Click for your 30-Day Trial

Monday, December 14, 2009

Are We Paid What We're Worth?

The issue is money. That’s right, in publishing, it’s all about the almighty dollar. Are you surprised?

Sure, the written word still has a lot to do with why authors do what they love. However, generating profits may rank higher than ever before because the economy hit the book business just like any other industry. Toss in a little piracy and a lot of authors have felt the crunch.

I’ve been involved in the e-book and large press industry for quite a while now. About a year ago, I started receiving emails from new authors and even the occasional seasoned writer. Questions unfolded like—Where are you the happiest? Which publisher treats their authors best? Are you happy with the income you make from your publisher?

Soon, it became obvious why I often received industry questions. Others in the industry realized I do care about profits and the bottom line. My promotions and advertising made the interest apparent as well as the occasional outburst on a few private loops.

First let me say, I’m often shocked at how people behave over money and this is apparent in the e-book business as much as anywhere else. My husband works in a family-owned retail lumber and hardware store.

Believe me when I tell you, no one acts worse than a customer standing at a retail counter asking for a refund. However, running a close second in this day and age may very well be one out of every nine or ten small press publishers. Yes, I think there are that many publishers out there who have a hard time paying their authors what they're owed.

As a writer, I’ve discovered several things over the years. First, I typically have a great rapport with my publishers or potential publishers, at least on the front end. Then, the very second a money-related question pops up, everything changes. There are those very rare exceptions. Those exceptions are where I find my legitimate publishers.

Now keep in mind, I don’t write for pleasure alone. I do consider myself lucky because I write full time and earn my income from writing fiction books and non-fiction material. However, I expect to be paid for my time now more than ever before, not because I need the money but because I earned the money. I have learned to stress this after a publisher once asked me after paying three months in the arrears, “What’s wrong, are you that desperate for your royalties?”

Damn straight.

I take time away from my children to do what I love. I want them to see where that pays off for them and when my royalties are due, I expect them.

Sadly, I hear and read a lot of gibberish today that didn’t exist when I first entered the business. Publishers don’t want the additional competition with e-press and small houses popping up all over the place. However, some should take a look at why we’re seeing more and more competition in the e-industry. Perhaps if all publishers treated their authors like they would want to be treated, authors wouldn’t slip into the business of publishing. I know of several e-publishers today that formed after the authors ‘had it’ with small press politics and the lack of income found in some of them.

Most of the time, from what I can tell, when authors go into publishing, it’s well warranted. They want to ensure they make the most profits from their own work while treating others better than they were treated. Yes, it’s about the money.

After gauging my own third party sales from one of my current publishers, I wonder why we haven’t seen more author-ran publishers popping up at the speed of two per hour, three hundred and sixty-five days per year.

You may ask why I formed the above opinion. Again, it all boils down to money. It is the root of all evil and the supporting factor behind all pleasures we’re able to enjoy—the fruits of our labor. Authors want to be paid and publishers should pay the authors what they’re owed. Many out there do. Some don’t and those are the folks who must feel like they have carte blanche and the ‘right’ to cheat their hard working authors.

This evil-thing called money can generate a lot of bitterness in the entertainment business. It’s why authors will smile in the faces of their fellow authors and then stab them in the back with a hideous one-star review, under the false name of PrettyinPink or CatScratchFever or some other ridiculous code name. After all, those number one and number two spots on best seller lists pay much better than those books ranked at 789,000 on Amazon.

Money is often the reason why editors and publishers quit communicating with their authors when a legitimate question is on the table regarding royalties. It can be the reason for a little resentment when authors spread out and go to other paying publishers.

Folks, I gotta tell you a little secret, coming from someone who has experience with several pseudonyms now. If you’re an author and you’re encouraged to stay in-house with your books rather than branch out some, then you might want to question the why behind the reason given. See, I happen to know that every time I spread out to new publishing houses, my sales increase.

In small press, keeping three or four strong publishers increases sales and backlist titles often find new life again when new customers are introduced. This goes without saying—I’m speaking in terms of small press. If you’re in mass market and promoting yourself effectively, I don’t think it matters.

My rant, if that’s what some will call this, is well founded. I write under several names and most of you reading my blog understand I don’t hide this. Three of my pseudonyms are what some might tag as best selling authors. I only consider two of them true best sellers in today’s market, meaning each name carries at least one book title with sales of or the potential for 5000+ copies sold during the first year. Reported data mentioned above is for small press e-formatted books and/or trade paperback.

