Author Earnings, Book Marketing, and the Evasiveness of True North

I was pittering through Amazon looking at various book rankings and I came across a list of top 100 fantasy titles right around the time that Diana Gabaldon’s novel series, Outlander, began to air on the Starz network. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that books she wrote occupied more than a quarter of the list. Not that she even has 25 books to her name, but there were different editions, boxed sets, a graphic novel version, etc.

There is no question she is making a Smaug-sized horde of bank.

Author Earnings

Yours truly (on the right) with Diana Gabaldon (center) and fellow author, Dharma Kelleher.

A little later I had an opportunity to meet Gabaldon at the Poisoned Pen Book Store in Scottsdale, Arizona, and was happy to discover that she is an extremely friendly and approachable person.

But there are many excellent writers who never make it big, and it is easy to forget that even with a good idea and strong writing, Gabaldon was fortunate to strike gold. It is also easy to forget that she hit this latest high after a writing career that is nearing its 30th year.

When I first started on the novel that became Conjurers, my goal was to put one tangible, positive thing into the world that other people would enjoy. Daily news reports are full of sad, soul-crushing news, and I thought I would light a candle, however humble and shivery-small it might be. I think if you can say you’ve done that once, in whatever medium of good intention you choose, then you are doing well.

However, as a traveler in this whiteout blizzard of communication that is the internet, the very greatest challenge to my writing is keeping the compass fixed on True North. I’ve discovered I have a predilection for getting sucked into literary jackpot fantasies and marketing how-to’s. True thing. And these types of post and article are legion. You can find author earnings reports on the web that make for fascinating reads, as well as endless articles on how to target, parse, and market to potential readers—the ubiquitous Top Ten Ways to Blah-Blah-Blah.

I know authors must think like small business owners–authorpreneurs. Unfortunately, every time I do that I lose sight of why I chose to write in the first place. Then my writing suffers. What gives it a unique passion and animation sloughs off. That’s when I have to pause and hit the reset button.

  • This was a great post – straight from the heart. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when you’re buried under all the marketing/promotional goals. It does seem, though, that the advice always starts with “write a great book.” You’ve done that. And you’ll do it again. Can’t wait for your work to be available for purchase!

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