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Is Writing for Gratification Enough?

What if my writing is mostly a money-losing proposition?

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

First, consider the source. The writing is fairly entertaining, though the veterinary blood and guts turn some people off.

Second, I am basically social medial adverse, computer incompetent, and tech unsavvy, and I choose to remain that way.

Third, we live remotely and I have too many animals and too much land to be traipsing around the state for book signings and readings, even if someone wanted me to.

So how much do I stand to lose?

My first book, a memoir, had a ready audience of wonderful and loyal clients from Napa Valley Vet. I had an agent for a while, but no takers, and self-publishing ten years ago involved using Amazon’s Create Surge, advertising gimmicks like postcards and bookmarks, and hundreds of dollars. That said, it paid for itself in short order.

Freelance writing of case reports and research reports for EQUUS magazine paid $350 per submission and carried the rest of my musings for years. Moving and retiring pretty much put the stopper to that path to financial ecstasy.

Novels followed. Colorado Blood in 2017, probably never broke even. I didn’t keep track. I took years to write it, family and friends read and edited it. A professional or two went over it, and that cost money, a dollar or two a page. I still didn’t keep track. I just enjoyed the process. Again, Amazon got their fees.

Four years later, this year, in fact, I finished a sequel, Pagosa Tears. This book was fun to write with the collusion of my husband and a family friend. The characters became real, almost writing their own path forward, and research assistance from local authorities gave me intellectual inspiration. I love the creative cover by Angela Stevens of Cat’s Pyjamas Design. The formatting instructions from KDP were easy to follow and the formatting process is satisfying. The book cost $120.00 to place on Amazon’s site. I’ve spent another $115 on author’s copies to give away, donate to the library, and sell on commission at a local book store. So far, I’ve got $150.53 in return.

In cold hard cash, I’ve lost $85.00 in 3 months. There are still books on the shelf at the book store. Probably a few more people will buy online. Reviews have been good, other than one disgruntled employee of the forest service who didn’t think I portrayed them fairly. Fact is, I didn’t portray them much at all. Wasn’t about the forest service. Should I advertise on Amazon? Probably. Will I? Not likely.

Truth is, I love the writing process. I love words even as I lose another one every day since I turned 74. Just happens. I miss the characters when I am not writing. They whisper ideas in my head as I’m hiking on our land or riding my horses. I’ll probably write one more book, a third in the series. And it will be worth another $85.00.




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Patty Latham

Patty Latham

Veterinarian CSU 1975. Mom. Rider of mustangs. Author of Napa Valley Vets, novel Colorado Blood, and over 20 case reports and features for EQUUS and on line..

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