hollywood to bookstore shelves and bestseller lists with the Hollywood series (starting with Hollywood Wives in 1983).

Probably Collins’ best known series, though, was about the Santangelos (especially Lucky). Starting with Chance in 1981, and running through this year with

The Santangelos (at AmazonSmile*)

At the time of writing, it has 248 customer reviews with a 4.5 star rating out of 5.

I think Collins would be comfortable being described as being a commercial writer. Not pretentious, not writing for literary prizes, Jackie Collins repeatedly pleased a large audience.

The impact wasn’t lost on the publishing industry and other writers. Racy novels about the rich and famous…while Jackie Collins wasn’t the first, this was an author who virtually created a genre.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

On Labor Day: how writers make money

September 7, 2015

On Labor Day: how writers make money

I don’t make my living writing.

I have a full time job (a “day job”) as a trainer (I have a different job title, but that’s how most people refer to me…I do a lot of other things, too, including performance improvement and workflow analysis) for a major medical company. That job gives me by far the bulk of my income…and, importantly, good benefits.

I do, though, make money as a writer. It was really exciting a few years ago when I had my first year where, based solely on my writing income, I would have been above the poverty level.🙂

Quite simply, many people who choose to be professional writers, who do try to make their livings putting words together, would be in that category…below the poverty line.

I know there are people who think it: anybody can tell a story, whether it’s fiction or an anecdote…how do people make money doing it?

There are a few main methods. I thought I’d take this day where, in the United States, we recognize the value of “workers”, to lay them out for you.

One more thing before I do: I think that increasing numbers of people are making money as writers. That’s been due, in large part, to digital distribution (e-books and other e-texts).

When the only real way that novels (for one example) reached mass audiences was by having them printed in “book factories” and distributed to bookstores, it was absolutely dominated by large companies (and, over the years, those have consolidated into a fairly small number). As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I can tell you: we just didn’t carry independently published books almost at all.

We needed the power of the big companies. Book selling windows are sometimes vanishingly small. If an author was going to appear on local talk radio, it would often make a huge bump in sales…but only for a few days.

We needed a company that could get us a hundred copies with a few days’ notice (we often didn’t know about the appearance until the same week)…and who would buy back the ones we didn’t sell (normally by giving us credit for future purchases…so they needed a broad enough catalog that we’d be confident that we would use that credit).

Now, that’s changed.

Digital distribution means that indies (independent publishers…often just an author) can compete in the same digital “shelf space” as the biggest publishers.

That has seen the rise of what I call “indie-ployement”: people who make a living without traditional structures. I think they contribute to the perceived unemployment rate, even though (and this is a small percentage) they are much happier making a living without a boss.

Taking that into account, and not limiting this to people who make a living at writing, how do writers make money?

Royalties

That’s the traditional method.

When a writer writes a book, they automatically (in the USA and many other countries) have a “copyright” to it. They can control (within certain limitations) the copying and distribution of that work.

They can license that right to someone else (a publisher), who does the actual selling of the book, and pays the author for each copy or license sold.

The publisher, traditionally, brought several things to the table. They would have employees: an editor, a layout artist, proofreader, and so on. Those would improve the salability of the book, at no additional cost to the author. They would have marketing and distribution. They would handle the legal  parts (including legal challenges in many cases).

So, the author got paid as the book sold, and the publisher took the rest.

It wasn’t right when the book sold in real time, typically.

It might be months afterwards…and for authors with a track record, a large chunk might be paid before. That chunk paid in advance of the actual sales was called, logically enough, an “advance”.

The advance is royalties…it’s not a separate revenue stream.

A popular brand name author could get an advance of tens of thousands (and even more) for a book. They could get the advance before there are a hundred words written down, and could live on it while writing the book.

Once the sales start, the publisher subtracted the advance from the royalties which would have been paid until the advance was paid off…then, royalty checks could start.

That’s one of the biggest things authors losing by going indie: advances. Unless you are a top level author, some of the other tradpub (traditional publishing) benefits have gone down considerably. Many mid-level and new authors say that their publishers aren’t doing much to push the book. Since authors can now do social  media (blogging, Twitter, and so on), some publishers expect them to bear the burden of promotion.

Royalty rates vary considerably, and there is a lot of  argument and debate about it.

For a p-book (paperbook), it might be eight percent of the suggested retail price (the “list price”).

For e-books, it might be 25% of the sales price.

Again, there are many variations: that’s one reason traditional authors have agents representing them…the agents deal with all of those complicated negotiations.

When an author self publishes through platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the royalty rate may be much higher. KDP pays either 35% or  70%…the latter if you follow certain rules (like not blocking text-to-speech access and being within a specific price range).

