So as you know from my last post, I’ve been running on tight deadlines of late, and last week… the proof books didn’t arrive! Eek! I was good though, and I put my pride aside to ask for help. My sister became my PA for the day, and made some calls on my behalf. My boss bought me a hot chocolate, and my parents and my partner helped out, too. It all got sorted, thank goodness, though we did have to make some changes to our illustrator’s edition. It was turning out to be a LOT more expensive (we’ve gone with a printer in NZ), and so we’re selling it as a limited edition run. It’s all done by a real human being, and is even on 100% recycled paper, which I am fantastically pleased about. Not surprisingly, the stressfulness of the situation made me question whether I really wanted to be doing this. I felt like giving up, or just going digital. So – do I really want to do this?
The answer, of course, is yes. During my ‘I feel sorry for you so I’ll shout you coffee’ brunch with my sister, we talked about this. She said, often before success happens (however you define it), we are tested. I see this as my first big test for indie publishing, and I’ve passed. Perhaps not with flying colours, but I’m through: the launch will be happening, and I’m not totally put off print books.
What about traditional publishing?
My books aren’t the kind of works that traditional publishers are looking for. They cross boundaries in terms of style, vocabulary and themes that contemporary children’s books ‘shouldn’t’ have. They’re short, but not easy readers. They’re open to a wide age range, and the first one features an adult as the protagonist. Publishing independently is really the only way for me.
Can I make a living wage?
Just from writing? Probably not. There are authors who do, of course, but they are few and far between. Most writers, like artists and musicians, make a living from their art and a day job – whether that be teaching, speaking events or something totally different.
On the weekend, I had the privilege of attending Lizzi Tremayne’s book launch in Waihi. I was treated to my own little retreat at her house, and a beautiful dinner with her family (and her two gorgeous dogs). I took a walk up from ANZAC Cove to Bowentown Heads, an old Māori pa site, and had a lot of time to think and reflect.
I realised that I am already doing what I want to be doing (with a little prompting from my writer friend, Cassie). My multiple streams of income are writing (children’s books), art (paintings) and teaching (tutoring at Kip McGrath). The only thing is that writing and art aren’t bringing in any income – yet. But it’s a long term game, and I can be patient. I’m playing with merchandise as well, and I have my website set up so I can sell stuff, but I think the bigger market for physical goods will be fairs, like the NZ Independent Book Festival.