As someone in the process of selling a second book project, I did not need to read Emily Gould's piece in Medium, "How much my novel cost me." Then again, I also really did need to read it.
In 2008 I sold a book-in-progress for $200,000 ($170,000 after commission, to be paid in four installments), which still seems to me like a lot of money. At the time, though, it seemed infinite. The resulting book—a “paperback original,” as they’re called—has sold around 8,000 copies, which is about a fifth of what it needed to sell not to be considered a flop. This essentially guarantees that no one will ever pay me that kind of money to write a book again.
It was more like the failure occurred in tiny increments over the course of two years, after which it was too late to develop a solid Plan B.
The economics of writing and publishing are so screwy– not just for the industry, but especially for authors– the fact that anyone writes books is a constant source of amazement to me. It's a 500 year-old experiment demonstrating that optimism can triumph over realism.
There's also this:
Twitter and Tumblr and even email—anything that rewards constant vigilance and creates repetitive cycles of need based on intermittent reinforcement—were the bitterest foes of the sustained concentration that’s necessary to making worthwhile art!
I should send her a copy of my book.