Should we be thinking about money when we write? This is one of those questions that scribblers like to ponder, and occasionally have heated debates about. Are we writing for the love of writing, or to earn a living? Certainly not everyone who writes fiction is going to be able to live off the proceeds. If that was the case the whole world would be reclining under an oak, holding forth to their readers and sipping absinthe. No. There is a small percentage of the planet’s population who can be considered career writers of stories, who have their scribbles pay for their homes and vittles without them having to go without. The rest depend on various things. Luck and being visible in the right place at the right time are pretty massive factors in whether or not some really genius and gifted writers ever get their amazing books read by more than their aunty and the barman. So, apart from money, what do we want to do with our writing? I mean, REALLY apart from money. I am quite serious about wanting to leave a little legacy behind. I hope to leave a scribble or two that will help, inspire, or just bring a smile to the dial of some future reader when this old bod has turned to dust and I’m swanning around with angels and Pratchetts on clouds. What scribbles would you like to leave behind that would make your future discorporeal self proud? Do you even want anyone to have access to your books when you’re gone?
We all leave footprints behind after departing this mortal coil, regardless of what we do for a living, for fun, or for no reason at all. Most people leave behind a Will with instructions as to how whatever bits we leave behind is to be divided up, and with a bit of luck during our life we have the foresight to ensure that if we were to suddenly expire, there would not be anything overly disturbing for our nearest and dearest to discover. So, apart from occasionally cleaning out our drawers and upgrading our undies, as published Indie authors we should consider the legacy we want to leave behind as well as how the spoils will be divided. I’m not going to go into the legal nitty gritty here. I suggest that you read up on it from the experts. What I do suggest though, is a little bit of thought about your actual written legacy. Your published books, blog articles, every little old thing you’ve ever posted online will hang around somewhere after you’ve moved on to that forever-after fabulous literary drinks festival waiting for you in the sky.
Writing is generally a solitary pursuit, and often some of those who are drawn to writing are solitary in every possible way. No known next of kin, or perhaps none that they particularly want to be known to. Few friends, or none in “real life”. What happens to those scribbler’s books when they die without a will? When nobody knows that they are indeed dead? When they peer over their bottomless Bellini from fluffy clouds up above, will they be happy with the way they’ve left their tales for posterity? If you don’t have any family or friends to leave your work to, even if your royalty payments never break two figure monthly payouts, should you just leave your books to fade gradually into the deepest bowels of Amazon, to be lost and finally forgotten, only ever to be seen again by accident?
That is of course entirely up to you. What I suggest is at least leaving a trail behind. Who knows, even though you won’t be physically able to participate, you might enjoy the belated readership in the spirit, so to speak. Get yourself a book. Write down user names and passwords to all of your online publishing platforms. While you’re at it, write down the same for all your social networking sites. Write down your wishes for your published books. Do you want them to be unpublished when you die? Do you want their copyrights to be given to a person or an institution? Find out where to leave these things and make it easy for whoever is left behind, rather than have them scratching their heads, or worse, giving up at the first weird form letter they get in response to their query about accessing your publishing platform.
So while I’m not going into the legal bits here, they are pretty easy to find out about online, I am encouraging all of you to consider what you’d like to leave behind. Forget about making a dollar for a moment, and consider what bits of “you” you’d like to stay here. Inspiration, instruction, laughter, excitement, all of these things are worthwhile contributions to humankind. Your books will lurk in Kindles long after you’ve zoomed on to your mansion in the sky, so while money is rather nice to have while you’re here, love floating up through the ether is probably a nicer thing to invest in for all eternity. Tweak bits. Insert bits. Forget about the rent and write for the love of writing. And while you’re at it, leave something wonderful behind, and finally remember to make sure it’s not too difficult to stumble upon.