That doesn’t only go for novels: Amazon also pays bloggers who distribute through the Kindle store, for  example.

Royalties were for years the primary way writers were paid, but certainly had the disadvantage of being unpredictable.

Advertising

We don’t see advertising much in books, and that is a really heated topic. I do think we’ll see that eventually…not necessarily in the middle of a book, but I think a real model that would succeed in the market is possible. You could agree to see an ad in the beginning and end of the book, and in exchange, get the book for a discount (or possibly for free). I think many people would do that…read a very popular book and  save a couple of dollars, in exchange for an ad while not actually in the reading experience.

The place where we see it is online, on blogs and other websites.

It may be an obvious ad.

There’s a particular blog that has very good content writing about e-books and e-book reading devices.

When I see their stories in my morning

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

read, the ad appears as a graphic, and that often throws me. I think the story is about what the ad is showing me..I have to focus on the text to see what  it really covers.

It may be much more subtle.

One form of that, and an important one, is being an Amazon Associate.

If you buy something by clicking a link on a site and that person is an Amazon Associate, Amazon pays that person an advertising fee.

The author makes, commonly, both a royalty in that case (because you bought the book) and an advertising fee.

That advertising fee may not be much…fifteen percent or much, much less.

However, another way it works is that if the customer buys something else after following a link from the author’s page (say, a lawn mower or a box of cereal), the author may also get a cut of that sale…and that can be much bigger than the sale of an individual e-book (since the price is so different).

Some people seem to philosophically dislike advertising. I find it a reasonable option, as long as it’s an option. I don’t  mind being valued by a company for what I might  purchase…and being paid (perhaps in a discount) to consider their products.

I choose not to have paid overt ads in this blog…I think my readers prefer that (although I’ve never polled them on that…perhaps I will). I could probably make quite a bit more money that way, and if I really needed the money, I’d have to re-examine that. This is, in some ways, a personality blog, though. People read it partially because of what I think and feel, and advertising necessarily presents  someone else’s viewpoints, which could muddy the waters.

WordPress may show you ads in some cases, but I’m not part  of that.

Appearances

For non-fiction writers, this has long been a way to make money. This doesn’t mean that an author signing books at your local bookstore is paid for that (that’s not usually the case). It’s more likely to be an author lecturing or doing a Q&A. That could be at a convention, or historically, at colleges. One particular author reportedly could do 300 college appearances in a year…at at least several hundreds per appearance. Obviously,  it’s harder to write while you are doing all that traveling…but you could do alternate years, for example.

Licensing other adaptations and merchandising

Very different from royalties for books is selling the rights for a TV show or a movie. That can certainly be a big payday for a brand name author. Authors may maintain the licensing rights when using a tradpub, or it could be a deal with the tradpub.

It’s also possible to make some money through things like T-shirts, games, and posters. Not as an author, but George Lucas famously kept the merchandising rights for Star Wars. As I remember the story, the studio didn’t think that was going to be a big deal…and neither did Lucas, who said that the vision was likely going to be selling T-shirts at a science fiction convention in ten years.😉

Estates do very well, in some cases, licensing a deceased author’s works for new books.

A new revenue stream is

Kindle Worlds (at AmazonSmile: support a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s not easy to get in there, but the basic idea is that a rightsholder licenses a “property” to Amazon. Amazon makes it part of Kindle Worlds. Anybody can write a book in that universe, without getting permission first (but following certain guidelines). Amazon gets a cut, the author of the new work gets a cut, and the rightsholder gets a cut.

I think

Dale R. Cozort’s Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile*)

Snapshot would make a great Kindle World…but getting them to do it would be a challenge.

Crowdfunding and donations

This is a very direct way to support an author.

Crowdfunding typically means that you are supporting a specific project. Individuals pledge money, perhaps to enable the publication of a specific book. In exchange, they may get certain benefits, like a signed copy or e-mails which only go to supporters.

Donations are often just general support. Authors may have a Paypal link on a website: you just give them money, and  they use it how they choose. You don’t get a specific benefit. That may sound odd, but it’s a way to say “I like what you are doing and I’d like you to be able to do more of it” without controlling (and thereby possibly altering the behavior of) the author.

