Home » Self-Publishing, Social Media » Another newbie lost in the noise

Another newbie lost in the noise

17 April 2013

PG receives a lot of email through the Contact page of this blog. Often these are tips for possible blog posts, for which he is grateful. Sometimes he receives questions that he doesn’t have time to answer on an individual basis because he has a business and a life outside of TPV and would like to maintain both in good condition.

Earlier today, PG received the following email. Initially, his impulse was to reply that he was sorry, but he didn’t have time to respond in the required detail.

Then, he decided that he would try crowd-sourcing an answer that might be of benefit not just to this correspondent but to other visitors to the blog.

I am also an ex-engineer and IP attorney, though now retired. I have retired to Thailand because my previous business and career decisions had put my retirement funds at just a few points below the poverty level.

Since coming here, I have managed to get my affairs settled to some degree, and have made the decision to finally get up off my ass and write, which is what I truly enjoy. As a rookie, I obtained all the seemingly obligatory and mostly contradictory guides to blogs, indie publishing and social networking. I also stumbled upon the newly coined term “estributor”.

Now that my confusion is complete, I have found myself at your site, or blog or whatever it should be called. I have a simple request: Is there anyway of cutting through all the clutter and getting information about blogging and self-publishing that would be suited for a neophyte?

So, what are the basics that a newbie to self-publishing should know? What are the best practices? What are the most common mistakes?

Self-Publishing, Social Media

60 Comments to “Another newbie lost in the noise”

  1. Not to be that guy but, going off of the “finally getting off my ass and writing” thing, the only thing he/she should be concerned about right now is finishing a book. Worrying about the business of self-pub is an open invitation to getting derailed.

    Having said that, it might not be a bad idea to add a “Self-Pub Best Practices” doc to TPV. I bet a lot of your quieter readers would love it, and there’d be no shortage of qualified, intelligent contributors. And also, me.

    • I *mostly* agree with you, Dan, but… it’s good to have some broad stroke ideas in place about what to do (and what not to do) for after you finish. Otherwise you’ll have a finished book, a big empty stretch of road, and desire to DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW ANYTHING BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE and that may lead to ruin.

      It’d be good to have a checklist of things to do after the book is written, a list of pitfalls to avoid so you don’t blunder into them while you’re blinded by the afterglow (or despondency–some people get depressed when they finish, which can also lead to poor decisions).

      I, alas, am not the person to consult. I say “alas” because I’m terribly fond of making my opinion known…

      • Here’s why I disagree. I didn’t have any clue I was going to self-publish until after I’d finished, and it didn’t hamper me a bit (as far as I can tell). It did force me to get current quickly.

        • I’m not suggesting “have a fully fleshed out business plan.” Just a to-do list of things to figure out once you’re done, and a list of things not to do. Like, for example, “do not under any circumstances set up a twitter account, add 50,000 people at random, and send them five DMs a day asking them to buy your book.

          And while you might look at that specific example and say “hey, that’s idiotic, why would anyone do that?” I can say “I don’t know *why* they’d do it, I just know they *do*.”

  2. Depends on what he needs to know. If he needs information on grammar, that’s a different blog than the one I’d recommend for business, for example. And from there, it varies with if he’s needing help with e-book formatting or cover design.

    As for blogging, it also depends on what he expects to do with his blog.

  3. Here’s a huuge primer made by an author that has a detailed step-by-step once the WIP is written, re-written, and hopefully professionally edited.
    http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,42600.0.html

    • Here’s where I got derailed by that list of steps: NOTE: Kindle, Smashwords, and most ereaders allow readers to download a sample before buying your book. Most readers will do this, SO MAKE THE BEGINNING OF YOUR BOOK FABULOUS. It must read so a person is intrigued, has to know more, will not sleep until he reads more.

      NOOOOOOO!!!!! Make the whole THING fabulous! I read so much stuff where the first 50 pages are wonderful because they’ve been through contests and such and followed this advice, and the rest of the book reads like crap.

  4. The biggest mistake a person can make in any endeavour is to not realize they’re going to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Our writing isn’t perfect. Our marketing isn’t perfect. Our luck isn’t perfect. We will make the wrong choices. It’s okay. It’s all okay.

    I usually recommend that those who are about to start indie publishing read bunches of posts on Writer’s Cafe and Lindsay Buroker’s blog. SM Reine has an excellent post on Writer’s Cafe about what it takes to succeed in indie publishing.

