Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Cost Of Becoming A Writer

I got my first break as a writer last year when a small publishing company, Indigo Dreams Publishing, asked to publish my book. Happy Days I thought and have been waiting, impatiently I'll have to say, for publication date. Although I sometimes wake up in a cold sweat, worrying that they might change their minds (and what would I do now that I've told everyone and his dog) it occurred to me that before I make even a penny out of my first novel, the amount I've already spent to become a 'writer' has been mounting over the years.

It took me over three years to write my first novel and to date, I've bought two laptops, entered various writing competitions, joined a writers' workshop, paid for a report by a literary consultant, paid a consultancy fee to get advice about crafting the perfect package to send to literary agents, been on writing events and am about to go to my first writers' festival. I've read more books than I normally would, bought notebooks, a pocket sized dictionary and a laptop bag.

So you see, the life of a writer is pretty costly. I stopped adding up the cost when it got beyond £2000. As I left my writers' workshop yesterday evening I mentioned this to a classmate and drove home, slowly, in a daze as I tried to calculate how many books I would have to sell to break even! That was a number that rose into the thousands, bringing on another cold sweat. I needed to concentrate on the road and nearly ran over a fox. A brown one that wasn't being very quick. But - never mind that...

Will anyone buy my book??!!

I've had a chance to lie down in a darkened room and, although I managed to fight the urge to try to calm my nerves with generous amounts of dark chocolate and red wine, I am concerned. Very.

But I will remain as positive as possible. I've just read an amazing debut novel (I'll review soon). I have to be hopeful that success could come my way. I believe in my book and maybe 20,000 other people will too.
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  1. It's frightening if you then added up all the hours at '£x' amount per hour you've spent on your book plus incidentals such as lighting and heating, electricity. Still you wouldn't do it if you didn't love doing it. I look forward to hearing when your publishing date is.

    1. I know - I won't even go there on the hours at £'s! And yes I do love it. I will certainly be jumping with joy on publication so I'll keep you posted. Thanks for dropping by Sally - see you on your blog soon:)

  2. Did you see the current issue of MSLEXIA?
    Apparently average earnings in the UK were around £26,500 in 2012, but most writers earn a lot less. (Surprise,surprise) According to historical novelist Sara Sheridan, a writer would have to sell over 33,000 paperback copies of her book to make the equivalent amount – assuming her book wasn’t discounted and she actually got 10% of the full cover price (a rare event). So, yes, the figures are depressing BUT there is another upside. You will never be bored again. Writers aren't. Either we are writing in our heads or observing. And we are SO tolerant - we are the ones who don't mind hearing that one sided mobile phone conversation on the train because we are imagining what if...

  3. I'm never bored - overworked perhaps but never bored. Oh to sell 33,000 books! Thanks for that Bridget. Now I can go and imagine what it would be like to sell that number of books...mmm

  4. I don't think any of us are in it for the money, Fran! All the writing investments I've made I've done from a love of writing and wanting to get better, as well has hoping to one day get a publishing deal. So even if that never happens I'll still keep spending. No more an expensive hobby than people who skydive but, for me, a lot more rewarding and fun!

    From the extract of your novel that I've read on here I'm sure you'll sell plenty of books and the beauty of writing them is, as well as never being bored, now that everyone is online they can keep selling for a long time. Keep writing, keep publishing and you'll get the audience your writing deserves :-)

  5. Hi Amanda, that's the life of a creative all over. I'm a singer-songwriter too and know that the chances of me ever 'making it' are so slim. Hopefully I'll sell my songs as well as books - in time. But, like you, I'll never stop. (Just need to find a way to be able to eat sometimes and not end up homeless)!
    Thanks for your encouraging words about my writing. Speaking of which - weren't you going to do a guest post here? Look forward to it.:)

  6. I was, and I am, going to do a guest post! Just been snowed under with writing for the day job to keep the wolf from the door. It is on my list of things to do though and I will get it to you soon :-)

    Where can I hear your musical work?

  7. Look forward to it Amanda. And don't worry I know that snowed under feeling only too well - just wish all that work was making me money! You can listen to my music on www.franclark.co.uk
    Best Wishes

  8. Good luck with the upcoming book. Worthy investment, I would say. Nothing better than investing in ourselves. :)
    Silvia @ Silvia Writes

  9. Thanks Silvia. Always a good move to invest in ourselves!