Thursday, April 11, 2013

Indie Life: Can You Made a Living Writing?

Hosted every 2nd Wednesday of the month by the Indelibles. This is a chance for indie authors to post about indie life, find each other, offer support, encouragement, news, helpful hints, and anything else that makes life as an indie author a little easier. See full link list for April here.
One of the perks of writing - meeting other writers! With authors Jenni Merritt, Keary Taylor, and Rachael Wade during an October 2012 book signing on Orcas Island when Rachael 
was visiting from Florida.

A lot of people have asked me if I make a living from my writing so I thought I’d address this question in a post.

I know what the real question is. How much do you make writing? Hey, I wonder the same thing about other writers all the time.

My answer is: zip.

During the 3 ½ months that I’m unemployed in the winter I work 60+ hours a week writing and marketing my books. (During my months of employment I write on weekends and evenings.) I don’t make a living at it. I don’t make a profit. I don’t even break even at this point.

This is not a post to bitch. This is a reality check for anyone who thinks they can get rich writing ebooks. Feel free to get angry and disagree with me. You wouldn’t be the first.

Someone once insinuated that I overspend on copy editing and such. No. I bargain hunt. I hire professional freelancers to do my design and copy editing. I don’t have the funds to afford services from industry professionals. That doesn’t mean I skimp on quality. There are many talented individuals out there who offer their services for a fraction of the price since they work for themselves and have no overhead.

Bottom line, I strive to put out the best possible product within my budget.

Authors Stacey Wallace Benefiel and Keary Taylor (above) are a huge inspiration to me. I took self-publishing seriously for the first time after reading an article in The Islands Sounder in summer 2011 about author Keary Taylor on neighboring Orcas Island who had just sold 11,000 books in one month! 

I met Stacey online soon after and learned the ins & outs of publishing ebooks through this wonderful woman while working on a group project. If you're a writer or aspiring writer you must check out her group: The Indelibles. Lots of great advice and affordable resources on that site.)

It’s easy to get starry-eyed on all the hype about indie authors who have made it big, but they're the exception, not the rule, and they’ve worked hard to get there.

New York Times Bestselling megastar, Abbi Glines, recently wrote a post that it took her 10 books before she made the New York Times Bestseller List.  

“It takes EXTREME work on an author’s part to make their self-published book successful.” – Abbi Glines

For over two decades it's been my dream to "Hold my book in my hands." Last year that dream came true and I feel all the more triumphant having been a part of the whole process and worked so hard for it.

I’m proud of my accomplishments. I’ve published four books. I’ve met many wonderful readers and writers along the way who have enriched my life. Hearing from readers who’ve enjoyed my books puts me into a state of indescribable bliss.

I'm passionate about writing. I’ve invested every spare penny since I was a teen into writing courses, conferences, retreats, supplies, and books. I first knew I wanted to be an author in 5th grade. I've been chasing my dream a long time. I'm 35. (Don't let my pictures fool you.)

I love my characters. I love writing!

If you feel the same way, follow your dreams, but don’t expect a big payout. First you gotta put in your time. And, most importantly, have fun along the way! Most likely if you’re having fun, your readers will, too. ;)

***

I will be off island and offline all Friday. My husband has an appointment on the mainland and I'm going to take the motorcycle permit exam. Hopefully soon I'll be both a writer and rider. ;) I'll let you know if I pass on my Facebook Author Page.

24 comments:

  1. You're an inspiration, Nikki! And it is about the business, but it's more about the having fun part. We should never forget that :)

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    1. Yes, we should never forget what got us into writing in the first place. The love of a good story!

      Thanks, Megan.

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  2. Nice post, Nikki! And you can never overspend on editing/copy editing. Your book are clean and well written. I wish I could say the same about a lot of indie work. Too many are sloppily written and edited, which cast a bad light on the whole industry, unfortunately. That said, there are a lot of great indie books out there and I'm tempted to self-publish my third book instead of seeking a traditional publisher. I like the idea of being able to set my own price and make my own rules.
    Have fun on the mainland. And a motorcycle license? You go, girl!
    P.S. Almost done with "Enchantment." Love. It. Review should be up in about two weeks or so.
    Happy, happy

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    1. I think you'd rock the indie world, Cinthia! As you already know I am a huge fan of your work. Have been since we work-shopped together in '97. Woot!

      Vroom, vroom. Watch our deer! ;)

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  3. awesome post, thank you Nikki

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  4. Anyone in writing (especially indie) just for the money fades out fast. Most authors write for the love of it.

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    1. I think you have to love it... sometimes it's the only thing that keeps you going. That and reader support. ;)

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  5. Entangled was the first Indie book I bought, and the one that told me I could follow my dreams. You are a true inspiration, Nikki, and I have you to thank for giving me the courage to make the decision to self-publish. I knew it would be hard, and I'm not really in it for the money (although it would be nice), but I'll never forget the feeling I had when I received my first five star review. I am happy that my story has made someone else happy, and I do this writing books thing to keep spreading happiness not only in my heart, but hopefully in other hearts as well.

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    1. Your first?! I am flattered beyond words, Kim. I always look at other people as inspirational, not myself. So thank you for that!

      I love what you said about storytelling as a way of spreading happiness in our hearts and others. Well said. <3

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  6. I can tell you there are much easier ways to get rich quick than writing a book. I've had several different kinds of jobs. Writing is the hardest and pays the least. It provides other rewards than money.

    -James

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    1. I second that, James. Hardest and most rewarding work of my life. Also takes a bit of investment, though nothing like opening a restaurant or gift shop!

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  7. Amazing post. So honest & inspiring. And congrats to you for making your dreams come true and being able to hold your own book in your hand (I want to accomplish that, too, eventually). A gorgeous book at that (the book cover geek in me just has to tell you, lol). I own the ebook but I eventually plan on getting the paperback for my book collection. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You'll get there, Jennifer. Just work hard, follow your dreams, and make them happen. <3

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  8. As long as your writing keeps improving, and you keep publishing new books, your writing career will grow. Someday there may even be money involved. ;)

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  9. Great post, Nikki. I call writing my "forty year plan". People think I'm joking, but it takes a lot of time to write good books, and then even more time (and a lot of luck!) to get them into reader hands. I'm making a trickle of income, but reinvest it in business costs. I rarely have to dip in to my other income to cover writing costs anymore, so that's a welcome step. :)

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    1. That's certainly a step in the right direction, J.R. I like your "forty year plan" - it's a realistic approach. I've told friends I don't care if it takes me until I'm 60 to make it. I'm doing what I love and nothing can stop me.

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  10. This was a great post. Thank you. I needed that.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  11. Hi, Nikki,
    Thanks for these reminders. I agree with you that you have to work within your budget and that there are people who provide good service at a reasonable cost. It also takes a lot of time and energy to finally hit the big times and few get there. Slow and steady is the reality and what pans out for many.

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  12. I think it does take a while to begin to make money from writing. (Hoping I'll get there one day). I'll be paying off the money I spent on editing for a while, but I don't regret it for a minute! My books are a reflection on me, and I want them to be a good reflection!

    I love your cover! Beautiful.

    Rinelle Grey

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  13. I hear you. I'm on the verge of breaking even and earning what I need for the following book from the next one. But I'm on a tight budget, too. It's nice to think the hard work might pay off at some point. But I figure supplementing our retirement might be all I get... or less.

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  14. This post is truly inspiring. I like your post and everything you share with us is current and very informative, I want to bookmark the page so I can return here from you that you have done a fantastic job..
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  15. Those who get rich off their fiction are the one in a million exceptions. I couldn't stop writing if I wanted to. It's an addiction, and I swear if there was no paper I'd be scratching stories into tree trunks.

    Lauren
    lauren-ritz.blogspot.com

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