In my most recent book giveaway on Goodreads, I opened the contest up to Canadians, Aussies, and Brits. It was an experiment of sorts because I had no idea what postage is like to those places. Well, of the three winners, one was from Great Britain. The postage to send one copy of The Telling to someone in GB was $11.62. This doesn’t count the cost of the book.
Or the cost of packaging.
Or the time (and gas) it took to drive to the post office and back.
Or all the time and money and hard work that’s gone into my writing career in general.
But someone in Great Britain will soon have a copy of my book. Not to mention the 990-plus people who entered the contest, showed interest in the story, and now have my name floating around in the dark recesses of their brain.
I haven’t made a lot from writing. Not yet. Yes, I received two modest advances. But I’ve yet to crack the royalties threshold. Perhaps by next year. My ebook novella, Winterland, has done pretty well. Although at .99 a copy, I’ll have to sell a lot more before I can move to my dream house in Malibu Canyon. And between money invested in conferences, books, and writing supplies, and time spent blogging, interacting with authors and readers, at this point, it’s pretty much a wash.
Most of the authors I associate with are somewhere in this limbo between writing for free and actually seeing the monetary fruits of their labor. I’m not shy about saying I want to make money writing and blogging. I’ve never been hip to writing “for the love of the game.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that I’m entitled to anything. Rather, I am writing for free on my way to getting paid.
Earlier this year, my agent mulled this question in a post entitled Do Authors Have a Right to Be Paid? She was referencing an interview with Seth Godin on the future of publishing. This is the snippet she highlighted:
Rivera: Many authors hear your message about being willing to give away their books for free, or to focus on spreading their message but their question is: “I’ve got rent to pay so how do I turn that into cash money?”
Godin: Who said you have a right to cash money from writing? I gave hundreds of speeches before I got paid to write one. I’ve written more than 4000 blog posts for free.
Poets don’t get paid (often), but there’s no poetry shortage. The future is going to be filled with amateurs, and the truly talented and persistent will make a great living. But the days of journeyman writers who make a good living by the word – over.
Godin is not suggesting we just randomly give stuff away for free, but that we spend the time deserving to be paid.
We should write for free as a means to getting paid.
Sometimes I wonder if self-publishing confuses this issue, it gives us the false sense that everybody deserves to get paid for what they write. However, I’m not entitled to be paid for anything. Writers and bloggers are not owed a living. They must earn it like everybody else. And in this wide open market, the competition is fierce. Simply put, if your writing is valuable enough to enough people, the market will reward you.
So until then, I’ll keep logging blogging miles, chugging away on new stories, and sending books to Great Britain.