|This is from my famous Thelma and Louise trip to Manhattan with Tina... Isn't she cute?|
I'm not going to discuss the pluses and minuses of every little thing, not because I don't have opinions but because I'm usually wrong. I've had egg on my face regularly, so I'm avoiding the need for yet another facial. BUT... I'm a hybrid author, I'm making enough money to live comfortably, and that's what I'm talkin' 'bout, my friends!
|Maintaining priorities... 4 generations of Blodgetts: Dad and Mom, Dave, Bethany and baby Elijah. Elijah's now four and Grandpa's gone home to heaven after a long, drawn-out battle with Alzheimer's, making this moment so precious.|
IF YOU'RE NOT INTERESTED IN MAKING MONEY, IF YOU FEEL GUILTY ABOUT GETTING PAID TO WRITE BEAUTIFUL STORIES, THEN STOP READING NOW AND COME BACK TOMORROW FOR OUR CRAZY FUN NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY!!!!!
NO GUILT ALLOWED AT THE SEEKERVILLE ROCKIN' NEW YEAR'S EVE BASH 2014!!!
I made just shy of $9,000 on my indie books in 2013. They were out for 4 and 5 months respectively. So for a less than $800 investment, I cleared about eight grand apart from my contracted novels. That's about 2K/month.
I more than doubled that in 2014. When the smoke clears this month, I'll have made approximately 20K on my indie work alone in 2014. Down below I'll show you how one body of work affects the other.
No one likes to talk actual figures in this business, but it is a business and if you don't talk actualities, people get a pie-in-the-sky image of what goes on.
In Seekerville, we like to straight-shoot the facts for you because the more you know, the better equipped you are to handle it.
We've all heard about major success stories.
Do you have to be major to be successful?
Of course not. Most of us aren't going to write The Hunger Games or Twilight, and if we did the craze would be over by the time we're done and people would be hunting for the next Louisa May Alcott and there you are with five unwanted dystopian novels.
Write what you know and what you love but here's the caveat: Do It Well.
"Future of the Ink" blog, Penny Sansevieri offered predictions for 2015... She says this:
"THE RAISED BAR": "It’s here, that raised bar we all keep talking about. With all of the hundreds of thousands of books published, many more of those (more than ever) will go unnoticed. Right now the average sale for a self-published book is 100 copies. I believe that number will drop to 10 or less."
In the old days (like five years ago, oh my stars, the speed of this industry revolution is hysterical, isn't it???) if you sent your work into a publisher/editor and it wasn't ready you were embarrassed to realize it later. Well, that's changed, hasn't it?????
Now people publish really awful, sophomoric things and they wait to be patted on the head by a hungering readership clamoring for cheap books. News Flash: That's unlikely to happen. The reading audience is wide-spread and critical and they know how to use the review button. Handle with care!!
Your first and foremost job is to write a great story. Funny, serious, emotional, romantic, diverse, divisive, intuitive, dystopian, thrilling, horrific, comical, etc... WRITE A GREAT STORY.
Do not trust your own opinion on this. Really. I mean that. I'm not being intentionally mean, but learning to write books that people love, embrace, keep and re-read isn't a given. It's a learned skill like Pele with a soccer ball, Jeter at shortstop and Manning in Denver.
It doesn't happen overnight, or when you're scribbling 10K of stream of consciousness stuff in one day or on the first manuscript (or for most of us the second or the third or fourth... of course I am a SLOW LEARNER!!!)
Polish. Edit. Submit. Repeat. Repeat again and again and when editors tell you what's wrong with your story, don't crumple their rejection/revision letters.
Take that advice, treat it like a free college course and do it.
Read. Read voraciously. Study. Emulate. Copy. Mince words. Dice. Slice. Re-write again and again.
There are no gimmes.
