Monthly Archives: January 2013

$ Fact or Fiction

Today, I want to introduce you all to a fellow author, Sheryl Hoyt (aka Saralynn Hoyt). Sheryl writes historical and contemporary romance and has recently been featured in Time Magazine! How cool is that?

She’s going to talk a bit about the money side of Indie publishing and how it differs from being enslaved traditionally published. Take it away, Sheryl!


Thanks, Shannon! Recently, I was featured in an article in the 12/10/12 issue of Time Magazine, entitled “The 99¢ Best Seller” where journalist Andrew Rice wrote about my self-publishing journey.

In the article, Andrew talks a lot about the money side of the Indie publishing equation. What he didn’t talk about was how it differs from traditional publishing, but I think it bears mentioning.

Sure traditional publishing has its perks; like the editors and cover art are free and you can feel pretty confident that your mass media book will show up on some bookstore shelves or maybe even at Wal-Mart or the grocery store.

So how much can you expect to pocket while the publisher takes on these costs? The authors I know who have shared this information with me say for a first time romance author, it’s usually under $3000 for their first book, if they get an advance at all. Lately, it’s common practice to not get an advance, but receive a higher percentage of sales. If you do get the $1500-$3000 advance, you might expect a 6-8% cut of sales as your royalty. For an established author, who can count on their books being on bookshelves for a long time, this works out to some residual income. For new authors, whose books have a very short shelf life, sometimes only a few weeks to a few months, they may never advance out (sell enough books to pay off the advance).

My good friend and critique partner Deborah Schneider, sold her first book in 2001, and with stars in her eyes she dreamt of future sales with the same publisher.  That dream never materialized. Instead Deb spent her whole advance on her own promotion, because although the publisher did pay for the edits and cover art, they did not do any promotion for this new author. To make matters worse, Deb never saw a royalty payment. It took her nearly ten years to sell another book— no more stars in her eyes. This is a tough business for authors to make a profit in until Indie publishing and Ereaders came along.

The difference being, your book is on sale forever now, or as long as you want it to be. You know exactly how many books you sell every day. Traditional publishers make sure that you never find out exactly how many books you’ve sold, so you will probably never know if your royalty statement is right. Another key difference is as an Indie published author, you make between 35-70% of your sales price. Which means on an $8 dollar book (the lowest standard price for a paperback) a traditionally published author earns 8% or .64¢ per book sale. But an Indie author can sell their book for $3.99 (half the price of a paperback) and earn between $1.40 to $2.80 a copy. Not too difficult to figure out which one is more beneficial to the author.

Sure there are NY Times bestselling authors making huge multi-million dollar advances and being treated like kings and queens by their publishers. But for every one of those there are thousands who are not. It’s no different from any other entertainment professional. You have your ‘A’ list authors, musicians and actors. Then there are the rest of us, the extras and the wannabes. The difference being that writing books takes time—a lot of time—and readers read faster than writers can write. In order to feed those readers appetites, they need to have more choices. And the gatekeepers—the publishing houses—have unfortunately, tried to monitor this production by only being interested in the next JK Rowling, the next Hunger Games, the next—fill in blank of the latest hottest book. This creates a vacuum whereby the reader is simply reading a different version of the same books over and over.

I say let the reader decide what is a good book and a good read. Maybe they want something different? Like my historical romances that aren’t regencies? Dangerous Heart is set in 1838 Philadelphia, Heaven Made is an Edwardian paranormal and The Scoundrel and the Saint a twist on a western. I say it shouldn’t be up to a few underpaid assistant editors to find and publish a handful of books that may or may not keep the readers buying.

I say, “Amen, sister!” Let the readers be the gatekeepers. What do you think?

Follow Sheryl on Facebook & Twitter!

A Night at the Circus

We took our twins to the circus for their seventh birthday. It was all of our first time at a real Barnum and Bailey “Greatest Show on Earth” experience. I was excited. We were going to introduce the boys to the magic and mystery of humans conquering gravity, fear and doing the impossible. They were going to gain a love and awareness of animals. They were going to giggle at these animals doing tricks. Tigers sitting on chairs, waiting to amaze us with how domesticated they could be. Poodles dancing with each other. Horses twirling in sync. Elephants…

Yeah. The elephants.

Here’s where the spell was broken for me.

As the dozen or so large gray bodies filled the arena, a wave of sadness hit me. It hit me so hard, I was suddenly blinking back tears. Sorrow. That’s what I was feeling and then panic, because I had no idea where it was coming from or how I was going to keep from scaring the kids around me by breaking down. I held my breath and concentrated on the steel scaffolding and lights above me. When I got the tears under control, I worked on breathing through the suffocating, oppressive emotion. I told myself to feel it and let it go because this is what I’ve been practicing.

It helped. It helped me look at the elephants again. We were in the front, so I could see right into one big brown eye. I made myself keep looking. Made myself see. See the gentle soul within that massive body. My heart broke for him. I promised him and myself that I would research their living conditions. That if there was something I could do to change their lot in life, I would do it.

I enjoyed other parts of the circus. Watching the humans, who had a choice, perform mind-boggling acts of strength and grace. I enjoyed the boys’ wide-eyed innocence as they watched the daring tight-rope walkers, the clown on ten foot stilts, a girl shot out of a cannon and the acrobatics that rivaled the Olympics.

Girl being shot from a cannon

And I’m glad that I experienced something else. I’m not quite sure what it was, really. I’m not even saying the elephants don’t live a great life full of peanuts and massages. But the pain was real and it wasn’t mine. Until that night.

“Having no idea is the doorway to realization.” Karen Maezen Miller 

I’ve only begun to look into their story so I can’t claim to know any facts. But if this is something that speaks to you and you’d like to help you can sign this petition. I don’t know if it will make any difference but it’s a step through the door.

How do you feel about animals in the circus? Have you ever experienced anything like this? Please share.