Like last week, this week’s update is going to be a little different. I’m going to focus more on the life of an independent author than my writing updates.
(Don’t worry, I’m still going to update you on the writing, so let’s get that out of the way first. Writing and interview status is the same as last week: more words written but nothing complete, nothing at the editor’s, and no new projects started.)
Now, on to the subject of this blog: the life of an independent author. On average, an independent author makes less than $10,000 a year. For that ten thousand, we get rejected and reviewed, not like a normal job where reviews may be quarterly, twice a year or annually from one or two bosses, but by several different people daily, and it’s posted for every Tom, Dick, Jane, Sally, and Spot to see.
[Side note: Some of the reviews are harsh and come out of nowhere. It seems the computer generation of ‘I’m braver on the computer than to your face’ will use reviews to vent their frustrations and shortcomings. The sad part is that if you reply to them, they never return your reply and/or have their friends who haven’t read the book post negative comments, only proving my point that they don’t want to go toe to toe alone. Now don’t get me wrong, I love constructive criticism about my writing, character development, plot, and structure. Hell, I don’t even mind a one-star review that says, ‘Didn’t like the book’. Those aren’t the reviews I’m talking about. No, the reviews I mean use clichés (which, by the way, as an author you should avoid) like, ‘Was forced to read this garbage’, ‘My two year old can write better than this’, and ‘Who in the hell do you think you are? A writer?’ This alone is sad, as independent authors live and die by reviews. Many authors give their work away in hopes of reviews. For every ten books that reach the hands of readers for free, the author may get one review—now that’s showing real appreciation for something the reader asks for and receives for free, and for your hard work.]
Ok, back to the blog. For $10,000 or less a year, independent authors wear many hats:
- Creative writer
- Cover art designer
- Formatter (for ePub and traditional publishing)
- Website designer
- Marketing and promotions manager
(There’s more, but I’m trying to keep this blog short!)
Most independent authors, on top of doing all the above, work another job, as ten grand won’t put a lot of food on the table, or keep the lights on and the car insured (if you can even afford to have one). Which brings us to the hours worked. A dedicated writer will be up to write two hours earlier than they need to be, before their other job begins, or they might wait until they get home from their day job, help with the chores and spend some time with the family, before retiring to some dark corner to write for a couple of hours before bedtime. Then, just like shampoo, rinse and repeat, day after day.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I don’t have another job so writing is all I do, and I have a team around me that helps with some of the jobs listed above, so I do get to spend a lot of my time just writing. (Check out my team at Joseph’s All-Star Book Team.) But my hours are just as strange and long. I have an office in my home on the ground floor, by the back door, which means I have an open door policy: open the door to let the dogs out, open the door to let the dogs in, open the door to see who is knocking, open the door… well, you get the idea. My editor, Clare, owner of Human Voices Editorial Services, lives in Bristol, England, six hours ahead of me here in Nashville, so she starts work at 3am my time. I do get 6 hours of sleep, in two 3-hour shifts. Most of my writing is done after midnight. Discussions with Clare are between 3am and 6am. Then to bed by 7am, and up by 10am to handle whatever needs to be done, from personal chores to author business. Nap time is between 3pm and 7pm. That schedule varies depending on the drama that is going on around me. Now you know why, if you have ever talked to me, I have no idea what day of the week it is, or the date.
So you are probably asking yourself why independent authors continue writing if the pay is so bad, the hours are strange and long, and we don’t get a lot of recognition. That one is easy: we love what we do. If the truth be told, we write more for ourselves than we do for the reader. Don’t get me wrong, we like people to read and enjoy our tales. When we meet people at book signings and they purchase our works, we get ecstatic. Then we become honored when they like our Facebook pages. We are floored when we become friends with that reader on Facebook, and understand it’s a privilege to be accepted as a friend. That is a real fan, and most of all a real friend. We are thrilled when someone acknowledges our work with a rating and/or a review. A five-star rating to me means that the reader enjoyed it; one star means the reader appreciated the effort but just didn’t like the work. But it all boils down to this: we like living in our own little world that we have created, and we hope you enjoy visiting our world through the tales we write. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Till next week, keep reading.
Blog edited by Clare Diston @ Human Voices.