IWSG–Royalty Reports

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

Writing is work. It’s work I’ve happened to greatly enjoy over the past 3 1/2 years, but it’s still work. If writing is work, publishing a book is hard work. Since January, I’ve come to know how much time, energy, blood, sweat, tears, attention, heart, and soul goes into publishing a book.  I’ve had my own limits tested with the publishing of 18 Things, my debut novel.

Since my release, it feels like 90% of my writing career is researching, marketing, promoting, socializing, facebooking, blogging, tweeting, speaking, drinking coffee, ect . . . and about 10% actually writing. So when I got my royalty statement at the beginning of May that stated I’d only sold 16 copies in April, and I actually owed my publisher money (AFTER all that work?!), I’ll admit I felt like throwing in the towel.

So I took a break. You might’ve noticed I haven’t blogged since the last IWSG (or maybe you didn’t, since it seems like I only have like 5 fans, lol). But I didn’t just take a huge break from social media, I took a step away from the shiny object, A.K.A. 18 Truths, my WIP, and debated if I should even finish the trilogy.

I broke the cardinal rule: Write every day. When you’re passionate about writing, following that rule isn’t really an issue. But life can place a lot of demands on us for our time and attention . . . with the end of another school year coming to a close (I’m a teacher by day) and all the culminating activities for my two kids, I’d just lost that loving feeling for all things related to writing this past month.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t become a writer to make tons of money, just like I didn’t go into teaching with that in mind. I wasn’t wearing any rose-colored lenses, expecting my debut novel to land on the New York Times Best Sellers List. But I did expect to get paid something.

So why even continue doing this? If it’s money I want, I can easily get a part-time job this summer waiting tables and probably make more money in a week than I have in my last four months as a published author (just FYI, the reason I owe my publisher money is because I bought 4 boxes of books from them). While I pondered this choice, I joined a book club with some of my fellow teachers and we choose to read The Power of a Positive Mom. It’s funny how God knows just what we need. Not surprisingly, my last three chapters have been about the power of a positive attitude. Chapter 9: The Ladies’ Pity Party (Don’t Accept the Invitation). Chapter 10: Attitude of Gratitude (Creating a Thankful Environment). Chapter 11: The Challenges of Life (Learning to Grow through Difficult Circumstances).

After my attitude adjustment, I’ve started writing again.  I’ve had to take the profit motive off the table to get myself back in the saddle. Because of the talents God has given me, I’m looking at my book as a gift to the world to empower people and see where God leads me. And it’s the belief I had all along . . . I just forgot about it for a little while.

It’s been 12 days since school ended, and every morning I wake up, brew my coffee, head to my writer’s table, and kneel in prayer to ask for God’s guidance. 90/10 still seems like a relative percentage, because I’m convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it. Author and teacher Chuck Swindoll said that, and I wholeheartedly agree with him!

Another lesson I’ve come away with from all this? Write what’s in your heart. I know you’ve all heard, “The story of your heart won’t be published. It’s only for you.” I disagree. I think things get put on our hearts for a reason, and we should listen to those promptings from the universe. With 18 Things there were times I didn’t listen to my heart, and I regret it now. I won’t make that same mistake twice. And I guess that’s the silver lining of not being a bestseller yet (notice I said yet, I’m still holding onto hope!). I don’t have anyone beating me over the head demanding that I write a certain thing or in a certain way.

So what about you? Throw yourself any pity parties lately? Join Alex Cavanaugh and his ninja army once a month for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group . . . maybe we can help turn things around into a positive party 🙂

Oh, and if you are one of my five fans out there, maybe you’d be interested in this video I posted in response to Kimberly Gabriel’s middle schoolers asking me some questions about my book!





33 comments on “IWSG–Royalty Reports

  1. I almost posted about my pity party but forgot too! Oh darn. I can’t loose the baby weight, my publisher was aquired and therefore neither story is being published, blah blah blah. I guess God gave me your post to help me realize I’m not alone. Once in awhile we all feel sorry for ourselves. FYI-Stepahnie Meyer took a few years to catch on. Does that help you at all?

    • Oh, baby weight! Was so bummed when I gained 60 pds with my 2nd rascal and then I didn’t have a 60 pd baby–she was only 7! It took me a long time too, but you can do it 🙂 Sorry to hear about your publisher, but I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. Didn’t realize it took Stephanie a while to catch on-that does give me some hope!

