I recently did a guest post for my long-time friend from New York, Isha. I talked about my experience meeting Michael Jackson in 2002.
MJFanGirl Blog is a really cool little corner of the internet that is well thought out and full of very cool information about Michael Jackson’s career. What sets it apart is not the fact that its not full of saturated adoration and tangents about how beautiful MJ is (which let’s be honest, we all think he was, lol, but not the point) its the kind of blog that allow us to learn more about the small details of his career that a casual fan probably wouldn’t know about.
My name’s Dane Cobain, and I’m an indie author, poet and musician from the UK. I’m here today to talk about indie authors, money, and how the two of them rarely come together. The truth is, it’s almost (almost, but not quite!) impossible for an indie author to make any money from their work, and I think that’s a shame.
And the problem isn’t really down to the readers – after all, there are a lot of keen readers out there who are buying, sharing and supporting the work of indie authors. The problem is with the process itself – you see, it’s not easy to release a book. You might think that the hard work ends after you’ve spent a couple of years planning and writing the damn thing, but that’s not true at all.
For a book to be ready to go to market, you need to work with a professional editor to make sure that your manuscript is perfectly polished, and you also need to find a good cover designer to make the book stand out. Both of these require a cash investment, unless you’re lucky and you’re able to cut a deal with someone. But you can’t cut corners and edit your own work – even if you’re an editor yourself. You need that level of objectivity, and you need to get a second pair of eyes to look at it.
Cover designs also cost a little extra because you need to cover the usage rights for the images. And then once that’s done, you have to think about the cost of ISBNs etc., as well as some of the other little bits and bobs that are associated with publishing costs.
And then there are marketing costs – for example, if you send your books out to bloggers, you need to cover the basic cost of the book and then the postage, which all adds up. If you run competitions then you need to worry about the prizes. Even paying for web hosting and a domain name can add up, over time.
Oh, you make a little money back, of course. You earn a percentage back from each sale, and you can sell physical copies at events for a profit. I’d estimate that I make somewhere in the region of £30-50 per month in profit from royalties and sales, but I spend around £50-75 on sales and marketing.
And it’s not just me, either – I’m friends with literally dozens (if not hundreds!) of authors, and I only know one or two who are able to support themselves through their writing alone. Even then, they’re supplementing the income that they make from book sales with freelance writing work and other consultancy services.
The fact is, unless you already have a huge social media following – YouTubers, I’m looking at you – then you’re always going to struggle to sell enough books to make a living from it. And unfortunately, new publishers are starting to focus on marketing potential rather than on the ability of the author when they sign new people to the books (no pun intended).
It’s capitalism in action, and it’s just the way that the world works, but it does make it more difficult for indie authors. As for myself, I work from 9-5:30 at a marketing agency, and work from 6:30 until midnight most evenings, as well as 14-16 hours a day at the weekend, if I’ve got nothing planned.
It’s hard work being an author, and it’s often financially unrewarding. But we don’t write for the money. We write because we’re compelled to write. That’s just how it is.
But it’s okay, because you can do your bit – buy a book from an indie author. The royalties will almost give them enough money to buy half a pint of beer, and you’ll get a book out of it, too!
You can check out Dane’s social media and website by clicking on the following links: