Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sex & Money: Be Bold

Romance writers are great at tackling one provocative subject: sex. But my sense is we need to open up the dialogue about another: money. We write with edge and passion; we should also advocate for the value of our work as boldly.

The web is full of information and inspiration to improve our craft. But ask: How do I make it financially? Excuse me while I blow the dust from my inbox.

I can't throw a rock into the blogosphere without hitting a post about how difficult it is to get published, how I shouldn't expect to earn anything (click for recent article), how many writers struggle and why spelling is the main reason agents and publishers send rejections. Okay, okay. We get it. Now, show me the .... Oops, cliches are the second reason.

The facts -- our genre is thriving and ebooks are selling. Someone out there is making money. Is it you?

I read on this blog about the G.R.I.P.E., the Great Indy Pub Experiment. I was impressed at J. Rose Allister's willingness to disclose. Her and her husband's three-month goal was to sell 500 self-published books. They surpassed their sales by more than 3,000 and made about $6,000. They worked hard to do it.

Romance writer Brenda Hiatt started a list of what several publishers pay for romance (click for list). It's an ongoing project on her author website (click for site), which she updates with information provided voluntarily by writers. Not surprisingly, the list reveals that advances for books range wildly, from as little as zero to $40,000. Earn-outs also vary by the same extreme.

Hiatt recently added a list of indie earnings (click). And, she now takes questions regarding money (click) . Hip-Hip-Hoorah! A clearinghouse never looked so good. In addition, there are many, many romance publishers (click) not listed yet, indicating more money is out there to be made.

I believe we need to help each other by self-reporting our earnings. (Hiatt's list is anonymous. Disclosures to your crit group are encouraged!) How does information-sharing help? It helps to know that book sales are not dead (click for stats). It helps to discuss whether it works against us (click for debate) to give our work away for free or for very little.

Publishers are scouring for good, fresh novels. Information allows us to make better decisions about what to accept as payment for our books, newbies and veterans alike. Let's keep sharing and making the industry healthier (and profitable) for all of us.-- Jennifer Fulford