So I just got what to my enormous relief is the last of edits for the three way Heirs books (I write the first drafts and they go to the co-authors, before coming back to get a final edit). It’s a relief that its the last, but I really don’t even want to look at the unpleasant vast amount of work I know will be involved. I have one more book to do in this universe, but it’s with Eric, who is a good structural editor, and knows a great deal about writing. He also is meticulous about his homework – you won’t have to fix myriad continuity errors and he gets the history right. He’s also really good about consulting. Obviously I want to do books on my own, firstly because they’re mine, and secondly for financial reasons. Eric and I split the advance 50:50, but Mercedes took 50% and we got 25% each — which doesn’t actually reflect the work (by word count I’ve done 75-98% of the books, and for the all bar the first had barely any prior outline above a 1/4 page – which I wrote) or by adding another 50% onto the sales. It’s not worth it, and to get 2% of the cover price of a paperback I won’t do it again. Well… not unless someone came up with a truly vast advance. I suppose for 1/4 of a million dollars – which would replace (it’s a lot more expensive here) the home and farm we had to sell to emigrate and to move ourselves and the dogs and cats. That would leave me in a position to say that I will only self-publish e-books thereafter, and if people want to read my books, well and good. Right now, it’s take a full-time day job (there is a possibility) and cut back on the writing hugely, or continue to try and build the e-books and make a little from traditional publishing. Traditional publishing and distribution and bookselling have certainly made enough from me, for which, partly because of collaboration, and partly because of authors getting a very small share of gross, I haven’t seen much. For example, Shadow of the Lion has paid royalties, but my advance was $7500. In the end I have about doubled that… Not bad for a book that grossed more than 2/3 of a million – for the rest of the chain. I worked out the other day that by now ‘my’ books have grossed over 3 million dollars. For the last ten years of average 14 hour days (to take out the advances and books that are still forthcoming)… I’ve earned 124K. I know. That’s their gross earnings. They still have costs, you say… Yes, that’s what is usually ignored in these assessments: it’s their gross, against my gross. And when you look at their costs a small part of that is paper and print. The rest is premises, staff and equipment… which are my expenses too. I know. If it hadn’t been me, it would have been someone else. I chose to become an author, and I enjoy doing what I do. I still love it, but this can’t continue. I need to start earning a living, or start doing something else and writing as an occasional hobby.
Which is why I am pushing hard to sell some e-books. To make a web presence. Because I want to write, and I want to be able to.