This Writer’s Worth

I just returned from a writer’s conference and the news is not good. Writers, say the workshop leaders, will not make much money. They need to keep their day jobs. Another item in the negative column is this: writers must do their own promotion. This means we need to learn how to market our work if we want anyone but our mother to read it.

These are two things I already knew. I have been writing for a long time and I’ve witnessed the landscape change. I remember one long-ago workshop leader saying that the culture rewards writers in some incredible ways. Well, those days are gone. Everyone now has the opportunity to publish their writing. The variety of ways to do this would take a weekend workshop. I’d attend that one, because I suck at marketing.

I have often moaned on this very blog that I’m a writer, damn it, and I just wanna write. Well, if the conference this weekend did nothing else for me, it made me realize that I have to stop thinking that way. I can hire someone to market for me, or I can do it myself. But do it I must. Because I do want more than just my mother (who is scandalized by the sexy bits) to read my work. And I would like to make money. Readers=money.

My publisher did a little marketing thing with Amazon Kindle’s “free” days for me a month or so back. I tried to help by hiring Book Bub to advertise my “free” book, plus tweeting and writing Facebook posts. Hell, I took my business card to lunch and passed it out to ten women I hardly knew, saying “hey it’s free!” People love free.

I looked at my numbers after that. I gave away 45,000 books. I also made it to #1 on the top Amazon lists. All books. All romance novels. All contemporary novels. I was #1 on the free list for all of those. And I stayed on the paid lists for a while. I made some  money, which is what marketing is all about. Selling books, making profit. The month I partnered with my publisher to market this way, I made more money than I had in any quarter at any time with any of my five books.

I know I’d still write if I didn’t get paid. I might write and decide not to market. I write, not just for money, (although money is nice) but because it helps me make sense of both myself and the world spinning around me. I feel lucky to have this thing in me that needs to write, no matter what. It has enriched my life in ways too numerous to mention. And that is the real worth to this writer.

 

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