Friday, June 10, 2011

The Ill Winds Lemonade Stand

As regular readers here know, I am fond of old sayings. One I like is, "It's an ill wind that blows nobody good." Corollary to this one would be, "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade ..."

(Or you could kick Life in the nuts and shove the lemon up its ass, though that might not make you feel all that much better, plus you lose the lemon ...)

What do these mean? Essentially, that even a disaster might benefit somebody. Tornado blows your house down, that's terrible for you. But the guy running the bulldozer cleaning up for the city, or the local contractor the insurance gets you will get paying work from it. 

Get sick, doctors benefit. Die, the undertaker profits.

And it can also apply to you directly. Tornado blows your house down, and they discover a cache of old coins hidden in the walls worth ten times what the house was worth. Stranger things have happened. 

A man gets hit on the head and when he wakes up, his language skills are impaired; but he somehow develops a keen ability in music and becomes a rich and famous composer. It has happened.

Sometimes, there is a cosmic balance to things. Karma, maybe. Something is taken away, but something is given in return. If you are paying attention, you might be able to spot it and take advantage of it.

(A short digression just because it came up in my mind: In psychiatric circles, one of the ways an examiner will try to determine a patient's mental status is to ask them questions. What's day of the week is it? Who is the President? Can you count backward from a hundred by sevens? 

And they will ask them to abstract proverbs. So ... they'll say, what does it mean, "Birds of a feather flock together?" 

Crazy people will often be obviously so by their answers, their demeanor, and their expressions, this last sometimes called their aspect. As in "He has a flat aspect." which means essentially a lack of expression and/or emotion.)

Back to the old saw at hand:

When the economy went into the toilet, my business dropped. The tap didn't shut off completely, but books I thought were sure-fire sales languished. And things I expected would fly wouldn't get off the ground. It was unsettling.

My career, such that it has been, has been blessed. Lot of books sold, enough income to keep the wolf from the door, and even add some to the retirement fund, always something about to hit the racks. Most writers I know have had dry patches, but until the current recession, once I started selling books, I never had a bad stretch, not for thirty years. Got no complaints. 

But apparently the Universe decided there was A Lesson I Needed to Learn. I'm wasn't altogether sure what it was, this lesson, but having no choice, I was obligated to attend and muddle through, and I think I have it now, and it's the old sayings above. 

Or maybe it's this: Shit happens. Deal with it ...

The silver lining here came by way of ebooks. Because traditional publishing was, at least for me, in the doldrums, and I didn't have deadlines, I had time to stick my nose into that new venue and get my ticket for the coming e-train. Had I been working to a tight schedule, I wouldn't have even looked down that track; because my schedule was my own, I was able to explore a venue and market earlier than I would have otherwise. 

Or, you do the best you can with what you got.

I expect I would have come to ebookery eventually, but that I was able to start ahead of the main pack was to my benefit. When I uploaded my first effort to Smashwords, waiting time was a few minutes. The most recent upload there had a wait time of 30 hours. 

Now and then, it pays to get to the dance early.

Self-publishing ebook sales for me started out slow and they still aren't making me rich; however, they are snowballing, getting more each month, and eventually, I can see that it might be possible to make a living from those alone. Not as much fun as a big advance check, but a nice monthly income for which I don't have to do anything? Gravy.

(I still intend to do the new Matador novel(s), even though they are cooking on the back-burner. I want to have the first one ready to put up as an ebook when I get the rights back on the series and offer them, and yes, there will probably be a print-on-demand option. I'll keep you in the loop.)

Traditional book sales have picked up. Got a new contract being hammered out, some other projects in the offing, and enough to keep me busy for the next couple-three years.

So, the recession took away with one hand, but gave with the other. And now I have another market I didn't have before, and the net result–at least for now–is that I'm doing better than I was before. 



Chris said...

While I'm sure the stress of getting to this point was not fun, I am glad to hear things are going so well despite the economy.

venture220 said...

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade - then find someone life gave a bottle of vodka.....

Kris said...

Good for you. I have been following you longer, and more thoroughly, than any other author- and I've long lamented that a larger audience never got the chance to read the Matador series. Perhaps that will now change.

jnabrown said...

I'm very happy to hear that things are going well again, and truly delighted at the thought that you'll be releasing new works through both old-style publishing and new.
Looking forward...