Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG - July

It's the first Wednesday in July, so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

This month's question is an interesting one:

There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

That's a pretty broad-reaching question, but I'll endeavor to answer it.  Obviously it's going to be couched in my own experiences so may not offer the solutions to the world's problems, just my own...

And right now, my biggest problem as an author is that it costs me money to have my books stocked in bookstores in my home country.  Because I have to buy my own paperbacks from Amazon, then have them shipped to New Zealand, then pay tax on them, each book ends up costing me over $20.  Then the bookstores need to make a profit so they take 15% of whatever they sell the book for - usually $25 -  which leaves me losing money on every book I sell in a store.  Not to mention $25 is pretty expensive for a YA paperback.

Readers want to be able to buy my books in stores.  They don't necessarily want to read e-books or have to order their own paperback copies from Amazon.  They want to be able to go into a store and browse and maybe discover my books on their own.  I want them to be able to do this.  Yet it makes no business sense for me to supply stores, even in my hometown.

I would love to see things become more flexible in the future.  Rather than small presses like mine having to rely on Amazon to supply their hard-copy books, it would be great if the load could be spread around.  If my books could be printed in New Zealand, the cost would be drastically reduced because I wouldn't be paying hundreds of dollars in duty and freight costs.  I would be able to buy my books in larger numbers to supply to stores.  Stores might even buy them directly if they knew they could sell them, saving me from having to do another round of shipping when I send the three or four copies each store wants to stock.

Instead, I tend to buy only 10 books at a time to avoid having to pay the extra tax you have to pay on packages valued over $200, which means I pay a lot more in freight because lots of smaller parcels costs more than one larger parcel.  I can't stock as many stores as I'd like to stock, and if the books sell out, it's often months before I can get them more.

And I still lose money on every hard-copy of my novels I sell.

Now, I don't write to make money.  I write because I love to write.  I write because I have stories I want to tell.  I write because sometimes it's the only way to make sense of the world.  Writing a novel takes a long time and it would be nice to be able to make at least a little bit from all those hours of work.  I've always subscribed to the "don't pay to play" theory which means I don't enter contests that ask for a fee to enter.  Yet now I find myself in the publishing business and it's very much pay to play.  

Pay for my own books.  Pay for my own advertising and marketing.  Pay for my own equipment and writing space.

When does it turn around?  When do I get paid?

What changes would you like to see happen in the industry?


  1. "When do I get paid?"

    It seems like entirely too many artists are having to ask this question these days. Some flexibility would be nice.

  2. It would be really nice if there was a better, more fair way for books to be shipped internationally. We'd probably have to get rid of Amazon to do that.

  3. It is really hard for indie authors and authors with small presses to get their books into stores. Then when you have to pay, that makes it even harder. I wish that would change, too.