Brutal Economic Reality of Fiction and Those Reviews

People don’t make money from writing novels. Some bestsellers generate just a little north of $10,000. That’s why writers find jobs working as marketers, teachers, lawyers or journalists.

Some can make a living on fiction. They are the few and the lucky.

Don’t kid yourself. If you commit to writing novels do it because writing is your art. And if you need to make a living for family or lifestyle reasons, don’t quit your day job.

I don’t think Amazon and its $0.99 cent independent author world has helped anything. You are basically encouraged to price a book at $0.99 or $1.99 if you want to sell anything as a first time novelist. Guess what the royalties are on that? $.33 a pop, boys and girls.

The Book Hustle

They tell you to market better. Go blog, and build a social media following to sell books. Yeah.

Really, you sell books en masse via speaking engagements, direct marketing, media relations, virtual and live blogging tours, and third party reviews. So the social aspect is really out of your hands. The other people in your network have to rally behind the book. Even then, you are looking at only a few books that go 100% bananas. By the way you can buy some peanut butter and jelly afterwards with the royalties. Or if you also have a day job, you can use the money for a massage to relieve you of sleep deprivation induced stress.

Coincidentally, to be included in many blog-driven social email lists that refer independently authored books, you must 1) pay and 2) have a minimum level of reviews to be included (on Amazon, of course). That in turn creates another need for reviews.

I hit this wall last week when I tried to get Exodus into a few of these lists and didn’t have enough reviews. It really turned my stomach having to basically beg for reviews. My brand of blogger ego comes in the form of self reliance, but in the end I needed your help. I asked my community for help, and you delivered. For that I am grateful. It’s moments like this request over the weekend that I learn real humility, and an appreciation for others.

I used to poo-poo authors who asked for reviews. If there is anything I have learned over the past three years with the Fifth Estate, Marketing in the Round, and now Exodus, it is how necessary reviews are. Books must be discussed publicly and frequently, good or bad, if they are to succeed.

I have been rejected by two of the four blog/email sevices already, one based on the number of reviews, the other on subject matter, but at least I am in the game. And if I breakthrough and have a big social email? I might make a few hundred bucks.

More importantly, I will be read by more folks. For me, the book is my art. And that’s what I care about.

You Can Make Money as an Author

Now look, you can make a living as an author. Thousands already do so in the United States.

By the way, more than ten thousand people make a living as pro sports athletes in the United States. That includes the minor leagues, and some minor league players only earn $1100 a month.

To succeed, you have to build a repertoire of books, more often than not a series, which creates a back catalogue. Each new work helps sell the older works. Movie rights and big breakthrough moments create a macro effect on an author’s entire catalogue. Prolific successful authors make money.

The rest of us, well, it’s what we do. Until (or if) our time comes.

We live to be read, make a few extra bucks, and most importantly to have our art read and seen by the world. The currency to get there is word of mouth conversation and reviews.

For those of you who have helped me this past week, thank you. I am so grateful, you have no idea. It’s what this business is all about, and to have so many folks who have read Exodus come out of the woodwork and drop a review, well, it overwhelmed me. Thank you!

What do you think about the fiction ecosystem?

Featured image by sbluerock

Father Christmas, Give Us Some Money!

So goes the chorus of the classic Kinks tune, “Father Christmas.” A funny punk commentary that cuts right to the core of what Christmas has become to our culture, a time to get stuff, or preferably just some money (bonus, boss?).

Consumerism has become our value set. Looking good, having things, freedom to buy things, these are all of great value to the American mindset.

Money!

Image by Yomanimus

Yet when you consider the top five things the dying consider on their death bed, no where do you see money or stuff on the list. Nor do you see popularity or massive follower counts on it (booyah, Klout).

Instead, the dying wish they had focused on things like spending more time with their family, working less hard, finding courage to express their feelings, developing more companionship, and learning to be happy right where they are. You see time and presence are the most important things in life.

Of all the things we pursue, how we spend our time is the most important consideration. It is our most precious resource, far more meaningful than money.

When considering expenditures this holiday season, career plans for 2012, and contributions (or lack thereof) to our communities, perhaps we should ask is this a good use of time? Father Christmas may bring you the goods, or even some cash, but he won’t ever be able to give you back today, tomorrow or the memories with family and friends we passed on yesterday.

Give the gift of time this holiday season. What do you think of consumerism during the holidays?

Occupy Wall Street – Groundswell of Economic Injustice

Occupy Wall Street
Image by Kap Kap

The Occupy Wall Street protests have spread across the country, capturing the hearts of America’s disenfranchised. These events have sparked a debate across America — particularly online — about economic injustice in America.

Occupy Wall Street has been criticized for its lack of primary objective and message. Like it or not, pundits and critiques are dealing with a groundswell of anger towards the rich and corporate America. This effort grows stronger with each week in spite of criticism.

Occupy
Image from Mother Jones

The moniker of economic injustice is being used loosely, but in a recession or depression or jobless recovery (take your pick) entering its fourth year, a movement has been touched off. Like the 18th century French mob arisen in times of famine, Occupy Wall Street demands attention.

The media ignored this movement at first. The government — local, state and most importantly, national — is for the most part still ignoring it. President Obama finally acknowledged the movement in a half-hearted statement on Thursday touting the financial industry’s strength. Yet Occupy Wall Street does not go away.

This is mostly because of the relentless will of the original New York protestors, and now their counterparts in other cities. They are not satisfied with the economic disparity and conditions in this country, and won’t be turned back by criticism, insults, police violence and platitudes.

CEOPay

And yes, the protestors have used blogs, Flickr photos, and social network posts helped to keep Occupy Wall Street alive. Yet another example of the Fifth Estate rising when traditional power and media structures refused to address news and/or problems.

Though dismissed, an opportunity is being missed with Occupy Wall Street. Nonprofits seeking to resolve issues of poverty and financial inequality should be leading the charge. Democrats who would naturally gravitate towards this series of issues — especially given tax debates of late — are avoiding Occupy Wall Street. Violence has tuned up the issue to new levels.

The end result? More steam with bigger and more widespread protests.

Money

Conservative “anti-capitalism, socialist” spin isn’t going to make this one go away. Like the Arab Spring, like the Tea Party, like the angered Greeks, there is too much pain. No communications plan can fly in the face of a stakeholder groundswell centered on real problems. Occupy Wall Street is shaping the national debate.

What do you think about Occupy Wall Street?