Show me the money

by Doc Coleman on July 31, 2013 · 2 comments

in Short Stories, Voice Work

It seems a very strange thing to talk about money in a #WriterWednesday post. It seems even stranger to think that I’m talking about me receiving money. Let’s be realistic for a moment here: for all the talk about improving one’s craft and telling stories, and expressing the ideas in your head, the real reason that we write and keep writing is to make money. Ben Bova said that the only reason for writing was the expectation of being paid for it. To a lessor or a greater extent, this is true. Writing is work. Hard work. Even when we give it away, we expect to be paid for it eventually.

This past week, eventually came knocking at my door.

No, that doesn’t mean that a Big Six publisher is beating down my door trying to give me a big advance. That may sound nice, but it isn’t necessarily a good thing. People have lost their shirts from Big Six contracts. Not looking at small press either.

But I did get paid.

What happened this week, wasn’t actually writing money, as much as it was publishing money. Now, over the past two years I’ve “sold” a couple of stories and been paid for them. Those were simple, one-time deals where I delivered, was paid, and went my merry way.

That’s not what happened this week.

This time, I got royalties.

Over the past two years, I’ve also self-published a couple of my short stories as e-books. Two stories to be exact: The Gift and Welcome to Paradox. Sales have been slow, which honestly isn’t surprising. They’re short stories and not really worth a lot of marketing effort. My best marketing is actually to keep writing other things and put them up for sale beside them, which is in my plans. So, sales have not been dramatic, but there have been sales.

And last week, the sales returns from Apple’s iBooks store, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble came in to Smashwords, and finally added up to enough for Smashwords to send me some money via Paypal. Now, when you consider that the threshold for Smashwords to pay out is only $10, that’s not saying very much. Still, it was significant to me because it was the first time this had happened.

Now, it is entirely possible that it may be another two years before I see another payout like this. Not likely, but still possible. I won’t be quitting the dayjob any time soon. But there is something gratifying about getting a return on your labors, even if it is delayed. This is the start of a long tail. As I publish more properties, it should just become thicker and thicker.

It is a beginning.

But not the only beginning. I’ve been offered a contract to do some voice work. That’s about all I can say about that, as we’re still negotiating one or two fine points. It is a good project, and a good contract, and it is only a couple of details to be worked out. And it is paying work. I’m looking forward to doing it, but I can’t really say more until that contract is signed.

Wish me luck.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jeffrey HIte July 31, 2013 at 10:04 am

I know how you feel, I got my first royalty statement the other day. It was not enough to make the threshold but it still felt good, my smashwords / Amazon / … accounts still have not hit that level but I am hoping for that to change soon.

You are absolutely right, the best way to market short stories is to have lots of other short stories out there, so that when you tell someone about one of them and send them to your smashwords page or whatever they get to see all of them.

Good luck,


2 Doc Coleman July 31, 2013 at 10:04 pm

“Nothing sells like a back catalog.” My favorite marketing mantra.

Good luck with your sales, Jeff.



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