…”Books that cost more to write than their sales ever could repay.”

 – Alan Paton

 

Lately I’ve had my nose in a couple of books. One is a history book on the JFK years, the other, Alan Paton’s most famous novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. 

I have a curious, even weird history with Paton. In high school, one of my English teachers assigned a lesser-known Paton novel called Too Late the Phalarope. A phalarope is a type of shorebird, and I feel confident stating that none of us kids had ever even heard of a phalarope before. Presumably, there were some jokes among us male students comparing the word to phallus.

In all the years since, I’d never read Paton’s masterpiece, though I bought a copy years ago at a used bookstore during a going-out-of-business sale. It remained in my TBR (to-be-read) pile until last week.

 

What Do Books Cost Authors?

The quote above about “books that cost more to write than their sales ever could repay” got me thinking. I’ve written about costs like cover design, interior design, and marketing. You can find links to some of my other posts on authorship here, here, and here.

But I don’t think these costs were what Paton was talking about. I think his words refer to what it costs the author in emotional, physical, and even spiritual terms to wring words out of painful experiences, and put into a novel all the heart, soul, and sweat a novelist can as he or she creates a work of art.

Of course, I’ve never suffered through anything like apartheid, slavery, anti-Semitism, or any of the hundreds of indignities visited upon fellow human beings in the ongoing tale of man’s inhumanity to man.

I’ve taken my share of hits, though. And in one of my posts, I wrote, “writing a novel is like scaling Mt. Everest alone with nothing but a spoon for climbing gear.” It’s true. Like boxing or any other sport where you leave a piece of yourself behind, it has a cost.

And it has its rewards, too. That’s why I’m still writing novels, and probably always will.

storm

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Rock With The Storm

A while back, I was having a very bad Monday, and wrote a blog post called Roll With The Punches, Baby! The idea was that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; sometimes life hands you a bouquet of flowers, other times, a punch in the mouth. On that particular...
copyright

When Do You Need To Copyright Your Work?

​Over the past few weeks, I’ve written a couple of well-received blog posts on the publishing process, one of which is about the importance of having a Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) and the other of which is called What’s the Risk to Not Having A...
break

You Deserve A Break Today

The last few weeks’ worth of blog posts have been downers, and I appreciate everyone who has read them, sent me messages, and in general been encouraging. This week needs to be lighter. A lot lighter. So I’m going back to one of my favorite topics: writing. I’m on a...
indie author

What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business

As someone who’s spent the better part of the past 20 years making his living as a writer, I definitely have some opinions on what works and what doesn’t in this business. However, there is a subset of that 20 years, and that’s the novelist part of the equation. Some...

Books As Extended Business Cards

As I mentioned on here a couple weeks back, my freelance copywriting gigs feed my addiction to writing fiction, not vice-versa. However, my copywriting business is just part of a larger vision for Sahno Publishing, and that's a publishing company that provides...
characters

It All Starts With Character

“Sahno offers a compelling vision of a community whose need for companionship and support in the face of life's struggles is stirring.” “The characters are deep, well thought out…” “I read this novel in a few short days, drawn in by a believable plot and characters...

Facebook vs. Twitter

The news that Microsoft will be acquiring LinkedIn just sent shockwaves through the social media world, immediately leading to speculation about Twitter. Is it going to be next? We all assume that Facebook is not for sale, but in our topsy-turvy media world, I suppose...

Five Mistakes New Authors Make

Every author starts as a newbie, even if they held a job as a writer in some other capacity. The publishing business can be incredibly daunting for a newcomer: many authors work alone without much feedback, so their mistakes, while understandable, are also far too...
railroad

Getting Back on Track

Last week, Hurricane Irma came barreling toward the eastern seaboard like a runaway freight train. Here in Tampa, the weather reports in advance of the storm were even more melodramatic than usual – “Tampa is poised to take its first direct hit from a major hurricane...
Biden

If There Ever Was a Time to be Apolitical, This Isn’t It

Anyone who has read a handful of my blog posts, or better yet, my fiction, probably has a pretty good handle on where I stand politically. I’ve been known to rail against the orange monster in the Oval Office from time to time. In fact, I wrote back in 1994 that...