Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Romancing the Book: What Writers Should Expect

Source: Digital Book World, Jan. 15, 2016

A comedian quipped that romance can be a lot like school—eager, bright-eyed anticipation succumbs to mundane and sometimes dissatisfying realities. Which is not to say that romance—or school—should be avoided, only that a person eventually needs to adjust her expectations.

A significant subset of the population, writers somehow are wooed into the intense and potentially frustrating enterprise of creating books. Seduced by the idea of how wonderful it must be to publish, they can end up shattered by the results.

Cling to your initial expectations, and in all likelihood you’ll be disappointed. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just as you adjust to the realities of school and of marriage, you can adjust to the realities of publishing:

Book sales won’t make you rich: Don’t take my word for it—check out the results of the most recent author survey by Digital Book World. Of those who responded, traditionally published authors who earned an advance on their last book reported the highest net proceeds from the sales of that book: $5,000 to $10,000. Publishing through their own companies, indie authors saw the next highest median returns from their latest book: $500 - $1,000. Bumping bottom: solo authors, who reported median returns of $0 - $500 on their latest book.

Discoverability is difficult: Even when publishers invest big bucks, there’s no guarantee a book will be discovered. There’s a whole lot of noise out there, and shouting doesn’t mean you’ll be heard.

Effort is required: Writing may be joyful, but it’s not easy, especially if you intend to do it well.

Writers support one another: Though the competition for readers is fierce, writers are a supportive bunch. They’re also smart, and a lot of fun to hang out with.

For intrinsic rewards, writing is tough to beat: Analogies of romance and education again come to mind. Money aside, the rewards are beyond measure—new understandings of yourself and the world, deep satisfaction, contributions that endure.

Co-founder of 49 Writers and founder of the independent authors cooperative Running Fox Books, Deb Vanasse has authored sixteen books. Her most recent are Write Your Best Book, a practical guide to writing books that rise above the rest; What Every Author Should Know, a comprehensive guide to book publishing and promotion; and Cold Spell, a novel that “captures the harsh beauty of the terrain as well as the strain of self-doubt and complicated family bonds,” according to Booklist. Her next book, Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold, comes out in April, 2016. She is also a staff writer for the IBPA Independent.