Friday, April 20, 2012

Myth busting and some home truths

I know I've said this before - but it seems it's a message that needs repeating.
So bear with...

For shits and giggles, let's look at the publishing industry from my point of view....., come on, it'll be fun.

I'm a writer. I'm lucky enough to be a published writer. (And yes, often in this business it is luck - doesn't matter how good you are, luck still plays a part in whether or not you get that publishing deal.)

It takes me 3-9 months to write a novel that is somewhere around the 100k mark. (Yes, that means one hundred thousand words and they all have to make sense.)
So, let's say, I've just spent 9 months writing a novel (which I have). Once I'm as happy with it as I can be, I send it to my publisher - because they have first option on the Byte novels - and I wait.
And I wait.
And I wait.
Soon or later - depending on the amount of manuscripts on Jayne's desk, often later... I will get an email. Which I won't open for an hour or so. Because as long as I haven't read it, there is hope.
(Yes, even with the 5th novel that I submitted earlier this week - I will still do that.)
Then I open the email and (with luck) it's positive and a contract follows pretty quickly.
With Flashbyte I didn't get that email - I got an email that's subject line was pretty darn positive. It read "Draft Contract for Flashbyte".
That took away all the building panic!
It takes about a year from the contract being signed to the book being released.
(Remember, it took me about 9 months to write the book to start with.)
During the year - there will be about 2 months worth of editing and also, the wait for the cover art - etc etc.
Meanwhile - no one's getting paid. Not me, not my editor, not the company, no one gets paid...
Because money comes from sales - if there aren't any sales there isn't any money.
Think about it for a minute... that's quite a few people (apart from me) who have invested time and energy in my book without receiving anything in return. (Apart from my unwaivering appreciation.)

Then woo hoo - release day comes along. The manuscript that I wrote is now a book ready to be read and enjoyed. It's been edited, it's been formatted, there's a shiny pretty cover, a press release has gone out all over the world etc etc.
BUT - still no one has been paid.
Why is that? Because royalty payments are made quarterly.
So, from the beginning of this journey to release day a good year and a half later... zilch.

So, how do writer's like me get paid?

Solely from the sales.

That's right.

If you buy my books I get a percentage of the wholesale price. (NOT the instore sticker price).
Perspective - let's see.. to buy my teenage daughter a pair of shoes I need to sell about 30 books. (We're not talking designer shoes here either.)
So, 30 books equals a pair of shoes.
That seems like quite a lot of books but in the scheme of things, it's not enough to make it worthwhile for anyone. To make it worthwhile we need to be selling a helluva lot more than that.

Now, it's not just about money.
Sales give us sales figures. This business is all about the figures. If sales drop the likelihood of getting a new contract drops too.
It doesn't matter who you are published with. Big houses drop contracts and ask for advances back more and more these days.

So what does this all mean to a reader?

Without readers, I'm pretty much entertaining myself.
But without readers who BUY I don't have a future as a writer. (No author does.)

What am I trying to say?
No, point being subtle... if you don't want to buy books then use the library.

Don't borrow books off a friend or whatever. Why? Because you aren't supporting authors by doing that, any more than copying a CD is supporting a band.

I think people should lend my first novel, killerbyte, out (shock horror) because it's fair enough to lend the first of a series to people so they can see if they like it and then can go on and buy the others themselves.
Did you notice that? The "they can go on and buy the others if they enjoyed it" - it's not like my books are out of reach price wise, because paying NZD$18.99 from Fishpond or Book Depository for a excellent quality paperback that is VERY readable is nowhere near the $30 that stores charge for poor quality, tiny print, damn near unreadable, mass market or trade paperbacks.
Of course you can opt for the digital formats and pay about NZD$7.
Still way within reach.
Or go to your library and ask them to get my books in - which they will. NZ makes sure that authors don't lose out because books are in libraries - so we still get paid (not much but it's better than nothing) but what we don't get it the numbers.

Numbers are what's important.

