Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More On Making A Living

Last week, I mentioned a figure of around 10.000$ a year. Obviously, if you earn this, you're -poor-. At least in the western world. I imagine any US-based readers would balk at the figure. In fact, I imagine even readers from my own part of the world would. I'd say it's possible to live off that, but it won't be exciting. You won't be giving gifts to anyone. Or if you do, it's going to be writing (That you could have sold instead) Even at this level of income, though, you need to sell 390 ebook copies every month.

Let's assume instead that I'd want to maintain a more moderate living. Let's say 50.000$ a year. I won't show the calculations here, because they're pretty simple. Suffice to say, you need to sell over 2000 short story copies every month to achieve this. That's very possible. Authors are doing this. But it's still a lot. The people doing this are in this position because they put in the work. They worked, even when it seemed hopeless. A lot of them started doing it simply because they liked writing, and through the dark times, they liked writing enough to keep doing it. It was never about some "2000 sales a month" goal.

Obviously, these successful indie authors don't have 400+ stories out there to do this. In other words, there is a hump to get over. Eventually, if you keep at writing, your writing and fans will begin working for you. People will tell their friends or acquaintances about your stuff. You'll have enough of a body of work to have a permanently free book to perhaps draw in some more readers. You'll be able to meaningfully branch into print on demand and audio books. You might even begin to look into translations. To continue the metaphor from last week's post, you'll have climbed the most desolate part of the mountain. Don't tell yourself the hardest part is over. It will never be. Your focus will simply shift.

Let's, as an average, assume that the "good times" begin to take form once you have 30 stories out there. For most, that's a year's work. Probably more. 2 short stories written and released a month may not sound like a ton, but it can be a lot of work to bring 2 stories through the process that goes before publishing in a single month if you're doing it next to a regular job. It's all you doing it, too. Keep that in mind. You can't even pay for your own living expenses via writing yet, how will you pay for a permanent editor, proof-reader, cover artist, etc?

You won't be able to live off your 30 stories, but it's a respectable body of work. Enough that it may be able to get some slightly more serious momentum on its own. You may be able to work part time instead of full time, though. However, this doesn't necessarily result in more writing released. There'll begin to be a lot of other things to take care of as you become a more popular writer. Advertisement in all its various forms begins to become meaningful. There'll be blogging, both yours and reading that of others. There'll still be your never-ending quest to improve as a writer. In the end, you may still only release 2 short stories a month.

Another year or two might pass, and then, if you've persevered this far, and been a little lucky, you may be able to make writing your full time gig. Sure, when you look back over a life, 3 years isn't that much. But remember, indie publishing, self-publishing, it's all still a jungle. Thanks to the internet, all the information is out there. But -you- have to go and get it. -You- have to do the work. There's no education (That's a lie, there is), it's all on you. And 3 years down the line, everything you know about indie publishing now could have, most likely will have, changed.

Despite self-publishing being taken more seriously in these last few years, it's still a jungle. It's not like attending school to become a Biologist or a System Administrator. You have to set the schedule, and be reasonably sure it's a good one. You have to be in charge of inspiration, writing, and the business side all at once. Add in some creative work with covers, and some legal work when it comes to rights, too. It takes personal drive to live and learn all this, and that's why everyone isn't a successful, published writer.

Only 1 or 2 out of every 100 people who want to be a writer ever get anything published. Out of the mass of these 1-2 people, only so many can handle dealing with the pressure of self-publishing. There's a lot to take care of, writing is only the first of your problems.

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