A Sobering Thought on World Book Day

“You’re an author – you must be raking it in.”

I’m sure I’m not the only writer who hears this comment or variations on the theme. It follows the one about how preferable writing is to actually working for a living.

In some ways, writing at home is easier than going in to the office for eight hours every day. You don’t have to get up at a certain time; you can stay in your pyjamas all day; you can take things easy when you want to.

But the reality is that the books still have to get written, magazine editors must be satisfied and products have to be sold. There may not be anyone checking that I’m actually working – but if I don’t, nothing will happen and there will be no books, no articles and no sales.

This is the reality of the self-employed.

There has been a lot of research lately into writers’ incomes. There’s an interesting article here:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/02/bestseller-novel-to-bust-author-life?commentpage=1

And it’s becoming clear that most of us don’t make the vast sums of money people assume we do.

There’s a steady stream of people after freebies from authors. From the book blogger who emailed me (with an obviously form email) to promise she’d give me lots of publicity for my new book if I gave her an electronic copy (obviously forgetting she had a free copy of a previous book and never even reviewed it), to the person who thinks the way to get a free book is to try and get my husband to bully me into it. (It doesn’t work with strong women – that’s a definition of the term!) Not to mention the people who assume I’ve had promo goods made so that they can help themselves to as many as they want. If you really want something from an author, why won’t you pay?

I’ve just been emailed by a large supplier who appears to have increased my order and charged me an additional 30% for doing so. I suspect any publisher would flinch at that difference – it’s potentially disastrous for a small business. I don’t think they’ll worry about me taking my business elsewhere in the future, I know I’m a very small fish in a large ocean. But the loss of goodwill is something that doesn’t appear on any balance sheet.

Read Same

Yes this is a rant, but there’s a reason for it. Today is World Book Day. If you’re inclined to celebrate by buying a book, think about supporting an Independent Author. There are many of us, struggling to survive in a business world that’s constantly trying to squeeze every last penny out of our bank accounts. Every sale is worth something to us. And you may discover a new writer you really like.

The mercenary bit – Chrystal Heart has been out for one whole year! Reduced on Kindle to celebrate this and World Book Day- £1.99 / $3.49 or equivalent. You can read the first few chapters for free via Amazon, if you’re unsure whether it’s for you!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chrystal-Heart-Meg-Kingston-ebook/dp/B00BT09GS2/

Book Review: Stephen King – Guns

Kindle Singles are small, ebook only, publications. They may be a novella or a few poems. Or, as in this case, an essay on a particular subject. Unlike most Kindle publications, they go through a selection process which ansures a certain minimum standard. Stephen King chose to use this medium to publish his thoughts on the current debate in the US about gun ownership and responsibilities.

Title: Guns (Kindle Single)
Author: Stephen King
ASIN: B00B53IW9W (Kindle)

At last – a voice of reason in the Great American Gun Debate.

For those who didn’t study American history, the Second Amendment to their Constitution grants every American the right to bear arms. The Constitutional Amendments are sacred to US citizens in the way that most legal systems around the world are not. Many of these formalise basic human rights of people in America and they (especially the earlier ones) are viewed with a near-religious fervour.

And this Second Amendment is the one most often cited by supporters of the right to have any and all weapons available for private purchase. Their opponents point at mass shootings and statistics on deaths and injuries caused in part by the guns owned by Americans.

Stephen King walks the narrow divide between these two camps, arguing that it’s possible to keep the enshrined rule about bearing arms, but to ban certain categories of automatic weapons from private hands. What he’s saying is similar to the line taken by Barack Obama, but not identical. My own personal leanings are similar to both men, but differ in some details.
What this is is a calm discussion of certain historical and statistical facts that tend to get drowned in the shouting of the two opposing parties. King does make his own opinions clear, but he’s not trying to push anyone towards his conclusions. He’s more interested in being a calm voice that people will listen to in preference to some of the shouting.

A welcome summary of some of the key points in this debate, as well as a commentary on some aspects of American culture.

King will earn nothing from this essay as all his proceeds are being given to a related charity.

Personal read: 5 stars
Reading group read: 5 stars