My son helps track third party sales, based on rank and other factors and he does this for every book I write. The recent results and data gathered have been shocking.

For example, I have a book on a third-party venue selling in the top one hundred and that one book pays less than another one which earned considerably more ranking in the top three hundred. Both books have been consistent sellers in their respective positions. They are, of course, published by different publishers. What do you think? Cause for an audit? You betcha. Whether or not I’ll pursue it, remains to be seen. Audits are time consuming and not for everyone.

Overall, I’m pretty easy to please and find most authors are. We typically want to write, get paid, and write some more. In my world, all I care about is what I’m paid, when I’m paid, and how I’m paid. If a publisher tells me the truth, we’ll get along just fine. I’ll submit my work to them until I have cause or reason to believe they aren’t publishing my work on schedule or they aren’t paying me for what I sell.

Now, for shocking news: I’m not the only one in the industry raising an arched brow right now. There are several antsy authors out there and they’re concerned over more than the pirating of books.

Recently, when the issue of money came up in emails sent to me, or when opportunity presented itself, I sent out the following questionnaire to authors who were kind enough to provide honest answers. Thirty-two surveys went out and twenty-two were returned.

Here’s what I discovered:

1. Are you happy with your current small press publisher or publishers?

Yes 46%
No 54%

2. Are you happy with your current mass market publisher or publishers?

Yes 10%
No 0
N/A 90%

3. Do you feel like your current publisher pays you what you earn for sales from their home website?

Yes 80%
No 10%
I don’t know 10%


4. Do you feel like your current publisher pays you what you earn for sales from third party sales outlets, for example Fictionwise, ARE, Mobipocket?

Yes 45%
No 55%

5. Do you feel like your publisher is approachable?

Yes 50%
No 50%

6. Are they approachable when the issue is money and royalties?

Yes 48%
No 52%

7. Are your publishers paying you what you’re worth?

Yes 40%
No 60%

8. Do you feel like you can self-publish and make more money than you currently make with your small or large press publishers?

Yes 45%
No 55%

9. Does your current publisher offer you anything along the lines of advertising or promotions? In other words, do you feel like they help you with your current promotional efforts?

Yes 20%
No 80%

10. If you decided to take another route in publishing, which route would you take?

Publish with a different small press 25%
Pursue mass market 30%
I won’t take another route 5%
Self-publish 15%
Open my own desk-top publishing 25%

11. Overall, what other gripes do you have about your current publishers or publisher?

(Please note each answer given will be reported)

1. Publisher isn’t approachable or even visible on business loops. 5%

2. Response time for in-house submissions isn’t quick. 20%

3. Small press doesn’t pay off for me anymore because by the time my book hits the shelves, I could’ve had four or five books written, edited, formatted and loaded. 5%

*Note to readers: I’m assuming ‘loaded’ means uploaded to third party retail outlets.*

4. Publisher doesn’t send out my book for review. 10%

5. My publisher isn’t paying me third party sales. 25%

6. My publisher makes up a lot of excuses of why they can’t pay third party sales. 25%

7. I’ve never had one on-time royalty check. Never. 5%

8. I discovered my publisher pays best sellers 50% of gross while I’m paid 40% of net. I have a problem with this. 5%

9. In-house favoritism enforced to the point where some authors are stepped on so others can thrive. 10%

10. The publisher doesn’t show where they use any portion of their revenue to promote authors through print ads or online advertising. 40%

11. If I had a major issue with an editor, a viable one, my publisher would not want to hear it, even if the editor made clear mistakes on manuscripts. 5%

12. At my publishing house, I have no idea who edits my manuscript. That bothers me. 10%

13. I’m with a small publisher. It took my book one year to reach publication. Is that normal? 5%

14. My royalties are held back for over six months for third party sales. Is that normal? 5%

15. My publisher doesn’t provide cover art in time for adequate advance promotions. 20%

16. My publisher doesn’t care what I think about book excerpts, blurbs, or even advertising. 5%

17. My editor tries to rewrite my original copy in order to insert her own voice also. 5%

18. I don't see any visible effort to fight book piracy. 40%

19. Only best sellers get publisher-paid advertising. 5 %


For what it’s worth, I want to brag on the publishers out there committed to their advertising campaigns. I have several publishers who definitely feed the advertising budget. As an author, I see where their efforts go and appreciate what they do to generate sales.

