A Writer Business Day

Saturday was one of my favorite type of being-a-writer days, aside from the leaving the house completely polished with makeup and earrings at 7:00 am. I met two writer friends for breakfast prior to our monthly chapter meeting.  I’d go out for breakfast more often if it wasn’t such an early morning thing.

RCRWThe business of the meeting was fast and intense, including kudos and awards. I was presented my White Rose for First Contract, any future ones will be red roses as I’ll no longer be a virgin novelist. The elections of the new board of directors for the chapter was next and I’m the VP of Programs for the coming year. This means the craft of writing and storytelling will be the focus of future workshops.

Courtney Milan  presented a fabulous three-hour overview on the business of self publishing, including the number of e-sales needed per month to pay a modest mortgage. These numbers were compared to a best case royalty rate at the current percentages from print publishers.

Stark numbers reveal this isn’t a career for fast money in either case. But there are plenty who make a living as authors and there is always the potential of viral marketing and stratospheric sales. It’s still all about the writing quality of the book, and the story told, but now the backlist makes the difference. Ten novels is a new benchmark for career authors.

After the meeting, some of us went downtown for Afternoon Tea with Jane Porter.  It was a thrill to see her again, especially since she barely got out of the east coast before Nemo shut down airports.

At The Heathman Hotel in Portland, OR
At The Heathman Hotel in Portland, OR

Jane explained why she is not renewing any of her publishing contracts. She’s not sure what the future will bring but she needs to write the books of her heart again, which is how she grew her career in women’s fiction.  She has a distinct style and loyal readers love having her attend their Book Club meetings, even if only through Skype.

She’s concerned about the choices of her future career as about half of her readers want print books, not digital copies. I was happy to explain briefly about the hybrid and boutique publishers who do both. She’s been busy and knew book world was changing but hasn’t had the time to explore new options.

When I got home it was only 5:30 pm and I remembered I spent many years leaving home dressed to impress at 7am and not returning until after 5pm.  It was a standard business day for me. But this one was tons more fun.

5 thoughts on “A Writer Business Day

  1. The bottom line is pretty simple. Traditional publishing is broken. A new paradigm is being born. But traditional publishing pays advances, and most Indie publishing companies do not. Traditional publishing usually requires an agent, who takes 15 percent of what you earn on that book, advance plus royalties, and the editor has ideas that may or not suit you about how to change your book to fit the market. Editors and agents are not gods. They are people who have a sense of the market – or not. You, the writer, know your work the best and now have the freedom to decide where and how you will publish.

    YOU are the content provider. YOU, the writer, are the one with whom it all begins. YOU, the writer, are the bottom line. YOU decide.


    1. As I looked at the checklist to self publish – from cover to ISBN – I was pleased that I don’t have to do any of it now. There’s no advance in my pocket, and no agent to review the simple contract or take a percentage of royalties. Instead, a team of professionals are investing their time, cash, and energy into publishing my novel. It feels good. What feels even better is that once it is available for readers, it will be “in print” for years.

      I actually made a choice for this new Indie publisher, I decided on them and I’m so glad they agreed. I’ve always been a team player.

      I’m thankful for what I’ve learned as an industry insider these past few years. But the greatest lesson was shopping my memoir to agents and editors. I know it has a bunch of “taboos” for a commercial world and I didn’t hide that fact, it was part of my pitch, which made it tons of fun to get their honest response. From boutique to big six to small press, they all advised me to self publish it. The two editors who’ve worked through it feel the same – “You have to self publish it,” they said then added, “please do – I want to read it and I know some people I want to read it.”

      This is why I’ve watched the publishing paradigm transform. As I decide the content, now I can also decide the presentation and availability and price. Since my memoir is about my parents, I also want to do it well, but do it once. Then I’ll continue writing fun romance novels.


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