05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fortune and glory? #writing

From Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom:

Short Round: What is Sankara?
Indiana Jones: Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.

Swap out Sankara for publishing, and most non-writers might believe that being a published author is a guarantee of fortune and glory. After all, it is for the authors they've heard of - EL James, JK Rowling, Stephen King, and so on. Even several of my friends think I must be rich and famous because I'm an author, and that the fact I haven't upgraded my car, house, hairstyle, wardrobe etc is simply confirmation that 1) all authors are indeed crazy and eccentric, and/or 2) I'd rather hoard my fortune Smaug-like instead of spending it. Alas, I wish that was true!

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. And I'm going to tell you a hard truth about being a writer. It ain't all fortune and glory. Sorry to break it to you. Fortunately it's a truth I learned before becoming a published author, so it wasn't quite the shock it might have been. I was extremely lucky in having a fellow author, way ahead of me on the publication path, who took me under her wing, supported me, and told me the good, the bad and the ugly. It's saved me a lot of heartache and disappointment, as well as saved me from some potentially disastrous mistakes. To this day, published just over three years with eleven titles currently live and more to come, I'm still not earning what it considered a living wage. And by that I mean something my government considers enough to live on (it isn't, but the politics of that are another topic).

So maybe I write bad books? Well, apparently that isn't the issue if EL James's success is anything to go by (at this point I'm referring to general reputation, since I've neither read nor plan to read her books, so I have no opinion on them personally). *engages modesty mode* Reviews and feedback seem to say my books are okay. In which case, maybe it comes down to visibility. Unless you're a big five author with marketing backup, and/or have a big budget for promotion, skills as a marketer yourself, and/or are just plain out lucky, you might not make a lot of money with this writing and publishing gig. Most of my colleagues work a part or full time job as well as trying to fit in the writing and marketing of their books.

In a few more years, I may well be in that position, and writing will once more take a back seat. At the moment I'm a stay-at-home mum with the luxury of having six hours a day, five days a week during term time to work on my books. When my youngest starts secondary school (age 11+), my eldest will be 17, and there's less reason for me to be home for them. As it is I feel more a burden on the household than an asset right now. In the past two months I've had my best sales ever, with the return of my debut novel to the virtual book shelves (still my best seller to date). But even that isn't paying minimum wage level, and has already begun to tail off. 

A Time Travel Romance
Mind you, this isn't a complaint. I love what I do. I never expected to ever be published, and even having just a handful of happy readers, some of whom will hit Buy the instant I have a new release is beyond my expectations. It's just amazing! In that I consider myself successful. But it doesn't pay the bills, and at the end of the day I have to face the practical decision of earning an actual income. It probably won't be writing.

I don't want to put anyone off trying to achieve their dreams. My eldest aspires to be an author. But she's seen the realities of what that involves and we've talked it over a few times. I've encouraged her to follow her ambition, but to have backup plans too. So I want other writers to know that writing isn't a get rich quick scheme (apart from the exceptional few who are talented and/or get lucky). It's a long, slow climb for most that can take years and multiple titles, if it happens at all, and especially with the publishing world in the most turmoil it's ever been in. For me it's been totally rewarding on a personal level, and for that I am grateful. Just don't expect fortune and glory, 'kay?

Find me at my website or follow me on my favourite hangout - Twitter - as @pippajaygreen


Laura said...

Hey, hey, do you have an article on the potentially disastrous mistakes? ;)

Pippa Jay said...

Hi Laura,

Well, one horrible mistake I *did* make was to contact a vanity press...
Hopefully some of the sites I've mentioned in the article will at least help you find a decent publisher.

Laura said...

Thanks so much! I'll take a look. I'm actually considering self-publishing (not paying a vanity, I promise) so I was curious :)

Sarah Raplee said...

So true about the fortune and glory, Pippa! *rueful smile*. Thannk you for the honest-but-upbeat truth! Anyone who goes into this business needs to do so with their eyes wide open.

Pippa Jay said...

Hi again Laura,

If you're looking into self publishing I can recommend this site which has a list of self pub resources
Also look out for Stephanie (SJ) Pajonas and Starla Huchton - both self published authors who post heaps of helpful advice (I can't get to their blog links right now because I'm on my phone, sorry!).

Sarah, thank you. I am so grateful for the authors who took me under their wings and prepared me somewhat for what lay ahead.

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Pippa,

Excellent post! I'm still waiting for the fame and glory part - well, not just sitting around hoping it happens but working on it.

Maggie Lynch's DIY Publishing is an excellent resource for writers looking into Indie Publishing. She also teaches in person and on line workshops. I'm lucky I live close by so I can take her in person classes!

Laura said...

Thanks again Pippa and to you too Judith. I'm learning a lot looking into these :)