I have two publishers I consider very approachable and they go out of their way to help me see where my advertising efforts pay off. Again, it’s appreciated and honestly, it helps them and me when they put themselves out there and provide helpful information. That added effort also pays off big in other ways too because my advertising dollars will often generate sales for other authors.

Take a look at the responses above regarding third-party sales. As a writer, if you feel like you aren’t getting paid what you should be paid, you can call for an audit. It’s very important for authors to realize writing is a business. If you have a question about royalties, you have the right to ask money-related questions and expect answers. If you don’t get them in a timely manner, you should be a thorn in the publisher’s side until you do. You wouldn’t let a traditional employer ignore hours you’ve worked.

This project has been six-months in the making and a huge thank you to those who contributed. I provided the information from those who were kind enough to fill out my short survey. For me, it was an eye-opener right along with some of the comments that followed. That said, I continue to believe in this business. However, I’m not blinded by it whatsoever.

A huge thank you goes out to the publishers who go the extra mile and pay on time. Authors appreciate those publishers who are approachable and those who are trying their best to keep their authors at the forefront of their business.

Without publishers, authors would be lost. Without authors, publishers would not have profits. We need one another. We also need to understand that communication is king in this business, and yes, it’s more important now than it’s ever been in the past.

All the best,
Destiny Blaine



*Please note: I’m interested in the other side too. If you have a stand-out publisher, write and tell me about them: destinyblaine@yahoo.com. Then, watch for a report in the coming months.

19 comments:

Faith said...

Darn good blog, Destiny. I write under several pen names too, so I know EXACTLY what you're saying. There are a couple publishers I'm with that have me so disappointed in them it's pathetic. I agree on it's my work, so pay me for it! I'm not a newbie either. I've been doing this for over 20 years and editing professionally for nearly 12 years, but the longer I'm in this business the more it mystifies me.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Great post! I have to say I've never audit my books and sales. Truthfully, I'm not sure how to do this for the third party sellers. I used to have a number to check sales through the company that printed my book for Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I haven't checked on this for a long time though.

One on my publishers sends me a print out of what sold and the percentage made every three months. The other one just sends a check and print out at the end of the year of the books sold. I'm not sure on the two new pubs I have since the books just came out. I'll have to let you know.

Mel Teshco said...

Oh, this post is scary cause I've often wondered who keeps ebook sales under scrutiny, who keeps epbubs honest?

Tara S Nichols said...

Great blog post. Thank you for the effort you put in to get all those stats, wow.

I agree with you and the others, to be paid what my time and energy is worth is gold, but when it comes to piracy its more than money that is stolen.

Savanna Kougar said...

Destiny, outstanding blog and what an outstanding effort. Your business insight is way beyond mine.
I think, overall, my small print/epublishers have been pretty good on the paying end, sending royalty statements I can understand.
The questions I'm wondering about is self-publishing. I recently read a blog about an established author (not our genres) who is doing good self-publishing on Amazon Kindle, beyond his mass print sales. He claims from the numbers this is due because of the low price he charges... so he gets lots of sales and actually ends up making more, right now.
I've thought of giving this a go with a mss I don't think most e-publishers would want to take a chance because it's experimental.

Destiny Blaine said...

Faith--
Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm so glad you enjoyed the blog and would love to pick your brain for my next topic. :)

Karen--
You taught me something I didn't know. I had no idea there were numbers to call for sales data! :) Thanks for the information and for stopping by!

Hi Mel--
I think it boils down to communication. From my experience, when a publisher isn't open to discussing royalties or they snap at the first question an author raises over matters of money, red flags wave all over the place. Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Tara--
You're welcome and you're also right! Piracy is a very real problem and authors are feeling the crunch. Thanks for being here!

Savanna--
I've read success stories on self-publishing too and a lot of writers see above average sales in SP. You make a good point about royalty statements, btw. I'm happy to report, like you, that most of my publishers are super about supplying complete royalty statements and in today's market, they're necessary. Thanks for dropping by.




Happy Holidays!
Destiny

Wendy said...

WOW...great post Destiny. I really had no idea all the trouble out there with publishers. What I see is a lot of "they arent easy to talk to when issues come up"...so I would ask, why stay with them then? Of course I think in all things the harder you work sometimes doesnt mean you get paid better and there are so many professions out there that are like that. I guess if you love what you do though that has to take away some of the sting.

Destiny Blaine said...

