A recent piece by a writer who blew her book advances has sections of the internet in a predictable lather. Some people think she’s a silly, whiny bitch who should have had a good slap a few thousand dollars ago, others are a little more thoughtful. Some people have noted that being poor, as in can’t-make-the-rent-even-by-skipping-meals poor, for any length of time, messes with your brain to the extent that you will really struggle to budget or save – any extra cash is going to get spent at the speed of light.
I know I tend to throw money around when I get some extra in. Having now and again been tossed a decent chunk of change (sadly never from massive book sales, or someone bagging the film rights to one of my stories) I have invariably blown it in short order and gone straight back to flapping about my finances again.
Of course, some of the kicking that author got on social media probably stemmed from bitter envy: there are so many good, hardworking writers who couldn’t begin to dream of an advance in hundreds and thousands, and it’s probably likely that, if you are a self-publisher, you will have to spend a few thousand to regain a few hundred. (Which reminds me of my least-favourite trope about the erotica writer: every now and then some or other romance or chicklit novel features a sub-plot around the finances of the apparently-respectable girl who has made an embarrassingly large amount of money from writing softcore erotica only No One Must Know where the cash came from.)
Being an indie author can be expensive. Unless you have already built up a network of fellow self-pub enthusiasts – and even if you have – you need to shell out money on editing, cover design and probably some promo if you’re not going to disappear into the vast mass of new writers that no one ever gets to hear of. Your finances will be taking the hit for the first couple of books, maybe for the first couple of years, if not longer. But if you do end up with a hit on your hands, and the money rolls in, you may well end up spending like a pools winner by way of a weird bit of magical thinking – you’re in the money now so you can spend it like a winner… because that will take away the fear of ending up a loser.
Want to visit the bookshop before you go?