Home » Quit Day Job, Self-Publishing » Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs – Redux

Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs – Redux

18 August 2014

The single most popular post (measured by number of comments) ever to appear on TPV was Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs.

In the original post, PG simply passed on an invitation from a visitor to the blog for indie authors to who had been able to quit their day jobs and write full time to share their stories.

PG bumped the original post up to the top of the listings a couple of times, but something about the post, perhaps the 500+ comments, seemed to break the WordPress theme PG uses with this blog and result in strange display problems.

So, in deference to WordPress, PG is going to highlight one of the QDJ (Quitting Day Job) stories from the prior posts.

Feel free to add your own QDJ experiences in the comments to this post. If you add comments to the original post, they’ll likely appear somewhere near the bottom of a tall stack of comments.

From author R.D. Brady:

I quit my professorship last January. (Yup. I went all in to focus on writing without knowing if it would do well.) In June, I self-published my first novel and then my second in the same series in December.

My third’s coming out in the next week or two. To date, I’ve sold over 50,000 copies of the first two books in the Belial Series. (In fairness about 20,000 were free downloads.)

I also make a lot more than I ever did as a professor.

I am so glad I took the plunge and that I followed the advice of successful self published authors, such as Joe Konrath and Hugh Howey. In fact, after reading about the traditional verse self-published approaches, I didn’t even consider the traditional published route. I headed straight to Amazon. And I am so very happy that I did!

Here’s a link to R.D. Brady’s books

Quit Day Job, Self-Publishing

189 Comments to “Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs – Redux”

  1. I was wondering what it would take to break WordPress. And mucho congratulations to R.D.!

    • Thanks Suzan!

      • What’s weird is that you list me as an inspiration alongside one of my inspirations. That’s how fast all of this is happening. Before you know it, some writer will email you and say that saw your story on TPV, and that’s what got them thinking about self-publishing, and if it wasn’t for you and Joe Konrath…

        • ^This exactly! 🙂

          It’s stories like these that make me happy. People finding success in this new fabulous world of publishing, again, again, again, and again.

        • Heck Hugh, don’t sell yourself short. You, Konrath, and PG are some of the biggest reasons I was able to quit a 70+ hour/week back breaking warehouse management job and work part time in my dream job while my writing brings home the bacon.

          Without stories like this I don’t know if I would have thought my odds were good enough to risk my mortgage on that kind of career change.

        • You mean this hasn’t happened yet? Surely it has. I started writing for market after reading DWS’s Myth pages. TPV, Konrath and Howie came soon after. I’d just gotten over a prolonged deadly illness, and was like, “Now what do I do?”

          I’d always written little stories for my friends, written little video games for the indie scene. When I realized there was a indie scene for writers I was like ‘SIGN ME UP!!!!”

          That was a year ago. If all goes according to plan I’ll have 3 books up by December. The learning process has been brutal.

          Amateur Tip: Don’t judge yourself by the output levels of DWS or H.Howey…not at first anyway. Just punch that clock every day. That’s my big take away.

          • Just punch that clock every day.

            Yes! If you write every day, your word count per day will grow and grow as your creative “muscle” gets stronger.

            • ‘Write quickly, and you will never write well; write well, and you will soon write quickly.’ —Quintilian.

              Which is to say, I agree with you, and so does that Roman guy over there.

  2. Because of a disability, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to work a full-time day job. The last one I did, I earned about 40K as a programmer. I did freelance programming after I left that place, but wasn’t able to work regular enough hours to really keep the money coming in. (Plus, to be honest, my heart wasn’t in it.)

    I started writing again (I had dropped it during my programmer phase) and pursuing publication because I couldn’t just lie in bed anymore. The more I worked, the better I did (mentally, which helped me cope with the physical). I still struggle daily with my health, but writing and self-publishing have given me enough money to maintain my independence (I’m not a millionaire, but I’ve earned about 45K so far in 2014), and I’ve found something I can do, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.

    It’s been a while since I had a day job, but thanks to self-publishing, I no longer feel I need to worry about that.

    • Amazing. These are the kinds of stories that I wish got more coverage, instead of the extreme outliers. Self-publishing is changing lives, even for those who are finding joy in getting their work out there rather than wasting time querying. To think you’re making more in half a year than most writers will make in a lifetime is just brilliant. But the best part is that you are feeling better. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing this.

      Best part of TPV (this is saying a lot) are these threads. Just getting the word out to all those who are on the fence.

    • Congratulations on your success, India, particularly under such difficult circumstances.

    • And thank you for your video on formatting in Jutoh! I used it as a guide for my recent novel.

    • Love this. I was working on a career in literary fiction 20 years ago–got an MFA and was publishing in lit mags, plus getting rejected from trad-pub. Then children plus two long bouts of Lyme disease got in the way. I’ve got my health back finally (that’s a book right there) and trying to figure out this genre thing, so far unsuccessfully. (Writing as Valerie du Sange at the moment.)

      But stories like yours, and Hugh, Joe, TPV…all have me so optimistic and excited, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to see a path where I’ll be able to make a good living from doing the thing I love most.

