Sunday, 21 July 2013

Is it possible to make a living as an author?

Is it possible to make a living as an author?

As an author, it is a question I have been asked many times. The answer?
Yes - just.

In the age of modern technology, where kindle books are increasingly popular, it is still possible to make a reasonable income off being an author, who isn't world famous and in the press all the time.
The trick?

Keeping your feet on the ground and don't be greedy. Selling books internationally would earn a lot of money - you would think so anyway and people see being an author as a lifestyle that means authors write, put the book out there and the public dive on them, ooh and aah over them and tell the author how brilliant they are, leaving the author to live a luxurious lifestyle off the proceeds.
But, this isn't a film - this is real life.

Authors these days have to earn their living and even then don't expect to be famous or rich. If you are leaving a job of £25-30,000 per year and looking to take up life as an author, then you most probably will have to prepare yourself for a shock because the chances are, you are not going to make that much, if anywhere near it, so stick to the day job.

Many hours will be spent on your laptop or computer, not only writing but promoting. Even authors with publishing contracts these days have to do their own promotion - JK Rowling tweeted to promo the Harry Potter books in the early days, so be prepared for hours on FB, Twitter, StumbleUpon and others.

People are also becoming more cynical and the ability to reach readers using FB and Twitter is becoming harder. At some point in the near future both social networks will latch on to authors using it as a promotional platform and close them down, leaving authors with even more of a struggle to attract readers. I have recently read more and more posts on FB by one particular author who promotes their work, and promotes their friend's publications freely and forcibly over several days - only to be told off for spamming by the moderators, and then bitched about it quite nastily when they were told by the moderators to stop their excessive posts (12 in one group in one day!). But when somebody else does a post in three seperate groups who permit book promo, the said author bitches quite freely about FB being used as a platform for promo work - double standards? Definitely! Hypocritical jealousy? Yes, but this is par for the course. There aren't enough hours in the day to promote on all platforms, so choose two or three and stick with them - ignore the bitches - there is a lot of jealousy and nastiness that is totally uncalled for and unwarranted - be prepared.

There is also the added problem of ridiculous 'authors' who actually have to give their work away to get themselves seen. My ethos? If you have to give your work away, don't give up your day job because you are not as good as you think you are - but that's a different story. Unfortunately, while people are giving away dross for free, and people are using it to fill up their kindles, they are less inclined to purchase a decent book leaving people out there who want to focus on their writing struggling more than ever.

Then you have the reviewers. You will spend many hours writing and tweeking your work into publishable works, and sending it out there, only to find people who set up bogus accounts to slate your work. I have had a suspicious review left on two of my books leaving reviews that aren't even spelled properly, and aren't verified purchases, but Amazon won't remove either. You will also get people who slate your work, just because they don't like it. Not because it is poorly written, or has a bad storyline, but it is their choice, they don't like it and want everyone to know it is a 1*.

Keep an eye on what everyone else is doing, and the prices they charge and be realistic in what you want from your readers. If you expect to make a pound of each book - the chances are it won't happen unless you are a well established author with loads of 5* reviews behind you. Be realistic, and charge a reasonable, affordable amount and stick to it.

In short?
If you live by the ethos that you can't please everyone all of the time, and are prepared to put in hours and hours of work writing and promoting, and don't expect to live a lavish lifestyle then this is the life for you. You will have crap days that make you wonder why you bother, and good days that leave you positively humming, but this is what you get in your day job, right? I came from a part-time term-time job that paid crap wages, so to meet those wages over the course of the year is possible, but given the amount of time I am having to put in to get that income, I am probably on 2p an hour given this is a 7 day a week job! As with any other job you will have the office 'bitches' who snipe and back stab and seem to enjoy it, and you live for the day when you will get a promotion, only to be passed over for someone else who is newer, better and more popular.

But, after everything, if you get a buzz from creating a book that brings people joy and gives them a few hours of escapism, and people take the time to leave you a positive, glowing review saying how much they enjoyed the story, then stick with it.

You may not have a bucket of gold waiting for you at the end of the rainbow, but it is a hell of a journey!

1 comment:

  1. Promotion is hard for me. In an attempt not to do too much, I've been told I do too little by a couple of my writer friends! As for earning enough, I only work part time at the moment, so it will be a lot easier for me... but still out of reach at the moment.

    Reviews? Don't even get me started on that!! :-(