How to Make Money In Publishing


I like to watch. Huh? Get your mind out of the gutter; that was last week’s topic.  No, I mean I like to observe. For someone who self-admittedly is a motor mouth, I’m actually quite quiet. I’m usually alone, making things, taking care of my dogs or my plants. Sometimes, I even get to write.

georgeknows333x500-1Having ‘George Knows’ published in paper in May is an interesting learning experience. He’s not with one of the “Big Six”, (are there still six?), I don’t have a fancy agent, and I’m not making much money. Still, I am making more than people who don’t submit. Starbucks is certainly happy with that.

 So, what’s with the title, you ask? Where’s the money? That’s where the watching comes in. In the last few years I’ve watched a lot of cons (not writer’s Cons, but scheming cons) go down. There are publicity companies that will set up a blog tour for you, for a price. The only problem is the blogs often have a tiny readership and while the PR firm is doing what you hired them to do, they aren’t going to help gain you many new readers. The PR team makes money, while the authors with smaller publishers and indies don’t understand why their sales aren’t going up. Without research into the blogs (which would be done by a good PR firm), PR can be like traveling through a thorny hedge maze with no way out.

Then there are the contests (literary contests). Put up thirty, seventy-five, three hundred bucks, and you can win pretty stickers in bronze, silver, or gold. Ooooh. Unfortunately, they don’t mean anything. I mean, if you need a bronze, silver, or gold sticker, I’d gladly make them for you. There are some excellent contests, and most of them don’t cost anything, or very much, to enter. And some of those contests can make a difference in sales. ‘George Knows’ won the Predators and Editors reader’s choice best children’s book award. My sales spiked considerably and it cost me nothing. The thing is, to know the difference between the bad contests and the good ones.

 The last thing I’ve watched where writers’ money is concerned are the thinly-veiled vanity presses. Some friends of mine are thrilled–a small press accepted all their books. I’m very interested in watching how this is going to play out. While the leader of the writer’s workshop I used to attend is defending the publisher, it’s hard to understand why. Predators and Editors are very negative about them. I couldn’t find anything positive anywhere on the web, or even on the publisher’s website. It does look good, though, for the workshop leader to have a lot of students get published, I guess. But who wins when the publisher puts out two hundred page books in hardcover for $20.00 with a guarantee of minor editing? 

At least the author gets a discount on their books. Yeah. That’s it.

I really hope that things work out for the writers who didn’t do their research. After all, the last complaints were last September. Maybe things are better.

In the end, it’s the old buyer beware. I went in to this business knowing what I was doing. My publisher is tiny, she offer some promo, has two editors go over each book, and has several cover artists. Her overhead is negligible, but she’s fair to her authors. It’s effectively an author mill, but a bit more upscale. I have no complaints.

In time for ConCarolinas, ‘George Knows’ is coming out in paper. It’s not something my editor does with most of the books that she publishes, only the books whose writers get involved with marketing–the books that sell in e-book form first. How did I do it? Since a certain sneaky bestselling author turned my dining room and Starbuck’s into a warehouse/office, and I discovered that one of the Beast Claws (Faith Hunter’s street team) is a half hour away and works in marketing, I have had the advantage of getting the word out. Plus, I made a fantastic friend in Audrey Salick, who has a well-known blog and is an incredible partner. She does the boring stuff. I get to make book thongs.

So where is the money? It appears to be mainly in satellite activities. However, if you have a bit of discretionary cash, and know a Tween who likes dogs and urban fantasy, ‘George Knows’ is a lovely little book with an environmental message, as well as other hidden agendas. George is more than willing to share.

Mindy PicThanks for my spot this month! I have no idea what I wrote, but it was fun to think about.

 BIO: I’ve worked in a hazardous waste lab, where under the sign for the Right To Know Act, was added: ‘If you can figure it out’. I’ve been a metals tech, a bakery clerk, a professional gardener, taught human anatomy and ran two university greenhouses. Along the way I picked up my Master’s Degree in Biology, specializing in the population genetics of an endangered plant. I am also a top breeder, handler, and trainer of English springer spaniels under the prefix Muddy Paws. Every time I think I understand dogs, another one comes along and proves all my beliefs are totally wrong. Then I was gypped and ended up with a tubby, egotistical, magical basset as a muse. It’s a good thing my husband, the Tall Dude, has a real job, and makes great unpaid kennel help. I’m also a member of the SCBWI, since they seem happy to take my money.

