Five Author Myths: Debunked

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5 Authors make a salary.
That’s just funny. Some of us, if we have a large publisher, get something called an advance on royalties. I got a nice big one ($2,000 per book divided into three installments) when I worked with Jackfruit Press, writing a couple books on Canada’s Prime Ministers. It’s a wonderful recognition of your hard work to get these installments after you’ve signed your contract, sent in a draft, and delivered your final manuscript, but I don’t know many independent publishers who offer this. It’s too much of a risk for a publisher to do this. So, authors might work for 1-2 or even more years on a book, and not see any payment until their first royalty cheque. This is just the way it is.

4 Once you’re a published author, you’ll have your own agent & assistant!

Nope. Authors with big publishing firms, and ‘names,’ have these. I have tried to find an agent for years. It would help me and my books get more visibility. It’s a Catch 22 because you can’t find an agent unless you grab their attention. I sent 50 queries to agents *accepting* queries when I finished Strangely, Incredibly Good, hoping one would represent me. Many agents and publishers don’t accept unsolicited requests – they want someone to refer you. ONE of those accepting queries responded in the 3 month time span they’d said they’d take to reply to me. ONE. No one else ever even sent me a “Decline” type note. I heard nothing. The one who did write back, thankfully, wrote to me that my manuscript wasn’t what they were looking to publish but they didn’t doubt that another agency would ‘jump on it’ (none did).
That one response gave me some motivation to keep on searching for an agent or small publisher, and I soon heard from the small Canadian publisher, Morning Rain Publishing.

3 You must be wealthy if you’re on/have appeared on an Amazon & Kobo Bestseller List!

Hardly. You need to realize these best seller lists are meant to help authors sell more books, but they don’t necessarily mean an author who made that list is rolling in it. Remember, Amazon and Kobo take a percentage of your royalties. If you have a publisher, that’s one more middle-man. So, we’re talking about a royalty between .40 cents and $3.99 per book, depending on what you’ve set your book at – but with many books going for .99 to $2.99 these days, an author’s royalty is probably on the lower end of that scale. Royalties for print books also vary, but I’ve never earned more than $4 per book, and though I’ve worked hard at selling these books, I haven’t yet sold more than 300 print copies (that is my sell-count for Where the Butterflies Go, my oldest poetry collection, so it’s had more time to sell. Carry On Dancing is at about the 250 mark, and my latest novel, now out one month, is at about 40 digital copies and 50 print copies sold. The silver lining here is that the publisher didn’t even intend to print the book until six months after the ebook release, but decided to print it early. It’s now available through special order or at events.

Don’t forget I had expenses to promote these books – book cover art, promotional ads, travel – so the $1,000 I may have earned for sales of WTBG was not my net profit. My first royalty cheque for Carry On Dancing amounted to a nice dinner with wine with my husband. After that, three months later, I got one that was around $30, and then because it was no longer new, sales petered out. Now my four poetry collections provide what I call “coffee money” every few months.

I was really pleased with that first royalty cheque from COD and I’ll never be ungrateful for the money I have managed to make as a published author, but you need to understand that royalties on books do not make authors rich, unless they have a viral best-seller, which is rare. Speaking engagements can provide some good income, but unless you’re John Grisham, you’ll be earning $100-$300 per speech, not the $50,000-$100,000 he earns for speaking.

2 Traditional publishers have tons of pull & power to help you sell your book.
It depends on their size. There are five publishers, ‘The Big 5’, that have some pull in the world. They compete with Amazon. Then there are the independent publishers, like mine. Mine is a small independent Canadian publisher that’s less than a year old. They do their best to give their authors a fighting chance, but my publisher can’t compete with the big publishers with big budgets (at least, not yet).

Chapters will allow independent authors (including those published by independent publishers like mine) to sell books on consignment. The author sets the “list” price, and the store takes up to 45% of that price as payment for shelf space. Yes you read that right: they take up to 45 percent. Sometimes, I’ve lost money just to appear at Chapters. It’s a decision I stand by today, since I ended up gaining lots of new readers because of those appearances. However, those were not money-making appearances. They were great for publicity.

1 You’re always smiling and excited about your latest achievement. Your books must be selling like crazy!

Yea, I don’t want to be a mopey bitch of an author now, do I? (actually maybe that would get headlines and sell more books! I’m kidding. )
I am so grateful that I get to do what I love – write books – that they’ve actually been published, and that I have a lot of support from family, friends and a few loyal fans. However, when you work two years or more on a book that is your heart and soul, and it only sells 75 print copies, while How To Properly Pull Nosehairs has sold 750,000, that can be quite discouraging. I keep on smiling and keep on writing* though, because the alternative isn’t my style.