Salaries

Yes, some authors actually get paid a salary, just like other employees. Those won’t usually be authors of novels: they’ll be television screenwriters, technical writers, some periodical writers…it needs to be something where there is a clearcut period of time where there will be a demand for the writing. That may be a fairly short job…one TV season, perhaps. This does exist, though: they may even have benefits and paid time off.🙂

I say those are the primary methods that authors make money. Most authors make very little money. When you “gotta write”, you “gotta write”. I’d write if I wasn’t paid for it (but probably not as much). I’ve always done something creative, and writing works well for me. I’m very grateful to subscribers (a form of royalty) of this blog, and all of the other ways people make this possible. If (“say WHEN” says my Significant Other)😉 I retire, I expect to write a lot more. I might even make a living writing when I’m retired…but I’m sure I would do it regardless.

Authors should be able to make a writing living, if there is a demand for their product. This gives you some ways that some authors can do that, or at least, can supplement their income.

Enjoy Labor Day!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Oliver Sacks has reportedly died

August 31, 2015

Oliver Sacks has reportedly died

I love reading non-fiction.

What I particularly enjoy is when something gives me a new take on the normal.

I have that right now with

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

When I managed a brick-and-mortar bookstore, there was a particular non-fiction book that became were actively seeking. It wasn’t just the typical feeling of someone just being intrigued…it felt more like they were looking for insight.

That book was

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat (at AmazonSmile*)

by the neurologist Oliver Sacks.

I’ve always been fascinated by how people think: I’m a trainer (which requires a strong understanding of that), a writer, and have been working in the medical field (not as a clinician) for quite some time.

Oddly, though, I’ve never actually read the book.

Not too long ago, I happily downloaded it to my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping)

as part of our membership in

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

That’s right: a book which was a bestseller, and which I’ve thought about reading since before the Kindle existed, was available for me at no additional cost.

I was saddened, then, to have the book as yet unread on my device when I heard about Oliver Sacks passing.

It wasn’t a surprise: I knew that the author had cancer about a decade ago, and that it had taken a serious turn for the worse earlier this year.

There is the consolation that Oliver Sacks will  continue to have a presence in the world and to influence people’s lives through the books.

While “Hat” (4.3 stars out of 5 with 420 reviews) is the only one available through KU, there are fourteen Oliver Sacks books in the USA Kindle store:

Oliver Sack’s Amazon Author Central page (at AmazonSmile*)

Having “Hat” in KU is a good strategy: people reading that one certainly might want to read some of the others, which include:

  • Musicophilia
  • Awakenings (which became an Oscar and Golden Globe nominated movie with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro
  • An Anthropologist on Mars (which is unavailable in p-book…paperbook…right now)
  • The Island of the Colorblind
  • Hallucinations
  • Seeing Voices
  • A Leg to Stand On

While we can mourn his loss, we can be thankful that we can still connect with Oliver Sacks through the books of someone who was both a great thinker and a feeling individual…and with the rare gift of being able to communicate both perspectives.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Guest post: Kris Calvin, author of One Murder More

June 4, 2015

Guest post: Kris Calvin, author of One Murder More

Kris Calvin is my sibling, who has recently published a first novel. I wasn’t involved in the production of the book, except as a beta reader (and any comments I made there were anonymous), and contributing to the crowdfunding. We’ve had some interesting discussions about the process, and I have given some advice about e-book publishing in particular. It’s been fascinating for me to watch! Right now, with only a few days of publication, the book has 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon, with twenty reviews. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to write a review, but I am impressed with that. Kris has also gotten some amazing blurbs! One of the ones that really stood out was from John Lescroart (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), the New York Times bestselling author of the Dismas Hardy series, among others:

“Crisp and entertaining, One Murder More marks a solid debut for Kris Calvin, who sets herself apart as a writer to watch.”

You can read other blurbs and more at Kris’ website:

http://www.kriscalvin.com/

I also really liked this five star review (one of many) on the book’s Amazon product page (I’m only doing a short excerpt):

“I have a new hero in Maren Kane and a new author in Kris Calvin.”
–Gary Pia

You can read the rest of that review (and the others) here:

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

What follows is Kris’ reaction to the June 1st “launch day” for One Murder More: I asked Kris to write something about that for you, my readers.

One Murder More, my debut work as a fiction writer, is a political mystery novel. It features lobbyist Maren Kane, who finds herself embroiled in a murder investigation in California’s capital city of Sacramento. Populated with a diverse cast of suspects and sidekicks, I intended the story to weave a challenging puzzle of suspense, sprinkled with humor.

Three days ago, June 1, 2015, was the release and public publication date for One Murder More, via Amazon and brick-and-mortar bookstores. The weeks prior felt like the lead-up to a major holiday. Christmas works as a good example.

There was lots of fiddling with website design and content for my author site (buying and trimming the tree), ample tweeting and posting the milestones that led up to publication (writing and mailing holiday cards), and even reviewing wine and dessert options for a local bookstore signing event (catering the annual holiday party).   All of which generated a sensation similar to what I experienced as a child pre-holiday, when the focus was largely the anticipation of gifts—which, in the end, might be what I wanted or not (positive or negative reviews and high or low sales numbers).

