It’s here! ‘Fifty Shades of Brown’ and what a battle it has been to get it here. There was a frightening moment when it almost wasn’t here at all. In fact there was a shaky moment when it looked like there would never ever be another book.
I started ‘Roxie Brown’ about four months ago and during this time I had family move in with me. There is much to be said for having a young child in the home. They bring great pleasure. There is also a great deal of disruption. As it is I shed enough tears writing a novel. It became pretty clear I would be shedding more while writing this one. I’d been used to silence during my writing day. Now I was contending with toilet chains being pulled, bathroom doors banging, footsteps up and down the stairs, the sound of laughter from below my writing room and the clashing of pots and pans. And so the tears would come, partly out of frustration because the book wasn’t going the way I wanted and tears of stress from dealing with the noise while trying to write.
To top it all I’m OCD about the house and do prefer things just so. Occasionally I would pop downstairs for a drink and see the lounge was a tip where my little grandson was playing and my kitchen turned upside down as stepson cooked dinner. I’d creep back upstairs, shed a few more tears and continue with Roxie. So with all this going on it was not sensible of me to look at the Amazon charts as well was it?
I’d recently been signed to an agent, the lovely Samar Hammam who previously handled Bernard Cornwall among others. She was keen to represent me. I was keen to be represented. Then came the disappointments. Large traditional publishers are struggling to sell romantic comedy as so many self published or digitally published authors are selling e books for pennies. I didn’t want my e books to be sold for pennies. I work hard six months of the year to produce a book. I make my living from writing. When I worked part-time and wrote novels I was never able to produce two books a year as I do now. I wanted to continue as a full-time writer. A traditional publisher was interested, she said, but the advance would be very small. I checked out their authors on Amazon and saw again that their books were selling for pennies. I, then, stupidly checked the charts again and saw that the low-priced e books were high and mine were dropping.
I didn’t write for several days. I thought things through and told the doctor aka Andrew, my lovely husband, that ‘Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown’ would be my last book. I was not prepared to compromise myself. I couldn’t sell my books cheaply. Samar suggested the occasional offer to promote sales. I was reluctant. I couldn’t understand readers not realising that a writer can not survive if they sell books for 99p or less. I saw readers putting their argument forward for downloading books free from a website by saying that they are not ‘all rich and comfortable’ like us authors. Hello! I wish I was. The only stinking rich authors are the likes of J K Rowling and E L James. But all the same, you wouldn’t nick a bag from Debenhams would you? And that’s what free download sites are doing. Stealing authors hard work and giving it away. That was it! Roxie Brown would be my last book. I vowed never to write another. I stuck to this. I emailed a few close friends and close author friends and told them of my decision only to have them throw up their arms in horror. ‘You can’t stop writing, that would be madness.’
I know it is not readers fault that the books are so cheap. It is e publishers and other writers that lower the prices. I bet Sylvia Plath never had this problem.
My husband chatted to me. A good friend chatted to me. I finally, albeit very reluctantly, changed my mind. But I have now decided that the charts don’t bother me. I’m not going to compete with 99p or less authors. I won’t drop the price of a new book to reach number one. I like to think my ego is not that inflated. I love my readers, I love interacting with them. They are good friends. So I will be writing for them. If new readers come on for the ride that is great.
I do believe that low-priced e books will eventually crash the market. Writers and publishers cannot survive. Everyone wants their pound of flesh and there isn’t much left out of 49p 89p and 99p. You can’t buy a roll of loo paper for that. It’s wonderful for the reader but I hope they realise that eventually the authors they like may stop writing simply because they cannot afford to. Imagine what they must earn per book by the time they have paid their publisher, Amazon and of course the damn VAT that is now slapped onto them. 10p a download maybe is what they may be getting. An author may as well go out into the street and ask ‘Do you want six months of hard work for free!’
I’ve worked long and hard for this. I won’t do that. I’d rather stop. I will allow the odd special. A past book for 99p or maybe the odd free promotion but I won’t sell new books for less than £1.99. I sometimes think that is too cheap. As an author friend once said to me ‘I’d rather be a high-priced call girl than a $5 bang on the street corner.’ I couldn’t agree more.
So, enjoy the new book and here’s hoping there will be another. I expect there will be. I find it too hard not to write.
Meanwhile ‘Fifty Shades of Roxie Brown’ is available here
‘Croissants and Jam’ is on offer for a short time here
And you get all my other books at a reasonable price here
Thanks for you fab support. I love you all