Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Cost of Doing Business

Writing for a living is different from having a day job. Believe me. I’ve had lots and lots of day jobs. Hated every one of them.

But that’s not the point. The point is that if you’re an author and want to sell more than a book or two, you have to invest in yourself. For some of us, that’s hard to do. For one thing, a lot of us don’t have a bunch of money to fling at our careers, and for another, some of us aren’t accustomed to tooting our own horns and feel mighty uncomfortable doing so. For instance, it nearly kills me to write this blog, even though I only do it once a month. Go figure.

However, in today’s world, an author either invests in herself (or himself) or nobody’ll ever know who s/he is and that s/he writes books. The world of publishing has changed drastically since I sold my first book a little over twenty years ago. Back then, you either got published by a big New York house, or you published your own novel using what people sneeringly called a "vanity press". Vanity presses were considered beneath contempt, or very nearly so.

Nowadays, though, there are lots and lots of venues available for an author, some of which cost a good deal of money. For instance, I’ve recently delivered my most precious creation, Daisy Gumm Majesty, over to a newish publishing house called ePublishing Works. They make me pay for the privilege. So far, even though they’re costing me, they’ve been worth every penny, and I’ve earned several dollars for each one of those pennies. So bless their hearts (and I don’t mean that in the snidely Southern way, either. I DO appreciate them).

There are also venues available for authors to have their books rendered into audiobooks. If you’re a wildly successful author (think Nora Roberts or Janet Evanovich), you’ll have audio publishers banging on your door to publish your books in audio format. If you’re me or someone like me, whom very few people have ever heard of, you can now go to Audible/Amazon’s ACX site and offer your book for narrators to read, if they’re of a mind to. ACX itself doesn’t cost money. However, you need a cover for your audiobook, because the one that originally covered the book isn’t yours for the taking. It belongs to the original publisher and/or cover artist. Therefore, you have to find someone to do the cover art for you. So far, I’ve been lucky. Melissa Alvarez (at has made me some gorgeous covers. And Aaron Heath Thompson ( has done some wonderful ones for me, too. His wife, Heather, moreover, is narrating several of my books (PECOS VALLEY REVIVAL and PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW among them). Another friend of mine (Jim Hull) has just finished reading RESTLESS SPIRITS for me, and Aaron also created the cover for that, which is here in all its glory:


Oh, yeah. This brings up another point about authors having more control over their careers these days than they ever had before. When RESTLESS SPIRITS was first published by Jove Haunting Hearts a billion years or so ago, I didn’t want to call it that. I wanted to call it THE SOUL OF CHESTER PEASE, because it’s the soul of Chester Pease (who, in life, was a Very Bad Man) that causes all the trouble in the book. However, Berkley (Jove’s mommy) used only two-word titles. What’s more, they gave the book a blood-red, sinister cover, but it’s really quite a jolly book if you forget the fact that poor Penelope Potter’s brother Harry (yes, I had Harry Potter first, dang it) has been invaded by the soul of Chester Pease. You can see Chester in the glass of corn whiskey Harry imbibes if you look hard at the glass.

I’m also paying someone (Rae Monet) to re-create a web site for me, since the one I’ve been maintaining for myself for lo, these many years, is ungainly and difficult to manage. So there’s more money gone. With luck it won’t be money down the drain, but it’s still money, you know? Piffle. Maybe I should just go get another day job.

Naw . . .