In an effort to be transparent, I want to show how your purchase of my books filters out in the real world. How often does an Author–or anyone else in the public venue–do that for their patrons? The reason I want to share the details is to show you this writing gig we aspire to is always a circumspect balancing act. Sure, there’s revenue. But an Author still has to be wise concerning the income. Take a look at the numbers for a moment…
This snippet from a spreadsheet shows how each type of purchase is distributed. You’ll notice Amazon gets the lion’s share of the Paperback sales, garnering 70% of the price. I give 10% as a tithe and 10% to a charity (National Novel Writing Month). The remainder comes to me, and you can see I’m still a struggling artist, until thousands of you contribute to the stories I’ve crafted for you. When you consider my products as eBooks, the revenue stream gets flipped in my favor. Amazon only takes 30%, because a digital copy is cheap to store until purchased. Letting go of a 10% tithe and a 10% charitable donation then affords a much greater overall income for me. Do you see why eBook publishing has taken off like a rocket? It puts more of the revenue stream back in the pocket of the person who produced the work. As a Writer, ya gotta love that!
Some of you might wonder why I bother giving money to a church organization, as a tithe (one tenth of an increase). Pretty simple: I’d rather partner with God than try to do this on my own. Lord knows it’s tough enough to make ends meet these days, so I enlist every bit of help I can get. And–you know what?–stewarding that 90% becomes so much easier, because God adds more blessings from unexpected places, so I never come up short. Many other folks have found this principle from scripture to work:
Malachi 3:10-11 (KJV) — Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
There are a number of interesting aspects to this passage of scripture. First, there’s a call to action to set aside a tenth of your increase in this world. Taking it off the top is also called the “firstfruits of your labor” and shows that you trust God enough to distribute to him first. Second, when you do so, he showers even more blessings upon you. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had extra stuff or cash come our way simply because we adhere to this principle. We have never yet lacked for anything we needed. (Psalm 37:25) Third, God also protects you from the ravages of our adversary, the devil. Light or Dark. Good or Evil. God or Devil. You see the opposing forces and their effects. Might as well partner with the winning team.
Okay, enough scriptural reasoning. I’ve laid it out for you; now you know. What about the charitable donation to NaNoWriMo? Why them? Gratitude. Yes, in a word, gratitude. I’m thankful to have stumbled upon the 30-Day / 50,000 Word / 0 Excuses challenge, because it gave me a deadline to crank out some serious verbiage. I already had some of the story written, with notes on each chapter still begging completion, but that extra 50,000 words put me over the top to finish the project.
I’ve mentioned before, this story took almost 40 years to complete. From the original pencil sketches given as a gift by a friend, to hastily scribbled notes in a spiral binder, to an outline of nothing but chapter headings as catchy phrases, to headings with a short paragraph about the incidents in each chapter, to keying in the outline framework on a Commodore 128, to almost losing the whole thing due to a “static / degaussing” incident, to pitching out the dead hardware and saving the software, to traveling with the data bits in a cardboard box for 15 years, to purchasing antique replacements, to transcribing from PetASCII to a modern Word document, to tinkering with the bones of it for another few years, to taking the NaNoWriMo challenge, through multiple revisions and tweaks, to figuring out how to self-publish with Amazon Kindle Direct, to the final tangible awesome paperback book with a cover I designed and interior fonts to act as window dressing, to the first book signings and sales…
OMG! What a fun ride this has been. And Chasing the Dragon probably wouldn’t have been finished even today, if not for the no-holds-barred approach to bustin’ out a novel in a month with the help of the NaNoWriMo process. Chances are, I would’ve let the story languish until it rotted, at which point I would have been completely dejected and thrown it out, thinking I could never be an Author. Yet…I did it! I wrote it and published it, and now I consider myself an Author.
And you can be, too. BE a Writer. Dream the dreams, do the work to organize the ideas, do the work to tell the tale, do the work to clean it up, do the work to get it published, do the work to market yourself and your stories, and do your best to enjoy every phase of the process. Be an AUTHOR! Challenging? Yes. Complicated? Some parts of it, so enlist help. Worth it? Yes, yes, yes!
Other things to consider? I made mention of this in a previous blog post, Time is Money. If someone asks for your time, ask them how much you’ll be paid. Once you start getting some small amount of recognition for what you do with this craft, people will want you to do speaking engagements, sharing the story of your success and explaining how you accomplished it. If you start considering this your JOB, you’ll begin to understand why a paid gig is part of the equation. This is a business once you get to the stage of making available a tangible product: your books. And you are then a commodity that comes at a price. Be sure to value yourself appropriately; not too much so people balk at hiring you, not so little you’ve devalued yourself in their eyes. Be fair and reasonable. But get paid. In my eyes, at least, You’re worth it.