Friday, May 25, 2012

Let's Talk Money

Tip of the Day: Read this post by Nathan Bransford and swoon. I LOVE it when trad and self-pub come together. I'm a fan of ALL books, no matter how they're published.

If talking about money freaks you out, then avert your eyes. However, I'd like to encourage you to read on anyway.

Let me make a statement first:

I DO NOT WRITE TO MAKE MONEY.

I PUBLISH TO MAKE MY BOOKS AVAILABLE.

I WORK MY <bleep> OFF TO MAKE MONEY.

I've been writing since I was seven - back when I thought a penny was the most valuable of coins because it was the same color as my hair. So, please, don't waste your time thinking I'm writing just to make some bank. No, I write because my over-active imagination needs an outlet.

Okay, let's get back to the today's topic: money, moolah, coin, bank, cash, the almighty dollar.

Self-publishing can be very lucrative.

I'm closing in on 20,000 sales overall, mainly spread across four books because I usually have two or three of my seven products free at any given time.

I'm on track to clear six figures this year.

Last year, I made under $5,000. This year I'm going to make over $100,000.

I've never made that much in any job. Granted, all of my jobs have been in the arts (bookstores, museums, libraries, teaching flute lessons, a stint at Hellmark, I mean, Hallmark).

Why bring this up? Am I trying to make you jealous? Ha, not close. Most of that money goes to business expenses, paying for my kids' education, and our house is aging which means every appliance is dying. If it weren't for this income, we'd be struggling a lot.

I wanted to share this because you need to know that money can be made in self-publishing. "They" say that less than 10% of all self-pubs make more than $10,000 a year.  Either I just happen to hang out with uber-successful indie authors, or the findings are skewed.

Many of my self-pub friends are pulling down double or triple or quadruple my sales, which leads me to believe their incomes are far exceeding mine.

When I wanted to get traditionally published, I expected, I hoped, I'd land a $5,000 or $10,000 advance - knowing full well I'd probably never earn it out. I'm not against traditional publishing. Self-publishing is not for everyone and I have no clue what my future will bring, so keeping all doors open is very exciting.

What I do want to stress are these points:

- Writing and publishing are two different jobs. Don't write for money, write for love of writing. But if you're going to publish, treat it as a business.

- Publishing is a business. Wait, I just said that! I cannot emphasize it enough. If you're going to self-publish, you are becoming a business owner. You must think like a businessperson.

- Network, network, network. Self-publishing is the biggest misnomer. Other than writing the first draft, there is NOTHING I do by myself. In fact, I could call myself a self-author and then say I run a small publishing business. That's more accurate (though self-author sounds really dumb - lol).

- Never give up. Last year at this time, I was selling just a few copies of my books here and there. Never in a million, billion, gazillion years did I ever think I'd make more than $500 a month. Seriously. My first goal was to make $100 self-pubbing. Then it was to make $550 a month to pay for my kids' tuition. Now, well, now I just hope it keeps up.

- Don't rest on your pile 'o' cash. Publishing is a fickle business. Last year's bestseller could be this year's dud. You never know what your income will be. It's impossible to predict when your sole income is based off the whims of the buying public. I grew up on a farm. Some years were better than others. Some years we barely made it. I use this mentality toward my publishing career. I'm saving money like crazy because I have no idea if it will be there tomorrow. I sit down at the keyboard every day and work around the clock.



I wanted this post to give you hope that maybe you could do it too. There are a million magical reasons surrounding my success. I can't quantify all of them and give you a clear path to success. I just want you to know - it is possible



19 comments:

Sarra Cannon said...

Awesome post, Megg. I completely agree that those survey findings must be skewed. I know plenty of self-published authors making $1000 or more a month, so it simply can't be only the top 10%! Sure, there are probably thousands of people who throw one book up on Amazon and just sit there, hoping to make money. Those people might only make $250 a year and their results are lumped in with those of us who are actually building a career self-publishing.

Congrats to you on your 20,000 sales!! This is only the beginning for you!

