By Tiffany Colter
As I promised last week on my blog, this week I am going to talk about an article I just read to give some perspective on the writing industry. Let me start by saying that I don’t think it is great because of the cynicism or the negativity I see in the article. In fact, the closing line is: “Don’t write that book, my advice is, don’t even think about it. Keep it inside you, where it belongs.”
As the Writing Career Coach, I’ve spent the last six years trying to help people find the exact voice that Joseph Epstein seeks to silence with his article. While he is correct in stating [in 2002 when this article was written] that 80,000 books in a year are mostly “unwanted” if you use revenue as a definition of want, this does NOT mean people should stop writing. What it means is you need to know WHY you’re writing.
What is the potential for an aspiring writer? I laugh many times when people assume that writers earn six-figure salaries and are transported to media events and champagne drenched book launch parties. The fact is many writers who are at midlist [which is where most writers stay] either have a day job or they have a net profit in the $20,000-$40,000 range at best. As with any job, there are a range of salaries with the highest income reserved for those who sell the most books. Cash advances in the $3,000-$10,000 range for authors aren’t unreasonable. Many authors who publish with a smaller press forgo the advance in favor of higher royalties. In fact, most authors earn about $1-$3 per copy of their book sold and most books are considered top sellers if they sell in the 10,000 range. [At least this was the case about 18 months ago when I did some extensive research. If I’m off, it isn’t by much.] Many books don’t sell more than about 3,000 copies. Self-published authors who manage to sell 1,000 copies are considered phenomenal.
Furthermore, publishing houses do not cover the cost of your marketing. They are your business partner and their part is design, layout, editing, and some basic marketing. They are not your personal publicists. You can’t expect a traditional publisher to be the primary marketing arm of books sales. It just isn’t the case.
Does that mean that I’m down on books! Absolutely not. As I said, we are talking averages. I work with people who seek to be the exceptions. While what I shared is what many average writers can expect, the key is understanding this to set realistic goals and determine what you’d like to earn.
For example, in this 80,000 book example are books like the Writing Career Coach books that I produce. Some of these books are for the seminars I teach. These are events that have about 10-20 people at a time by design. I hold only a few events each year [again, by design]. Does that mean these books are “failures” and shouldn’t have been published? No. These books have met the need for which they were designed.
That brings me around to my point again. You need to determine the purpose and plan for each book written. If this book is meant to be a gift book you share with some friends or close associates, then know that going in and spend accordingly.
If you have a book that you want to market extensively in order to create a stream of revenue then your plan must be more detailed and you must know specifically how you’re going to accomplish that goal. This is more than I can cover in a simple blog but I do have some ways to learn more about putting together your marketing plan.
I have a NO COST audio [which is also not a sales pitch] on “Self-publishing, eBooks, & Traditional Presses: An Author’s Dilemma” available at this link. I hope you’ll use it and think about what your best path to publication might be. I’m an award-winning agented fiction author. I think traditional publishing is GREAT for my fiction. I prefer to publish my non-fiction through my small press Writing Career Coach Press. That is because I can complete my books within a couple of weeks of the final edit and then take them to my speaking event. There is a lot that goes in to determining how to best reach your market. This audio will give you some information so you can make an informed decision.
And if you have a few dollars to invest then my audio, A Marketing Plan for Writers audio is only $1.99 when you use this link for the instant download.
And for those of you who’d like to read the full article on why you SHOULDN’T publish your book, you can find it here.
There is great opportunity right now for the people who want to seize it. The key is deciding to seize it and knowing how.
I hope you’ll join us on “The Road Less Published” Wednesday either live or by downloading the archive.
And one last thing…I am offering a 2 page [500 word max] free content edit to those of you who contact me and request it. This is limited to a single offer per person. If you’d like more editing I’ll charge only a penny per word. This is for new clients only BUT existing clients aren’t left out. Those of you who already have me working with you, I will take $5 off your first March 2013 invoice. So feel free to send over some of your work too. I’m doing this to thank the hundreds of people who read my blog every week as well as come hear me speak live at events. It is also to thank the thousands of radio listeners who tune in. If all of you take advantage of this it may take me a couple of months to finish them all, but I love the opportunity to give back for all you’ve given me! Thank you. Just go to the contact page on my website and tell me you’d like to take advantage of this offer.
See you next week! Your coach for the journey!
Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at WritingCareerCoach.com.