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keriflur
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?

Wendig is not looking to turn you away from self-pub.  He self-pubs.  He, and I, just think folks need to learn the facts and make intelligent decisions.  As I mentioned upthread, there is a lot of preaching going on and not a lot of facts laid out.  Wendig lays out the facts, and that's all.  You choose your own adventure.

 

15 years ago when I graduated college, a friend of mine told me not to accept anything that paid less than the cost of a year of our education ($27,900 at the time).  IMO good advice.  I interviewed for stuff that paid as low as $16k (in NYC!), but took the one that offered $40k.  Given inflation, etc., I'm going to say that yes, most college grads can make more working a soul-sucking job than they can as a writer.

 

Writer Amber Keyser posted a comment on twitter - "We are a billion $ industry based on people writing for free at kitchen tables in the middle of the night."  I have to agree 100% with that.  This is how all writers start - not with industry analysis and book proposals, but with a dream and a pen or a keyboard.  The decision of how to publish is comes later.

 

Most folks don't make enough $$ to quit their day jobs to write full time.  It doesn't matter if you self-pub or trad-pub.  I've heard "5 books" as the point where you can make enough to live by writing  full time, but what those five books bring in, and what an individual needs to make to support themselves or their family, is going to vary radically.  IMO the difference in choice is not so much about making the big bucks, as many seem to think it is, but many other factors - how much time you want to spend marketing, how much it matters to you to see your book in bookstores, whether you're an introvert or extrovert, if you have the start-up cash to get a decent cover, pay an editor, etc., if you have appropriate support to determine when your work is actually ready for pub, how books in your genre/category generally sell, and on and on.

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bobstro
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?

[ Edited ]

Unfortunately, they don't clarify what that 28% living off of writing are averaging, but presumably it's more than $500. I'm not focused on the $10,000 average. The fact that MORE than half made more than $500 is what I found interesting, assuming that by half, they mean numbers.

 

Understood about where Wendig (and you) sit, Keri, and I appreciate it. It just seems this "blowup" is a bit of a tempest in a Starbucks cup.

 

That article did make me appreciate Howey's position a bit more.

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keriflur
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?


MacMcK1957 wrote:

But a survey of 1,007 self-published writers – one of the most comprehensive insights into the growing market to date – found that while a small percentage of authors were bringing in sums of $100,000-plus in 2011, average earnings were just $10,000 a year.

 

Unfortunately, averages are not medians.  The average is skewed by the handful making six-figure amounts, while basically everyone else is making, if they're lucky, that $500.


*nods*

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keriflur
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?

[ Edited ]

bobstro wrote:

Unfortunately, they don't clarify what that 28% living off of writing are averaging, but presumably it's more than $500. I'm not focused on the $10,000 average. The fact that MORE than half made more than $500 is what I found interesting, assuming that by half, they mean numbers.


Do you have a link?  I haven't read that article in a while, and I could have swore that it said that less than half made more than $500.

 

ETA:

 

Found it:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/may/24/self-published-author-earnings

 

And it has a giant photo of EL James, an author who never actually self-pubbed.  LOL.

 

It says half, not more than or less than, so 50% earned $500 or less per their study.

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bobstro
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?

[ Edited ]

I  misread the 28% as "28% lived off of writing exclusively". After buying the actual report instead of going through the article's prism, I see that "97 of the 1,007" indicate they can live off their royaties. (Actually, 629 provided earnings data.) So roughly 10% is a safe bet.

 

The article does say that "half made less than $500", so unless there's an implied "on the average" missing, I'm understanding that something like 503 individuals made more than $500. Not much. Not enough to live on. But if you take the position that most self-pub material is trash, that's more than I would have expected. I haven't sold my trash for more than $500 lately. I don't have any hobbies that bring in any income, so maybe writing should be one. (OK, sure, 75% of THAT total must go to the better authors in the group, but still...)

 

It's a cautionary article overall. Not being an author of romance, female or 40, I get the message: Don't quit your day job. I'm just surprised the numbers are as good as they are.

 

Is 2,000 words a day considered high output? I just looked at the report I produced today, and it weighs in at 10,313 words. That includes title page, header, footers and ToC, and it's dead-dry technical stuff, but it wasn't a frantic pace at all. Well, except for where i procrastinated. Considering it's the same stuff I'd be writing about, though, I'm mildly encouraged.

 

I'm a sucker for data. I bought the stupid report. Maybe the results will be clearer.

 

Tidbit 1: Only 629 repsondents provided total 2011 revenue figures. The sample is smaller.

Tidbit 2: While the median was less than $500, the report also notes that 53% of respondents had also self-published their first book in 2011.

Tidbit 3: Having an agent is associated with earnings more than 3 time higher than those without. 1/3 of top earners never had representation.

Tidbit 4: Plenty of mention of Kindle. A passing mention of Apple. No mention of B&N!

Tidbit 5: Previous exposure to the author's previous work is cited as the most positive impact among Top Earners.

 

Again, this isn't telling me to drop everything and go self-pub, but I found the details interesting and a bit more encouraging than I expected.

 

 

 

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keriflur
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?