  5. I’ve had a few readers contact me lately with this same question. I think the most common mistake is not knowing what you want out of writing.

    1) Are you looking to amuse yourself and maybe make a few bucks?

    2) Are you looking to record your life story?

    3) Are you looking for validation of your brilliance?

    4) Are you looking to make a second/third/…/twentieth career?

    If you don’t know what you want out of writing, all the well meaning advice in the world won’t help you.

    • This is a great point.

    • I’m not the person who mailed PV, but I am getting curious about self-publishing, and answering ‘what do I want’ seems to me to be one of the most important steps.

      I decided that I want peers — I want to stand on the Hugo stage, to be treated as an equal by authors I admire and not as just another fanboy. Failing that (as will be likely), I just want my stories to be read as widely as possible. With those goals, self-publishing does *not* appear the way for me to go. Only traditional publishers will give me what I want…at least, for now.

      What I fear is that agents are getting lazy and only taking on clients with proven self-publishing success, which means the traditional route I prefer isn’t possible without delving into self-publishing first. If that turns out to be the case, I’ll take the plunge. But then I don’t see a need to ever have an agent.

      For reference and to answer other questions from other posters, I’ve finished three full-sized novels, one 50k ‘novella’, and one graphic novel, and I am working on another novel and graphic novel right now. I’m pretty serious about this hobby of mine. I just wish agents and publishers would recognize that.

      • I just can’t identify with this; I honestly couldn’t care less about recognition. The only thing I want out of my writing career is that “commuting to work” means crossing the living room. :D

        • I can’t either, Dan, but that doesn’t mean Remus’s desires aren’t valid.

          On the other hand, my kindergarten teacher wrote “Does not play well with others” on my report card. Forty-plus years later, it’s still true, which is why self-publishing suites me. :lol:

          • I didn’t mean to imply that his desires aren’t valid, just stating that my own desires are the polar opposite.

            • I understand Dan,

              You’re motivated by laziness and agoraphobia. (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) :)

            • My apologies, Dan. I think I’m channeling Mira. :grin: BTW, where is she today? She loves this kind of subject.

              • Hey Suzan. My ears were burning. :D

                If you mean by channeling me, you are keeping Mr. Dan DeWitt honest, I could not approve more. Keep up the good fight, Suzan! :D

                For the topic, which is pretty cool, I read once there are two types of writers, one writes for money and the other for art (creativity, contribution, recognition, perhaps for a legacy). Both valid.

                If we all schooch over alittle, there’s probably room on Amazon’s shelves for everybody! :)

        • It’s a childhood trauma thing. :) Always a nerd, always picked last for sports teams. As soon as my father got custody he put me in boarding school. My mother sent me a Christmas present one year then forgot I existed. I just want to be part of a family that values me.

          And yes, I realize that’s irrational, but it’s what I want. :) I have a talent for telling stories, and that’s the family (or ghetto, in my genre’s case) that I want to join.

      • Hugo stage? As a reader, I can’t tell you one Hugo winner unless I was looking at the book and the cover said “By the Hugo Award Winning Author.” Writing with major awards and merits in mind is a slippery slope and I’ve never given credence to such ceremonies. What’s most important is to be acknowledged by your readers far more than by your peers. But it is your perogative to take any publishing path you feel best suits your needs. There are pros and cons to traditional publishing as well as to self-publishing. A thorough research of both will better help any writer make an informed decision that will best suit what they most want out of their writing career.

      • Hi Remus – I assume you’re familiar with Hugh Howey’s success? If not, I’d recommend you do a quick Google on his name. :)

        I assume, by mention of the Hugo, that you write SF. Science Fiction is one of the genres where a lot of self-publishers are having good success – many authors finding MORE readers than traditional publishers would be able to get for a debut author. Print runs are falling across the board for genre fiction, and will continue to do so.

        Also, MANY SF authors have ‘broken in’ via the short fiction market. That’s been one of the tried and true paths for SF/F genre writers for decades – and it’s still a very viable way to go. You may want to consider that avenue towards publication. And who knows – if your stories don’t sell after a year or two, try self-publishing them and see what happens. They’re just short stories after all. ;)

        (And incidentally, my best-selling self-published short story in 2012 sold 4,517 copies – and it’s still selling nicely. That’s reaching a few readers…)

  6. Don’t worry about marketing until you either have a surprise hit to take advantage of, or have enough titles published to make the return on your investment worth the opportunity cost.

