Saturday, April 09, 2011

Is Money Flowing Toward YOU, Writer?


If you are a writer, you’ve probably heard the mantra.  MONEY FLOWS TOWARD THE WRITER. Most often we hear it in relation to vanity publishing, scams, or “services” that are nothing more than a way to soak an author who has stars in his or her eyes.  With the explosion in independent, direct-publishing (yes, we have taken ownership of term “indie” and no, you can’t do a damned thing about it), I’ve been seeing a lot of new trespasses into the stream. Money is finding new ways to flow away from the author. And even more writers are finding old ways to blow their cash.

How many conferences have you attended?  I go to small gatherings.  I’ve been to two RWA Conferences, both were in the local New England Chapter, and within driving distance.  I rented a room both times so that I wasn’t blowing most of my weekend on commute.  Both times I did NOT arrive early or leave late. I did not take visitors to the area sight-seeing.  I bought rounds of drinks and an inexpensive (Olive Garden once, and a pub on another occasion) meals for a few friends.  I could afford both, and did not consider it part of my “writer-weekend.” It was fun, not business.

This past week dozens of people I knew flew across the country to attend the Romantic Times convention, which most agree is appropriate when you have a book to promote.  Many of them did not.  My gut tells me, particularly paying attention to the tweets and fb postings, that the majority of those writers were on vacation. I love seeing friends and associates have fun. I hate seeing them falling down drunk. It’s also upsetting to think about the economy these days and have that tally adding up in my head.  Are sales good enough for everybody there to break even? Cover expenses? Come close?  None of my business, but… is money flowing toward these writers?

I’ve seen an awful lot of writers with either very little or nothing at all published blowing wads of cash at these get-togethers. Some were friends, and I’ve bitten my tongue. I’ve seen more adults drunk off their backsides than I ever care to count.  I’ve opted, personally, not to behave that way, and not to spend money that way.  I went to RWA Nationals once, a very long time ago, when I was just getting ready to dip my toe in.  I knew almost nobody. A few workshops were useful, but I also found RWA New England more helpful, less expensive, and more intimate (ie: I got better, more personal contact and access to the people I wanted to see and talk to).

Recently, as I ventured out under my own name (rather than the pen name I’ve considered retiring), I’ve been watching the indie boards, groups, blogs. A lot of people seem to be spending huge amounts on book covers, editing services, formatting, etc.  If you have to hire another person for these things, I totally understand. But check the background of the person.  I would say NEVER pay anyone unless you have heard good things about him or her from at least one writer who worked with the person in question.  Shop around. Consider how much you can expect to make as well as how long it will take to make back what you spend up front.

Google.  Try formatting on your own at least once before shelling out the have it done for you.  See if you can barter—2 beta-reads in exchange for adding text to a stock image correctly so your cover is the cost of the image, perhaps.  If you are going to spend money, spend it on editing.  (I recommend Rhonda Stapleton as an editor.) Don’t spend money on advertising until you’ve made enough to cover it.  Ask other writers what has worked for them and how much they paid.

There is nothing wrong with spending to promote yourself or make your work better, but remember… MONEY MUST FLOW TOWARD THE WRITER.  It can’t flow toward you if you are bailing wads of cash into the stream!

3 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Rhonda Stapleton said...

<3 <3 <3 Thank you for the recommendation!!!

Werner said...

How does a writer go about finding a "good" editor?

Do you select them by the genre of novel you write, or if you're writing a novel or a non-fiction book?

Chrissy said...

Hey, Werner! Good question. You DO need to consider your genre. My best advice is find a few writing communities (online and off if possible) and TALK TO OTHER AUTHORS. Google will get you lists. Writers Market will, too. But other writers can tell you what it was like to work with the person.
I also find editors, agents, etc often hang out in those very same places, and you may just fall into a relationship that works.
Good luck!

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