Are you writing For Free?

Are you tired of spending four hours on query letters?

 

I stood in front of a group of writers and told them the following…

It is tough to get the attention of an agent because everyone in the world from Grandmothers to third graders think they can write.  Many of those same folks Query agents, creating a slush pile that may or may not get the attention it deserves.

Days later, I was told I should not have stated the ‘facts’ as I discouraged writers.  Some of those in that group might have been those ‘writers.’

“Yeah, so what?  I didn’t tell them not to write, I told them why it is so hard to get an agents attention.” The Jack Nicholson line played through my mind as this person was genuinely upset with me.

“You can’t handle the truth!”  I deal in reality, and I have no illusions about the craft of writing.

How do you sugarcoat the truth?  Should you?  No.  If you have cancer you need to know you have it, what is it going to take to cure it or, you should work on your bucket list before you are bedridden.

It is perfectly ok to get inspiration from others.  When you talk about querying agents just possibly, you should run your work by others in the group for some fact checks.  Did people who you are not related to like your writing?  Did those same people tell you how to make it better?  Did they treat you like your mother might?  “Oh, honey this is the best thing ever!”

I deal in reality.  I write in fiction and fantasy, but in life, I deal with ‘what is.’

I am not going to lie to people.  If you intend on your novel being on the bestseller list, you must be exceptional.  ‘Exceptional’ is subjective.  Your book must not only be extraordinary, but the subject matter must be timely.  One day the clearance racks at Half Price Books will be loaded with 50 shades as that will no longer be the shiny penny. Harry Potter books will line the shelves of clearance books.

It happens; Cussler, Ludlum, and Brown are all easily found on the clearance racks.  Movies that sold millions of tickets are on blue ray, sitting in the clearance section.

Attending one writer’s conference after another, you meet all kinds.  Hundreds attend, and there are all kinds. From the super hubris to the serious introvert, they walk among us.  They are there because they feel they can write.  Maybe they can, and perhaps they can’t.

KU or kindle unlimited is an excellent repository for their attempts at conjugating a verb or in extreme examples, using a noun and a verb in the same sentence.   The winner in this slush pile of reading material is Jeff Bezos.

Therefore, here are some more facts for you to consider.

If I have a ‘one of a kind’ item, say a rare coin minted for Caesar and maybe that coin was a ‘double strike’ meaning the person making it hit it twice to get an imprint, causing two distinct images to appear, it would be worth a ton of money.

If on the other hand that were the preferred method of making their coinage back in the day, to keep it unique, the coin would not be a rare antiquity.  It would be much like our pennies today, just old.

KU is training the reading public to value our work as the American Penny.  For a few dollars a month, an avarice reader can consume several books.  To the reader they feel as if it is free, ergo when they see eBooks for sale, they will most probably look at KU first for a substitute.

Jeff gets the ‘subscription,’ you provide the material, and those readers enjoy the fruits of your labor free of charge.  If you ask them for the favor or a review they won’t even do that, as they are too busy reading the next free book.

It is not their fault.  There are providers and consumers.  They are programmed to consume. Until you put pen to paper, and spend four or in some cases thirty years, creating a novel to have people read it for free, you just don’t know.

To have your novel on KU, Amazon has exclusivity. You cannot make it electronically available anywhere else as long as it is on KU.  Now you can make a print version of it available, but, not an e-version.

Who do you think is going to spend $25 for a print version, when they can read it for free?

Printing a book adds ten or more dollars on average to the cost.  Amazon only pays 60% royalties on printed books, meaning you make less money when they buy a printed novel than an e-book.  Buying Create Space, they have taken the competition away, thus making it harder for the creators, ‘us’ to make money from our work.

The bottom line is this.  If you are writing to get rich, leave your day job, and be the next Hemmingway or Cussler, you may have missed your opportunity.

Those who make money in this game are the people selling services.  Creating the ‘perfect’ cover or editing your book so it is ‘perfect.’

Attending conference after conference, you see hundreds if not thousands of people who all have the desire to be the next ??? Whatever.

Recently I sent some work to an editor.  I was curious.  This young woman holds herself out there as a professional editor.

Using the Chicago style manual as the standard, she formatted my manuscript, put a few commas in and took a few out. She contextually made the story different in meaning from what it should have been.  She did not have the wisdom and history to understand that what I wrote, and what she created were different. I could have gone back and forth with her, but she would have been the beneficiary, and I the SME, (subject matter expert) the teacher.

Discouraging a writer is not the intent of this blog.  Keeping it real is.

  • Write to escape.
  • Write for the passion.
  • Write because it means something to you.
  • Write to have something you enjoy reading.
  • Write to keep your mind agile.
  • Write to be happy.
  • Write to work out your frustrations.
  • Write to entertain.
  • Write because you can.
  • Don’t write because you are confident that your writing is the best in the world. That millions will be waiting with baited breath for you to submit it to some editor or agent.
  • Don’t write solely for pecuniary interests.
  • Go to the writer’s conferences and groups.  I have, and I genuinely like most of them.
  • Go find your tribe, and enjoy the friendships you will undoubtedly make.
  • Don’t trade life for days and weeks staring into a screen waiting for those magic words to fill the screen.
  • Carry a notepad to jot down ideas as you ‘live’ your life.

If you write and think that this one will give you financial independence, save your time and purchase a lottery ticket.  After you have paid the ‘stupid tax’ of a dollar, go fantasize about what you will do with all of those millions when you win.  Too Harsh?

The truth is this, most people who publish a manuscript online might make $10 the first year.  I have over 30 novels out there.  Last year, 2018 is the first year I had to pay taxes on what I made selling books.  That number for those of you who don’t know is 600.  I made over $600 in 2018. Bezos, Corker, and other etailers made the real money.

Take care when you pay money to someone to fix your manuscript.  Many out there only make money by selling services to hopeful writers.  As writers we are blind and emotionally invested.  ‘This is going to be the best…fill in the blank!’

Since Amazon and other ebook sellers devalue what we do, and set the stage so the reader believes what we do has no value, selling your book means you have to create the next Harry Potter or Christian Gray.  Since that has been done, maybe Christian Potter should be your goal.

A magical interlude between a billionaire sex-starved wizard who blows fairy dust up young girls bottoms to make them ‘Sparkle.’

No, wait…

Here is the next bestseller…

A magical interlude between a trailer trash wizard, and grandma.  Tony the wizard blows fairy dust up old women’s bottoms to make them young again.  Charging them their life force after one year of living like a queen, the wizard trades that soul to the devil for more magical powers which elevate his status as a result.

After many women die by unknown means, a detective from a magical province in Mexico is called in to use his gifts to find the murderer.  

The wizard tries to escape the shaman, but his magic sleuthing dragon is hot on the trail. Unbeknown to Tony, he leaves an evil residue behind him, much like breadcrumbs, Slinko the dragon is hot on his trail.

 

Much Love -TW