  2. Jamie,
    I love how you’ve handled some of the discouraging aspects of writing. It’s so human to want to be successful at this. God stretches us in ways that we feel super-human strength/patience/stamina is needed. But what’s required is dependence on Him.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Oh man, I could’ve written this. In fact, I think I’ve already written several posts to this effect. It’s a harsh lesson that publishing is not all it’s cracked up to be. What I’ve come away with is that you do it because you love it and you want to share your story with others. And when your story affects someone, when they come back after reading your book and say how much they loved it, that’s the best feeling in the world. And THAT”S what I’ve chosen to focus on, what makes me truly happy.

    Yes, marketing takes up a lot of time, and that won’t change if you really want to sell. Best advice I can give is to find readers who will review for you, who will help spread the word. There are many resources on Facebook to get your book out there in front of people and where you can request reviewers. But no matter what, it’s a slow ride on a very long road, so don’t let the roadblocks get you down.

  4. Glad to see you back. I’m definitely waiting to see the next book – how mean if you didn’t write it! 😉 I always wonder how it must have been years ago, when writers weren’t so much marketers too. I already feel like I spend most of my time ‘platform building’ when I should be writing – and I haven’t been published yet.

    I don’t see a problem with stepping back every now and then, and don’t see the ‘write eveyday’ rule as practical or even good. Sometimes we have to step back and catch some fresh air – it’s true for every job. And it sounds like you could use a lot of air with everything you do!

    I’m going to check The Power of a Positive Mom out. Sounds like good food for the soul.

  5. Fan #6 here…. I was missing you. 😦
    So Jamie… I was wondering. When you know you are going to put in some serious writing time, what coffee do you drink? And bathroom breaks? Do you ever wait a little too long and have to ‘panic waddle’ to make it?
    (BTW… I watched the video, you couldn’t be any more adorable.)

  6. Jamie,
    Fan number seven here. 🙂
    I can’t say that your post doesn’t scare me a bit, since I’m already on the fence about whether publishing will be fun or not … but then I got to the part about sharing what God gave us. I’m so glad you wrote 18 Things, took the time and effort to share it with me and all the other happy readers!
    I can’t wait for 18 Truths!

  7. Jamie, I am a BIG fan! You are an inspiration to your known fans and countless unknown ones. Because of you, and your book, I am working on an 18 Things for Retirement list of my own. Praying for you to push through the “fire swamp” each time it crosses your path and follow your dreams!

  8. Four boxes of books? Are they all sold? Or gifts? Giveaways? How do you use these books? …and what movie should I rent? 😉

  9. From the looks of these comments, you have more than five fans, silly woman! Keep writing! If it makes you feel any better, my first royalty statement said I only sold four books. I wanted to cry. Also, don’t beat yourself about the head because you don’t get to write every day. I’m still in the last month of school, and it’s so demanding, I’m lucky if I remember to eat, let alone find time to write. There’s no time for anything but school during those last weeks. The same goes for the first weeks of school. But we have the bliss of a few weeks off in the middle of summer! That’s when I write my heart out. I’m glad you’re back in the routine. Keep on chugging, friend!

  10. Hi Jamie! Welcome back! Thanks for sharing the path with us. Sounds like you’ve already got a grip on things. Until we’ve got our books out there, we can’t possibly know what to expect. And while we always have high hopes for our “babies” they don’t always do what we want when we want. The important thing is that you tried, and your book is still out there. It takes years for some authors to find real success, and often it’s not til they’ve pubbed many titles. You’ve got the right attitude–keep writing stories from your heart that make you proud to be a writer, and it’ll happen. Be open and creative to getting your book out there in different ways. Find book bloggers and offer to mail them a free copy for review. And dont forget, every step along the way is a learning process for debut authors. Janet Evanovich wrote a ton of stories that went nowhere til she found her niche.

  11. Amen! God knows how to put what we need in front of us when we need it most. Glad your attitude is up again. And agree that all that other stuff seems to take over the actual writing.

