My favorite writing teacher back at Palomar College started off the first day of class by saying, “If you are in this to make money, let me break that illusion for you right here and now. The days of Stephen King payouts are over. If you think you’re going to make anything near a livable wage, well, good luck. But it’s probably not going to happen.”
That class started off with fifty very earnest students.
By the end of that semester, there were just five of us.
Five stubborn sons of bitches who couldn’t take the hint.
That was a long time ago. An ocean of decades separates that naive girl from me. Sometimes i wish I could go back in time and thank that teacher, David Cowper, for his harsh but real truth.
Check this out. This year, I made $28.00 from my Patreon (THANK YOU! I do appreciate all of you lovely beautiful people). I cleared nearly $24 from Amazon. And just last week, I received a royalty check for $7.08 for three stories. That figures out to be (insert calculator noises) $2.36 per story.
On the other side of the ledger, I have spent $675.00 on layouts and artwork. I have spent $100 on editing ( a freaking bargain!) and roughly $300 on swag, books and festival fees.
Yeah. Mr. Cowper was right: If you are in this for a buck, good fucking luck.
HOWEVER, I don’t want to end 2019 on a downer. I want to spread a quick piece of wisdom that injected needed oxygen on my dwindling fire.
A few weeks ago, my friend, M, and I were sitting in the Author’s Circle tent at the Dickens of a Christmas festival in Franklin, TN. The weather was terrible but there was at least a thousand people wandering around the stalls. In spite of that, I couldn’t hook a sale if I’d baited my books with cocaine. My spirits were sagging and M and I started talking about the lack of sales.
“Hey,” she said. “I didn’t come here thinking I’d sell a bunch. I mean, I’ve done okay* but I’m happy to just be here with my book. I have a job that gives me money. This is what I do for fun. I don’t need it to make money.”
I had a flashbulb moment.
And it was then that I realized I had lost my own perspective about the Craft. I was so concerned about the Profits and Loss that I forgot that this was supposed to be fun, goddammit!
I have a day job. THAT pays me money so I can buy food to feed my body. THIS….the writing, creating, doing all the weird, wacky, stupid, useless, fun storytelling…THIS feeds my soul .
I am taking that renewal of purpose into 2020. I’m going to have fun and I’m taking you guys with me.
Buckle up. It’s going to be a spine breaker.
*M published a book, God Bless Us Everyone! It’s an anthology written from the POV of the other characters in the Christmas Carol. I was so happy to get her into our group at the last minute. M came dressed as Charles Dickens and she had this huge, beautiful stage prop of a leather bound Christmas Carol book. She sold quite a few but what was delightful was listening to her talk about her book with such pride and wonder. It never came off as an elevator pitch or a shtick. Just love for something she had created. I learned a lot of from that day.