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Old 27th January 2012, 11:07 AM   #76 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

Interesting post, Peter. When I did my MA a while back, we were encouraged to "own the label" (yeuch) of "writer" but the context in which we might do so was never explored. Personally, even if I somehow became a vastly successful novelist, I doubt I'd comfortably make the bald claim "I am a writer", free of qualifications and caveats, because to me that would imply a literary heavyweight, someone who could expound at great length what his numerous and varied works had to "say", and who could be relied upon to give witty and profound interviews on radio 4.

I think it's impossible to deny that the word comes heavily freighted with baggage, and you're right, people should be aware of that when they use it. The trouble is that the alternatives are pretty clumsy.
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Old 27th January 2012, 11:12 AM   #77 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Originally Posted by Peter Graham View Post
A certain degree of discernment, perhaps, but no snobbery.

Who argued this?

Regards,

Peter
You.

Does it matter? Arguably not. One has written a book and one might as well stick it up there. At least you have a chance of a few sales.

But these folk are not really writers. They are folk who have written something - which no more makes them a proper writer than me hacking Dave Ten Pints' leg off with the chopsaw makes me a surgeon.

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Old 27th January 2012, 11:31 AM   #78 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

Snobbery is saying you're better than someone for no good reason than an imagined superiority. Peter's argument was actually a very valid point. Posting a badly written, unedited, unimaginative piece of prose in the hope that someone else will buy it does not make you a writer - it makes you an unrealistic writer.
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Old 27th January 2012, 11:35 AM   #79 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Snobbery is saying you're better than someone for no good reason than an imagined superiority. Peter's argument was actually a very valid point.

Sorry, but no.

Dismissing a body of work just because it doesn't follow your preset beliefs of how something should be done is snobbery.

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of terrible self published books out there, but it doesn't stop someone eanring money from being a writer just on internet guys say so.

But really this is just dissolving into the "It's not Art because I don't like it argument."
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Old 27th January 2012, 11:44 AM   #80 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

Interesting and vibrant thread.

To be commercially successful you either need to have a single novel / series that is a runaway success, or a sufficient amount of material that sells averagely to make a living from it.

Runaway success books don't happen often and there's no predicting it. It's rarely overnight, often not even in the lifetime of the author.

The other route requires industry and discipline to produce a volume of work of sufficient quality in an area that's selling well. Diary Of... books for kids are one such area right now, though that's likely to do better via traditional routes because most kids don't have a kindle. Paranormal romance is still going strong and doesn't look to be dying any time soon. But to produce a book in these areas you have to look at what's there, breakdown what sells and what doesn't, hazard a guess at what space there is for something else and then put in the long hours to get it written up in a short time.

Someone like James Patterson never writes to what most people consider a high standard. But he writes a lot and he gets his ideas down, gets a talented writer to first draft, then tidies up the process. With his name on it, people know what to expect. They know they'll face 120+ scenes that're 2-3 pages long. That there's little complexity, just fast paced action. It has become a brand rather than a work of art, but one that makes a fortune.

JK Rowling could have carried on the HP series and milked it far more. The thing about that series was that people waited years for the books, because she did it solo, whereas Patterson does it collaberatively. Would the quality of the HP books mattered it she wrote the next 5 in 6 months each, then went to work on a new project?

Quality and quantity have to be managed. 10,000 hours into a novel rather than 1,000, that only increases its sales by 10%, isn't a valuable time investment from a business perspective. Setting up a website, selling merchandising, creating a brand from a series - that could be a valuable investment of time but is also moving away from writing.

We've each got our lines to draw in the sand and then redraw as our perspective changes. Money is there to be made, writing can be done in different ways, revenue streams can be diversified and all of this is possible via self-published as well as traditional routes.

None of it is easy :-)
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Old 27th January 2012, 11:49 AM   #81 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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You.
You know what a straw man argument is, don't you?

I never argued that folk who pay their mortgage, bills etc through their writing income are not writers. Folk who stick a bad piece of work up for the hell of it are highly unlikely to earn enough to keep body and soul together. Pin money at best for the overwhelming majority of them. Those were the people I was rather obviously talking about.