Hey Wendy,

As I’ve mentioned before, a great number of my publishers are truly stand-out and appreciated. However, there are publishers who are not paying the royalties owed to authors.

It’s time to shine a light on the small press industry and hold a limited number of publishers accountable for their actions if they aren’t paying their authors.
If one publisher doesn’t want to discuss money, writers don’t need them and they should view their refusal as a warning sign.

It’s also important to caution writers who deal with ‘net’ royalties. Publishers who pay on net royalties should explain where their net royalties are derived. NET can be anything. For example, if a book sells for $6.99 on third party outlets and a publisher pays 40% of the cover price, an author earns $2.80 per book. However, if a publisher states in their contract that they pay 30% of net sales at third party outlets, let’s face it, there’s no way to gauge the end result. Publishers should explain how they calculate royalties paid on all amounts, including net.

I’m a numbers person. If a small press publisher can’t respect that I care about my bottom line then I have to ask how long they’ll be in business. If they aren’t publishing books for profit, then why are they in a small business venture in the first place?

Your question is a good one. You said, “What I see is a lot of "they aren’t easy to talk to when issues come up...so I would ask, why stay with them then?”

I have publishers who are not approachable. However, they pay me and some pay well. They pay on time and with statements I find easy to understand. They answer the big questions and they run their business like a corporation. I don’t have to be a publisher’s best friend but I expect them to pay me for book sales generated.

Writers should consider themselves self-employed regardless of who publishes them. I manage promos and advertising on my own so the only thing I want is a guarantee that I’m paid. I don't rely on a publisher to promote my books.

It's important for writers to understand that publishers aren't in the business of creating authors, they're in the business of selling books, providing a vehicle that authors should creatively learn to market to their end user—readers.

Writers today must operate their small business within a much larger business conglomerate. They have more to gain and more to offer potential publishers if they look at their writing as a business.

Overall, I think it’s important to understand that there’s a team effort in publishing. When someone isn’t a team player, whether it’s the publisher, the author, the editor or even those behind the scenes, then it’s time to move on. In today’s market there are too many options out there, too many readers waiting for books, and various ways to profit as a writer.

It’s a great time in our industry, a remarkable era in which to write. And it’s also an excellent time to profit as a writer.

We have choices today that writers didn’t have when I entered the business. Best of all, there are a great number of reputable publishers paying hefty sums to their writers and writers don’t have to ‘settle’ in today’s world. With the e-book industry indicating stronger sales than ever before, they can thrive.

Thanks for stopping by, Wendy!

Hugs,
Destiny

Kari Thomas said...

A BIG THANK YOU, Destiny, for such an insightful article-Blog. I agree with you 100% and know alot of other authors who feel the same too. In fact, Im going to forward this link to them so they can read this. It's sad that authors have to worry about such things as honesty and integrity from their publishers, and have to keep track of everything. What ever happened to the times when an author wrote, publishers were grateful for their submissions, and readers appreciated with buying their books?

Thanks again. I really enjoyed your insight.

hugs, Kari Thomas
Paranormal Romance Author www.authorkari.com

Destiny Blaine said...

Hey Kari,

Thank you so much for posting. Please feel free to pass around the link. :))

In this day and age, we need to rely on teamwork. We need publishers and they need us. Now more than ever before, authors should support one another rather than view their fellow writers as their competition.

A fellow author once said to me, “Build as we climb” and at one time, I took stock in her words. However, now I realize this statement needs an amendment. “Build as we climb BUT don’t get stepped on while you’re securing a solid foundation.”


All writers want to be paid what they’re worth. We don’t want excuses. We don’t want delays. We just want to write and get paid for the books we sell.

Personally, and you’ll probably agree, I don’t want the hassles of chasing down royalty checks. I work over seventy hours a week so one hour spent trying to find money owed to me is one hour I could’ve spent with my children.

I want to add a quick tidbit here because I don’t want anyone to think I don’t have some outstanding publishers behind a lot of my work—I have been spoiled by three publishers in particular. Resplendence Publishing never misses a pay period. The same goes for Siren. They have the best bookkeeping system in the business and I think I’ve had somewhere around fifteen publisher dealings to date, counting those I encountered as a ghost writer. I’m not a stranger to royalty statements.

Tina at eXtasy Books returns emails within twenty-four hours, nine times out of ten, and that definitely spoils the writer when there’s something important hanging in the air. Selena at Excessica is very approachable, responding to emails immediately. There are several other reputable publishers who do what they can to support their writers, but again, there are some out there that need to shut their doors and call it a day.

