Friday, June 22, 2012

It's All About The Math

Dear Readers,

A lot of you are asking over and over for me to visit your area of the nation, and, trust me, I’d love that just as much, but I think it’s time for you all to know the cold hard facts of why I don’t (and why many of your favorite authors don’t travel as much as you’d like).

These days, there are fewer bookstores, and of those, few host signings, unless you are a New York Times Bestselling Author. But that aside, say a book store in Pennsylvania sets up a signing for me, and so does a store in Ohio, and so does one in upstate New York - I would have to take a week off from my job (which supports me) to attend those three signings, and that’s IF they put them in the same week, which usually does not happen. It will cost me $2,000+ in air fare, hotels, etc., and that cost will not be paid or subsidized by my publisher in any way. The big names have their book tours paid by their publisher, but not the mid-listers or those with smaller publishers.

Say I sell 10 books at each signing. (Signings are unpredictable – I can sell 80 or none, there is no way to tell, but most produce about 10-20 sales.) From those 30 total sales I will receive about $20 (maybe) in royalties, which will not be paid to me for over six months. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the imbalance between income and outgo. It's very simple math. This is why so many authors stick to signings not far from their home or do bigger events like conferences where they can meet many readers at once. It's also why many of us are so active online promoting our books.

Aside from finances, book tours also take time away from writing the books you love. I juggle writing a couple books, plus short stories, a year, with a full-time day job. If I’m on the road, I wouldn’t be able to write as much, you wouldn't have as much of my work to read, and my book income would drop, leaving even less for travel.

So don’t take it personally if I don’t come out your way. It’s all about the math and my not having unlimited time and income. Maybe one day I’ll win the lottery. If so, I’ll get in my car and zig-zag across the nation, but until then, it is what it is. Most authors you love are in the same boat.

The Author Who Appreciates You So Very Very Very Much Even If I Can't Be There To Do It In Person


Kim said...

Sue Ann, thank you for all that you do, all your hard work. You are very entertaining to read! Thank goodness for social media, so many authors that I've absolutely fallen in love with would have never hit my radar without it, you included, and I would have missed out on so much. As much as I would love to meet you, I totally understand the economics and if I could get to your area I would be sure to schedule it around one of your signings because that would be the highlight of my trip. If you do win that lottery and make it to Texas, I don't even care what city (although Dallas would be my preference :)) I would be there and if I win the lottery you will be seeing my bright and shiny face at the next signing! Thanks again for everything!

chelsea said...

We get it. We really do and we do appreciate what you do. I have faith that one of us will hit the lottery, Sue Ann, and I will sponser your zig zag tour! I'm going to keep advocating for an Arizona signing and new Madison book though, only because I love you so. :)

chelsea said...

I think it's awesome that you do speak to book clubs through Skype, video conferencing, etc.