    It’s almost always a better use of your time to write.

  7. 1) Write the best book you can and be dispassionate about it once you think it’s done.
    2) Cleanest manuscript you can create, maybe it takes editorial help or a proofreader.
    3) Best cover you can afford. Your name and the title of the book should be as readable as possible in thumbnail size.
    4) Lurk at forums like kboards and learn from what other writers are going through.
    5) skip the blogging and whateverying until later. Concentrate on the book.

    I answered these same questions last night for someone. I kept saying “Don’t get ahead of yourself”. Do one thing at a time, do it well and then move on.

    • Sally Chippendale

      Wonderful advice. I’ve just finished draft one of my first novel and I’m in the process of putting it in a drawer for two weeks before I rewrite. I’ve found myself researching blogs and website and filling my head with a little too much self publishing information. I’m going to try my best to forget about that too, read some relaxing books and enjoy a break. Then I will re write. Closing laptop now. Thank you.

  8. David Gaughran’s LET’S GET DIGITAL is probably a good place to start. It’s available at major ebook retailers. A free PDF edition can be found here:

    http://davidgaughran.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/lets-get-digital-by-david-gaughran-free-pdf-edition.pdf

  9. While most of my blog is NSFW, here is a SFW link to an entry about self-publishing which I try to keep more or less updated. It is definitely written from the point of view of “Okay, generally speaking, how do I go about this?” I don’t talk about designing covers or hiring editors or anything, just paint a picture of the broad process

    http://dreamsofcontrol.blogspot.com/2012/10/faqsummary-on-independent-publishing.html

  10. Joe Konrath has a site called the newbie’s guide to epublishing.
    There’s a mountain of information in there.

    http://jakonrath.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

  11. My snarky-sounding, yet completely honest, advice is that you’ve already done the most important thing–finding this site. Stay here, leave some comments, and absorb all you can.

    As far as your book writing, I second Dan’s advice to concentrate on getting the book done. To that end, I’d suggest trying to find at least one person–not online, but in person–who you can sit down with and chat. Just talk. Get words in your head. Hear them coming from your mouth. Find your voice. Then figure out what you want to say and write the book.

    Let the business stuff come after you’re done.

  12. I’m glad to see everyone chipping in here. I get a warm-fuzzy.

    If I had to narrow the best sources down to only a few, TPV would be the first I’d mention. So finding his way here has been a big step toward getting the best information. The other sources I would steer him too would be;

    Kristine Kathryn Rusch

    Dean Wesley Smith

    The Book Designer

    David Gaughran

    Those are my top picks if the subject is self-publishing. If the subject were writing I could add a dozen more easily, but I don’t think that was the question that this gentleman had for PG.

    I’d also add this; Buy a Copyright Handbook and read it three times.

  13. The problem is we don’t know anything like enough to answer the question, and a lot of the answers so far presume too much about what the person wants.

    I know, for example, people making a very good living outside the traditional publishing industry writing nonfiction blogs and websites.

    There are other people who work as freelancers writing articles for magazines.

    Some people work for companies writing technical documentation and manuals.

    Others write nonfiction books, or fiction books.

    There are any number of writers who do it to support university careers or their business. Or as hobbies.

    So… what career does this person want? If they want to write a book and self publish it they will need different advice to someone who wants to make a living writing nonfiction websites and monetizing through products and adverts.

    More than anything, I think the best advice for someone who intends to make this career is to treat it as a business as well as an art, and use sound business logic to make business decisions. Financial management is key. Understanding the business cycle, and that no income stream is ever completely secure is also very important.

    I’m convinced that given enough effort (and training) most people work out the craft eventually if they are willing to simply continue working. Most careers get sunk by the business side of writing.

  14. I just took the leap in February, and even though I’m still just a little baby self-publisher, I love it and feel confident that this is something that will give me a lot of satisfaction in life.

    Here’s my list:

    1. Write a book. Write what you love, what makes you happy, what you feel driven to write. Don’t worry about writing what will sell, because no one knows that. Also, if you want to make a career of this, you can’t do it with just one book, so be working on ideas for more books.

    2. Make the book as good as you can get it. Work on your own revising/editing skills. (Many resources online.) Have some acquaintances who are avid readers read it, or join a critique group (can also be found online). If you have the money, or can arrange a barter or something, find a *good* professional editor. Do what you have to do to make the book as error-free as possible.