Yet, despite emotional similarities one important difference between “Pub-date Eve” and Christmas Eve is that Santa has a scheduled appearance. He may mess with that a bit if the latest Xbox isn’t available in his workshop, and he has to promise delivery several weeks later.  But for the most part the man in red and his reindeer punch a clock.

In contrast, when a new novel is put out into the world it’s unclear not only when, but also whether the anticipated payoff will arrive.

So when June 1st, “the great day”, finally came, I was up at 12:01 AM at my computer, trying to catch up on some work. I noticed the time, and took a moment to honor that moment, to reflect that this would be the only “first minute of the first day of my first novel publication” ever in my life.

Then I checked the clock at 12:02 AM June 1st and realized nothing felt different, that nothing had actually changed. Even later that day, amidst the furor of much appreciated well wishes, of reviews and tweets, the most notable sensation for me was that nothing had changed.

I think it’s because while a book has two birthdates, neither of them are the launch day.

The first is when the idea for a book becomes clear enough that the writer sits down and begins to type, dictate or put pen to paper—in some way to begin to transform vapor to solid; internal to external; and the “fuzzy daydreams” of unedited plot and characters emerge to see the light.  (Thanks to author Catriona McPherson for that phrase to characterize the first draft process).

That merits the first candle on the cake.

The second birthdate is when the book becomes “final” for publication. For hardback, this means it’s gone to the printer and no changes can be made. For an e-book there’s more flexibility, but there still comes a point at which the novel has been formatted for Kindle and change must be conscious and assertive and great enough to cause a writer to reopen his or her work.

So while the day the book goes on sale to the public is certainly one for celebration, it seems to me to be more a graduation than a birth. It’s a marker in a path that has already been cleared and civilized with wood chips or gravel, if not stone.

I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and as an adult I get through 2 to 3 novels a week. But I’d never considered becoming a writer until three years ago when I picked up a copy of Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, a challenging, complex mystery with distinct storylines that come together seamlessly in the end. Having worked in politics and advocacy for many years, where no plot line is clean and motives for murder and mayhem seem endless, I realized Atkinson’s structure might work to enable me to write a book based on what I lived and knew.

That was August 2012. I wish I noted the exact date, but I sat down to write one day of that month and continued to do so every morning through October. I now realize that was the first birth of one Murder More.

I spent several months rewriting, took time off for single parenting and working a day job and then went back to it. There were several drafts, multiple editors and finally a willing and supportive publisher, Inkshares, Inc.

The book was out of my hands and on the way to the printer January 25, 2015. Birthdate number two.

Six months later, it still doesn’t feel quite real to me. It’s as though one day I was baking banana bread in my kitchen, and decided it might be nice to add lime to the batter.  A friend came over and said it was wonderful banana bread, so unique, and that it should be sold in the local markets. Soon loaves of my bread were out where lots of people could try it, some who like lime and some who do not.

There’s a joy in that process, in learning and sharing something that was internal for so long. But before long there’s also a strong drive to get back in the kitchen and start baking again. And that’s where I am now. I miss lobbyist Maren Kane and company, my characters, the friends I made in those three years of development.

And since One Murder More is the first of a series, the second book has formed in my head. This time I’m prepared to write down the date and to have the cake and first candle ready.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

What do tradpubbed authors really think about their publishers…and about Amazon?

April 16, 2015

What do tradpubbed authors really think about their publishers…and about Amazon?

Huge kudos to

Agent Hunter

for a really fascinating survey of tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors!

You can see the entire dataset of twenty-nine questions (and three more items) here:

http://agenthunter.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Data_All_Final.pdf

to get the results from 812 respondents.

This is an immensely intriguing survey!

I hear it a lot: people are surprised that authors stay with their traditional publishers when they could just self publish and get a much bigger cut.

There are a lot of reasons for that…and they don’t apply to every author.

At this point in the evolution of publishing, being with a tradpub is a bigger benefit if you are already a success than if you are just beginning.

That doesn’t mean that a first novelist shouldn’t be with a tradpub…it’s just that people like Stephen King get more out of the deal than someone who doesn’t have a track record.

Think of it a bit like…taking a cab.

A lot of people don’t own cars nowadays. They may use Zip cars, or Uber, or Lyft, or public transit…or cabs.

So, let’s say you don’t take a cab, but you need to drive through a town.

One option is to own the car.

You have to put your money into it.

You have to deal with the legalities (like registration and insurance).

