I’ve gotten a few inquiries over the last couple months about writing a book in the Montana Collection. For those unfamiliar with this series, the books in it are Mitch’s Win, Boaz’s Wager, and Patty’s Gamble. The book would be a fourth one in the series, and it would be titled Shane’s Deal.
I’ve also gotten questions about more books in the Wild Hearts Series. The first book is The Stagecoach Bride (a co-authored book with Stephannie Beman).
The purpose of this post:
The purpose of this post is to explain what an author has to consider when deciding which book will be written next.
And yes, it really does come down to money.
Alright, so the best way I can explain this is that money plays a very big factor in what book will get written next. I know there’s the “writing for the sake of art” argument, but authors don’t live off of the “art” sentiment. They don’t pay their bills, feed their families, or pay taxes if they write books that don’t sell well. Writing is a business, but it’s a business most writers love doing.
I love writing. I don’t invest my time in a book I’m not passionate about writing. BUT (and this is the key), I have to believe the book will yield enough sales in order to take the risk on writing it. There are a ton of ideas I have that will never see the light of day, and the reason for it is because I don’t believe they have the potential to help me pay for bills, buy food, pay taxes, etc. Remember, 47% of everything I make goes right out the door and into taxes (federal and state). So I have to make about double the amount I pay into taxes in order to support my family. When you’re pricing books at $0.99 and $2.99, this is not an easy task.
I’ve been keeping my prices low because I know a lot of people who are struggling. We are all on limited incomes. I can’t buy everything I want. I don’t personally know anyone else who buys everything they want, either. I have to watch my budget very carefully. In fact, I’ve decided not to attend the RT Convention in Las Vegas because I can’t afford it. I have also decided I won’t be going to any more conferences for the time being. They’re expensive, especially given the traveling, lodging, and food expenses. I clip coupons and I watch every dollar I spend. So yes, everyone is on a limited income. But I will save up and spend money for things I value, and yes, I do support authors I enjoy by buying their books. If I don’t vote with my dollar(s), how will that author know the book was a success and that I want more like it?
So here’s why some books get written and others don’t:
I have to write what I believe has the very best chance of selling. And that requires me to make some very hard decisions. These are decisions I don’t like, but I don’t believe in digging my head in the sand and pretending everything is going to butterflies and cute little puppies. I’m a realist.
The simple fact is, Shane’s Deal doesn’t have the potential I need in order to write it right now. The Montana Collection does okay. It’s not my best selling series. It’s not my worst either. So it’s on the “when I get to it” shelf.
I handed the Wild Heart Series over to Stephannie Beman because my co-authored projects don’t sell as well as those I write on my own. (This also includes the anthologies I’ve done with other authors.) Stephannie Beman said she’ll be happy to write the rest of the series, but (and this is important), she needs some monetary reasons to do so. So if you enjoy the book, please spread the word about it to people who’ll buy it so she’ll want to continue writing it. She can’t work for free any more than I can.
These are hard decisions to make:
I’m not trying to be mean by not following up with additional books in these series. The reality is that the sales on these books have not proven to me that there is enough of a demand for them. If someone is providing a product that isn’t making enough money to stay in business, that person is either going to provide a different product, raise the price, or give up.
I’m really trying as hard as I can to keep my price at $2.99 for new books. I’m not at the point where I’m going to quit writing at this point in time. Right now I’m doing everything I can to keep doing this because it’s what I love. But the day might come when I’ll have to raise the price to $3.99 or walk away from this and get another job. That’s just how things go. It’s how it goes for every author.
If you have a favorite author, here’s the best way to support him/her:
I’m making this pleas on behalf of all authors out there who work hard to produce a well-written, compelling story. Here are some things we really need if we’re going to keep writing the books you enjoy.
- Please show your support by buying their book.
- Spread the word to your friends and/or reading groups. Word of mouth is something we can’t do. You are the only person who has creditability with the people in your life to be able to say, “Hey, this book is worth buying.”
- Please don’t ask us for free books. The majority of us already have put up free books for you to read. If we’re not worth your money, then fine, don’t buy our books. Move on to an author who is worth your money. But don’t come to us hoping to get more free books from us.
Here’s why authors don’t believe the “I can’t afford it” line.
I once had someone on Facebook gush on and on about how much she loved my books, but since she was broke, she couldn’t afford to buy any of them. (Mine are priced at $0.99 and $2.99). Guess what? A month later, she made a post on her Facebook timeline about this incredible book she BOUGHT for $7.99. It was fiction. It was a historical romance. Just like the kind I write. But by a different author.
Another case in point: someone messaged me and said, “You’re my favorite author. I just love your work. But I’m on a limited income, and I can’t afford to buy Eye of the Beholder. Can you please, please, please gift it to me?” (Eye of the Beholder, by the way, is only $0.99.) About a week later, I see this person make a post about a brand new movie she PAID to see on a Friday night. And guys, I don’t have to tell you how expensive those movies are when they’re new in the theater, do I?
These are just two examples of the many I’ve personally witnessed since I got started in this business in 2009. And it’s not just me this happens to. I’ve heard of other examples from many other authors in a variety of groups (on Facebook, forums, in private emails, and in person at conferences). This is a widespread scam.
So I have a very hard time believing anyone who tells me they are too broke to buy a $0.99 or $2.99 book. And I suspect other authors have a hard time believing this as well. The truth is, you will buy something if you value it. As authors, we will only write the books that have enough “value” to people. So that’s why some books never get written.
I hope I didn’t come off as sounding rude in this post. That wasn’t my intent. My intent was to explain why authors need a financial reason to want to write the next book. If the money is there, we will write it. If not, we won’t. When there are a finite number of hours in the day, we can’t afford to waste our time on things that won’t yield the greatest financial result. It’s not rude. It’s just being realistic about how the business really works.