      Thanks for telling your wonderful story, and here’s to your better health!

  3. Since the age of twelve, I wanted to be a writer. But as time went on, and I learned more about the process of legacy publishing, I decided it wasn’t worth the time, effort, and heartache.

    So I joined the Navy out of high school, served for six years, got married, left the Navy, and then bounced around from job to job while I worked my way through college.

    The desire to write never left me, but I figured pursuing an education was a much more sensible and productive way to spend my time (I also wanted to be the first person in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree). So that’s what I did.

    After graduation, I took a job with a major investment firm and started working my way up the corporate ladder. It was good, steady work at a stable company with sufficient pay and benefits to provide well for my family. I had made it. I had achieved the stated goal.

    And I hated every second of it.

    I was an avid reader. Still am. I had story ideas floating around in my head, distracting me at the oddest times. I used to tell my wife about them, and her response was always the same: “You need to start writing.” Finally, she got so fed up with my lack of action she told me she would not listen to another story idea of mine until I started writing them down.

    This happened right about the time she bought me my first Kindle and I learned about KDP (late 2010). So in March of 2011, I sat down in my recliner, perched my laptop on my knees, opened a blank Word document, and started work on my first novel, No Easy Hope.

    The first month I released it, November of 2011, it sold 201 copies. I was pretty happy with that.

    In December of 2011, it sold 2,013 copies.

    Talk about a surreal experience. I remember walking outside in the cold and putting my hands on my knees and taking deep breaths until the dizziness subsided. After a few minutes of this, I realized two things:

    My bare feet had gone numb, and I was smiling.

    In July of 2012, I released my second novel, This Shattered Land. The following month, total sales of the first two novels were over 8,000 copies.

    I remember in late July of that year showing my wife the sales figures, and the look on her face, and the tone of her voice when she said, “If you make ten thousand dollars in a month, you can quit your job.”

    August 17th 2012 was my last day at Vanguard.

    And I haven’t looked back. I have released three novels since then, all of which have done well enough to keep me writing full time. I’m currently earning more money now than I have ever earned in my life, and I have Amazon and KDP (not to mention Createspace and ACX) to thank for it.

    I don’t know what the future holds for all of publishing, but I know this: Authors have more choices now than they have ever had in the history of the world. In this business, there are no guarantees, but if you have the talent and the drive and you are tireless and you never give up, your chances of making it are better than they have ever been.

    I am the writer Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler and others predicted. I’m the guy Traditional Publishing needs to be afraid of. Not because I was rejected by them and went on to find success on my own, but BECAUSE I NEVER EVEN TRIED.

    And I can guarantee you this: I am not the only one.

    How many writers labored for years under the old system only to never find success? How many found success only after decades of effort and mountains of rejection letters? Those writers will tell you there is no guarantee of success in self-publishing. And I agree. However, your chances aren’t any better in the traditional world, and at least with self-publishing you don’t have to query an agent, deal with an editor, or surrender control of your work.

    I like being in control. I like being able to write whatever I want and publish it as soon as I am finished with it. I like 70% royalties. What I don’t like are onerous contracts, sharing my profits with an agent, or giving up more than half of my royalties to a publishing house. That’s why I self publish.

    Also, don’t let anyone tell you self publishing is expensive. It doesn’t have to be. I published my first novel for ninety dollars–that’s $90.00–and it has gone on to sell over forty thousand copies. Pretty good ROI if you ask me.

    So if you are considering self publishing, my advice is to go for it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You might not be an overnight success–hell, it took me two years to reach the point I could write full-time–but you can make money from your work while you strive to take your writing to the next level. That’s what I did.

    Those first royalty checks weren’t enough to retire on (still aren’t, actally), but they made paying the bills a heck of a lot less stressful. So do what I did: start making money from your hobby. Trust me, it beats the heck out of getting a part time job. In many cases, it pays better too.

    Now stop reading this and go write something.

    • Not because I was rejected by them and went on to find success on my own, but BECAUSE I NEVER EVEN TRIED.

      And I can guarantee you this: I am not the only one.

      I, too, never queried a publishing house or approached an agent. I wrote stories for decades as an employee in the table top game industry. When I made the jump to writing straight fiction, I went straight to the indie world. I haven’t quit my day job, but my audience is growing and I think it likely that QDJ approaches.

      • James

        Thanks for sharing the story, shipmate.

        Stories like your are the tip of only one of many, many icebergs TradPub won’t realize exists until it’s far too late, me thinks.

    • This was exhilarating to read! Congratulations to you! I vote for your story as the next one PG highlights in a post.

    • Change a couple of your early life details and you’ve pretty much got the trajectory I followed to become an author.

      I’ve always been an avid reader, consuming novels at a pace that simultaneously confused and ticked off my classmates. My strongest aptitude tests were always in English and, even though I couldn’t describe the actual “rules of grammar” if I tried I’ve been told I can weave a tale.