    3. If you’re broke, have some html know-how or don’t mind learning, and don’t mind doing things yourself, get a guide on how to do the ebook formatting yourself. You can find suggestions on Lindsay Buroker’s and David Gaughran’s blogs. If you aren’t quite so broke, or don’t want to do it yourself, research ebook formatters. There are a number of them, many with reasonable rates. You can find links on the Kindle boards.

    4. For a low-cost cover, license some stock art from a site like Dreamstime, and learn how to do the lettering in an image-editing program. See The Book Designer site (link in the sidebar here) for good and less-good examples. If you can spend a little more, use a cover designer. You can also find links to this on the Kindle boards.

    5. Set up your accounts at the different outlets – Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo are the big ones (Apple too, but you have to have a Mac computer to go to them directly). Check out their individual submission/upload requirements, and follow these carefully. I go direct through Amazon, and use Smashwords for all the others, just to keep it simple.

    6. Be VERY VERY CAREFUL ***NOT*** to pay for expensive packages containing services you don’t need or could do yourself. You should be able to pick and choose what services you want/need on an individual basis without getting locked in to a bunch of stuff you don’t need. Also be careful if any service you want to use asks you to sign agreements involving percentages or copyright or exclusivity (KDP Select asks you to make books you enroll in that program exclusive for 90 days, which is as far as any author should be willing to go exclusive, and not everyone even feels comfortable with that). In short, be careful not to get ripped off or trapped in a bad deal.

    *I did the complete do-it-yourself route, and published my first book for under $100, including $35 to register the copyright in the U.S., expanded distribution fee and proof copy from CreateSpace, licensed stock art, and small gifts for my test readers.

    7. Once your book is up for sale, be patient – it will not take off overnight, or even over a few months – and get going on the next book.

    Might not work for everyone, but that’s how I’m doing it.

  15. I would be remiss if I did not mention a certain book on strategy and planning for success in this endeavor. I’ll also be putting up a lengthy post this Sunday on what it takes to make real bank self-publishing fiction, at killzoneauthors.blogspot.com. Good luck, jump in, the water’s fine.

    • Thanks for the head’s up on that one, James. I’ve read most of your other stuff and have found them very helpful and inspiring.

  16. The best advice I can give you is how to evaluate other advice. Identify your goals. Every time you read advice about self-publishing, ask yourself if the advice-giver has the same goals. What assumptions does the advice-giver make? Do those assumptions fit your situation? Finally, can you figure out why the advice should work? If you can’t come up with a plausible explanation for why it would work, don’t do it.

  17. Lots of good suggestions. I would ditto that the main focus needs to be on writing the book, getting it as polished as you can. But unless he has a lot of resources for hiring editors, cover and interior designers, etc, then working on developing a community of writers and people who support indie authors while working on the books is a good idea.

    I actually found using twitter initially (using search terms like self-publishing, Kindle Direct Publishing, etc) as a fast way to find people talking about what I was interested in, then checking out their blogs, and if they seemed useful, subscribing to those blogs in an RSS Feeder (that’s how I found TPV!).

    There are also formal writer communities-that are often genre specific–that he might want to investigate, see if he could join. Find authors whose work he admires, would like to emulate, who are indies, and contact them. Joining the Alliance of Independent authors and taking advantage of their Facebook page where people ask for advice is good value for the money. http://allianceindependentauthors.org/about.html

    Again ditto in being against paying lump sums for someone else to “publish” for you. It is better to try to do it yourself, with the help of advice on blogs and inexpensive but helpful guides like David’s, to discover what you can and can not do for yourself first. Then pay for specific things like cover design if it turns out you are terrible at this.

    Finally try to avoid feeling like you have to follow every rule, every piece of advice, particularly if it discourages you from writing and publishing.

    Every time I read someone say, “publish on all the ebook stores”, or “only publish on Kindle,” or” don’t expect to ever sell much unless you have a big media following” or “don’t try to market,” etc, I cringe. Because the one thing I have learned in indie publishing is there is no one right way.

    I started marketing after the book was published, I didn’t have a professional editor, I have concentrated on Kindle, I have had 2 years between books, (all things I wasn’t supposed to do) yet I passed the 60,000 copies sold mark, with just 2 books.

