On Writing, Publishing and Blogging

Writing, for me, has never been about profit. When I started writing back at the turn of the millennium, the only way to get what you’d written read by other people was to give it away for free on the old Usenet (remember that?). The Usenet was replaced by story websites like Literotica or StoriesOnline, but the stories were still given away for free. Or try and get published with, you know, a ‘real’ publisher. Go through that whole process of sending your work away to be rejected, I mean evaluated and if you were very, very lucky, they’d buy your rights from you, take control of your soul and pay you a tiny royalty percentage.

Then Amazon changed the market for ‘amateur’ writing. Their Kindle put e-books into the hands of many, many more people – people for who it was not unusual to pay for the content. And Amazon then made it easy for “amateurs” to get their content onto those Kindles and make a bit of money from it. Of course, there was a slice of the pie for Amazon too, obviously – that’s why they did it.

So now we have an interesting situation for us “amateur” writers. Because we don’t need to sell our rights to any given book (or our soul) to a publisher, and instead retain those rights ourselves, we can pretty much do things how we like. We can still give away our stories on sites like StoriesOnline but we can also sell them through KDP and Smashwords at the same time. Why? The audiences are different, that’s why.

What do I mean by that? Well, most of the people who would read your work on StoriesOnline, wouldn’t pay for the story if they didn’t have access to it as part of their membership. That’s the same sort of principle as the newer book subscription services that are popping up like Scribd and OysterBooks. But at the same time, the people who have easy access to your books on their Kindle, iPad or Nook, would never go looking somewhere like StoriesOnline just because they could get it for free. It’s just as easy to pay a couple of quid and get it delivered right to their device in “One Click”.

See what I mean? Two different audiences, each as valid as the other.

The interesting thing is, if I did use both these channels to get my writing ‘out there’ chances are I’d get more readers on StoriesOnline, but make no money from them, whereas I’d earn some nice pocket money from Amazon & Smashwords but from far fewer readers.

And so far, that’s all it’s been. Pocket money. A few extra quid to buy some cool toys for me or a present for the wife or kids. No, if I wanted to, say, give up the day job and write full time, I’d have to sell a lot more copies than I currently do. Let’s do some maths shall we?

Royalty payments from KDP for a 99c short story are 35c. That’s about 20p in real money. So I’d need to shift somewhere in the region of ten thousand a month to be able to pay the mortgage and feed the kids etc.

Those slightly longer stories at $1.99? They net me about 70c or about 40p. So I’d only need to sell 5000 of them. Every month.

The novels are a bit better. From the $4.99 they sell for, I get £3.45 – or about £2. So that’ll just be a thousand copies a month then. Easy, right?

Well, let’s just say I’m some distance off those numbers.

But, like I said at the start, I’m not in this for the money. Never have been. I do it because I love to write and it helps me relax at the end of a hard day. I love to create characters and I love to tell stories.

But I also love to rant and to vent. I love to write about all the frustrations of daily life. I love to get this stuff out of my system. And that is something I haven’t done for a while. Look back through some of the posts of my old Blogger blog and you’ll find a lot of entries that are just about everyday life. When I imported those to this website, I dumped a lot of them. Not all, but a lot. Instead, I decided to make more of writing focused website. More ‘professional’ if you like.

And to some extent that has been a bit frustrating in itself. I do enjoy letting off steam. It’s one of the reasons I write. But I didn’t want to alienate any potential readers (or should that be customers these days?). So all the potentially controversial stuff got pushed aside.

That’s about to change though. Here’s what I’ve decided to do.

  • will remain a website focused on my writing. I’m going to clear out any posts that are not writing related from the blog.
  • will remain an archive of my ‘old’ blog and not be updated. I will however, update the style to look more like and remove “From Across the Pond” from the title.
  • “From Across the Pond” will return. Most likely at Blogspot, but maybe at WordPress – I haven’t decided yet. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. This will be a more personal blog – focused on the goings on in my life – albeit as anonymously as I can do it. That is to say that all names will be omitted or changes to protect the guilty.
  • A new blog called “Middle-aged and Grumpy” will come into being. This is be my ‘moaning’ blog. My chance to vent and get everything off my chest that annoys me about modern life, the media, world events and the media. Yes, I said the media twice – they annoy me twice as much as anything else.

Will this work, splitting off my blogging efforts like this? We shall have to see. But there’s no harm in giving it a go if it gives me a chance to vent. And we all need that, don’t we?

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