Age, Wisdom & The Indie Author
Posted by lbdarling
I want to start this post by stating unequivocally that it is NOT about anyone or any event in particular. None. Zero. Nada. Zip. So no one out there should take this personally. I should say that I struggled with whether or not I should make this a password protected post. For now, at least, it stays open. Here we go.
The Old Adage Wisdom Comes with Age is very true. I’m the first person on the planet to want to admit that so please take it from whence it comes. We’ll get back to that in a while just, for now, keep it in the back of your mind as you read.
As an Indie Author I’ve tried everything for Promotional Material/Space/Adds/Needs/Tours…blah…blah…freakin’ blah. I’ve paid some very pricey amounts to take out ads in e-Mags, to be “featured” on website and in e-Mags, to have “spotlights” and “interviews” appear in a variety of places trying to reach my audience. I’ve paid money to sites/blogs/e-mags from Romance to Paranormal to Erotic to Mainstream and everything/everywhere in between. I’ve even paid for the privilege to giveaway my books, yes you read that right. Several promotional tools, including FaceBook/Twitter Author Promos, demand a payment from the author for a limited time slot and the chance to giveaway as much stuff as they possibly can. For an extra fee you can have your web/buy link added to the ‘pinned post’.
These events can cost anywhere from $20.00-$40.00 depending on the coordinator. At 20 authors that’s a nice little profit for posting on Facebook/Twitter over a few hours.
I’ve bought ads on Google and GoodReads too along with, much to my shame, sites that didn’t really accept ME as an Indie Author but were very happy to take my money anyway. I paid them, with my head hung low, simply because they have ‘high visibility’.
I’ve paid for Blog Tours anywhere from $40.00-$150.00 bucks. I got nowhere. The people putting them together made me nice graphics that were useless for anything but the tour. They threw my link information up on their sites, maybe tossed it out in an email, then waited to see who bit, then got in touch with me, I did all the hard work (interviews, blog posts, spotlights, excerpts, info, pics) and sent to the tour host then they sent it to interested parties. Some of them Facebooked quite a bit but others did not. Some of the Tweeted quite a bit but others did not. I’d venture to say that, all-in-all, at least a full quarter of all of the stops I paid for never posted when they were supposed to if at all and less than that posted book reviews when they committed to doing so.
Yes, friends and neighbors, entire ‘cottage industries’ have grown up around the Spirit of the Indie Author. And those industries are making money mostly where the Indie Author, so desperate to get out there just be seen in some manner, is losing their shirt.
I know, there’s another Old Adage; You Have to Spend Money to Make Money. I’ve spent my share as have many thousands of other Indie Authors like me and we’ve seen little to absolutely no ROI. I’d venture to say that most, like me, are actually In The Red when it comes the business end of this game. We lose far more than we bring in. That’s what pisses me off so much about ‘pirates’ and ‘pirate sites’ and just plain old cheapass sonsofbitches. I’m already LOSING MONEY do you really have to STEAL from me too? Asshole.
The latest and greatest scheme to come along on the heels of the Blog Hop, the Author Promotion, the Blog Tour, and the plain old Advertisement is the Authors Signing. As most of you know I went to the New England Authors Signing on my birthday (Oct. 4) last year. I paid $100.00 just for the table space. I rented a car to get to MA. I had to advance all of the money for the paperbacks/swag/table display materials. At the last second a Gift Basket was desired so I had to shell out for that too. All in the hopes of earning some money back and of making some connections. I sold 4 paperbacks and about an equal number of e-books for a rough total of $50.00.
Don’t get me wrong. I had a GREAT time and I’m THRILLED that I did it. I put myself out there for the actual Public and….as Jamie Lee Curtis once said in ‘True Lies’….I fucking did it! I will forever be grateful and happy about that.
I had the opportunity to go to two more Author Signings this year. One in NYC, which I REALLY wanted to go to JUST so I could FINALLY say “I’ve been New York City, baby!” The table price was a little steep. I understood the bump, it is NYC after all but figuring in renting another car and buying more books and all of that happy stuff it seemed less and less worth it. Sadly, I let the opportunity slide by unable to justify the expense to me.
I had the opportunity to go to an Authors Signing that is less than 15-20 miles from my door. I really wanted to go to that because its close and I wouldn’t have to rent a car. I would only have the expense of ordering books in hope they would sell. The table price turned out to be quite steep even more so than the NYC price. Again, I just can’t justify it. Again, I’m letting it pass by me.
On a lark, I checked around to several local venues to see what it would cost to rent the place and have the tables for something like this. On the whole, at $100.00/table 15 authors (give or take) do the trick. The place is paid for. The end. Anything after that is pure gravy or it should be there seems be a need for tote bags and pens and badges and other assorted memorabilia. So there’s a small additional cost, let’s say the next 6 authors or so for a total of, on the high-side, $3,000.00 up front to the coordinators/venue to cover all expenses. They’re not serving us any food. Not even a cup of water so don’t even try to factor that into the equation.
So, to have an event in a nice but not extravagant place around here and garner 30 authors that’s an off-the-top profit of $500.00 to the coordinators before you factor in the ticket price of $10.00-$20.00/per person. Of course it just goes up from there at $150.00-$350.00 (or more) for an Author’s Table. I’ve seen some of these tables going for $1,000.00! Granted, those are ‘big events’ with ‘big name’ authors and ‘big name’ publishers in attendance, which is always a nice touch. Still, a thousand bucks? For those very well-attended and publicized events tickets can range from $50.00 to $150.00/per person.
But don’t take my word for it, you do the math on all of the variables.
Yeah, it seems to me that everyone BUT the Indie Author is cashing in on the Indie Author Craze. But, ya know, maybe that’s just me. So, all of that led up to my decision to by-pass both Author Signings. I’d like to do another one someday. I really would. Perhaps one that’s just right for me will come along and I will attend. I’m not saying the majority of the people putting these things on are simply out to part the Desperate Beleaguered Indie Author from their hard-earned and often times meager cash but there is a percentage of them that are doing just that.
Were I a younger author I have no doubt I’d be making the opposite decision. I’d be throwing whatever money I could find at these things…and I did. Right now I’d rather pay the mortgage, have oil in the tank, stocked cupboards, working electricity, and all of those things that truly make life livable. Let’s face it, I don’t buy a lottery ticket unless PowerBall is over a hundred million dollars so why would I continue doing this? I’m old and wise enough to recognize the latest greatest scheme when it comes along.
Now, at my advanced age, I’m strong enough to turn away from it and not be dazzled by it for very long.
I am happy just being me and forgetting about sales. That’s the way I started down this path decades ago and how I came to be writing on the Internet. I think there’s a certain beauty in going out the same way but maybe, if I’m lucky, on a little grander scale.
No, I’m still not giving it away 24/7. No, sorry. My work still has value. At least as much value as the work of those I’ve paid to promote it.