When did I argue that writing status is conferred by someone on the internet? I argued - quite clearly, I thought - that it came from consensus within the profession.

Regards,

Peter
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Old 27th January 2012, 11:52 AM   #82 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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In a business enviroment, sales are everything. My mate Scarfy is knocking out 1200+ a month. How many published authors can say that.
Quite a few. I think GRRM and Brandon Sanderson are selling rather more than 1200 a month, for starters

There are big success stories and many, many failures on both sides of the fence - neither route is guaranteed success and profit. I'm not dissing Scarfy's achievement, BTW, merely offering a balanced view of what the average writer can expect.
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Old 27th January 2012, 12:21 PM   #83 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Originally Posted by Anne Lyle View Post
Quite a few. I think GRRM and Brandon Sanderson are selling rather more than 1200 a month, for starters

There are big success stories and many, many failures on both sides of the fence - neither route is guaranteed success and profit. I'm not dissing Scarfy's achievement, BTW, merely offering a balanced view of what the average writer can expect.
Everyone on the best seller list like GRRM are prob selling 100k a month. I'm talking about the not so well known authors. I think Ian Whates said one of his books had sold 2000 so far.

All I'm trying to say in a balanced way, is don't jump on the bandwagon of knocking self-publishers. There are plenty good ones with appropriate success stories, as there are in traditional publishing.

On Scarfy - over 5000 sales in 5 months. let's hear from published authors on their sales figures so we can compare
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Old 27th January 2012, 12:40 PM   #84 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

If 6-8% of the RRP is the average for a traditional publishing route, then at £7.99 an author is getting 56 pence per book (7%). If an agent takes 10-20% of that, we'll say that's 15% which is 8 pence, leaving the author with 48 pence per sale. Minimum wage for 21 and above in the UK is £6.08. For a 39 hour work week that equates to £12,330 per year. That's 25,668 sales in the year, 2,141 per month, 4940 per week or 70 per day.

Obviously those figures are easier to achieve with multiple books out there and if you're doing it online, you're looking at having to sell less to get more profit, but having less exposure, not being in mainstream book shops. Unless you do an Amanda Hocking, sail the charts for a bit and find your books in high street stores at a point where it has probably become redundant because the internet has given you the exposure you need.

Last edited by Dozmonic; 27th January 2012 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Sums wrong :-)
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Old 27th January 2012, 12:54 PM   #85 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Originally Posted by Gary Compton View Post
On Scarfy - over 5000 sales in 5 months. let's hear from published authors on their sales figures so we can compare
They're probably actually quite comparable, as far as I know.

JJ once said that a novel in the UK that sells less than 3,000 copies is considered a failure. A more realistic view could also be considering Hannu Rajaniemi, who wrote THE QUANTUM THIEF. He sold over 16,000 paperbacks, 1,500 hardbacks, and over 4,00 ebooks.

http://www.johnjarrold.co.uk/news/70...nnu-rajaniemi/

That could be because Hannu's début was highly anticipated and because there was a lot of hype surrounding it (3 book deal made in one afternoon, after reading just one chapter), so perhaps other novels don't sell anywhere near that volume, but it still shows that self publishers have a way to go.
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Old 27th January 2012, 01:11 PM   #86 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

Mmm. Perhaps this is one of those questions on which we should agree to differ?

If someone self-publishes and sells 'well', then they are a writer.

If someone gets a conventional publishing deal, they are also a writer.

So where's the line?

I agree with AMB on this one -- if someone writes, then I wouldn't have a problem with them defining themselves as a writer. Although I accept the word has connotations, I think the danger of defining too narrowly is greater than allowing everyone who wants to to define themselves that way.

If someone does not write -- even if they did so in the past with enormous success -- are they still allowed to consider themselves a writer?

And I don't know if everyone who publishes things-I-wouldn't-choose-to-read online necessarily does so cynically. Often, I suspect, they don't see anything wrong with the book. So I am not prepared to say they shouldn't define themselves as writers, just because what they write doesn't conform to the rules. And it makes me uncomfortable when lines are drawn in this way.

