How to Work Hard and Lose Money
I love writing. Loved it since I was a kid, staring out the window and daydreaming about being an alien princess sent to Earth because my planet was at war and I was in grave peril. My parents didn't tell me for my own protection, of course. When they did, I'd get properly mad for a while, then forgive them. After all, they did have my best interests at heart and besides, who has time for anger when you have a planet to save? Okay, then I turned thirteen and my mom became the villain of the piece, but I got over that around the time I went to college. By then I had rewritten the story so many times that it became more than a daydream – it was my adolescent coping mechanism.
I dreamed of becoming an author, too. (You can be a writer without becoming an author. Really.) From the show “Murder, She Wrote” I gathered that an author was instantly recognizable across the United States when she introduced herself. Whenever Jessica Fletcher met one of her many, many fans, I'd imagine if was me:
“Christine Amsden. You're not THE Christine Amsden?”
“Why yes, yes I am.”
“I've read every single one of your books! I love them.”
“Oh, thank you. You're too kind.”
You have heard of me, right? Christine Amsden? Author of the Cassie Scot series, The Immortality Virus, Touch of Fate, and most recently Kaitlin's Tale? Of course you have! I've traveled the bloggersphere for years, been well-reviewed, won awards, and sold thousands of copies of my books.
I'm pretty sure Jessica sold hundreds of thousands of books though. Maybe millions.
Wait … what's that? You loved Cassie Scot and can't wait to read about her friend Kaitlin? (Seriously, you can put that in the comments. I won't mind. :) ) Oh, thank you. You're too kind.
Seriously though, writing is a labor of love. Becoming an author … getting published … is incredibly hard work. Authors do most of their own promotion these days, which may be why 90% of books don't sell more than 100 copies. Or maybe it's because the market is simply saturated with books on every topic known to mankind. We're talking hundreds of thousands – and that's before we get into self-publishing. Book sales haven't increased due to this significant upturn in publishing. In fact, they've decreased overall! The print industry has taken a huge hit, with ebook sales actually going up through 2013. After that, they leveled off and it's anyone's guess what they will do in the future.
Amazon has cornered the ebook market in a way that frankly frightens me. Ask any author at all and you better believe they're doing business with Amazon. We don't have a choice! But Amazon is looking for ways to increase ebook profits for themselves that don't necessarily mean increased profits for authors.
What does this all mean for you? Maybe nothing. Maybe you're still working on your labor of love and if so, good for you! Writing can be cathartic. It's a form of creative expression and I'm a big fan of creative expression.
I just know that writing is also almost always done with an audience in mind. It's more than words on a page, more than a daydream. It's a plea to be heard. I get that.
I also know that I'm an extremely hard worker. For some reason the “lazy author working on his book” is a popular cliché, but I don't see it in my writing circles. I see hundreds and hundreds of people, just like me, who work very, very hard. Many of them are good, too! It's hard not to be when you write every day for twenty or thirty years, even if you only carve out an hour each day. And that's the kind of dedication I'm talking about. It's the kind of dedication that I myself have put into honing my craft.
The American Dream suggests that working so hard should reap certain financial rewards. In some fields, perhaps, but if you're going into publishing then the odds are good that you're going to work hard and lose money. Breaking even or making a small profit is awesome. Making a living … well, bestsellers do exist. Just think about how many bestsellers there are vs. how many authors there are.
I'm still dreaming. I'm entitled. :)
But I'm also realistic. For over three years now, I've taken on editing projects in addition to writing my own stuff. The editing pays better, and with much less effort. If I could stop writing, I'd switch to editing full time, but it's kind of an addiction. So I use editing to support my writing habit.
If you've got a writing habit and need professional help feel free to contact me and ask about my editing services, which include developmental editing, coaching, and copy editing. My rates are very reasonable. :)
Oh, and my books are great. I've bled my soul into them. I'm not sure how far above breaking even I've swum financially, but I still have the satisfaction of knowing that I've written them. And of course, I have the dream.
Title: Kaitlin’s Tale