My current goals are ones I can do nothing about - not a damn thing. How sucky is that?
I'm going to share them:
Firstly: I would truly love to be a bestseller in New Zealand. But it's not something I have any control over at all. That goal relies on readers buying books.
Secondly: I want a shot at the Ngaio Marsh Awards... that goal is also out of reach at the moment, as I have no control over that either... to be eligible I need books in stores here. To do that my publisher needs to find a NZ press who can produce the quality we're used too for a reasonable price!

I have a feeling I have a better shot at being a best seller.
(Or I would, if people bought books and didn't borrow them... yes, it is a pet peeve of mine.)

So, there you go - what it's like from my side of the novel.


Deborah Harvey said...

Just be glad you're not a poet trying to flog books! :-)

Cat Connor said...

So true Deb!! It's hard enough for me. I feel for you. :-)

Good thing we're hardened enough to (mostly) not let it get to us!! (Having a ranty day, someone pissed me off!)

Rochelle smith-haines said...

dont worry apart from my family and dad my books arnt going anywhere...
i love them too much to send them to Christchurch hoping they may come back one day..
and as soon as flashbyte is out ill bye that and terrorbyte in paperback too, as dad lent us terrorbyte to read then took it back dam rude of him too...
i must be bad as i have heaps of books and i bye and hord them all... not sharing them, im scared they wont come back..

Cat Connor said...

Thanks cuz! I appreciate it. I knew Mrs. Sparkes (apparently that's how we refer to the old one now!!) had given killerbyte to your dad for y'all to read. ;-)

You sound like me, with your book collection. I lost two really special signed books last year and it guts me! (No clue where they disappeared too either but they're not in the house.)

Admin One has lost a few books recently too.

Not lending saves the heartache and the horror when books come back dog-earred and half ruined too!

Won't be long before I have as many books on my kindle as I do in the bookcases (and boxes in the closets!).

Rochelle Smith-Haines said...

lol cuz you have bookshelves flash man.. mine just all over house, garage and my bedroom.
open draws and ya find books...
but my girls are at that stage that they learning to read and they pick up our books and play library's so i often find them nose in pretending to read them.. with rows of books lined up...

But yours will find a choice place on a wall unit here to remind me of my very talented cuzzy...:-)

yeh killerbyte dad has is "mrs sparks"... (mum and dad so not impressed with her)

I do hope one day ya will sign our set too...

Cat Connor said...

I'd love to sign yours! (Signing books is like my favorite thing. lol)

I was home for Easter - so the parental units filled me in on the Mrs.Sparkes situation. None of us are impressed with her either. She was referred to as either Mrs Sparkes or 'that woman who lives on Epsom Road" all weekend and still is.

Get hubby to make you some shelves!Mind you it's probably just as expensive as getting some of the warehouse ones when they're on sale!

I collected mine over years and years... I have a real thing with books though. Book have to be in shelves and ordered in height - left to right, biggest to smallest. Little bit of book OCD!!


Rochelle Smith-Haines said...

my hubby make shelves ya must
yeh aye we need to get some, i have one large book shelf but it has ornaments on it not books..maybe i got that a bit wrong
we had heaps of book shelves but when we moved south we lost them in the house fire so its getting around to replacing them

Mum is really hurt from "mrs sparkes" but she does have our cuzzy from up north grooming her so no idea what shes had put in her head, Just sad that she pushes away her real family away in favor of strangers..

maybe ya need to give me a bit of the OCD as my books really need it, i feel they are a bit unloved all over my house as they are...

is it ok when i get my copy of terrorbyte to lend to cuzzy Martin Smith so his family can get addicted too (i no they bye books)

Rochelle Smith-Haines said...

wrong date and time <<<<<<<<<<
are we blogging in American time???

its 444pm on friday the 20th here in nz bet that says its last night.

Cat Connor said...

Yep, blogging in Eastern Daylight Time. I dunno why, but my blog is happiest when it's in EST. (Maybe Ellie's doing!!)

Mrs. Sparkes has made her bed and will do whatever she wants as she always has with no regard for her real family. It's the way she is.

Of course it's okay to lend to Martin. lol, get him hooked then he;ll buy the rest! :D :D

Rochelle Smith-Haines said...

ok ill tell him when i lend it that if he wants to read the rest im not allowed to lend them. that he has to buy them if he wants to read the rest... and that you said so lol

I see you...

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