Saturday, September 6, 2014

How to Make a Small Fortune from Writing

Let me spin you a yarn about my day. Today, for instance.

I rose at 7 am, and fed our animals. Just before 8 am, I hoisted a rucksack-cum-shopping-trolley of books into the car and set off on a 40 mile journey to a "pop up book shop" as part of a brand-new local Literary Festival. Nota bene - the experienced, a.k.a. knackered, indie author will always choose to transport books on wheels rather than directly by hand. Thus, I was instantly able to identify same, and distinguish them from the unpractised bag-and-box brigade, when we converged at 9am on the library which was our destination.

After a short round of greetings to those whom I knew in the PUBS (sighs... this does not mean the Rose and Crown. It is an acronym for Pop Up Book Shop) I left my stout plastic butcher's-tray of books in what I trusted were capable hands, and drove home again to get a few things done. Recycling was high on the list: for instance, plastic bags, and dog-food tins.

Just after 2:30 pm I set off with another load of recycling and the empty shopping trolley. The library at 3:45 pm was full of people behind and around the book tables, but it was pretty clear from their behaviour that they were writers, not buyers. Still, I had a very interesting conversation with a fellow historical novelist sitting in the "Ask the Author Anything" area, who was kind enough to say she didn't consider this "work" and also told me that the stall holding writers had laughed a lot while reading my Dragon Bait. I was relieved to find that was because it was funny, rather than peculiar.

Dragon Bait was my star of the day - one sale to a MOTP (work it out) and one to a fellow writer. I bought a collection of short stories, and intend to study them to learn about modern SS style. Well, they were written by a chap who teaches SS writing as a specialism at the University. I also bought a historical novel by the lady in the AAA area, and very nearly doubled my day's takings when she offered me change from my £20 in the form of.... wait for it... a £20 note and a couple of £1 coins. Being honest (or stupid) I suggested she reconsidered this.  I really should have offered, as part payment for her book, a copy of Dragon Bait, which she had said she intended to buy - but there we are, I too can be a bit slow after an earlier-than-usual start.

When I was re-packing I couldn't locate some of the books I had taken to the PUBS (stop it!). The slim poetry pamphlet, it seemed, had too closely resembled the kids' activity books - they were printed by the same firm - and the two activity books had not been displayed individually because they were the same thickness. The three items all spent the day in the same stack, and registered no sales at all. Moral - if taking several books which are similar, pack them in widely separated batches so that even those who are unfamiliar with your stuff will realise they are not all the same thing.

The accounts for today look like this:

Car mileage: 160 miles (40 miles there and back, morning and afternoon)
Parking fees: £1 x 2 (very reasonable and handy for the venue)
Donation per sale to the PUBS (stop sniggering at the back please): £1 per book, ie £2

Costs: £4 outgoings, car fuel discounted as part of recycling run... which is frankly bloody optimistic)

Book Sale: £6 x 2

Income: £12

Net income: £8 (see remark on Costs)

Purchases: errrrm... *coughs*

See, this is why writers are rubbish at business. Having "made" a few quid at the expense of 4 hours of driving, I blew it all and more by buying 2 books that cost (together) more than I had actually taken, which in any case I can't dignify by the term "profit" (see remark on Costs!)

All in all, a very typical writer's "sales" day. Lots of batting around, lots of jawing, a bit of networking, a bit of positive feedback, and one or two lessons learned.

Oh, and how to make a small fortune from writing?

Start with a large one.

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Dragon Bait is available from Sue's web site, http://www.jackdawebooks.co.uk/dragonbait.htm  and on Amazon Kindle, UK or Amazon Kindle, USA.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love it but still struggling with MOTP
Carol