[ Edited ]

Output varies by author, and fiction is harder IMO than non-fiction.  Some full-time fiction writers write really fast.  Kiersten White is the fastest that I know of - she's written a first draft in 9 days (Note that she's said she doesn't really sleep or bathe or anything else while she's drafting), but she is alone in that category AFAIK.  Others are slower, with author Holly Black averaging out to 800 words a day, I think?  She's also FT, no other job.

 

I'm on the slow end - I can write 2k a day on days when I don't do anything else.  I can write as much as 3k if I know exactly what's going to happen, and I'm right (I'm not always, sometimes things go a completely different direction and throw off my plot).  I'm having a good week if I clear 5k for the entire week, given job, life, etc.  Some weeks I don't add any words as I work out plot, characters, and story, and during revisions I may work all week and end up with a negative word count.

 

Kep in mind also that these are first drafts.  One of the nice things about non-narrative nonfic is that once you plan out the book, it usually stays that way.  Your first draft will likely be darn close to your final draft, though large sections may be rearranged.  With fiction, and even sometimes with narrative nonfiction, that's often not the case, and the writer may have to re-write the entire book multiple times before they're even ready to send it out (and then more revisions when working with an editor/agent).  Revision counts in the double digits are not uncommon for fiction writers.

 



Tidbit 3: Having an agent is associated with earnings more than 3 time higher than those without. 1/3 of top earners never had representation.

 


Anyone good enough to get an agent is good enough as a writer to have a choice between self- and trad-pub, so I'm not surprised that those folks are earning more.  And it goes to show that there really is a lot of choosing - not everyone who's a good enough writer to make it through the trad pub machine chooses to, nor should they.

flyingtoastr
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?

It's so hard to characterize writing because every single person is so different.

 

I've had the luxury of doing both academic non-fiction for my career and novel fiction for fun, and each is difficult in their own way. When I'm writing fiction I just have to be in the right mindset and can sit and bang out a story for a few hours. But if I'm not "in the zone" for writing, it can be excruciatingly difficult to do. And, as I don't do hard outlines for my stories, sometimes plots can veer off it can take a lot of effort to get everything back on track or figure out where it's going.

 

Non-fiction has a host of other problems. Compared with my fiction, I spend far more time planning a non-fiction work. There's tons of research that has to be done before I can even begin a non-fiction work, while fiction generally doesn't require too much (again, generally speaking). But once it starts going a non-fiction piece generally is easier to write since the conclusion and structure are foregone, and it's mostly just hammering the same point (with citations!).

 

And both fiction and non-fiction require tons of revision. While my fiction works may change more during the revision process from draft to draft, peer reviews can cause pretty hefty rewrites of an academic paper as well. I'd say the real reason that I don't see the huge rewrites in my non-fiction like I do my fiction has more to do with the incredible amount of planning that I do before I sit down to write an academic piece compared to the rather seat-of-my-pants that I do for fiction writing. 

 

Everyone's mileage varies though. Writing is still very much an art, and everyone has different aptitudes.

 

*All this is from the perspective of a European History Master's student who writes terrible Science Fiction in his free time*

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keriflur
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?


flyingtoastr wrote:

I'd say the real reason that I don't see the huge rewrites in my non-fiction like I do my fiction has more to do with the incredible amount of planning that I do before I sit down to write an academic piece compared to the rather seat-of-my-pants that I do for fiction writing.


This is what I've found too - the planning for NF work is so big that when I sit down to write it, I know what all the content is, I know my argument, I know approximately how I want it all to flow.  With fiction, I may find that my character chooses door two when I was planning on them choosing door one, and then I'm all WTF NOW WHAT DO I DO *hulksmash* because with the way I've written the character, door two really is what they'd choose.

 


flyingtoastr wrote:

 

Non-fiction has a host of other problems. Compared with my fiction, I spend far more time planning a non-fiction work. There's tons of research that has to be done before I can even begin a non-fiction work, while fiction generally doesn't require too much (again, generally speaking).


This very much varies by topic for me.  My previous two novels didn't require a lot of research, but the current one is set in various locations in Europe and the MC is a safecracker on a heist crew, so I've had to do copius amounts of research on everything from lockpicking and safecracking to major heists and how they were performed, Interpol and CIA research, explosives, a whole host of laws, and all kinds of random things like what kinds of food you can get delivered in Vienna and whether you can buy stitch kits at drugstores in Dubrovnik.  And that's only what I've done so far - I still need to spend some time with a doctor to make sure all my injuries and deaths are accurately portrayed, with a safe tech to make sure I haven't bungled anything, some time at the gun range to make sure I've got all that stuff right, etc., and then location research is scheduled for this fall, to make sure I capture all the right details of all the right places in the book (smells, flavors, feel for the cities, etc).

 

It's all very interesting, but OMG there is a lot of it.

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patgolfneb
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?

Keriflur, sounds like you might have made one of homeland securities watch lists with your research? Nah, probably to busy with Chinese hackers.
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keriflur
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Re: So is this supposed to turn me off to self-publishing?

[ Edited ]

patgolfneb wrote:
Keriflur, sounds like you might have made one of homeland securities watch lists with your research? Nah, probably to busy with Chinese hackers.

I'm sure I'm on their list.  There are lots of sources "for writers" out there for all kinds of things from clinical psych to forensics, but no one has put together a book on bomb-making "for writers", so I've had to do my research the same way anti-government militants do it.

 

You would not believe some of the things people talk about in forums as "hobbyists".