You have to know where you are going.

The cabs get to drive right up to the front door of the hotel, or to the airport…you aren’t allowed to do that and just leave your car there. You have to park…and pay for parking.

When you independently publish, it’s like owning the car.

With a cab, you have to have the money to pay for it. Then, if it’s a reputable cab, the rest of it is done by somebody else. They know how to get there. They pay for gas, tolls, registration, and so on.

If you are already a success, and you know that when you get to your appointment you are going to make a lot of money, paying for a cab makes sense.

If you don’t have much money, and don’t know that the trip is going to be profitable, it may not.

Let me focus for right now on two questions: I don’t want to take too much away from the survey.

Question 24 says, “Amazon and other e-book distributors
pay a 70% royalty to authors (assuming your price is $2.99–$9.99), as opposed to the roughly 17.5% paid by most publishers.
If you did self-publish an e-book, how do you expect you would fare financially?”

The first interesting thing about this to me is that more than half of the respondents skipped the question!

Now, you may guess that’s due to question fatigue (sometimes, the farther you get in a survey, the fewer answers you get), but about 90% of the respondents answered the previous question.

No, I think there are a couple of possibilities.

One is that people are afraid to think about it. They may even have been shocked by the 70% figure…they might have had no idea it could be that high.

Another is that, well, it has numbers in it.😉

Not everybody who is good with words loves math. That might have put off some people as well.

The most popular answer (besides “I don’t know”) by far was that they would lose money. 23.78% thought that would happen…only 15.14% thought they would make more money.

The answers make it look as though the choice is between an independently published e-book and no p-book (paperbook) version, or a tradpubbed e-book and p-book.

That’s not an unreasonable thing to say.

Yes, you can do a p-book version independently through Amazon along with your e-book, but that’s a tiny slice of the p-book market…certainly, as long as people still buy p-books in stores (and that includes places like Costco and grocery stores).

Question 25 is even more interesting to me:

“If you were to self-publish, you would have control over every aspect of publication. How would you feel about that prospect?”

Even fewer people answered that one…only about 41%.

You might think everybody wants to be in control of the process…but fully 36.63% of respondents were “Horrified/negative” on it. That’s about 12% more than the “Excited/positive” group.

I can understand that.

Can’t you see wanting to be somebody who just writes? Who doesn’t have to worry about proofreading, and layout, and filing the copyright?

You may think you want to be in control of everything…but do you want to do your own appendectomy?😉 In my case, I definitely don’t want to be the person fixing my car!

My Significant Other made a great point to me a long time ago.

We are not good at gardening…we just aren’t. Oh, one of us can get out there with a weed eater and cut down the weeds. I did that recently, at least part of it. The weeds were twice as tall as our dogs (we have short dogs). I bought a new weed eater (they have really improved the technology since the last time I bought one!), and literally did it until I came to the end of the line.😉 When that spool was out, I had to stop…got more through Prime, so one of us will do more of the yard soon.

Anyway, the point my SO made was that, if there are people who are good at doing something and want to do it, and we are bad at it and don’t like it, and (and this point is important) we can afford to pay them to do it…we are keeping them from putting food on the table for their kids for essentially selfish reasons.

One big reason to have money is to help other people, as far as I’m concerned.

We aren’t rich (although that’s always going to be a relative term to people), but we can afford to pay somebody a couple of times a year to trim the trees and cut down the weeds and haul everything away.

For some authors, it may be a bit like that with their publishers. Yes, anybody can try to be a marketer, or a proofreader…but paying somebody (by taking a relatively lower royalty) may be the right thing to do.

Of course, it goes far beyond that.

I’ve helped some people by reading their drafts and making comments.

There is no question that some editors and authors have had terrific partnerships. The editor doesn’t write the book, but helps the author improve it by making suggestions.

I’ve seen it with some authors (who shall remain nameless) where it seems to me that they become brand names…and people stop editing them as strongly, and their work (although not necessarily their sales) suffers for it.

If  you are at all interested in the actual source of the books you read (the authors), I’d recommend you spend some time with this survey. You may also find the anonymous pseudo-tweets they asked people to write (although they have to be shorter than tweets…120 characters)…one set of them is to Jeff Bezos. Some of them are very praising, others are negative…with themes running through both. I have to say, I was a bit perplexed with one accusing Amazon of making “obscene profits”…that’s somebody who hasn’t ever looked at an Amazon financial statement! Many of the comments had to do with taxes, and with treating employees better.

Once again, congratulations to Agent Finder! The questions are entertaining, and the answers informative.

After you’ve read it, I’d be interested in what you think about it…you can tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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