Why authors fail to make money

Links and references to information about writing
Forum rules
Add references that are especially helpful; don't try to list everything you can find.
Regulars can add to the resources database, which is better organised and more enduring.

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 1307
Joined: Fri, 10 Jun 2016 2:27 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Why authors fail to make money

Postby PaulE » Fri, 01 Feb 2019 3:54 pm

Hmm, I think this is one take on it. It's not something that appeals to me or why I write.
"If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." - Angel

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 4152
Joined: Wed, 20 Jul 2016 1:25 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Why authors fail to make money

Postby Rkcapps » Sat, 02 Feb 2019 11:26 am

Totally, but a writer's got to eat to do this full time, so this is good to keep in mind even if only a little.

User avatar
Rath Darkblade
Posts: 2838
Joined: Sun, 10 Jun 2012 4:39 pm
Location: Melbourne, VIC

Re: Why authors fail to make money

Postby Rath Darkblade » Sat, 02 Feb 2019 3:09 pm

Hmm. I'm still well enough to work in other fields so that I can finance my writing "habit". ;)

I have to take exception to this:

Professional marketers will use the book as a currency. This ‘currency’ is used to a) get an email address or b) giveaway to gain credibility. Along with giving the book out, they gain customer contact information and begin customer relationships.

Building a relationship with the customer is the most important part. If a good book is given that adds value to a customer’s life, it’s likely that the customer will return interested in other products.

How will giving a book away give you credibility? The way I see it, giving your work away will just mark your out as a sucker who doesn't know the value of your own work.

It depends on who the customer is:

1. If your customer is a proof-reader, and you've paid their fee, then it makes sense to give them a copy of the (finished/published) book as thanks for their help, and to build good will.

2. If your customer is a publisher, they will not give two hoots if you give them a copy once the publishing process is under way.

3. If your customer is a bookshop, they will want as many copies as they think they can sell.

4. If your customer is an individual, and it's your first book, it may make sense to sell a book for a lesser price - but not for free. You, the author, also need to eat (as Rkcapps pointed out above).

That’s exactly how consumers think. If we receive something we like, that works for us, that adds value to our life – then we want to return to those products or that author/company for more

For example: You purchase a video game from Nintendo and enjoy it. You then are likely to return to Nintendo to purchase more games. Same goes from eating at a good restaurant, etc.

I'm sorry, but this is a false equivalence. He's comparing consumers who receive something (gratis and for free) vs. consumers who purchase something (from Nintendo or a restaurant).

I'm not sure if this is how consumers think. Personally, I evaluate each individual book on its own merits; if it the presentation is good; and if the content looks interesting or amusing, and is presented well.

If I've read the author's books before and enjoyed them, or if I know that the publisher is a good one (e.g. Thames & Hudson), that's a bonus, but it's not the sole selling criterion. The criteria I listed above are the most important to me. I'm just as likely to purchase a book from an author or publisher I've never heard of.

I've heard this argument before - and applied to artists, as well (e.g. on DeviantArt). "You should give your work away for free because it encourages other people to do business with you." Sorry, no. It only encourages people to take advantage of you. Don't sell yourself short. You worked damn hard on your book, you busted your chops doing research, and it's only fair that you should be paid.

By giving your work away for free or for low prices, you're not only hurting yourself but also other authors. Don't settle for less than a fair price for your books.

To come back to the Nintendo/restaurant example: you wouldn't ask a games programmer, a games artist, a chef, or a waiter - or a company manager, or the restaurant manager - to work for nothing. Why should authors be treated any differently?

Yes, I know I haven't sold my books etc... but that's just my take on it. As a consumer, I am prepared to pay a fair price to an author for a book. I don't expect anyone to give me freebies. If they want to (e.g. because I'm a friend etc.), then that's nice, and I'll ask them if and how I can repay the favour. :) But if I see an author selling their books (e.g. in an event at a library etc.), then I do not and will not march over, bang on the table, and demand a free copy, as if I was an overindulged spoiled brat. :P

All right, rant over! :) What do you think, hmm?
There is nothing wrong with nepotism, so long as you keep it all in the family. (Winston Churchill)

Highly Important Member
Posts: 89
Joined: Sat, 13 Oct 2018 2:36 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: Why authors fail to make money

Postby BWrite » Sat, 02 Feb 2019 3:26 pm

Okay, I only read the article to see what the fuss was. Big mistake. Mini rant below.

I think the major issue with this article and the point of view of the person writing it is that his book isn't actually the core product. He talks about 'backend products' but realistically those are his core products and the books are just a buy-in to gain interest to his video course. He obviously wrote the book first, saw the interest/market for similar products and developed the video course. As a 'higher' grade (more expensive) product, it has become his core business and where he earns the most money.
To tell writers to undersell/give away their work to then gain traction on other products only works for a very small section of the industry, namely educational/self-help/etc. Someone writing fiction isn't going to be developing a video course and holding seminars. A well-known, well-respected author may do something along those lines for the craft of writing, but it wouldn't be based on core fiction works.
I feel the person who wrote this article doesn't understand the differences in genre/industry when he talks about 'backend products'. I can understand how 'backend products' could include things like film and television adaptations, but the chances of an author making consistent money from those are about as good as making a living from book sales.

Basically, I agree with Rath, the whole article rubbed me the wrong way.
Excelsior - Stan Lee

Super Important Member
Posts: 724
Joined: Sat, 31 Dec 2011 4:29 am
Location: Cairns

Re: Why authors fail to make money

Postby Enzed » Sat, 02 Feb 2019 8:52 pm

It would be worthwhile to give a free copy to a reviewer intending to publish a review in a newspaper or a newsletter with a wide distribution.

I think it's good manners to give a copy to someone who has had extensive input into progressing the work to the publication stage.
Joss Shawyer

User avatar
AJ Konlucko
Tremendously Important Member
Posts: 4386
Joined: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 10:35 am
Location: Tasmania

Re: Why authors fail to make money

Postby AJ Konlucko » Mon, 04 Feb 2019 3:57 pm

I write because I enjoy it, I have no plans to make money from it.

Return to “Resources”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests