Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Money, money, money...

I've got books on the brain. I've decided that it isn't particularly helpful to write about the latest book in a series--I'm too uptight about giving spoilers to those who haven't read the earlier books so I'll end up posting the same thing that annoys me in other places. "If you like the first two books, you'll like this one, too." Really? You felt I would never guess that on my own?

While I've been working out which series and just how to go about this, I ran across L. Viehl's post on what a writer really makes. There's actually a lot of information there that should be looked at with more care* (such as her lack of promotion--great for her, but since I want to read your new urban fantasy or paranormal book, don't follow her lead), but in keeping with the title of the entry, what I'm interested in is how her $40,484 earned in royalties dwindled down to just over $27,000 in net earnings and $0 in actual earnings.

David Hewson wrote a great post explaining the money involved in quoting song lyrics. Some of my best work has been done in just-for-fun gaming forums where I've built chapters around songs that perfectly fit the scenes. I haven't done this with projects I meant to publish because I wasn't sure just what was involved in getting permission. Thank goodness for bowing to ignorance!

One line from the Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man? If I recall correctly they wanted a couple of thousand pounds. Dylan didn't come much cheaper. Some artists simply refuse to allow their work to be quoted in any way at all. Others settle for a few hundred pounds. In all the permissions cost me some £3,500 or so for that book - and they excluded North America. So if the work had been published in the US I would have had to pay all over again.

I'll keep my soundtracks for personal inspiration, thanks kindly.

*Real quick, why put off talking about Viehl's lack of promotion until later? When it can be nutshelled.

I’ve never had a 100K first print run. I don’t do book signings and I don’t order massive amounts of my own books from certain bookstores (I don’t even know which bookstores are the magic ones from whom the Times gets their sales data.) I do very little in the way of promotions for my books; for this one I gave away some ARCs, sent some author copies to readers and reviewers, and that was about it. I haven’t attended any conference since 2003. To my knowledge there was no marketing campaign for this book; I was never informed of what the publisher was going to do for it (as a high midlist author I probably don’t rate a marketing campaign yet.) I know they did some blog ads for the previous book in the series, but I never saw anything online about this particular book. No one offered to get me on the Times list, either, but then I was never told who to bribe, beg or otherwise convince to fix the list (I don’t think there is anyone who really does that, but you never know.)

Despite my lack of secret handshakes and massive first print runs, in July 2008 my novel Twilight Fall debuted on the Times mm list at #19

Nutshell: having never read a Lynn Viehl book, I immediately recognized the name as someone [whose work] I have to buy. Putting out a new book is almost all she has to do for advertisement; her fans will handle the rest. We noobs--those who need the info as opposed to the reader who's merely curious or the published author who either knows or is getting a crash course-can't afford to be so passive about sales. (Yeah, but don't go bribing anyone, either.)


azteclady said...

An, have you read this interview with Angela James? She mentions that "backlist" is the best promotion an author can have--and I happen to agree with her.

An author with ten titles under her belt or more will already have built at least a small core following which will build up, and prompt sales of the older titles as the new ones pick speed.

But the newbie author who has one book coming out one year and another the year after? How does s/he keep her name out there so that, when that second book hits the shelf, people actually remember that they were waiting for it?

An Again said...

Great link! I hadn't seen it, and your question ties right in with the next post I planned...