And then, when you're ready, scan the publishing horizon. I'm a farm girl, so if you're wondering what a "hybrid" author is, I liken it to a really good tomato. You take the looks of a Mountain Pride, mix it with the taste of a Beefsteak and you come out with a tomato that looks great, tastes amazing and resists blight.
|Our roadside stand in August... Tomatoes, corn and squash. :)|
It's a juggling act. The interesting part of this act is to keep everyone happy.
This is your fork in the road, your "yield" sign.
1. I was traditionally published first. This is not always the case, lately there are authors who are independently published FIRST and their sales generate traditional publishing interest in them. My buddy Mary Virginia Carmichael is one of those.
2. I am not counting small presses in the traditionally published arena, not because I'm mean (we've already ascertained that, I am mean, but well-meaning, don't ask me to explain further, okay? I can't.) but because if no one is paying you up front to publish you're book, it isn't a "traditional" publishing contract the way I'm defining it here.
3. I am a category romance author for Love Inspired. Before you arch a brow or sniff aloud, let me remind you that in five years I have nearly a million books in print from my various venues, and category romance is a big part of that. I'm delighted to count tens of thousands of readers as my buds!!
4. I have an amazing agent. If you are pretty sure you don't need editors and agents in your life, I respect that. I do need them. I love that my editors look beyond what I see and point out things I miss... I love that my agent isn't afraid to hunt up deals for me while encouraging my independent work because she understands that everyone likes a paycheck! And she's not afraid to scour the bushes!
5. I think editors now realize that authors need to make a living wage, and we can do this... and chart our own destiny... by doing what we love if we're productive writers. For those of us who love to write and write daily, there is nothing more gratifying than knowing you can support yourself doing the job of your dreams. (Mind you, it has taken me 5 years of being published to be able to reduce... not retire... the day job.) This is partially because of the new ease of indie publishing.
6. Understanding independent publishing isn't difficult because it changes daily. Therefore you really can't understand it completely, so if you produce an amazing story.... and then keep the price reasonable... (a lot of authors are starting to get greedy now, as if they need to make $7 off of every e-book they produce. I am happy that the greed factor missed me entirely) your audience will come.
7. Productivity is important. Write, write, write. Genre stories (romance, sci-fi, thrillers, etc.) seem to sell best. When those fans find an author they love, they buy lots of books.
Proof of that: I published "Try, Try Again" on July 29, 2013. I published "Running on Empty" on September 9, 2013. My backlist e-book sales then were about 200/quarter.
Now my backlist e-sales are over 2000/quarter.
That's a ten-fold increase, primarily from folks who buy an indie book and then go hunting for my other stories.
How wonderful is that????? And that's not just wonderful for me, it's great for my publishers... although I don't think they initially saw the benefit to them, it's clear now.
My indie book sales might not rival the big guns, but they're in the tens of thousands and that's huge to me. It provides me with a monthly paycheck from Amazon and with good scheduling of releases (including our joint effort Hope for the Holidays editions) I've been able to see the return on investment quickly.
|Back in the #1 spot for historical anthologies... and at $2.99, 4 great stories, it's a wonderful deal!|
Discernment is clutch. Make each element of your story sing with humor, pathos, joy and grief, the human emotions that touch our hearts will touch the hearts of readers.
I've talked too much (like always!) but I want you to go into 2015 with as clear a picture as we can paint of the many changing facets of publishing...
I've got e-books to give away today to celebrate indie publishing! 5 people will get their choice of any Ruthy or Seeker e-book. A perfect time to have me pay for a book you've been wanting! Tell me in the comments what book you'd like to have, I'll throw your name in a spankin' clean cat dish, and
From me to you...
God bless you for being a friend of Seekerville, a lover of God, fiction and romance... We're honored to be on hand to help you!
Coffee is on!!!!
Ruthy Logan Herne is living her dream, writing sweet books while holed up with small people on her farm in upstate New York. She thinks possums should stay off the porch and leave the cat food alone. The possums, it seems, have other ideas. She loves God, chocolate, family, dogs and America and is constantly amazed by how blessed she is!