Do you get paid to do the job you’re working at right now? What would you do if your boss / company didn’t pay you for all that effort? Would you sit around and scratch your head wondering why? Would you have a nice little discussion with the owner of the purse strings to find out what’s the hold-up? Would you pursue litigation to garner what’s rightfully yours for the time you gave to perform your job?
It stands to reason that you value your time to produce work. That you expect to have some recompense for the effort. As a Writer, you have to keep this idea in mind when it comes to engaging in contracts with publishers, pursuing marketing strategies for your books, agreeing to be a speaker at a convention or conference, etc. I don’t mean to intimate it should overshadow your creative side, the part that causes you to envision, extrapolate, build, and chronicle the worlds and characters in your stories. In prior blog entries, I’ve said as much. However, you do need to champion your own cause to get paid for what you produce.
Case in Point:
It took me 40 years to complete my first novel. No lie. From the first inception of the idea during my late teenage years, unto the point of me pushing the Publish button with AKDP* in January 2017. 40 YEARS! Granted, I piddle-farted around a lot of that time, but I also devoted untold hours to developing the story that eventually became Chasing the Dragon. I may never recoup the investment in time; but then, for me, it was a “labor of love” to write the story.
Does it cost me anything to sell eBook copies or Paperbacks via Amazon? No…unless I decide to drag along copies to book signings, conventions, or conferences. Then I have to absorb the wholesale cost of each book, plus shipping costs. When I travel to a venue, I have to account for transportation, hotels, meals, vendor registration, percentage / one-time fees for the venue, sundries along the way. It ain’t cheap. And it comes off the top.
Advertising and marketing also cost me a few bucks. I’ve had several iterations of business cards done by VistaPrint, a great quality for the nominal price…and it gets the word out to Readers on a personal level. I invested in a set of two banners from the same company—a wonderful eye-catching design to spread across a wall or drape in front of a table—and it set me back a little less than a C-note. Putting myself out there on the internet—the blog site you see here—takes an equivalent cost (yearly) to have an easily found search presence.
Do you see how this is a very tricky tightrope of financial balancing you’ll need to walk? Don’t put yourself into a debt load situation where you spend a long time paying off an “investment.” Save for these things; pay as you go; see the revenue grow in stages. Don’t get in a hurry. Write what you like; write what they like. If your writing is good, Readers will take notice and the money follows.
Part of the reason I bring up this money thing is a video I watched recently, wherein Harlan Ellison lets go a rant about how some organizations seem to think Authors should give their time away for free. YouTube carries a few versions of this, so simply run a search for “Harlan Ellison – Pay the Writer.” BE AWARE: He uses some very strong language! If such ‘honesty’ of opinion offends your senses DON’T view it, because he manages to cram over a dozen epithets into a three-and-a-half-minute video.
What are the two main take-aways from this session? Creativity comes before the money, since you can’t get paid for what you haven’t written. Money is the sincerest form of flattery for an Artist. You are an Artist; just don’t starve to try to prove it.