  12. I live really close and I understand the challenges of marketing and writing. If you ever want to meet for coffee or better yet chocolate just email me. This weekend is SCBWI in Orlando. Interested? ~Krista

  13. Jamie, I hate to pull the older person with more experience card on you … but hey … I’m older and I have more experience. MOre times discouraged, more failures, more near misses and more times I refused to give up my dream. YOu hang in there. You are on the up side of the learning curve and moving and that can only mean good things will happen 🙂

  14. I really appreciate the candid and transparent way you wrote this post. I think it will really be a balm for so many writers, at different stages in their journey. It’s not easy, and sometimes a break is exactly what is needed. And sometimes it does not go the way we anticipate. I used a quote from the book The Alchemist on my blog today for IWSG and, like the book you read, this book, I’m quite sure, was put in my life, right at this point in my journey for a reason. It spoke to my soul and is encouraging me to stay true to my “calling”. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Yeeeeesssss! I can totally relate. It’s so easy to get down in the dumps sometimes. Writing is hard work. Promoting is even harder work. But I like writing so I’m going to keep doing it. Getting your name out there usually doesn’t happen overnight, so in the meantime, we just have to keep writing!

  16. I’m with you on this. It can be a bit disheartening when things just trickle. But remember, the amount of money that is made has nothing to do with the value of the work. : )

  17. Strong and powerful post with lots of advice for people with insecurities. Cardinal rules – well, sometimes even those need to be broken, so we can learn and get new perspectives about what we are doing and why.

  18. This post is very sobering for me. Even though I’d like to join the ranks of those best selling authors I have to remind myself why I write; because I love it and just can’t help it. Sure, money would be nice, but take the money out of it and I’d probably still write:)

  19. “I’m convinced that life is ten percent what happens to me and ninety percent how I react to it.” Love this.

    This was such an inspirational post for me, I hope you do follow your heart and enjoy this next set of writing. If you ever do any kind of blog tour feel free to contact me to help promote 18 THINGS or 18 THRUTHS 😉

    It all takes time… (I have to remember this myself lol)

    Nice meeting you through the hop 😀

  20. Despite getting down, you got back up, remembering why you write, which is fantastic. It’s your passion that will keep you going… 🙂 So happy you kept going.

  21. Thanks for posting this, Jamie. I definitely have the rose-colored glasses on from time to time (as much as I try to be realistic) and this is very helpful in showing the reality. We can’t write for money, that much is for sure… we have to write because we love it. And it sounds like you really do love what you do. Keep at it, keep that “yet” and that hope, and I know you’ll get there.

  22. Such a brave post! I’ve low expectations for my work, so I think that helps. I always say to myself, “even if it makes a difference to just one person, that’s one person is enough for me”. How special that one person is, that I was put on this path to write a book just for them, at just the right time. Have that individual as your focus. That one reader.

    Then, sometimes I think, perhaps I won’t be published or read until I die – in which case, it will still be worth it! Because it’s the story that matters to me.

    I have definitely found that we have to write the stories that come from our hearts, because they’re the ones that are the most important. They’re the ones that speak to people.

    Good luck and keep going! Everything has its season. Who knows when yours will be. One of my favourite children’s writer (David Almond) took 20 years to get published at all!

  23. So glad you are back! Obviously you have more than 5 fans. 🙂

    And very happy to see that you’re writing again. “Write what’s in your heart.” That is absolutely the best advice you can give any aspiring writer. Thank you for posting this.

    P.S. Your video is adorable. I think all writers are a little weird, so you’re not alone. The more weird they are, the better their writing lol. Since you want the easy questions, what kind of coffee would you suggest for a writer who has never had coffee before? (I am in need of some late nights but my body doesn’t agree.) And have you seen any good movies recently? 🙂

    Good to have you back.

  24. 16 copies? That can’t be right. Didn’t you get fairly “up there” in the Amazon rankings on the first week?

    Anyway, I felt much the same way when I saw my first check, and the stats. But the truth is, I knew enough authors that I didn’t expect much. I know it is the start of BUILDING something. Not just a platform on the internet, but a platform of books. Every publication is a step. When you have many steps, and someone reaches for your book and loves it, they will be more apt to grab onto another book. The trick is getting them all out there.

    True, we may never be money-rich… but how cool is it to know that someon that you’ve never met, in another country, knows your name and has read your book.

    How cool is it to know that you’ve made people cry their eyes out (Grrrrrrrr)

    Some things are just not about the money.

    I HAVE TO WRITE. If I don’t, the characters in my head will drive me insane.

    • Very wise words from a crazy lady 😉 Yes, I did sell hundreds of copies in Jan, Feb, and March . . . which was why only selling 16 copies in April was so shocking. Although I did sell 2 boxes of books myself (32 books in each box), and gave one full box away. I’m a sucker for a teen who doesn’t have $ to buy my book but wants to read it!! Thanks for stopping by today!

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