(I'm reminded of the Kipling poem with the Devil whispering behind the leaves, "it's pretty, but is it art?")
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Old 27th January 2012, 01:42 PM   #87 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Originally Posted by Gary Compton View Post
All I'm trying to say in a balanced way, is don't jump on the bandwagon of knocking self-publishers. There are plenty good ones with appropriate success stories, as there are in traditional publishing.
I'm not knocking self-publishers - I think they have serious cojones, at least the ones who are taking it seriously and putting effort into making their books as good as anything put out by the big houses.

I just take issue with the implication that higher profit margins on Amazon = bigger bucks than a publishing contract, because that simply isn't true for the vast majority of self-published authors.

Quote:
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On Scarfy - over 5000 sales in 5 months. let's hear from published authors on their sales figures so we can compare
I'll be happy to share once I have figures, which won't be for a long time yet. My first book isn't out until early April, so I probably won't have a realistic idea of how it's selling until at least Christmas.
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Old 27th January 2012, 02:15 PM   #88 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

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Dismissing a body of work just because it doesn't follow your preset beliefs of how something should be done is snobbery.
How about standard rules of grammar and punctuation, before anything else?

No one's saying *all* self publishing is bad - we have Mark Robson on the forums who started off with self-publishing, and was so successful that Simon & Schulster signed him up. But he worked hard to be successful with it.

But what most people know is that with self-publishing there are rarely quality assurances in place. Some good works in a sea of sub-standard fare.

As someone once told me, "Everyone has a book inside of them. And for most people, it should stay there."
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Old 27th January 2012, 03:48 PM   #89 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

Interesting this one, when is a writer not a writer? I left my job in retail one day and called myself a consultant. I had to do a lot of work to bring myself up to the level I needed to be in terms of knowledge but I was happy to take small stuff and build up, plus I did have a modicum of experience in my field.

so, I can spell, I know the basic rules of grammar (still struggle with some but I'm striving to learn them), can I call myself a writer? I tend to tell people who ask I'm trying to write a novel; but at the end of the day where do we set the definition of what a writer is or isn't. A writer is someone who writes, whether for pleasure or profit and if that's what they want to define themselves as its their choice. The good ones will do what I did when I magically became a consultant and work hard to make themselves at least a competent one. The bad ones won't and they won't make any money from it but they can still call themselves a writer. (just not a very good one )
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Old 27th January 2012, 04:40 PM   #90 (permalink)
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Re: Published authors and percentage income

Threads like these are why I love Chrons

I'll sidestep the whole "when's a writer a writer" debate as it seems entirely subjective to me...

As for the potential earnings for trad vs self publishing, well this is a really interesting thread. I plan on submitting at least once more to a trad publisher purely on the basis that... well, I don't know really. Kudos? Glory? Money (in life-changing amounts) appears unlikely either route.

Is it the best business decision? Who knows. I'm going to keep an eye on this thread to find out

I have long been considering self-publishing ebooks of my novels - have been working on various strategies (such as breaking novels into something more episodic, like old-fashioned part-publication/serial/periodicals and 'selling 'em off cheap'). My day job is as a web developer and I have some background in design too, so I'm quite happy amending html for ebook formatting, building and marketing book-related websites, optimising for search etc as well as doing my own covers (I've not been tempted to put a buxom maiden and her muclebound lover on a cover yet, but I hear that stuff sells). I guess Proper editing is the only thing I'm currently lacking (working on the *loose* assumption that my writing is not utter poop).

One thing that holds me back from self-e-pubbing is that I'm not necessarily the most prolific of 'writers' (which seems to me to be key to really breaking ebook sales). Hence the idea to break down into bitesize chunks to sell for less.

To jump on the 'Go Scarfy!' bandwagon, I was browsing Amazon UK's 'Top selling Scifi & Fantasy' lists and saw the first of his ebooks near the top of the 'Free' list and his non-free ebook at least half way up the 'Paid' list (seriously, well done Scarfy). These lists are how I often find myself finding (e)books these days, and that's the kind of marketplace I think a lot of people are going to to do the same.
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