The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Fifty-Five
Happy Monday to You All
I went swimming last night and then I fed the baby goats. Welcome to my world!
The thing is, I love my life. When I’m not writing, a pastime that I cherish, I’m taking care of my farm critters, a pastime that I cherish. If there’s a negative in my life I’m not aware of it, and how many people can say that?
So now I get to do something else I love doing….answering your questions to the best of my ability, and we’ll start this Mailbag off with a question from Babbi.
From Babbi: “Catching up. Another great installment Bill. Thanks!! Here are a few related questions. They may bring up more than questions than solutions. How successful or unsuccessful are collaborative non-fiction works versus novels? On the surface, non-fiction seems easier than a novel. You can just divide up the work according to expertise and put it all together. A novel, well is a bit more complicated. Can a friendship whether the ups and downs of working together on a novel? Considering the different strengths brought to the table, might it be worth it?”
Babbi, this may be out of my realm of expertise if, in fact, I actually have any expertise. J I’ve read countless non-fiction books that were collaborative efforts and honestly I couldn’t tell that more than one writer worked on them. They were that effortless in appearance. What you said about them makes sense to me. I would think it’s just a matter of division of labor according to knowledge, and put it all together into a book that is cohesive.
On the other hand, a collaborative effort in fiction seems like next to impossible to me, but I’ve seen quite a few of them done well, so obviously it can be done. Speaking just for me, I would have a tough time giving up control on part of a novel.
There are a couple of husband/wife teams that write novel after novel and sell well, so those people don’t suffer from the problems of control or if they do, they manage to work it out.
Blah, blah and more blah…bottom line is that it obviously can be done but I don’t think I could do it.
Gilbert's video on inspiration
From Buildreps: “I watched the video of Elizabeth Gilbert, which is really awesome. Then I have a question for you, Bill. Do you also think that your inspirational being is controlled by a distant spirit, like Elizabeth Gilbert believes? Thanks:)”
Buildreps, you’re venturing into the realm of the “other world” which I rarely talk about. Let me say this: I don’t think we, as humans, have even scratched the surface in our understanding of all the forces at work in our existence. Or to put it another way, I don’t think man has a clue about life. Do I believe there is a spirit world? I am more inclined to say yes than no. If man is the highest form of life in this universe then we are all in trouble. J
Speaking just for myself, I can say without hesitation that I never considered myself to be a creative person until about five years ago and then my creativity just appeared. That moment coincided with my acceptance of life and my willingness to open my mind to all possibilities. Was that a spiritual transformation? I believe it was. Today I believe I’m a spiritual being having a human experience, so if I’m a spirit then there hopefully there are others out there. J
From Ann: “A question regarding hubpages: What do you think about telling the writer which way you vote on a hub? I always vote but I don't always say how I voted or even if I voted at all. To me, it's not necessary and the only time I mention it is if I feel it's relevant to the hub or if it's touched me in some outstanding way. What do you think?”
Hi Ann! Thanks for a question I’ve asked myself from time to time. I’ve never done it. Like you I don’t see the sense in it. My comment always tells the writer what I thought of their article and their writing, so I don’t understand why I also need to tell them which votes I cast. I do cast those votes but I think they’re a bit silly. All they do is affect the hub score and I really think hub scores are ridiculous, so what does it matter?
To summarize: in three-and-a-half years, I have never….never….looked at the voting total on any of my over-1000 hubs. I simply don’t care how many “interesting” or “helpful” or “awesome” votes have been cast. Leave me a comment and it will mean much more to me, because a comment is a human connection and I’m all about human connections.
From Mary: “Great installment as always. I do love the way you answer the questions. Now I have one you may or may not want to use. I'm looking into self-publishing my children's book and I'm floored by the amount of royalties. For example, a book that sells for $8.99 nets the author $1.56. Is that right? Guess you have to sell a lot of books!”
Mary, I don’t have the Amazon payment schedule in front of me, but I’m fairly certain you are close in your statement. The percentages change depending on what you charge for your book but yes, you have to sell quite a few books to make any sort of money at all.
The other route to consider is to have hard copies printed by CreateSpace. The last time I did that the cost to me was around $6.80 per book and my book sold retail at $11.95. I think you’ll agree that is a much better profit margin….but…to make any money that way, you would have to market your book like crazy. Hold book signings, book readings, etc.
So it all boils down to what you are comfortable doing, I guess.
Publishers and Agents
From Peter: “I have a friend who recently acquired a publisher, and she was surprised when the publisher told her she needed to increase her online presence and increase her efforts with local book signings and book readings. It sounded to me like the publisher was asking my friend to do all the work. What’s the point in having a publisher or agent if the writer is still expected to do the marketing?”
Well, Peter, welcome to the publishing world of 2015. Times they are a’changin’.
I think there are two levels of writers out there. There are the established giants like King, Patterson, Burke, etc, and I would imagine that most of the marketing for their books is handled by the publishers and their agents. Just a guess on my part.
Then there are the other 99% of authors who get “published” by a traditional publisher. For them, the majority of a marketing campaign is still up to them to do.
There was a day, not too long ago, when an author would receive a cash advance on a novel, an advance in the tens of thousands of dollars, and then the publisher would devise a marketing campaign and they would go from there. Today, that cash advance might be a couple thousand, and the author is expected to spearhead the marketing campaign.
That’s just the way it is, my friend.
I Guess That’s It for This Week
I was going to squeeze one more question in but I didn’t have one. LOL You’ll have to be satisfied with an abbreviated Mailbag this week. If you want it longer next week then for goodness sake, ask a question.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the goats want some grain and I’m the Chief Grain-Provider.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”