    Does that mean my way was the best way, of course not. But I don’t want indie advice to become like traditional advice–a method of weeding out people who won’t follow the new “rules.” Making mistakes, changing our genres and our marketing strategies, learning from our successes and failures is what being indie permits, because no one is going to black ball us from getting our work out to readers because of what we do. Only a book that no one wants to read is going to do that–and given the wide disparity of tastes, I am not sure that there are very many books that fall into that category.

    Sorry for the rant. I was such a newbie four years ago, and i would never have made it without the advice (and the common sense to ignore what didn’t make sense to me) that other authors have given me so willingly. Shout out to all of you!

  18. I can’t add too much to what has already been offered. The references to the other great blogs are helpful, as it the advice that he purchase David G’s “Let’s Get Digital.”

    Having said all that, the sheer volume of information available is a bit like trying to drink from a fire hose. I suggest (as have many others) that the author just proceed to complete his (or her) manuscript, while taking an hour or so a day (max) to keep up with the various blogs listed. Then, when s/he needs more in depth info on a particular subject, I suggest a shift of view to the right sidebar here on TPV, to “Post Categories.” There are a wide range of relevant posts there, all with tremendous comments.

    Finally, I would also speculate that by the time a manuscript is finished, there may have been multiple changes in the publishing environment, so above all, stay flexible.

  19. My advice to a beginning writer, in this changing world would be this:

    1.) Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are the actual path to success, and there’s very very little you can do to really hurt yourself in writing. Even acting like an obnoxious jerk and making people hate you can be cured by simply using a pen name and behaving yourself.

    The exception to this rule is in signing contracts. Sign a bad contract and you could regret it the rest of your life.

    2.) If you don’t want to do something, or don’t know how to do something, then DON’T. (Especially in the marketing area and in business commitments.) There are a million Good Ideas out there — but you don’t have to do all of them, or even most of them. And you sure don’t have to do all of them NOW. Everything but the writing itself can be put off until you are ready.

    And when you are ready to sort through it all yourself, then you can do it all if you want to. (And there will come a time when you are futzing around and have to give yourself the opposite rule, and make yourself do things.)

    This is all my way of saying: I know there’s a lot of noise out there, and it’s all Important, but none of it is urgent. You will get the hang of it yourself in time.

    The only really important thing is to write, and to persist in writing. Do the rest as it makes sense to you. (For now, just absorb all these blogs and things — until it’s clear to YOU what to do.)

  20. To learn the theory there are two places, read everything there:
    https://www.createspace.com
    https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A37Z49E2DDQPP3

    To learn the practical: Publish

  21. Someone already mentioned Kristine Kathryn Rusch and I would like to second that rec. Her business articles are excellent.

    http://kriswrites.com/business-rusch-publishing-articles/

    And as for focusing only on the writing and then doing the publishing research: I find that taking a break to read articles about the business of self-publishing to be very inspiring as long as I don’t go down a rabbit trail of related links. I set up my author webpage (real simple blog) and FB page and twitter account. I don’t do much on them as of yet but they are ready to go when the book goes up.

  22. I think it behooves all writers to learn a little about the industry, so this comment isn’t necessarily directed at the (aspiring) writer quoted in the OP. However… sometimes I get emails along the lines of: “What’s the best pricing strategy after you exit KDP Select free run?”

    I start typing out my reply while scanning the rest of the email and then I realize this guy hasn’t finished his book yet! I normally say something like “Stuff changes so fast in this business that you are better off not worrying about granular details like that until your book is actually out. Come back to me when your book is published and I’ll do my best to answer.”

    But what I really want to say is “FFS you are banned from reading my blog until your book is done.”

  23. Dear New Writer:

    http://kriswrites.com — Kristyn Kathryn Rusch’s blog. I recommends her posts in The Freelancer’s Survival Guide, and the Business Rusch series. You can buy the Freelancer’s Survival Guide as a paperback, an ebook, or a series of ebooks covering sections of the series.

    http://deanwesleysmith.com — the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing series, and Think Like a Publisher.

    Kris and Dean are experienced writers, editors, and publishers, and they can give you a decent introduction to writing as a business.

  24. Lots of great advice here. I’d add the following:

    –You’re about to enter the business world. Act like a business. Learn how to be a business. If nothing else, google up your state’s or equivalent small business development center. Every US state should have one. The one in VA at least is free to use and full of helpful advice on starting a business. Do you want to be a sole proprietor, a LLC, something else? Ask questions and get business and tax advice.

