Money and Publishing

I can't believe it's been over a month since I wrote this blog. Yikes! I'd like to say I've been tripping through exotic locales, dining on fancy French cuisine, or flying across oceans, but alas, none of this is a valid excuse.

A fancy trip or long excursion happens only in my imagination. Yes, the book is coming along. Yes, I got sucked into OUTLANDER on Starz, which necessitated re-reading the first book, which I read over twenty years ago. (Still a good read, btw.) Yes, I've been busy with life. All hollow reasons for not paying more attention to this site. Mea culpa. I promise to be better.

One of my distractions has been my preparation for the C3 Conference to be held at Hollins University on October 20. I've been invited to participate on a panel presenting career paths in writing. Or as I prefer to call it, how to get your head and other parts of your anatomy out of the morass of academia and make some bucks with your talent. Yes, I'm one of those heathen. I believe in selling your work for dollars (and Euros and Pounds and Pesos, etc.) and to heck with the "emotional satisfaction" of seeing your work in print. For free. In academic publications or magazines that do nothing for you except maybe help you get an assistantship somewhere making a few bucks. But hey, you were true to your art! Or, it was all you were expected to do. Phooey on that.

I made $5000 for my first western. Hardback. In 1983. At a time when Westerns were in decline. I expected much less, so $5000 was like manna from heaven. It also taught me to think big picture. I'm told the current market in traditional publishing is paying much, much less these days. In fact, Harlequin is paying first time authors around $3000 in advances. Some pull in only $2500. That's the rumor, at any rate, since I'd never sell to HQ and don't intend on doing so. They did their authors dirt on e-rights and have yet to admit it. Other houses now require signing authors to agree to a gag clause in their contracts. No spilling the beans on how much money they're making. Montlake, a division of Amazon, is one of those. I'd never sign such a clause. It's my money, I'm going to tell anyone I wish to tell how much the contract paid me. Or cost me. Depends on your viewpoint.

As part of my research for this conference, I compiled some web sites with interesting information. I'm including it here as well. There's truth in all of them, but remember, these people have their own realities. Take what you want from them, ignore them, but at least give what they say a solid consideration.

Money and Publishing                                                                                   Tracy Dunham

Informational Sites

1.  Show Me the Money –  (The only site that has fairly current information, though the figures here are from 2013, and word is that the money has dropped significantly since then.)

            As an aside, some publishers are now writing gag clauses into contracts, forbidding authors to disclose their financial agreement. For example, Montlake (Amazon) has such a clause.

2.  Lots of good articles

3. (Kristen Lamb’s blog) – Show Me the Money –What’s the Skinny on Author Earnings? (Very good analysis)

4.   They publish a free daily rundown of the current markets, sales, who is moving to what publisher, etc.

5.  (tons of good articles)

7. (Sept. 29, 2014 post titled How much does it cost to self-publish? Caveat – all figures are in Bristish pounds)

8. (lots of guest bloggers, including Eileen Goudge, who discusses her loss of contract and successful foray into self publishing. Claire Cook’s article about leaving her famous agent and publisher to strike out on her own is interesting as well.  Jane teaches digital publishing and media at UVA.)

9. – 4/15/14 guest blog by Natalie Whipple on self publishing v. traditional publishing

10. (1/15/14 post)

11.  (She surveyed 822 self published authors, with 65% having no previous publishing deals.)

12. Check out Bella Andre, JA Konrath, Bob Mayer, Claire Cook, Teresa Ragan online. They’ve all been very, very successful. Konrath and Mayer get into specifics of “how-to.”