*(After I’ve obsessively checked my Amazon rankings and screamed out loud a few dozen times)

I love laughing and making others laugh! And now that I've debunked these author myths I can keep on writing & laughing :)

I love laughing and making others laugh! Here I am, celebrating the release of Strangely, Incredibly Good with (L) Author JM Lavallée and (R) author Nancy Beattie.

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I have a lot of fun with my job, and try hard (not always easy) to focus on what I have already accomplished, not what I’ve failed to do.

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Blog Tour: Interview: Heather Grace Stewart

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Heather Grace Stewart:

Cosmochicklitan interviewed me! Find out when I write, how Twitter helped me write my first novel, and what Superpower I’d choose to have.

Originally posted on cosmochicklitan:

I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Grace Stewart as part of the blog tour for Strangely, Incredibly Good. Thank you so much for visiting Heather! 

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Your debut novel is called Strangely, Incredibly Good. Could you please tell us a bit more about this book?

Sure, and thanks so much for having me here. My novel is about Cat Glamour, a 38-year-old woman who has just been through a rotten divorce and now she’s struggling with finances, self-esteem and balancing her personal life. She lives with her two teen daughters and her 91-year-old grandmother who…let’s just call her a unique trip. On the day that Cat decides to start an exercise routine, the last thing she expects is a modern-day Genie to pop out of her Wii machine. Unfortunately for Cat, her genie is somewhat unreliable in his wish-granting capabilities. In a series of hilarious misadventures, he sends Cat…

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Exclusive Excerpt

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Thanks to Everything Books & Authors for featuring Strangely Incredibly Good today. Here’s their post!

Everything Books & Authors EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT From Strangely, Incredibly Good

Are you still here? Well then guess I should thank you for being an exceptionally loyal reader. You helped get SIG to #11 in Humorous Fiction on Kobo this past weekend, and made it an Amazon Bestseller – #82 in Contemporary Romance !

Please keep on sharing links to this book. If you liked it, spread the word! Thanks so much.

Strangely, Incredibly Good Confessions

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Hey guys!
It’s release day! Thanks again to everyone at Morning Rain Publishing for helping get this book out into the world. Here’s what Morning Rain Publishing has to say today (you can buy Strangely, Incredibly Good at this link too).

I wanted to write something special for this day, but the fact that I woke up at 3 a.m. ! like a child on Christmas morning has left me with rather poor writing skills. I don’t like how my writing turns out when I’m tired. I can still try to offer you, my dear, loyal readers, a list of Top Ten Confessions about this novelist’s journey to getting Strangely, Incredibly Good published. Just please excuse any typos :)

10. Came up with the idea mid-2012 but then a few people (including me!) said it sounded kind of silly…and I stuffed the idea in a drawer. NEVER LET SELF DOUBT STOP YOUR GOOD INSTINCTS.

9. For years and years, I didn’t think I had a longer story in me. Then, after being inspired by the people mingling at a wonderful discussion board led by writer Aaron Sorkin, I penned an 18500 word screenplay. I was on my way. Thanks to The Undeletables for firing me up, and knowing how to get me out of that hole!

8. I have spent too much of the ’00s online, and not enough time writing. Don’t do this. It took until about 2012 for me to find true discipline and realize that if I want to write something, I can’t be online until at least lunch time. When I have a project I want to finish, I write early, and log on late.

7. I fuss about my hair too much. It’s amazing what going au naturel curly (letting it be air-dried) did for my writing! I’m serious! I had really bad hair days for months while writing Strangely, Incredibly Good, but hell, it got finished!

6. Working at home all day can be a lonely existence. I’m thankful for some wonderful neighbors, music, and the friends in my social networks. I hope I don’t become a crazy old novelist with four cats (we currently have three) ….but if I do maybe I’ll write some really weird and wonderful stuff? Laughing!

5. When I finished the manuscript in October 2013, I sent it to 50 literary agents with a really great (at least I thought so) cover letter. I heard back from ONE who said it wasn’t what they were looking for but someone else would absolutely love it. I’m thankful for that ONE agent as she convinced me to keep pushing this manuscript, and I started just sending queries to publishers that were looking for unsolicited manus. I never did need an agent, in the end, a wonderful Canadian publisher took me on without the help of an agent.

4. I thought I was writing a piece of crap about 60 percent of the time. I’m glad I listened to how I felt about the work the other 40 percent of the time – and I’m grateful to those who read it in its early stages and insisted I keep going.

3. We’re all just winging it. Every one of us.

2. I believe in magic.

1. I’d like Hugh Jackman cast as Gene, the genie. Who wouldn’t?!

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Okay, maybe WITHOUT the turban and genie pants! But imagine Hugh as Gene in the tuxedo? Mmm.