You mentioned honesty and integrity. You’re right, that’s important. Communication is equally important since so many publishers only have contact with their authors through email and over the internet.

I’m easy to get along with and will work harder than anyone around but taking care of the business behind the writing is critical. If publishers are in this business for the right reason, they’ll support all of their writers and their efforts realizing it’s crucial to keep the lines of communication open.


Hugs,
Destiny

Tess MacKall said...

Great post.

I recently ranted about some of this very same stuff. And what did I get? A publisher complaining privately about my rant, saying that I should watch myself as publishers will take offense to what I'd said.

Ahhh, excuse me. I think publishers who feel that way are seeing the comments hitting a bit too close to home. Would a legitimate publisher even give it a second thought? Become defensive. Take offense? Puhleeze.A legitimate publisher is too busy working at putting out a good product, distributing it, and advertising it.

Good publishers, honest publishers, only care that you are producing a good product that will make both of you money. But there are those out there who constantly whisper the promise of blackball if you open your mouth.

I'm with you, Destiny. Pay me what you owe me and we'll get along just fine.

I particularly liked question number nine. There again it goes along with weeding out the good pub from the bad pub. A pub that just takes from the author by contracting their work, not loading it up to distribution sites the way it should, and never puts any money it makes into the advertising kitty is one that is using authors.

It absolutely pisses me off when I have friends write me and tell me that they had a book on the best seller list at a particular site and had been told by another author what h/her sales were just to receive a royalty statement that was not only PURPOSELY confusing, but one that no where near reflected the expected sales based on the other author's sales.
These bad publishers have secrecy working in their favor. No one wants to rock the boat due to the fear of being blackballed.

Keeping two sets of books is easy. And an audit is expensive, time consuming, and if there are two sets of books it would do no good anyway.

So what's the answer? Keep our mouths shut due to that whispered threat of blackball or keep the discussion going so some of these pubs will be less likely to screw over an author?

Regardless, it's not going to stop. The almighty dollar is sure as hell the bottom line in all things. And I've been called mercenary by authors who say they are just grateful for having been published. So part of the problem is within our own ranks.

Pay me for my work. Period. I'll give you a great product, but pay me what you owe.

There are some great publishers out there. And it's a shame that there are a bunch that give the entire publishing experience such a bad name at times. More authors need to report the issues they have with publishers to watch dog sites. That is one thing that will help.

And authors need to keep this subject out in the open. Sorry, it seems I've written a blog, but you inspired me. lol

Thanks for the great post and sticking your neck out.

Destiny Blaine said...

Hi Tess,

Thanks a million for responding. I take the same position as you do. Legitimate publishers probably won’t voice concern over blog posts blowing the whistle on those publishers giving small press/e-pubs a bad name. If anything, posts like this one will inevitably help reputable publishers lure talented authors willing to operate their business the way they should—as a business.

I don’t worry about the backlash. I’ve been in this industry long enough to know that opinions are formed regardless of how hard authors work and without taking into account the end result. Books, mighty fine books, are often poorly rated because an author is zapped by an inner circle or group that determines when and how an author should be blacklisted. I don’t fear them, maybe I should, but I’m too busy to worry about them. They’re not busy enough if they worry about me or any other author they want ousted. Authors who find themselves ‘ousted’ can, do, and should jump on another bandwagon, write under another pen name, and move on when they are left without better choices.

You make a great point. It’s not a secret that in some businesses, two sets of books can materialize. However, thanks to reputable third party storefronts listing best sellers, it’s difficult for a shady publisher to go unnoticed. Still, most of the time small press publishers do not have to show their in-house books to anyone. Keeping tabs on those sales can prove next to impossible at some publishing houses.

Audits were mentioned in my original post. Authors need to know they have this option. I haven't exercised my rights to an audit because of the points you made. My position may change in the near future.

I’m not an author who wears rose-colored glasses, but I’ve had my share of hard knocks and tried to learn from them. If I didn’t have reliable publishers who go the extra mile, I’d find other avenues, some of which were mentioned here.

You’re right about keeping the line of communications open and reporting non-paying publishers to watchdog-type sites. Right now, e-books sales are soaring. Authors in small press are making more money on e-books than a great number of mass market authors. E-book sales will continue to climb. Amazon shows evidence of small press success with e-books and trade paperbacks topping some of their category lists.

