Beware writer!

Published 05/01/2012 by Lily Crussell

I write this blog as a writer, a reader and someone who occasionally likes to rant (I’m English, it comes with the territory) so this post has several viewpoints for the same subject.

I have a crappy retail job, I earn about £14,000 a year before tax. The economy is dying on its feet and is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Interest rates are going up, bills, groceries etc are all rising, but wages aren’t. I don’t have a lot of money…scratch that, I very rarely have anything at the end of the month. I’m being told to save for my pension as there probably won’t be one when I’m older (I’m 28 so not far off!) I should have savings for a rainy day and can’t get a mortgage as I don’t earn enough. As if this isn’t bad enough, I want a career that will probably leave me in debt and not even allow me to break even. I want to be a published author. I’m not talking e-books on Amazon, I’m talking physical books in print at my local bookshop. I want to hold something in my hand that I have made.

I am a reader. I love books. My happiness often depends on having something to read to help me relax. I like cheap books as I have very little money to spend. I buy from second hand shops or second hand from Amazon. I don’t feel guilty about buying from charity shops as the money goes to a good cause, but buying from Amazon is something of a problem with me.

Online bookstores are the death of bookshops. Online bookstores are the death of authors. Why? They expect to get the book cheaper than anyone else, by at least a couple of pounds. This means the publisher, author, agent etc etc all get less. This means publishers and agents are less likely to take a chance on a book or new author as it means they have to sell hell of a lot more books to make the same profit. That means that any book that needs a little tweaking, editing etc is unlikely to be taken up.

As a reader, I hate this as it means less choice. We get cookie cutter books that follow a similar formula with different characters because no one wants to take a chance. It means a thousand and one Twilight rip offs. It means less authors that are earning enough to live on. It means less authors.

Don’t get me started on e-books. I have spent years working on my novel ‘Of Darkness and Light’. It has cost me a small fortune in stamps, ink, paper, envelopes etc etc to send it to agents. When I didn’t get anywhere, it cost me a small fortune in editing fees. £600 for the book to be critiqued and copy edited. Due to a bad choice on my part, I was still finding mistakes in it after it had been copy edited. Due to all of this, I missed the boat. Angels were the new thing after Vampires. My book was finished about two years ago. It had a lot of interest with agents, but none were willing to take a chance. I had no choice but to either ditch it, self publish or go the e-book route. I can;t afford self publishing or the money involved in promotion, so e-book it was.

My biggest problem with e-books is the cost. A paperback sells for about £7, give or take. People won’t pay more than £2 for an e-book. No less work went into it because it’s not in print, but no one is willing to pay that much for something that isn’t a physical copy. My book is currently on for 99p and has had about 700 downloads. That’s nice and all, but how much have I made from this? About £5 in royalties as I had to put the book on for free for five days to get some interest. 700 copies downloaded and I’ve probably made about £5. I’m not naïve. I knew I wouldn’t get rich, I wouldn’t even get close. But to know that you put your heart and soul into something, spent hours and hours editing, rereading, pouring over the manuscript and neglecting everyone you love to work on it, £5 just isn’t good enough in my opinion. That doesn’t even come close to the paper, ink, stamps or stationary, let alone the editing costs involved.

The lesson? I don’t suppose there really is one, but I would ask that you make an effort to support indie authors. We don’t have the backing of a huge publishing house and most of us do full time jobs, working on our writing in our free time. We’re not advertisers, we have no clue how to get ourselves known. We’re fighting a losing battle and all we need is a little support, be it a book review, or a comment to let the author know that you loved their book and that they should stick with it.

Rant over. Love and hugs x

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