Thursday, December 2, 2010

Love and Money

The start of a new month always involves some extra work for me. I have commitments as a reviewer and newsletter author that make the first few days a bit rough. Still, I've started to look forward to the transition, because my primary publisher Total-E-Bound sends out their royalty statements, like clockwork, on the first of the month. I open the email from their administrative assistant with mixed excitement and trepidation. Were my sales up or down? How many copies did I sell of my new release? And of course, how much money did I make?

My sales have been trending gradually upwards over the past year. This month (which covered October), though, they dipped significantly, compared to my last statement (which covered September). Disappointment hung on me all day, even though I don't support myself through my writing, and even though I know that third party outlets (like Amazon, B & N, All Romance Ebooks, and so on) normally report and pay quarterly, and that this distorts the numbers.

I was distressed by my own reaction. When did money become so important to me? I began writing for love, for fun. My first novel was almost a lark, a challenge to myself - "I'll bet I can write a sexy novel for Black Lace." Now, it seems, writing has become a business.

Of course, that's the advice I give less experienced authors: remember that your writing is a business. You have to act professional. You need to keep track of your revenues and expenses. You should plan your submissions to maximize your exposure and yes, your financial returns. You can't wait for inspiration; you've got to write even when you don't really feel like it.

I follow these maxims myself, or try to, and seem to be seeing some modest results. Yet now, I feel like a hack. I write because I want to see the numbers climb. Some of the joy has vanished. Although there are still those glorious times when I'm in the groove and the words just flow out onto the paper, they seem to come less often. I spend my time worrying about blog posts and advertising, website updates and deadlines.

I said I don't support myself by writing, but the money I do make is a welcome supplement to my fairly modest income. Sometimes, I wonder, though, if the money is tarnishing the whole endeavor. Am I just prostituting myself? Am I smothering my artistic sensibilities, choosing to write based on what the market seems to demand?

I'd love to hear from other authors about this -- especially those of you who do write full time and count your royalties as your primary income. When money is involved, how do you keep the love alive?

Reminder: If you visited Beyond Romance during my Guest-a-thon, check my Tuesday post to see if you were a winner. If you are, I need you to send me your snail mail address (PLEASE don't post it on the blog!!)

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