Samantha Clark said...

Great post, Megg. Very inspirational and very true. It does take a lot of hard work. And you're doing it the right way, getting editors, making your books the best they can be and networking. Some writers are too quick to publish, and that can skew the numbers. But done right, with all the hard work that you put in, success can happen. I also think it helps to have multiple books out, like you do, so that once you make a fan with one book, they already have more books to come to.

Congratulations on your success and well done for all your hard work. It is paying off.

And the best part is, you're getting to tell your stories.

Elle Strauss said...

Thanks for this inspiring and encouraging post!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Fantastic post, Megg! Off to share ...

RaShelle Workman said...

Megg - thanks for sharing this. You've come a long way in one year. I like that you say you're a self-author. It's so true. You're awesome!!!

Widow Dyer said...

What an amazing and inspiring post! Thank you so much for sharing, and it's clear that your self-publishing success has only just begun. :)

G. P. Ching said...

Absolutely! Great post!

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Way to set straight folks, M! Love this post.

H.M. Ward said...

Somehow I totally missed that u were indie! Thanks for this post. I'm making a full time living from writing also. It happened a few months after I pubed my 1st title - I only had 2 books at the time.

Writers are doing different things to get their books in front of readers. I couldnt agree with you more that this is a business! I get flamed every time I say that, but it's true. That may b the diff with the 10%. Just a guess.

If anyone wants to talk marketing dos and donts, lets do it!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Congratulations on all your success. And its true, all the self pubbed authors I know are doing very very well. It's tempting but, like you said, its a business and I wouldn't feel ready to jump in until I had what it took to invest first.

Laura Pauling said...

Love it! What a terrific post. Just starting out, it's nice to hear other success stories! Anathema was one of the first self published books I read when it's all you had out! :)

Kelly Polark said...

Good for you!!! :) I am thrilled when I hear selfpubbers are making a decent dime! (and then some!)
Thanks for sharing!!

Giora said...

That's very impressive, Megg. The other day I read that more than half self published authors make less $500 per book. But I also know about Amanda Hocking, the Queen of Self Publishing. For me, writing is just an extra activity, not my main job. And I do write only what I expect to be a Best Seller which implies that money will follow. I focus on a few projects that hopefully will make great impact. Just writing anoter book here and there isn't for me. If you do that well, you might (if you have time) wish to expand to consult/market other authors books for a % of sales. They'll appreciate your help a lot. Your story is an inspiration!

Megg Jensen said...

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by!!! It's been an incredible year so far and I think it's important to let others know how I approach self-publishing so maybe they can find a path to the same place.

Margo Dill said...

I think you are my new idol. :) And as you said, you approached publishing as a business, and I have no doubt that you will keep it up. YOu are smart, savvy, and willing to take risks. :) Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm not sure what the right path will be for me down the road, but I have 3 books coming out from mid-size publishers in the next year and I am excited to work my butt off to market them and keep writing and maybe even a couple sequels. Thanks again, Megg. I am so glad I have "met" you in cyberspace. I plan to share this post on my social media sites.

DeenaML said...

Awesome post and some fabulous comments here. Megg has the great combo of being a great writer and a smart businesswoman!

Andrea Lipomi said...

Awesome post! :D

Kathleen said...

I am self pubbed (except for 3) and have 12 total published. I have done marketing am on social media sites but I can't quit my day job. I've been writing since I was eight.

Megg Jensen said...

Deena & Andrea - thanks!!!!

Margo - when you're ready, let me know if you need anything at all. Feel free to pick my brain. :D

Kathleen - Most authors can't quit their day job. If I had one (other than caring for my kids), I wouldn't quit. My husband wouldn't even consider it.

Why? I still plow money into the business. The buying public is fickle - what's exciting today is forgotten tomorrow.

Yes, money can be made, but there's no guarantees. I wouldn't tell any writer to quit their day job unless their name was Nicholas Sparks, Stephen King, or Danielle Steel. ;)