Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Where's the End of the Writing Rainbow?
By Chester Campbell
Christine Duncan wrote a blog on Make Mine Mystery last week about her dream job—writing. The only drawback, she said, is that it pays little money. That’s certainly true for most of us. We all have acquaintances among the lucky few who manage to live off their writing income. Most of the ones I know in this category make it off of non-fiction rather than novels.
Actually, I’d be happy to dwell among the group who “make a little money” off their fictional efforts. I seem to be mired in the ranks of those who spend more on their writing than they make. When you subtract all I spend on travel to signings and conferences, the cost of mailing books to reviewers and contest winners, maintaining a website and sending newsletters, organizational dues, and other promotional expenses, my income is wiped out.
I’ve always heard that you start making money on your fifth book. Well, it’s been out about three months. I’m doing better, and if things keep going well I just might make it this year. It would be nice if I didn’t have to spend so much of my retirement income on my writing habit.
Marilyn Meredith is a great believer in the outside-the-box method of selling books, meaning outside the walls of a bookstore. I’m beginning to subscribe to her theory. I’m trying to line up as many street fairs, libraries, craft fairs, book festivals and the like as possible. I’m a little handicapped with a weak, gravelly voice that doesn’t do too well for speaking engagements, but I try to make up for it with a wife who does a great pre-selling job before people get to me.
Of course, I still do all the promotional stuff I can, giving out bookmarks and promo folders, updating my website, blogging all over the place, trying to post daily on Facebook and Twitter, creating book movie trailers. Lately I’ve tried to curtail my online time so I can work on my sixth book, another Greg McKenzie mystery. Fans I encounter at church and elsewhere are forever asking, “When will the next book be out?”
Surely number six will put me well in the black. I can’t quit my day job—retirement—but it sure would be nice to enjoy a little extra income for my efforts. What do you think? Is that a reasonable expectation?