Another novelist’s recent blog post “Dear Broke Reader, Your Entitlement is Killing Me” moved me. It’s a response to a very large discussion on Facebook in which readers shared sites to use in pirating ebooks.
I want to say a huge thank you to every reader who has bought a book from me. And to every Patreon member who has funded me creating these books. Your dollars go to make more books, and to feed my family and me while that happens. Without you, it wouldn’t happen, or it would happen at a glacial pace, because at the end of the day, my hours have to go toward what feeds my family and keeps them well.
I know how broke some of my readers are.
- That’s why I’ve offered a very low-priced omnibus edition of my Zombie Bible series, and have run a few sales on it, too.
- That’s why I’ve moved all of my ebooks over to the Kindle Unlimited subscription, so that people who have KU can borrow the ebooks for free. (I still get paid a little for my participation in that subscription.)
- And I encourage anyone who needs paperback copies but can’t afford to buy one to order through their local public library — if the library doesn’t already have my books in stock. I’ll still get paid when the library buys the book, and you’ll get a free book to read using a service that your taxes have already paid for.
- If you still can’t get my book, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will get you a book.
I’m not as troubled by piracy sites as the author of this blog is, mostly because (1) there’s very little I can do about piracy, honestly, and (2) I’m uncertain that it is actually stealing much from my wallet. Maybe it is, but if so, I will live in blissful ignorance and focus on rewarding my paying readers by answering fan mail, coming up with cool Patreon rewards, and writing more excellent stories. All that said, I would really rather you didn’t steal from me.
The underlying attitude that upset this blogger — I’m with her on that. It surprises me how many people believe that creative work should be free to access, or that authors already make so much money that it isn’t really stealing if you don’t pay for their work. The vast majority of writers are quite poor. When one of us gets not-poor, we call it delicious, exhilarating luck, and depending on the condition of our heart, we either congratulate said writer with a hearfelt “way to go, friend! you SELL those tomes!! me, too, next year!” or we simmer in bitter resentment and envy. One of the two. (I tend to prefer the former response, but I’m not judging…)
In my own case, I publish an annual “Harvest Report” each November on my Patreon page, sharing openly the total gross income from my fiction over the past year and breaking down where that income came from (subscription, royalties on online sales, royalties from conventions, etc.). Any reader who is curious can read it. This is last year’s report.
I have a very loyal community of fans, and have sold many books over the past five years, but I am not a big-name author. I made $23,000 as an author in 2015. A little of that went right back into covering the expenses of publishing; most went into food, rent, medical bills (which, for my family, are not a small matter), etc. Little of it went into the bank, though I am more optimistic about 2016.
That’s what I make. It makes my family life’s easier, and I’m grateful for it. I’ll try to make quite a bit more this year; we’ll see how it goes.
There are many emerging and career writers out there who make less. And yes, you could say some are hacks, and that is likely true. But many are quite good, even amazing, writers who are just not big-name writers. At least not today.
I am actually very privileged and much more fortunate than many. I have a wonderful job that pays many, many bills. My family is in a season of better health. Recently, we are renting a house that, while our rent is (thank heaven) at under-market value, would seem palatial to many people in many countries. We have food. In the past years when things have been tighter, we’ve had friends and fans who have stepped in to help and keep us fed. So we are enormously fortunate.
Even so, a formidable amount of work goes into making a book. Certainly a lot of work goes into making MY books. To everyone who has decided that my work (and the book it produces) is worth a few dollars in compensation, I am very grateful. Without paying readers, there would be no authors.