 Find me on Facebook (…) and George at Basset Bones. (


13 comments to How to Make Money In Publishing

  • Congratulations on the publishing! Large or small, it is a big day for any writer. Thanks also for the helpful advice on the hurdles we unpubs will run into on our journey.

  • mudepoz

    It’s an interesting learning curve.
    I think I’m going to not tell Audrey about this post. She will immediately gravitate to the stray comma and the missing s. Her attention to detail is why she makes an excellent partner. I get to concentrate on other things. I’m not sure what those other things are, yet, but I’m sure I must do something.

  • sagablessed

    Wait. We’re supposed to make money at this? 😀
    You done did it, Mud. You iz a published author. Waiting for next book. Is it done yet? How about now? Much longer?

  • mudepoz

    As soon as I transcribe the last two pages from my spiral bound, Tillie’s second draft is done. It’s sillier than George Knows. George Knows, Tillie’s Tale, and Phoebe’s Pause. I see a trend for my Nancy Drools line.

  • “Don’t gamble. Take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it until it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it.”
    —Will Rogers

  • “Money flows toward the writer, never away.” I try to say this at every panel I ever do, so that maybe someone hears it and doesn’t get caught in the trap.

  • mudepoz

    I do need to recant something. It wasn’t a 20 page hardcover. It’s a 16 page softcover for 13.95. In the interest of accuracy.

  • Yeah, I got with a publisher that is small press/epress with a boilerplate contract that basically asks for the kitchen sink (Faith knows this one). I wasn’t as concerned with my novella, but I’ve asked for half of the sink back on my novel and so far I haven’t heard back. Been over 2 months. I’ll give them till May 12 (that’ll be 3 months) and then send an email that I’m backing out of the deal. I just have too much invested in the novel to give away all my rights, agent or no, and I think what I asked for is completely reasonable. I’ll figure something else out for the novel, even if I have to go it alone. I still have some connections local for cover art, promotion, and even merch and possibly graphic novel and animation. Central Ohio has a pretty large art community and I know a bunch of people.

  • mudepoz

    In the end, it’s like all things. Cave Canem. Or is that buyer beware? Where ever there is money to be made, people will find it, whether it is legitimate, illegitimate, or skirting the edges. Take home from this, we’re all back in school, doing homework.

  • Like Faith said, money flows toward – not away from – the writer. It’s simple economics. We, the writers, are the base suppliers. Without the words we work so hard to produce, there is no product for the agent, editor, publisher, book-seller, etc. to claim their portion.

    Unlike all other products, however, we wordsmiths want our product “out there,” more than wanting to be dirty, money-grubbing capitalists. And, unfortunately, the folks between us and our consumers (readers) are well aware of that and more than willing to take advantage.

    I don’t disagree with the concept of wanting our words out there in the big wide world – a few of mine are out there somewhere. I just don’t want to give them away. We sometimes call them our babies – but in all honesty, there were a few times I’d’ve paid someone to take one of my kids (all you parents out there know of those times I mean), but pay for someone to take one of my stories? NEVER! 🙂

  • Another waste of money are the PR wires that blast your press release out to hundreds if not thousands of editors via email. That’s the equivalent of junk mail. Those releases are never opened. No reviewer uses them to “discover” books. Please don’t be fooled. The way to do PR that works is to TALK to a live human being at a publication that matches you in some concrete way, like your story takes place there or you grew up there or they specialize in reviewing the kind of book you’ve written, and to ASK the editor/reviewer what their policy is about sending them press releases about books like yours.

  • mudepoz

    Thank you! I can add that to my list. My learning curve gets steeper and steeper!

  • By the way, evidently the little’n’s favorite line so far is, “I don’t eat wood…anymore.” She’s been quoting it over and over. 😀 I asked her if she wanted to do a review and she said yes. So as soon as we get it done (my throat’s been dodgy lately), you’ll have a review from a 7 year old. And I’ll give one too. 😉