      With that in mind I pursued the knowledge needed to become a “published author” while still in high school and nearly immediately lost all desire to do so. Did I lose my love a reading and storytelling? Absolutely not, but I wasn’t going to waste what little resources I had pursuing a career that was as unlikely as finding a winning Powerball ticket in the gutter. I grew up poor and, quite frankly, I needed to be able to keep a roof over my head.

      In late 2009, after years in the backbreaking world of warehouse management, my son was born and my wife bought me my first Kindle. Because I’m a cheap bastard I quickly discovered that some of my favorite books were insanely expensive and, looking for alternatives, I found out about the KDP program. I was curious.

      When I looked up the terms of selling through KDP a light bulb went off and all of the stories I’d been bouncing around in my head took on a new life. Since then I’ve published a number of novels and, while I still work for others I do so in an industry of my choice despite low pay because, for the first time ever my writing brings home a paycheck.

      In the previous thread I said that I thought I’d be able to “quit my day job” and write full time by late this year or early next year. I was wrong, because as of a few weeks ago I transitioned to part-time two day a week work. If I didn’t work for an awesome craft brewery that gives me free beer and behind-the-scenes access to beer fests I’d be completely out of the “employee” lifestyle.

      There has never been a better time to be a writer.

    • Congrats, but por favor, tell us what you did after you hit the publish button. That’s a pretty good discover rate after only a few weeks of having one title (now more) available.

      • I second that request!

        • The truth?


          I mean it. Nothing.

          I didn’t open a twitter account or a Facebook page until months after the release. I did no pre-release marketing. What I DID, however, was observe the Holy Trinity.

          Title, Cover Art, Book Description.

          I’m not saying I knocked any of the three out of the park, but I did all right on all three of them. (Keary Taylor designed the cover, and I think she did a great job. Say whatever you want about it, it is eye-catching.) Also, it was 2011. The genre I write in had fewer books, a lot of untapped fans, and Amazon’s algorithms were different. Would I have the same success today? I don’t know. I wish I had something more to say on the subject, but I think, in my case, it was a question of sensing an opportunity in an under-served niche market and jumping on it.

          Which is still a good strategy, by the way.

          • Title, Cover Art, Book Description.


            This, right here, is the best advice I ever got out of everything I’ve read online.

            You’ll write as fast as you write, so don’t focus on it. No, focus on writing a memorable book title, give it a good cover (even if you have to pay for it), and write. a. good. blurb.

            Do these three things and, if you’re any good as a writer you’ll gather an audience. It may take time, and you (probably) won’t make it big any time soon, but still gather your audience.

          • Are there any under-served niche markets left?

          • Holyt trinity indeed but most of all, you wrote great books. 🙂
            I read the first two a few moths back and plugged them on facebook because I liked them so much.

  4. Seven months ago I was studying how to publish on KDP. Finally figured it out in late January. Today that book is #872 in paid Kindle. All four of my books are under 100 in their sub-genre (thriller > legal). I even have a pre-order button for #5 and I did the cover myself *smiles*.

    I don’t have to do law anymore.

    Thanks Joe, Hugh, Barry, Russell, Viola et al.

    ‘Nuff said.

  5. Nope – still waiting…
    I keep telling myself it’s early days yet. So far my sales have paid for a ticket to a crime fiction convention, but it’ll be a long time before I’m ready to give up the security of my corporate Day Job, and only part of that is down to the number of books sold. At least with indie I haven’t filled up my garage with paperbacks I can’t shift.
    P.S. Just interested here: when you say “Amazon” is that a shorthand for all selfpub venues or just the Mighty ‘Zon?

    • In these cases, the writers are most likely specifically speaking about Amazon and ebooks only unless they mention otherwise. Amazon currently sells about 60% of all ebooks (and some claim more) and they have the easiest and most streamlined method of submitted new ebooks for sale.

      There is still a lot of argument between independent authors about the value of Amazon exclusive releases versus the broader range of sellers like Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and others. That is a call that you have to make individually. There aren’t any definitive answers or best practices there yet.

    • I consider Zon shorthand. It’s the place where I sell most of my books. Lulu comes in a distant, but solid second, while I get 1-2 books from B&N and Nook.

      Fortunately, all the non-Amazon outfits accept the epub format, so I can pay for one version (with minor mods such as Smashword’s desire to put its name in it) and spread the cost among several outlets. It’s free in most cases, but Bookbaby, for example, charges $29 as a one-time fee.

  6. Does it count if you go from full-time day job to part-time? That’s what my books enabled me to do. For me, it’s a perfect mix because I actually like what I do at my day job most of the time(respiratory therapist). I used to have to work two 12 hour shifts and two 8 hour shifts every week. The 12 hour shifts were killers–especially in the winter, which is the busy time for a respiratory therapist. Now, I work two eight hour shifts one week, and three the next. I get off work about 2pm. My daughter loves that I’m home every day when she comes home from school.

    I’m not a big name, but over six books, I’m at the 100,000 sale milestone. If someone told me in June, 2010, when I sold my first 8 copies, I believe it was, that I’d ever sell 100,000 copies, I’d have rolled around on the floor laughing.