We must learn how to protect ourselves and our incomes, and try to support those publishers who are continually supportive of their authors and the business as a whole. It goes without saying, the watchdog sites often help new writers and more established authors by providing priceless resources.

At the same time, authors today must realize competition is fierce in this industry. In order to have a successful book, a writer needs to step away from their next outline or book proposal and focus on what they need to do to place their book in front of potential readers.

After a book is published, we need to stop and ask ourselves, what now? What can I do to help promote and market my book? How can I get my book the exposure needed to generate sales?

Taking the initiative to promote and advertise after a book is available for sale is imperative. As writers we are small business owners, and we need to ask for feedback from our publishers, viewing them in many cases, as our business partners.

Most publishers are as committed to their published projects as their authors. However, the true evidence of a publisher’s commitment exists in timely, accurate payments of royalties. They should also recognize gathering data is helpful and allows their authors to make sound business decisions in the future.
The legitimate small press publishers out there will appreciate the effort. They understand the added legwork from all parties concerned will equate to more profits for everyone in the future.

Many thanks again,
Destiny

Eva Gordon said...

I so agree. We work really long hard hours day after day to do what we love. Thanks for a great blog.

Candace Morehouse said...

Are we paid what we're worth? Boy what a question! The answer is a resounding NO from me.

I currently have four books books published with a small publisher and another coming out in 2 weeks. I have yet to make enough on royalties to even pay for my time editing even one mss. In fact, it is so bad that I am now focusing strictly on freelance writing and giving up on the whole writing books gig. I can make more money writing a handful of articles for a client (which takes me a couple hours at most) than I have ever made in royalties from a single book.

I'm not totally blaming my publisher. I know sales come mainly from my own promo and marketing efforts. Truth is I just don't have the time or personality to do that effectively. Hire a marketer? Not unless I want to go further in the red than I already am just by purchasing bookmarkers and other little promo items I try to get as cheap as possible.

The problem as I see it is the lack of distribution. When I tell people I am an author the first question a good 95% of the time is "where can I buy your books?" I have to tell them the only way they can make a purchase is online. The vast majority won't buy online. They want to walk into Wal Mart and find my book on the shelf and if not, oh well.

Anyway, from an ROI stance, there is simply no way I can justify continuing to write books when the return doesn't even pay a single bill. And that's the facts, ma'am.

Lisa Griffin said...

Ditto to all the above. I'm new to the business, but can already see what you're talking about. Like you said, Destiny, if a publisher tends to the business at hand, is easily accessible to the authors, keeps clear accounting books and is honest, they have no reason to fear a blog post like this.

Somehow the bad seeds need to be weeded out, and eventually I hope they will. We, as writers, love what we do, but in the process we work hard to put out a wonderful story and should be paid accordingly. Publishers should be required to help with promotions as well. When we make money, they make money.

Destiny Blaine said...

Eva—

Thanks very much for stopping by. I meant to drop you a line. Your website at: http://www.ravenauthor.com/ was a pleasure to visit. It’s welcoming from the second a viewer clicks their way over to your site. :)

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hey Candace—

At this point, I don’t worry too much about brick and mortar distribution but three years ago, I did. Now, as long as my books are listed through Amazon, ARE, BookStrand, and Mobipocket, offline distribution matters very little to me. Sure, it’s nice to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelf, but the brick and mortar stores are having a tough time keeping up with Amazon. Take a look at this report from 2008: http://www.fonerbooks.com/booksale.htm.

In 2008, Amazon was confirmed as the largest book retailer in the North American and world markets. The results then were staggering and 2009 probably holds more of the same. The majority of my sales are generated through Amazon, ARE, BookStrand, and Mobipocket, all online retailers.

Other numbers that might interest you: Last year, I received maybe three percent of what I made from a non-fiction title on the shelves at B&N, Borders, and even Wal-Mart. I know authors who made less than one percent from their sales at brick and mortar outlets. There are those who may still rely on brick and mortar sales but they’re probably in the minority.

Twenty-five percent of my royalties came from sales generated directly from publisher sites. The rest came from sites like the storefronts mentioned above with Amazon leading the way. That was 2008 and based on personal numbers so far this year, there will be a few variances.

Until you have a readership developed, it’s tough to make it in this industry. I worked as a freelancer and ghost writer prior to taking the plunge into fiction. In the beginning, I kept scratching my head thinking, “What the hell did I do?” The money during the first twelve months didn’t come close to what I’d made the year before in freelance. I was heartsick, fearing the more lucrative opportunities were limited to writing behind the scenes as a ghost and freelancing for online resources as well as traditional magazines. It took a good eighteen months before I felt good about my decision to pursue a different writing path.