    –Lurk and/or ask questions at various writer and writing boards (including Absolute Write and the Kindle Boards) BUT…keep your tinfoil hat BS detector on at all times and take everything with a huge grain of salt. What worked for one writer may not work for you, and some trends may not work for you (e.g., if you’re writing a series, you might not want to make the first book free, even if it seems like ‘everyone else’ is doing so).

    –Above all else, have fun!

  25. I have a comment stuck in the moderation queue. It gave actual links. Let’s see if this works better.

    I second recommending kriswrites.com–the Business Rusch and the Freelancer’s Survival Guide. You can buy the latter in print, as one ebook, or as several.

    I also highly recommend deanwesleysmith.com — the Think Like a Publisher Series, and Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing.

  26. I recommend learning all about the process before writing the book. It can save lots of time. I suggest building a 25-page book, and taking it all the way through publishing on KDP. It’s a test. Proof-of-concept. There is no need for a real book to learn the process of building the book in the context of the eWorld.

    The test book contains all the front matter, about five chapters, custom made Word STYLES, and becomes a template for the real book. The content doesn’t matter. It can be anything. Content isn’t important at this stage.

    When the test is complete, then write the real book knowing exactly where you are going. The fog will be gone.

  27. Ditto everyone who said the main thing for the aspiring writer is to concentrate on the book. But that said, a great place to learn about the self-publishing industry is the Kindle Boards (http://www.kboards.com/). There are loads of successful, self-published writers there, discussing marketing, blogging, Facebook, covers, editors, you name it. A very valuable tool.

  28. .
    My advice for someone interested in starting is:
    1. Write a short story in the 5,000+ word range
    2. Put that up on Amazon Kindle, with a cover
    3. Now start a second short or that novel you’ve been thinking about.
    .
    Best tools for no fuss publishing: LibreOffice.org. You can write the story in “Writer” and then make the cover in “Impress”. The second story you’ll want a better cover and go invest in gimp.org and youtube training (all free).
    .
    What I’ve had is a friend that once said, “I’m thinking about writing” and we talked for a long time, I even suggested a plot that went well with their background (so no additional research) that they loved and were going to get right on it. It’s been over a year now. I’m thinking I might use that great plot I gave them…
    .
    .

  29. This happens to be my latest blog post.

    “Self-Publishing? Step on the GAASS!”

    If you want to write, you should write the stories that are in your heart. Follow your bliss, tell your truths… yadda yadda. But if you want to make a living at writing, there are some techniques that will increase your chances of making an early profit, thus putting you in a position to follow your bliss and write the stories that are in your heart.

    Herewith, Patrice’s advice on how to make money–as of the indie world in the spring of 2013:

    Write GENRE
    Write AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
    Write AS FAST AS POSSIBLE
    Write SHORT
    Write SERIES

    Personally, I have many different interests, and I’m currently concocting ebooks in lots of different genres, including science fiction/fantasy, political thrillers, chick lit, cozy mysteries, and funky short stories. So I don’t mind concentrating on what works best, i.e., gets me more readers, first.

    GENRE – Romance, chick lit, sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, are the easiest sells. I think that’s the current order of popularity. Not that you can’t write the great American literary novel. But perhaps try something hotter first.

    AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE – This means that if you have a book out that hits big, and you have nothing to sell other than that, you waste a golden opportunity to convert readers to fans. They read the one, think it’s great, and have nothing else to buy… and nothing else to hook them in to you as an author. When you get the next book out a year later, they have moved on to other authors, and have bought their entire oeuvres. That could have been you! (Trad publishers, take note–one book every year or two is not making it any more for readers.) Of course you have to start with your first book. Just keep writing. Don’t wait to see if self-publishing is for you. It won’t be for you if you only write one book. I made that mistake. I had a phenomenal selling streak with my political thriller RUNNING in the hot days around Christmas of 2011 (eons ago in self-pub time). For about a minute I made [redacted] a week. Which slowly simmered down into the summer of 2012, when I made FAR less. I still don’t have a book to follow that one up in the political thriller genre. Which brings me to my next point:

    AS FAST AS POSSIBLE – You have a busy life, I know. A day job, a spouse, a house, kids, the dog, friends, TV shows (you’re still watching TV?? You’re a writer. Writing is the new TV. Get away from the screen… unless you’re typing on it.) But write anyway. You may have heard of Hugh Howey, of WOOL fame. He wrote during his lunch breaks while working as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. He scribbled in longhand part of one of his books while sitting in the audience at a book awards presentation… while they were up there congratulating last year’s bestsellers, he was at a table writing the next one. P.S. He made more than a million dollars last year on self-published ebooks alone. And then sold print rights for mid-six figures, and sold the book in 24 countries, and sold film rights and comic book rights and… yeah, don’t get jealous, just write your own book. Books!