  7. Last month I made enough on my self-published books to buy an Egg McMuffin on the way to the day job. Oh well…someday…

    • Merrill, all I could buy was half a Snickers bar my first month. Keep working. It does get better!

      • I’m at that place where I’m not yet breaking even. But I’d rather “not break even” where it’s ME calling the shots than under my old small press contracts. The list of broken promises I personally experienced would pave my path from my front door to the street.

        No, give me not making much self-pubbed over not making much trade-pubbed any day.

    • 😀 😀

    • I made ten bucks my first month. It took me about three or four months before I earned a hundred bucks and I was thrilled!

      • I haven’t had a $100 month yet. On the other hand, it’s been a year and a half since I was able to release a new book, due to a variety of petty vexations. (Fall down stairs, concussion, spinal injury, torticollis, major clinical depression, hypothyroidism, and most recently, a suspected second stroke.)

        Thanks to all who posted here. I desperately needed the reminder that it is possible to make money in this business; because I am certainly not in a position to make any money doing anything else. The only thing I can think of is to persevere as well as I can.

        • Wow, I thought I had a string of bad luck over the past year. Hang in there, Tom!

          • Oh, that’s not my bad luck, that’s just my health. My bad luck comes in the forms of things like my heat cutting out last winter when it was –25 °C outside (translation into American: way too f****** cold), and the landlord trying to fix it himself instead of hiring someone who knew how.

            On the other hand, I have had good help, both from my writing and editing friends, and from some generous readers who are footing the bill for me to pay for proper cover art for my (hopefully) forthcoming serial. I would call the luck about even, if I were only able to work steadily enough to take advantage of it.

            There is a rather mournful proverb in one of my fantasy settings, which partly resembles a saying from this world: ‘Opportunity calls once, but hunger visits every day.’

            • Take a look at DDP Yoga (that’s all you have to google), it is great for those recovering from injuries and anyone who might ever have an injury.

        • I loved The End of Earth and Sky. It gave me the same feelings as the early fantasy books I read, including C.S. Lewis and Tolkien.

          And Lord Talon was a hoot.

        • I will say publicly that it boggles me that your books do not do better. Lord Talon’s Revenge is simply marvelous. Hang in there.

          If you do a Kickstarter or a Gofundme to get some marketing capital, I will contribute. 🙂

      • I launched my first short-story collection in December 2012. In January 2014 I had my first $100 month. July was my first $500 month. Slowly, slowly, the sales go up. I finally hit a sweet spot with the quasi-alt-history sci-fi novels (as opposed to mil-sci-fi with a time-traveling were-jaguar and her dragonesque business partner). Inch by inch, sale by sale, the numbers go up.

        • Your fiction writing skills have been growing by quantum leaps and bounds. There’s a smoothness and confidence that wasn’t there before, also.

          So time + discoverability + improvement + more to buy = they all help.

    • So far I have only released two collections of shorter fiction and a few short stories. But I have yet to see more than 20 dollars in a month (started in September 2013). I know there’s things I could do (a newsletter would probably be a good idea) but I’m at the point where I wonder whether anyone even sees my books.

      I have a good day job (dentist) that I’m good at, and it provides a nice living, but I must say I’d love to see a bit more success. It would make the effort seem, well, less like effort.

    • Merrill,

      My writing income was that way for a long time. Many months I got nothing, or a few dollars. Getting a deposit at all was exciting, usually enough for a fast food meal.

      Then one day, after publishing the third book in a trilogy, I noticed I sold over a dozen copies. In one day! And the numbers kept going up for three months. Sales have gone down over the summer, but I make more money PER DAY than I used to make per month from my books.

      I can take a while to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to believe it’s there. Keep working and you’ll find it.

    • Ah, good to know I’m not the only one. 43 months self-publishing, 16 titles available, $693.97 in royalties. My Genre Focus Disorder works against me.

  8. I love reading all this good news. I don’t have a day job, but my occasional sales pay a few bills, and as long as I keep going, that will only improve. I’m so glad I stopped the “agent-query” merry-go-round.

  9. I was just pointed to this article and was jumping up and down saying “Me, me” Two years ago I was doing office admin and now I am full time author. My end of year income for my first year as an author was several thousand more than being an office manager. It’s no massive amount, but it pays my bills and allows me to indulge in my obsession with writing. I am currently working on my fifth book and loving getting up to work every morning. Sometimes, I’m still in my dressing gown at lunchtime, which is just my type of uniform. My first book is coming up for its two year anniversary tomorrow and I’m doing a full revision to release soon. It has been downloaded free 100,000 times and been the best promotional tool to my other books, all selling fantastic in the UK, averagely in the US. It cost me $50 to self publish that first book. (That was the celebratory drinks I had to pay my models on my book cover) It went #1 in Amazon’s free kindle erotica in the US, UK and France. Only got to #2 in Spain and #4 in Italy. I got the screenshot of it sitting right next to 50 shades in paid erotica! I have never attempted to go the traditional publishing way. I’m one of those people that have to do it right there, right then. I hate waiting for the kettle to boil. I can’t tell you how happy I was to discover self publishing. If you haven’t guessed, I am proud of my achievement, because I took a chance and it paid off and I love being an author. Even if money wasn’t part of the equation, I would still sit here and write books. To anyone who has had the same dream, just do it!

