The Crime Readers' Association

Doing it for the love and (or) the money By P.J Nash (Paul Morris)

18th September 2015

So you’re a writer… that don’t impress me much… Well it does sometimes. Maybe on a cultural
level. I don’t overtly tell people I’m a writer. But when during a regular conversation with someone
I haven’t met, once we have gone past the fact I neither watch nor follow football. Or that I don’t watch much television, it usually comes up. Yes, I’ve written a couple of books and had them published. So far, so good. Then, depending upon the politeness of the individual come the inevitable questions. ‘How many books have you sold?’ and ‘How much money have you made?’
The former is valid, the latter somewhat less so.

I don’t mind saying I’ve only sold a few books, not thousands, not millions. It’s complicated keeping track of sales selling paperbacks from stalls at bookfairs and meanwhile having them online as ebooks on the inevitable behemoth that is Amazon. There are peaks and troughs and different figures from different countries. Likewise there is the critical policy of pricing with ebooks. You can put them on at a price that would give you a decent return. Or you can put them on for a penny and hope you shift a pile. This is not in the hope of making money but in the hope of gaining traction with a wide audience and attracting the kind of critical mass that turns your sideline into the big time. Much like publishing there are myriad choices to make. You would think that once a writer has finally gotten a ship shape manuscript the battle would be half won. But that’s far from the case

Many authors cast their manuscript on the waters of Kindle Self-Publishing. And like playing the lottery, ‘it could be you’. The internet is crammed with supposed gold rush stories of housewives who have sold millions of books and likewise made millions of pounds. However, the most likely outcome is that your book will linger in the depths of the internet and be found by no one or few.
The short step between finishing a books and self-publishing on Kindle has led to a veritable. tsunami of poorly written books, full of errors, typos and plot holes you can drive a juggernaut through. This is why professional writers’ bodies like the Crime Writers’ Association have tight rules on who can and can’t join, related to publishers and sales etc. Of course these rules are under review as the market changes.

On the flipside you have the unapproachable castle of the mainstream publishers who have pulled up their drawbridge and rely on their big name authors to ‘churn and earn’ for them. Look at J.K Rowling. Having conquered the world of chidrens’/young adult fiction, instead of sailing off gracefully on her yacht, has started bashing out adult fiction. In my opinion this is a branding exercise akin to Dr Dre and Beats headphones.
To be fair to the publisher the arrival of email and the internet for a while meant they were bombarded with thousands of unsolicited manuscripts. It’s far easier to click ‘Send’ on an email than printing off hundreds of pages, bundling them up and then paying a few pounds to post it. So my advice to new authors is to buy a copy of the Writer’s Year Book, do your research and catapult your
manuscript over the castle wall of the publisher.

What I’m actually more concerned about are reviews. So far my pair of books have had a great reception and knowing someone has been moved, laughed, cried or thought more deeply about things, then that’s the payback. Of course more money would be nice too…

PAUL MORRIS  who writes under the pen name P.J Nash was born in the English Midlands. He studied English and History at university and has worked in a number of jobs from construction labourer to proofreader and TEFL teacher.  He is the author of The Hunt for the Dingo (The James & Sandersen Files) a police thriller set in Australia. He is currently working on the follow up novel Dark Angel .

Twitter: @PJNashwriter


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