Friday, March 2, 2012

Supporting Indie Authors, Part 4: Donate to the Author's Other Endeavors

When we talk about supporting indie authors, we need to keep in mind a truth that affects all writers, indie or not: Many writers do not make a living full-time off their books. A majority of authors have to have their fingers in quite a few things, besides the actual books they write, in order to make a living.

Hey, whatever works to make a living, right?
Courtesy of Google Images/blogs.babble.com
The reason for this is simple: Entertainment gets old fast. And it doesn't continually generate income through the same stream. Let me give you a specific example.

Once I buy The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, I won't be buying that book again. I've spent my eight bucks on it, and I'm done. Now, I may buy a sequel to that book, or a new book by Mr. Weeks because I liked The Way of Shadows so much. But my point is that once I invest in The Way of Shadows, I am almost guaranteed to never invest in that specific book again. Brent Weeks will not get more than eight bucks out of me for that particular book, and if he wants more than eight bucks for that particular book, he needs to find another reader for it.

Now, Mr. Weeks is doing pretty well with that book and his others, but there are countless 99-centsers out there in the same boat. (Or $1.99 or $2.99 authors. But you get my point.) When I buy their book and give them my dollar or three, I'm done. For authors with a smaller audience, or a non-mainstream audience if I can phrase it that way, alternate streams of income are essential to financial survival.

In fact, I believe this is one reason why there are a lot of people out there writing erotica as a side business. I'm not endorsing it, but I can't ignore that it pays well. It's a viable income stream if you're so inclined to go that route. And there are so many other streams besides book publishing that writers use to gain money. They do consultations. They offer editing and proofreading services. They give seminars. They teach. They podcast.

Have you considered stopping by the website of the indie authors you enjoy to see what they offer in terms of other items, besides books? Howard Tayler, author the web comic Schlock Mercenary, has said that the bulk of his finances comes through the hard copy compilations of his comics, but he offers things like T-shirts too, because that's a viable stream of income for him. People want them, so he sells them.

Lots of authors use alternative streams to raise funds. Michael Stackpole, author of I, Jedi and other novels, hosts a podcast on writing with fellow author Michael Mennenga, called Dragon Page, Cover to Cover. If you visit the website, you'll see a sizable link at the bottom right, inviting your support. You see, the two Mikes give great advice to fellow writers, the kind of advice that they could charge for, but don't. Yet if their advice is worth it (and I think it is), then it's worth donating to the podcast.

For that matter, if you're a fan of these writers, why not support the podcast when you can, out of fandom? Yes, I'm talking about supporting them even if you're not looking for writing advice. This probably stretches your thinking. But here's where I'm coming from: If writers need support to write their next novel (which you'd probably like to buy), then why not help them out by donating to their podcast or buying a T-shirt? It all works together to get those indie novels out into the public. And in many cases, what you'd be giving or purchasing costs equal to or even less than a hardcover book. It's an affordable solution I'm suggesting.

Anyway, these are just more thoughts on how to go out of the box on supporting our indie author friends. Do you have any other ideas for nontraditional support? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

For part 1: Supporting Indie Authors, go here.
For part 2: Smaller Equals More Effort, Not Less, go here.
For part 3: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, go here.

Copyright (c) 2012 by M.A. Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

3 comments:

  1. This is such a cool series that you're doing here. I don't have any other ideas. I think you've covered it well. I just know that when I find someone that I think is worth hearing about, I tend to step out onto a soapbox and shout it to the masses.
    Have a great weekend.

    -Jimmy
    http://jamesgarciajr.blogspot.com/

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  2. I think this is something very important that you've touched on and I'm glad to see a blog addressing this very issue. Books alone rarely do it for the income. Even though I don't have anything published, I'm already beginning to take a look at this. There are three main projects I'm working on right now. One is a children's book that I'm trying to take the traditional route on. (If I see it on shelves in the next 5 years, I will consider that a huge amount of luck, because traditional, even when accepted, takes SO LONG). My other two projects are poetry anthologies. Those don't exactly fly off the shelf. But I still feel compelled to write them so I will. The point being, I know I will never become self-sufficient off of any of these projects (or even all three combined), and having the support of people on other potential projects is crucial. Thanks for talking about this!

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  3. Thanks, Jimmy and Lissa. I'm so glad you're liking this series!

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