  10. I’m a full-time author now too. Granted, I had my own business before but I made the switch from servicing clients to servicing my heart. My heart was in becoming a full-time author and that’s what I’m doing. The first month, I think I made about $400, then about $1000, then about $2000 in September I’ll get a check for about $3800 and at this pace, in October(since it takes 60-90 days for the money to hit my account from Amazon) with the help of Kindle Unlimited, I’ll make about $6K for this month of August.

    I’ve been doing the Russell Blake technique of volume and focusing on my niche. I’ve written a dozen short novels since I began and within 6 months, I should have at least 12 more.

    I’m averaging about 1.5 novels a month. 8 are published, 4 more are going up Liliana Hart-style very shortly.

    I’ve been inspired by everyone from J.A. Konrath, Hugh Howey to Amanda Hocking, Ruth Cardello and of course, H.M. Ward.

    Thank you for your inspiration.

    • Congrats! Sounds like you’ve been doing a fantastic job!

      • Thanks. It’s all about sitting my butt down and writing whether I feel like it or not and pushing past doubts, insecurities and my imaginary Writer’s Block.

        • Do the chore you hate the most. Cleaning the bathroom ALWAYS unsticks my story problem. 😀

          • Yes, I think that chore is one of my least favorites and cleaning up after the dogs. Ick.

            • I don’t mind cleaning the bathroom. I like knowing everything is sparkly and clean. Same with the kitchen–although if I could just earn enough to afford a cleaning crew to come in once or twice a month, I’ll know I’ve made it as an author. 🙂

          • Cleaning the bathroom makes my back ache, and then I have to go for a walk and unkink the muscles before I can sit down comfortably. The perils of being 6’3″ with the approximate build of a flabby gorilla.

    • Congrats. So I’ll ask you… what did you do after hitting the publish button?

      • Most of it is what I call the 5 promises, Larry (similar to what JA Konrath said)

        A genre that sells (ie: thrillers, romance, horror, etc.)
        Good cover & title
        Good description
        Great first 5 pages

        Do those 5 things and you’re already in the top 5%.

        Then, I find readers who have read similar books from Amazon & Goodreads reviews. Find them on Twitter and after getting to know them, they naturally click on my profile which has my website. I never talk to them about my books unless they ask.

        I mean, there are other things but that’s a whole other conversation but if you just start with those, that helps. When I heard stuff like that from authors, I thought “That’s it??” But it really can be that simple.

  11. *delurks*

    I tried the query-go-round some ten years ago, but quickly tired of it, especially when everything I read about trad-pub seemed to indicate that even if I did get lucky and interest someone in that first novel, it would be a constant struggle to keep them interested, and that my whole career could be blown away because somebody else made a mistake, or an editor was having a bad day, or… whatever. And, well, my stuff fits into a niche-within-a-niche genre, so I wasn’t really expecting much interest to begin with.

    After repeated rejections, I decided that it wasn’t worth my time, stopped querying, and pretty much stopped writing.

    When my husband bought me my first Kindle for xmas of 2010, I quickly learned about KDP, and decided to give it a shot. January of 2011 I started writing and researching. Fall of 2013, I published my first novel. I’ve now got three novels and a short out there, and I may not be making Quit-the-Day-Job money, but I made enough (from writing!) in the first half of 2014 to help pay off some medical bills.

    But more importantly than that? I’ve been a storyteller all my life, and I’ve finally found an audience, small though they might be.

    So thanks Hugh, Joe, Barry, PG, and all of you folks here at TPV who’ve kept me inspired. I may not ever be a household name, but I’m having a blast!

  12. There’s lots of inspiration here as always. I started in February of this year and so far have only 3 sales to show for my effort. Maybe one day, who knows.

    • Vera, I clicked on your name and I don’t see links to your books on your site.

      • If you click onto my name you will see an Elizabeth Baillie link. That is my pen name. You will see a link to my Amazon author page and Smashwords page in the post that you see.

        • Hi Vera,

          I never even noticed the Elizabeth Baille link until you told me to look for it. I wouldn’t have realized that was the path to your books without the heads up.

          I clicked on it and was directed to another site. I didn’t see an obvious book link.

          I just went back and tried again. I clicked on the cover art, but it just took me to a bigger image. I then read your first post and found a text link to your author page on Amazon.

          That’s a lot of steps for a potential reader to go through.

          I would suggest a cover image with details about your book(s) and SUPER obvious ordering options in the side bar of your site so they show up on every page.

          Your first book, Dark Heat, is $3.99 for 100 pages. I know that erotica authors can often charge more than other genres, however, you might experiment with lower prices.

          Also, your last blog post was in June. Maybe post some short excerpts on your blog to help folks get to know your work?

          I wish you all the best and I hope sales pick up soon!!

    • I’m with you Vera. My sales have been very slow. A handful here and a smattering there. Some months, none at all. But I have been working hard to put out novels as fast as I can. I just published my third in science fiction (the previous 2 were mysteries). I think it hurt my momentum to have 2 stand-alones. But that’s what was in my head and I had to get them out before proceeding.

      The latest is the first in a series, so I am interested to see if that has any affect on sales.

      • It’s tempting to write all the standalone ideas you have in your head, but it can be difficult to start a career on that path.

        It’s taken me a while to realize that my readers are more in love with my character than me, the author–they are brand-loyal, not company-loyal, so to speak. By continuing to write books in the series, I deepen their investment and eventually I hope I’m an auto-buy for them.

  13. I love when PG decides it’s time to refresh the “tell your story thread”!!!!

    I read every post!

  14. It’s not all wine and roses. With three books independently published (.mobi and CreateSpace) I don’t even make enough each month to fill my gas tank. I’m now informed by Author Earnings that my genre, youth fiction, doesn’t sell well in ebooks. I can attest to that. And I’ll bet there is a majority of independent authors who are like me, no matter what their genre, but are too embarassed to comment on a thread like this. The independent publishing movement is not always as rosey as the message that is coming across to newbies. When I read about a new author self-publishing one title and making hundreds of dollars within their first month or two, I am embarrassed and discouraged.

    • I could see being unhappy, but you have no reason to feel embarrassed. Embarrassed is looking back and realizing you’ve never written a book, even though it was your dream.

      That said, there is nothing that says you can’t broaden your market some with your next few books, albeit being clear what are YA, what are kids, and what are grownup books. And if the grownup book doesn’t have tons of sex and grue and mush, both kids and adults can read it.

      When I look at your Amazon blurb, I think maybe you need to put monsters and awesomeness first, “legitimate horror story for middle schoolers” later. (Maybe you do it the other way round because of parental review problems, of course.) Also, during my monster phase in elementary, I never would have thought of monsters as horror, but rather as just really really scary. Maybe kids today are different, of course, but I thought of monsters as adventure and Jason as horror. So basically my question is whether kids recognize horror as something you could use to sell to them in blurbs. (As opposed to the Amazon category, which you should keep.)

      And of course, if the Kindle for Kids subscriptions get more popular, that might help your sales.

      • I did include the cautionary note at the top for parents, as I think they are most frequently the ones buying for their kids, rather than kids doing their own online shopping. I will consider what you said about calling the stories horror. And it does seem clear that I need to try writing in a more popular genre. Thanks for your comment.

        • Douglas, I think in an age where kids have tablets and like to read they might click on your book for the cool monster factor versus horror. I could be wrong but my one son loves to read on his kindle and finds stuff I never would have noticed for him

    • Douglas, I’m the mom of a kid who is picky about what he reads, and I think he would love your books. The thing is, I’ve never noticed them before and I refuse to turn him loose with my CC-attached Kindle. I’m sure a lot of other parents are the same. Have you thought about some way to market to the *parents* of your target audience?

      (I don’t know much about your genre, btw, except that it’s hard for me to find books my boy likes.)

      • Buttonfly, I do try to market to parents, though I’m certainly no marketing genius. I’ve had a Bookbub listing, and do free giveaways sometimes. I’ve directed my blurb more toward parents as well, as Suburbanbanshee noted above. Obviously I need to figure out more ways to get the word out. Thanks for your response.

    • Hi Douglas. It hurt my heart to read your post. I understand discouraged, but never, ever be embarrassed. The bald fact is, some books sell, some don’t. One never knows what will strike a chord in readers. Some writers take longer to find their footing. Sometimes audiences are slow on the uptake. The YA market is tough, always has been. It’s not easy convincing kids to read, and then you have the extra burden of convincing their parents it’s okay to read what you’ve written.

      You must never forget that as a publisher, you ARE in charge. If something needs tweaked, adjusted or redone, then you can do it.

      First, double check the writing is where it needs to be. When someone clicks on Look Inside are they seeing a compelling opening and error-free prose?

      Second, double check that the packaging is the best you can do. Do your covers fit the genre? Do the titles intrigue? Is your ebook formatting professional? Is your print design well done? Do your book descriptions convey a sense of excitement and give readers solid reasons to explore further?

      Third, have you targeted your marketing? Metadata, categories, keywords. Have you distributed to every market where your readers might be?

      I wish I understood better how this new-fangled internet thingamabob worked, because it would be wonderful to workshop indie projects in real time. I know it would be noisy and raucous and occasionally brutal and never for the faint of heart, but it sure would do some good.

      Believe me, Douglas, there are many writers in your shoes (trad pubbed writers, too, but when they miss the mark, their careers are ruined–at least indies live to fight another day). You’re actually DOING what every person I’ve ever met only dreams of doing someday (this includes doctors, attorneys, scientists, bankers, and and and…) and that’s actually sit down and complete a novel. Never be embarrassed by that.

      • Jaye, thanks for your comment. I think I have all those bases covered pretty well, as far as the writing and presentation and… well, I need to do better with the marketing, obviously. I am in KDP Select because of the new Kindle Unlimited but will consider adding the books to other online stores when the current Select term ends.

        And my use of the word “embarrassed” should probably be deleted. Just discouraged. Because you and Suburbanbanshee are right – just writing and publishing a book is an accomplishment.

        But now I’m wondering if maybe there are some genres that are still better for traditional publishing, since my upper middle grade books are not in the list of the suggested (successful) genres for indie publishing. I mean, I can use my writing ability in a different genre, and probably will in the near future as a test. But my heart wanted me to write those kid’s novels. And we are still artists first, right? Business people second? Is the indie publishing movement funnelling writers into genres and books they wouldn’t normally write in, but do so out of necessity? Is the indie publishing movement forcing our square pegs into round holes, for the purpose of making money? How much of the indie publishing movement is art, and how much is business? I suspect a greater portion of it is business. People choose a genre that they have been told sells well, then write books to fit that genre. But doesn’t the pure artist create what their heart tells them to create?

        Yes, we are all free to do whatever we want with indie publishing, and that is a blessing. But to try to make a career out of it, there are genres that sell, and genres that don’t sell so much. So I fear that some writers are conforming to succeed.

        I know that traditional publishing forces writers to rewrite their stories to make them more marketable, as well, so maybe there is no answer to the question of art vs. business. I guess it’s all business. Make something that everyone wants, like widgets on an assembly line.

        • “So I fear that writers are conforming to succeed.”

          Isn’t this one of the things that has always happened? The difference now is that *if* what is important to you is to write the books you want and make them available to readers, you can. To a much greater degree, you can succeed on your own terms. Sure, you can’t make a market where one doesn’t exist, but I daresay that if there is someone who wants to write a certain kind of story there are multiple someones who want to read that kind of story.

          Your situation is different in that the market for your genre exists and is large, it just hasn’t moved to ebooks as quickly as other genres. But over time that is bound to get better.

          • Agreed. I just need to hang on until the middle grade ebooks catch up to the rest of the ebook market. When they do, I’ll be one of the first ones there to welcome the readers. Thanks for your response.

        • It’s possible to make a career out of selling books that aren’t in popular genres. It will probably take longer and require more books.

          Write the books you want to write. Middle grade may be a harder road, but don’t let yourself think it’s impossible.

          • Yeah, I’m finished complaining. Time to get back in the saddle again. I agree it’s not impossible. I relish in the freedom of being an independent publisher and not having to answer to anyone regarding my writing. I’ll write the next book in this story arc, then revise another book, then maybe try that adult time travel romance that I’ve been thinking about. Thanks for your encouragement.

          • Yeah, I’m finished complaining. Time to get back in the saddle again. I agree it’s not impossible. I relish in the freedom of being an independent publisher and not having to answer to anyone regarding my writing. I’ll write the next book in this story arc, then revise another book, then maybe try that adult time travel romance that I’ve been thinking about. Thanks for your encouragement.

  15. Hugh is live right now on Google talking about this topic! And actually talking about this thread right now!!


    • Thanks for the link, Veronica!

    • Thanks for that. I was able to leap on there and start listening. It is exactly the same points that are being made here about the success of many authors that are outside traditional publishing.

      It’s a great kick in the pants for someone who keeps putting off getting that next story done.

  16. I never commented on the original post (I usually don’t talk about this stuff), but I’ve been writing full time for two and a half years now. Never tried traditional. Knew self-publishing was the way for me. I’m a single mom who started over at 34 and bought my dream home two years later. Enough said.

  17. While I do not make enough to live on, exactly. I do make enough that it was pointless to continue my job as a substitute teacher (I quit full-time teaching years ago to stay home with my kids – but subbed for 4 years recently). I was subbing 3 to 4 days a week… but for the last 2 years, as a self-published author, I have cleared well over any paycheck I ever earned at the school district for subbing.

    I call that a success… for me.

  18. I have five books out with another three (I hope!) by the end of the year.

    I have my wife to thank for being able to quit my day job originally, but I’m now proud to say I’m on track to make more than my last job as an IT manager (so I would’ve quit by now).

    As I tell people who ask: two years ago, I would’ve eaten nothing but ramen, if I’d had to live off my earnings. Last year, it would’ve been frozen burritos. Now, I pick up the tab every time we go out. 🙂

    • Now, I pick up the tab every time we go out.

      That’s awesome, Matt! Big congrats!

    • Congrats. Okay, I hate to be a broken record, but I have to ask you as well. What did you do after you hit the publish button?

      • Hi Larry –

        Thanks (and thanks J.M.!) Larry.

        It’s more what I did before I hit the publish button. I do 2-3 separate rounds of editing before publishing: developmental, line, and copy. The total cost is between $1,000-1,500 per book. While I think everyone has a readership out there, it’s difficult to overcome a reputation of poor grammar, typos, and generally poor writing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got Russell Blake’s volume if you don’t have his skill.

