Making Money, the Author-ly Way

This week the Debs are talking about the business of writing and earning money through writing.

My book, FEAST OF SORROW, launched this last Tuesday. I’m over the moon about it, as you can imagine. NPR Food interviewed me for their blog The Salt this last week and that sent books flying off the shelves and my Amazon ranking upward, breaking into the bestsellers for Italian historical fiction and biographical historical fiction and cracking the 500 mark in books overall (out of over 8 million!).

My father sent me a text yesterday asking if knew how sales were going. The answer is, I have no idea. It’s too early to really tell how many books have sold but there is a magical Simon & Schuster portal that will apparently let me see those numbers in a week or so. Still, even then it won’t really be accurate because people read books then return them (jerks!) and bookstores that order too many may send some back. Plus it takes awhile for bookstores to report their numbers. Even Amazon doesn’t really give me anything useful in the Author portal beyond the ranking…it seems I have to wait another week or so for those numbers as well.

I suspect that even then it will still be confusing.

When I tell people that I’m an author they think it’s so glamorous and that I’ll surely be rich and famous. Except that is so rarely the truth. In 2015 the Author’s Guild did a study that found that the majority of authors live at or below the poverty line. I read somewhere else that an author needs, on average, five books under their belt to create enough sustainable income to quit their day jobs.

Along those lines: IF I pay my advance back (I think I may luck out, whew), I won’t see my first paycheck until February 2018. Really.

Of course, there is always a great deal of fun in the daydream of writing in my own office/library every day, traveling for research and living part time in Italy (where I can still write) as it suits me. My husband daydreams about me making enough money so he too can quit his job and he could paint and sculpt. Of course we would live in a glamorous house and have fantastic adventures as we travel to various places in the world.

In that sense, we’re no different than anyone else daydreaming about their ideal world and their ideal life. It’s just that, perhaps, if I keep writing good books and I am fortunate enough for them to get a bit of attention (know any movie producers anyone?) maybe my dream is a little closer to coming true. It is a goal I’m willing to work hard toward making it a reality.

Regardless, I’m still having fun writing books–no amount of money will (or should) change that.


Author: Crystal King

Crystal King is a writer, culinary enthusiast and social media expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and an obsession with the food, language and culture of Italy. She has taught writing, creativity and social media at Grub Street and several universities including Harvard Extension School and Boston University. Crystal received her masters in critical and creative thinking from University of Massachusetts Boston. She lives with her husband and their two cats in the Boston area.