Sit down, kids, it’s time for some honest talk about life, the universe, and publishing as we know it.
A couple weeks ago I posted about the fact that I was seriously considering not writing or publishing any more Heroes and Villains books. And, like you probably know because half the regular blog readers emailed me, that didn’t go over with my Lovelies and Villains very well. You want Book 4. And probably Book 5 and 6 so all the kids get a book. For this to happen there are two major hurdles to overcome.
- Heroes and Villains needs to be a financially viable project that will not leave me hundreds of dollars in debt.
- Maria/Strike is an actual villain, not an anti-hero, and her story requires the kind of huge redemption arc reserved exclusively for male heroes in Western Literature
The second problem is a writing one I can solve. Maria made bad choices, she’s a true villain, she will have to face the consequences of her choices and she’ll have to really have the full redemption arc. Plenty of male heroes have had the same arc over the years. It can be done.
The first problem is something that needs to be addressed as a group.
To date, EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE is my most-pirated book. That’s an awful thing to say and it’s kind of vague so let me break down the numbers for you.
5000 sales on opening week <– this is enough to hit the NYT Bestseller List
3000 copies <– the average number of sales per title over its entire life span on the shelf
300 copies per year <– the average sales for a traditionally published book
300 copies ever <– the average number of sales for an indie/small press book
800 copies per month <– the average number of pirated copies of EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE every month
For a book that retails around $3.99/ebook (earning $2.79 per copy before taxes… after tax that’s $1.40), the lifetime earnings of a book don’t cover expenses.
Cost of publishing a book:
Author time – 4 months at minimum wage of $7.25/hr – $4000
Developmental edits – $200 for a novella
Line Edits – $500 – $800 is standard
Cover Art – $300 is the low end of the artist I’ve used for the other Heroes & Villains books
Just creating a book and publishing it costs money up front. The bigger the press, the more editors and artists to pay, and the more that cost goes up. When 800 copies a month are stolen, that hits the bottom line hard. It means that the Heroes & Villains already-released books aren’t selling enough copies to cover the expense of writing and publishing the future books.
That’s the goal with writing. The first book will probably be published at a large loss, the second a smaller loss, by books three and four the author wants to be earning a steady income from advances or royalties. If those earlier books aren’t earning enough to cover the bills, the author has to find another job. Most authors do. Almost every author I know works a day job. Most authors do. Almost every author I know works a day job for exactly this reason. So if we want more Heroes & Villains books, this is the Major Hurdle we have to tackle.
This week, I’m setting up a Patreon account. You don’t have to sign up for years and years – there’s freedom to just sign up for a month or two and then drop. But if we want more Heroes & Villains books, this is the most viable way I can see to make it happen.
$200 per month will allow me 10 hrs of time to dedicate to writing super villains and superheroes.
$1 – Eternal Gratitude (and chapters of your favorite Villains!)
$2 – Copy of the final ebook in mobi, epub, and PDF (must back 3 chapters at this level)
$5 – Behind-the-scenes… plotting notes, deleted scenes, discussion of villain motivations – one extra post guaranteed per month – and you’ll get named in the acknowledgments at the back of the book.
$10 – Q & A posts …. ask questions and get answers for questions about writing, editing, life, the universe, and everything – 2 Q&A posts per month – plus all previous tiers
$20 – Print copy of the final book (signed and shipped internationally) plus all the previous tiers.
$100 – Stan Lee Cameo (hop in-hop out level) … most people do not have a few hundred to drop on an author every month, but for one chapter? Do that and I’ll sit down with you to design an original character that will have a cameo in the current book I’m posting. Become a minor superhero, a spy, a doctor, or just the fun side character running with an ice cream maker.
The goal will be to post 2 chapters per month from THE POLAR TERROR (the first few chapters will be open for everyone), HEROES AND VILLAINS 4, 5, and 6. And, if all goes well, THE POLAR TERROR will get additional stories set at the children’s hospital.
The Heroes and Villains stories are usually 40,000 words, which is about 80 hours of rough draft writing time + editing. It usually takes 9-12 months for these books to go from rough draft to final on-the-shelf version. The chapters will be lightly edited before going on Patreon (similar to BODIES IN MOTION during summer 2017). THE POLAR TERROR will probably be closer to the 20,000 word mark. Probably.
I know, asking for anything before you see a final, polished product is a leap of faith. I’m asking you to invest in me, my stories, my career. I’m asking you to take a chance on me.