Recently, during a marketing meeting with my publisher, I was asked the question: “What is you budget?” Meaning…what are you willing to spend out of your own pocket on your book?
A lot of people think that authors make a lot of money. Well, a few small minority of authors make a lot of money. I read a statistic that said there are approximately 200 authors (and I’m not sure what that means…if that means novelists like John Grisham or an author like Giada who has a TV show and writes books on her cooking…or both…) who make enough money to live off of their writing. They are probably backed by big publishing houses who front them advances and provide the powerhouse that is The Good Ol’ Boy Network of getting their books with the “right” reviewers and in the “right” trade shows and with the “right” stores and with the “right” TV spots, etc. And you probably have to be pretty successful already in order to have that. Some debut authors get lucky and their book catches on like wildfire, like the recent Girl on a Train, but most authors really don’t sell a whole lot of books and don’t make a whole lot of money.
As someone not backed by a major publishing house, and like 99.9% of other authors, apparently, I have to invest in my product. And I have to decide what that even means. I was given an outline to figure out how much I’m willing to spend monthly, and that includes even my time.
I can probably come up with a number on what I’m willing to spend out of pocket, but really, my time is an investment I’m not quite sure I an quantify. At least not on this.
My book is like a baby, a child I created and am going to put out into the world.
Politicians and culture at large like to try to put a price tag on the Stay At Home Mom. Then they like to put a price tag on the cost of being a parent. And I always laugh at that kind of thing because I really don’t think that you can put number on the cost of being a parent. They can say, “Oh..it costs this much for diapers and this much for school supplies and a mother should be paid this much for cleaning the house…” and I just laugh and laugh and laugh at that. There is no number that can be attached to being parent!
I have two daughters. One daughter is 21 years old and starting in an RN program up in north Raleigh in January. She has two years completed at a 4 year university, has a CNA2 license and has been working her ass off… and saving money for the past 1 ½ years while living at home and really only having a car payment to worry about. The RN program will require her to move back out and she will also not really be able to work for two years.
My youngest daughter is 19 years old and finishing up her third semester at a 4 year university 2 ½ hours away from home. She does work part time at an on campus job to help defray living costs (and her clothing habit). While I’m sure my husband can whip out the Quicken and come up with exactly how much money these two kids have cost us in dollars and cents over the last 21 plus years…and still costing us…there is no price tag for most of the things that come with parenting. Things like endless worrying, driving to practices and games and waiting around, wrapping gifts before Christmas morning, preparing (bad) meals, advising about boys, showing how to shave legs, opening your heart to their friends, cheering them on and disciplining them when they are stupid, picking up all the Polly Pocket crap on the floor as you dissect pieces of lego out of the bottom of your foot, cleaning vomit out of carpet, taking them up the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building, holding their hands when they are scared and rubbing their foreheads when they are sick…I mean, really how do you quantify what the cost is to YOU in raising a child?
Scout’s Honor is my third child. Readers will either like it or not like it or not have much of an opinion one way or the other. That’s just how life is. It’s the same with human beings. When someone doesn’t like my kid, it breaks my heart in places that do not see the light of day, ever. It haunts me, causes me to lose sleep and makes me want to go change it somehow. It will probably be like that for my book too.
But it will not change the investment that I put into this baby…both financially and intangibly. There are some things that money cannot buy. I believe that.