Dance of Hearts recently published. It is a novella that is part of a series that I plan on publishing over the next six months and is part of my Tip Jar stories. I thought I’d explain what they are in this blog post and why they are incredibly important to my writing success as Byrd Nash.
How many books can I write in a year?
Over the last 18 months of publishing and writing my books, I’ve realized that my optimistic plan of four books a year was far too much a pie-in-the-sky thinking. If I was younger, I could probably do that number, but I simply don’t write that fast at this stage of the game.
I also want my book to go through an internal review process of being read by Beta Readers and an editor before being published. This process adds in another three months to the process of bringing a book to market. For example, I wish I had more time to work on Bane of Hounds but with the publishing schedule I’ve set for myself, I don’t.
However, without producing a book of 60,000 words four times a year, how could I meet an expectation of the part-time income that is my goal? Is it even realistic to expect that I could cover my expenses? Is it egotistical to want money for what I write? Shouldn’t I be happy enough anyone reads me?
Those are a lot of thoughts so let’s unpack them.
What is a realistic income for someone that is self-published?
I’ve seen a lot of crazy figures thrown around, much of it speculation that isn’t backed up with a lot of hard facts. The truth is that even traditionally published authors with book deals don’t earn a lot. I also don’t write what is trending with cliffhanger endings. Or non-fiction scam books like “how to earn a million on YouTube” – stuff that sells really well.
I do know that the more books I have up for sale, the higher the likelihood I can earn some sort of income.
Will my book sales cover my expenses?
There are expenses in self-publishing: paying for book covers, filing copyright, buying ISBN numbers (the numbers that identify the book) and if I want the book to be seen, advertising costs. That doesn’t include the other expenses of my software, app subscriptions, website, etc… that I do to keep Byrd Nash in the public eye.
These expenses can be dramatically reduced if I cut back on advertising. However, without advertising, organic search is unlikely to bring readers to me.
But reducing advertising is something I plan on doing if, in 5 years, the income to support my writing doesn’t materialize. If the income doesn’t pick up, I’ll reduce my expenses (which means homemade covers, no more advertising, etc..) and consider this just a hobby.
Should I just be happy people read my stuff?
I am happy people read my books and stories! And I am very happy with the comments from people who really get my writing. That validation means a lot to me.
However, I also want to be paid for my work. Paid for my “art.” That also provides a validation to me as well as money I want to set aside for my retirement. Yes, you read that right. Not to make this all a sad little story, but I need to sort out some income so I don’t have to dumpster-dive for a meal in about 15 years.
How today’s publishing sets you up for failure
Nowadays everyone expects a free book or a 99 cent book (which is pretty much free because the commission I get is minuscule). Now, the trend is to sell a boxed set for 99 cents!
This free book trend has become ridiculous! And I blame Amazon and their Kindle Unlimited program for that.
I don’t expect these consumer demands to slow down or reverse. Readers want something to gorge their reading eyes upon and many don’t care if it comes from Byrd Nash or John Smith. They are like a swarm of voracious locusts.
Each time you get a free book, or buy one at 99 cents really think of how you are providing a slave wage to a writer. Because that is what it is.
Be aware a book priced at 99 cents gives me a .35 cent commission and a book at a $1.99 gives me .70 cents.
As you can imagine this does not provide money to meet the bare minimum costs of publishing a book: paying for a book cover, paying for copyright protection, and advertising the book. Filing my taxes last year was disheartening.
Tip Jar Stories to the rescue!
Going back over my expenses and income, I’ve come up with a plan, called the Tip Jar Stories. I hope this will please readers and help me continue as a writer. Whether it works or not is still up for debate but it seems to me to be a reasonable plan with a good chance for success.
Tip Jar Stories will fit a certain theme and come out at least six times a year. For example, Dance of Hearts is a Historical Fairytale Retelling that is clean and sweet is the first one I’ve published under this new format.
First they will publish as standalone ebooks, available at Amazon, Nook, Apple, and Kobo (the three platforms where I sell the most of my books) and are priced at $1.99. Once I publish 4 or more they will be compiled into an anthology with a bonus story and a print edition.
I’m always grateful to those who have found my books, shown me the love with a review, and even better have followed me on social media or signed up to my newsletter.
I appreciate you all and hope that you can throw me that tip once in awhile.