There is a big misconception out there that if you write a book, you are going to get rich. If you ever want to get rich, please do yourself a favour – DO NOT WRITE A BOOK. Or, write a book, but do it for love, not for money, because honey, there is no money in writing a book.
Sure, there are some who make money. There are some who make a HUGE amount of money, but they are the tiny, tiny few. I would estimate that less than 1% of people who write a book (and have it published) earn enough money from their sales alone to support themselves. Most authors do freelance work, and other writing in order to make enough money to live.
Here in South Africa, that is especially true. Here you definitely do NOT write a book for money. (SA has a low literacy rate, plus books are expensive here, so v few people buy books) You write a book for many reasons – to tell your story, to express your creativity, to connect, to build your brand, or just for love, which is what I did. I wrote my book to tell my tale. To share with those I loved what I went through. To document the story for my children. To honour the children I had lost, and to let others know what it was like to live in my world.
During my first discussions with the publisher, they nervously broached the subject around expectations of earnings, and I said ‘relax, I have no expectations’. Which is just as well because in the three years I have had my book out, and taking into account that it has done fairly well according to South African standards, I have earned less in total for all the sales than I do in ONE MONTH’S SALARY. That’s right, I earn more in one month at work than I do for all the money I have made out of my book over three years. Oh, and as for that ‘advance’ thing that most people think you get – happens mostly only in movies and for well known authors. Not for lowly folk like myself.
People are always shocked when I tell them the facts. I think most people think that if you have a book published, you make boatloads of money, but it isn’t true for most. Most authors get $1 or $2 a book. When you self-publish, like I did for the overseas market, you have to invest a whole lot of money upfront. So after your first few hundred copies are sold, you haven’t even paid off the expenses incurred to date. In fact, in my last tax return, the tax man felt so sorry for me, HE gave me money back, hahaha!
But none of that matters, or at least not to me. I didn’t write the book for money. Any money I might or might not make out of it is just the cherry on top, and to be quite honest, I am going to have to sell a shit load of books to come close to covering the money I’ve spent in IVFs etc!! But as I said, it really doesn’t matter to me.
Writing the book, and having people read it, is more payment than I could ever have wished for. I feel immensely proud of myself for having stuck it through, as I am a notorious slacker who would rather take the easy way out than do hard work with things like this. ‘Ah fuck that, sounds too much like hard work’ is a common approach. So the fact that I wrote in the first place, then had the gumption to follow it all the way through to the end (getting it on Amazon etc) is a big feather in my cap.
So darling hearts, please rest assured that I am not about to leave you for the lifestyles of the rich and famous, I am going to have to stick it out with the day job and the egg donor business (www.nurture.co.za) for a little while longer. BUT! That doesn’t mean you mustn’t buy the book!!! I want you all to read it and tell me what you think! But please, be very gentle. If I am not going to get rich, I at least want a bit of gratuitous flattery ;-)
Oi! Get the book! Immediately! We shall be BFF if you do.
For an excellent and very humorous view on making money from writing, check out this brilliant blog post by Brian Keene.