The economics of cons

I didn’t start writing to get rich.  Okay, that’s a bloody lie.  I started writing with the dream of being the next Stephen King and being able to get six-figure advances for every stray thought I have.  But I didn’t keep writing to get rich.  A few months ago I posted over on Unleaded the Forbes Magazine list of the top 10 earning authors of 2010.  All of them pulled in 8-figure incomes from their writing related activities last year, with $10m even being the starting point for the list.  However, these ten people are an obvious anomaly within the industry.

I occasionally think of what I’ll do when I finally get a novel published.  And the answer is pretty obvious.  I’ll keep my current job and do what I can in evenings and weekends to work on novel number two and to promote myself.  The same thing that I do now, really.  Maybe if I get a few novels in I might (might) be able to shift to a part time job if royalty checks can cover the income difference from downsizing.  Frankly, the odds are stacked against me, and I know that damn well.

Today that got driven home a little further.  I’ve been following Tee Morris’s Twitter feed and blog ever since Capclave (I figure I kinda have to, since it was his participation in the panel on authors marketing themselves online that got me to finally start Twitter and restart this blog).  His success in the industry is probably about the ceiling of what I can reasonably hope for.  He’s published a few fictions books, has been contracted for a few non-fictions, and is about to have his first mass-market paperback publication.  I can only dream of the day.  So instead of the view from the top with that Forbes list, how about a look at it from the trenches as a working class writer talks about the costs of attending cons to market oneself.  The end result is that he estimated it costs two people nearly $700 to attend a con within driving distance, and that’s with their registration fees comped by the cons.  See, this is the cost of attending if the con wants you to attend.  Attending for ones own purposes either prior to publication or at least prior to sufficient notoriety would add an additional $50 per person to that math.

It’s somewhat sobering of a notion that for some authors the payment for their craft can be in the 8 figures, and for some it might actually be negative.  And yet?  And yet I still want to be in this crazy business.  Because, damnit, one day I am going to get that convention fee comped, and I am going to be one of the people up on a panel rather than down in the audience.

And with that notion in my head, it really is time I get back to work on Capsule if I’m going to finish the first draft this year.

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