    SHORT – I have my newest short story out now, 8,500 words, and it’s selling for 99¢. That one short story is going to make me [redacted] this month. That’s at the 35% royalty rate. Multiply that by several shorts, and you get… more money. Short is fast, short is easy, and readers LOVE short. They can read it on their lunch hour. It’s ideal for iPhones and iPads. Now that the price point for indie ebooks is rising to $2.99 or $4.99, not as many full-length novels are selling for 99¢. Plus, even full-length is dropping in length from 80,000- 100,000 being typical for a print novel (and longer for fantasy and sci-fi titles) to 50,000 – 80,000 being considered a reasonable length. Joe Konrath calls anything over 30,000 a novel now, and anything over 15,000 a short novel. Barry Eisler sells 35,000 words as a novel…. You can now write THREE books with the words that it used to take to make ONE. Faster, shorter, more money for you. They still have to have a satisfying story arc, a beginning, middle and end. Just make the bits move faster.

    SERIES – This is pretty obvious from all the millions of Book 1, Book 2, Book 37 titles you see out there. One set of co-writers is publishing “Around the World in 80 Men,” and they’re up to Books 21-25 (Puerto Rico, Nevada, Tahiti, Spain, Holland, FYI). They sell each ebook for 99¢ and collections of of five for $3.99. They’re going for, obviously, 80 of these. This sweet young waitress becomes a high-priced international hooker. (I suspect there is sex involved.) They’ve simplified the process for themselves–no not the sex process!–of preparing the books by using the same cover in different colors. I think these writers are going to make a mint. You don’t need that many fans if they all buy 80 of your books, or 16 compilations of 5 books each. And these writers are putting them out there FAST! I just read the first chapter of the first one, which is currently free, which is another wise move when you have a lot of books out… we could add FREE to the GAASS acronym, but then it would be GAASSF, and what does that mean? The first chapter showed this to be a fun, light read. About a sweet young thing who decides to travel the world and have sex for money. How much you want to bet she pulls a Pretty Woman and falls in love with Mr. #80?

    So there you have it. The latest best advice on how to maximize your earning potential as an indie ebook writer. All so that you can make a few bucks and then write that esoteric masterpiece on ancient phlebotomy techniques among the Incans. Which, who knows, could turn out to be your biggest seller!

    • George from Toronto

      Patrice thank you, thank you very much. That was brilliant.

      As a newbie (only now setting up my website) I have read all the comments carefully so far and will look up the links and the other recommended items but your post was simply brilliant. Along with Dean Wesley Smith’s posting of his “Writing Fast” post ( http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=8916 ) you’ve both convinced me that (with a tip of the hat to Wall Street the film):

      Writing fast is good. Writing fast is right, Writing fast works. Writing fast clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the writing spirit.

  30. You’re welcome, George, and I wish you much good luck! I’m flattered to be mentioned in the same sentences as Dean Wesley Smith.

    As many above have said, the main thing is to write. Don’t talk about writing, don’t research writing, don’t cogitate about writing.

    WRITE.

  31. “For the topic, which is pretty cool, I read once there are two types of writers, one writes for money and the other for art (creativity, contribution, recognition, perhaps for a legacy).”

    This silly meme of the money-art dichotomy keeps going around like a bad cold. I’d love to see it dead. It’s a lie. Everybody comes to writing – or anything – with a bundle of motivations. You start reading comments about income and everyone is saying ‘yeah, I’d really love to make a living with my writing, cause I love to write.’ They aren’t saying, ‘Hey, no need for me to EVER make any income whatsoever at my writing, cause I have a day job, and all my time to learn and practice is just for art.’
    And I don’t buy that there are people who only write for the money. There’s people making big money, but they didn’t start writing with ONLY that end in mind. And I highly doubt that there is even one bestselling author who has no love of the art of writing, and does it only for the money.

    It’s a dumb meme. And it messes up new, training writers who BELIEVE it and sit there going “which am I… art or money? Ok, art.” And that feeds into the myth about writers being artists who need know no business. The majority of writers who refuse to learn business get shafted. And their careers end before they’ve started.

    Kill the meme, folks. Kill it dead.

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