The flipside: There are a few in small press who will not pay their authors what they owe. I do have a publisher who has one of the best books I’ve ever written and I know, not speculate because we’ve watched 3rd party sales, that the publisher is not paying me what I have earned. That leaves a sour taste but rather than swallow the recognition like a bitter pill, I remind myself on a daily basis of what I have to be thankful for.

There are publishers out there paying and supporting their authors. I’ve gained a lot of experience by working with some of the best editors in the business and thanks to them, I write tighter manuscripts and sell my work faster than I can write it in most cases.

As an added tidbit of information for those who stop by and read this post, the following is in regards to advertising. Authors really don’t have a choice in small press. They must promote and advertise their books.

Once I started advertising, the budget grew from a few hundred dollars a month to well over a thousand per quarter for paid online advertising. It grew rapidly because the advertising generated more sales creating more money for the advertising budget. Keep in mind, I advertise more than just ‘Destiny Blaine’ books so discounted advertising packages grab my attention.

Thanks to review sites like CataRomance.com, The Romance Studio, Two Lips Reviews, You Gotta Read Reviews, Manic Readers, Long and Short Romance Reviews, Night Owl Romance, Just Erotic Romance Reviews, Romance Junkies, Fallen Angel Reviews, and other review sites, advertising books is more affordable than ever before. Plus, some review sites offer other ways for free promotion as well. Readers surf these places. I know. I’m a great consumer of books. Guess where I find what to buy next?

Thanks again for stopping by today. I wish you all the success in the world! :) If you ever need my help, let me know.

Hugs,
Destiny

Destiny Blaine said...

Hey Lisa,

Congratulations on A Celtic Lover’s Magic. The cover is beautiful!

You touched on another crucial point when you said, “We, as writers, love what we do, but in the process we work hard to put out a wonderful story and should be paid accordingly.”

If you want to know what I fear most it’s losing some of the greatest and most talented writers we have in the industry because they're unable to reap the rewards for their efforts. This is just another reason why writers should take a stand and hold their publishers accountable.

If a writer suspects their publisher isn’t keeping a proper accounting, why submit there again? Eventually, if we all avoid non-paying publishers, the shady ones will be left with two choices—close their doors or pay up.

Thanks for stopping by, Lisa and good luck with A Celtic Lover’s Magic!

Hugs,
Destiny

Sapphire Phelan said...

Very informative blog posting, Destiny.
And yes, authors need to promote themselves. Not just small press. I write under two names, and two books of mine are nonficiton ghost books that sell well. The publisher is traditional and helps with promotions as they have a department for this. But even so, I do on my end, too. I think with both of us working, it has helped to make the first one a best seller by the publisher. In today's world with so many published books (many of mass market is what readers think of first, sadly)if you the author do not promote yourself is the line between getting your name out or not. it's all about superior customer service--soemthing I learned working in retail. My books are my business.
I've been with two publishers that did not pay and I hear one book from each publisher sold well. I never saw a cent and lucky for me both books' rights back to me. Both publishers died quickly. I am with two now that I have been paid. The payments are raising more and more, so erotic paranormals are selling.
As for sales, between the rpints and many of eBooks, most are all over, from Amazon (where Kindles most sold gifted preoduct this Christmas)to B&N online to many other places like fictionwise, etc.. Only one eBook was sold through the publisher I had ourt and the contract was up and my rights returned to me. I am thinking this short story might make a good novel.
As for bottom line, an author should care--this is your business. As a mass market author I knew said, these publishers are renting our books, sort of, and we are the real owners of them. So yes, money owed to you should be given to you. Without your talent they wouldn't be making their money.

Welcome to Destiny Blaine's Online Journal

Welcome to Destiny Blaine's Online Journal
"An Award Winning Bestselling International E-book and Paperback Author, Destiny Blaine and her pseudonyms top the charts at Amazon, Bookstrand, Barnes and Noble, ARE, Mobipocket, and other retailers online and off. Scroll down for a list of available titles, works in progress, and coming soon dates for debut titles.”

Author Bio

An award-winning, international bestselling erotic romance author, Destiny Blaine writes under several pen names. She lives in East Tennessee and spends a lot of time in Connecticut and Virginia, where her granddoll resides.