On Sunday, the Ottawa Romance Writers' Association had a wonderful workshop from best-selling author Deborah Cooke (who also writes as Claire Delacroix). She went over the publishing side of the industry, explaining the business part of writing.
There was a lot to think about from her presentation. She went through the royalty rates from the various publishing options. Assuming a debut book sells 15 000 copies (which is not atypical), then the author's royalties from a traditional publisher will probably be around $5000 (assuming a $ 6.99 cover price) but could be $ 10 5000 if she self-publishes and sells it at $ 0.99 online.
Now the down side is while there is only minimal support from a traditional publisher, there is absolutely no support when self-publishing. Marketing, cover, promotion ... it's all on the author. And there's less of a chance of going into a Chapters and seeing your books on the shelf.
She certainly gave me a lot to think about. She was full of great advice about branding, cover marketing and contract points.
One of her best pieces of advice was to define success for yourself with these three questions:
1) What are your goals as a writer?
2) What is your definition of success?
3) What is the tangible measure of your success?
And here are my answers:
1) My goals:
To write well-written, interesting stories.
To have well-put-together consistent series.
To be able to earn my living writing.
2) My definition of success would be if I had a good proportion of positive reviews from readers and a regular income.
3) I would know I was successful if I earned more than $ 4000 a month from writing and if 60% + of my readers liked my work and came back for more.