        When I first started out, I put all of my promotional energy into soliciting reviews. I scoured blog reviewers (not always worth it) and the Amazon Top 100 reviewers lists (many list their email address) and didn’t stop until I had about 50 solid reviews for the first book.

        Once I had those under my belt, I eased off on soliciting reviews, but put several hours per day into promotion and studying the market (still do). I track all sales and ranks and try to diagnose what had the biggest effect–this is hardest to make yourself do when you’re not selling, but you have to!

        Advertising is key, but understanding how it works with Amazon algos is important (must read: http://www.amazon.com/Lets-Get-Visible-Noticed-Publishing-ebook/dp/B00CPQ6YYI). When I reached four books in my series, I put my first book perma-free, which was the step that’s had the biggest impact so far.

        With five books down and more to come, I’m now into what I think of as a “middle phase”: I have a readership and presence on the sub-lists that are important to my readers. So, I’m now concentrating on:

        – Publishing in the series consistently to keep my “true fans” loyal and my brand strong
        – Building a large newsletter of quality readers so that I don’t live-or-die by 3rd party advertising or referrals in the future.
        – Studying SEO and metadata religiously (http://noorosha.com/supercharge-your-kindle-sales/)
        – Increasing my output while maintaining quality. There are two ways to succeed big, so far, in indie publishing: hit a homerun or grind it out (http://www.jasongurley.com/the-grinder/) and fill your Author Page with good books. I don’t have much control over the first, but I can definitely control the second.

        Thanks for reading this far, lol.

  19. This is so inspiring!

    In fact, the first thread of this kind inspired me to start working on a novella series. The first one of those is with my formatting people and on schedule to be released in early October. I’m working hard on the sequel – and having great fun with it!

    Without these threads, I would probably not have found that momentum. I self-pubbed two short stories last year, and a short story collection in June. Not breaking even yet, but I have high hopes for the series. Also, one of my short stories won two awards… it still hasn’t helped sales much.

    Yet here’s hoping! I would love to quit my part-time day job to focus on writing and my coaching work. And with this thread, I’m more hopeful than ever that it’s possible.

    Thank you all!

  20. I just started this year and have only made three sales so far, but I know that this is a long game and have a plan to be making a living sometime within the next five years. It’s hard to be patient, though, when you hear about some people being so successful so soon, but as long as I keep at it, I think I can do it.

    My current plan is to focus on one genre–in this case, fantasy–and, once I am established there, start writing in other genres, possibly with a pen name (I have a great idea for a mystery novel about an ex-superhero, but I’m putting off writing that for now). I know some writers couldn’t stand sticking with one genre for a while, but it doesn’t bother me ’cause most of my ideas tend to be fantasy anyway.

    I like Veronica’s suggestion above, about linking to our respective author pages on Amazon. Here’s mine: http://www.amazon.com/Timothy-L.-Cerepaka/e/B00L9GRCI2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

      • Those look fascinating. Can’t decide if I’d like or hate that power.

        • I like most of your covers, but Devouring Light. That one is too common in style to everything. While your other fantasy stuff makes me go “AD&D!” in my head, that cover is just “Oh look a photoshopped girl.”

          Not to be mean, and I’m not, but when you start talking about Mecurio in the blurb, I’m confused.

          Okay I’ll shut up now, maybe I’m just too attracted to the art in your other covers.

          • Renee, I appreciate the feedback. Sounds like I would do better to feature Mercurio on the cover, rather than the mysterious stranger who fetches up at his abode.

            The thing is, the model looks so much like the character Lixy. I just couldn’t resist! But maybe I should.

            The other tricky thing about that book is that it is fantasy, but the setting is our entire solar system.

            However, most of my other titles sell better than Devouring Light, so I suspect that the cover needs a re-do. Or my readers prefer my North-lands fantasy stories and don’t want fantasy in outer space. 😉

            • That solar fantasy (and yes, we can consider that the first mention of a new genre) sounds like the perfect book that fans of the upcoming Jupiter Rising movie will be looking for. Never underestimate the value of having something already published when a genre becomes hot after a hit (even modest) movie comes out.

              • Strangely, I suspect fans of the movie Thor would enjoy Devouring Light, because it’s a similar mix of cosmology with mythology – but Greco-Roman, instead of Norse.

                I’d not thought along those those lines before. Time to change my keywords, perhaps. 😀

              • One of the space blogs, Hobbyspace, showcases solar SF. Now we have solar fantasy. Very cool.

                • You know, a genre called solar fantasy is starting to sound kinda appealing. And, you know that sometimes it doesn’t take much more than that to suggest a story.

                • Oh! Do write a solar fantasy, JR! I think having several stories in this new genre would be a great thing. 🙂

                • Much as some people try, you can’t have a genre with only one person writing there.

                  I’ll see what I can come up with. No promises, but there is that certain tickle happening in the back of my brain.

            • Lol, so do I get commissions? Cause yeah solar fantasy right up my alley. Love things with gods of old in them.

              It is going on my wish list. I have to keep reminding myself I can’t take the money my books earns and spend it on other things. I’m really trying to pay off my mortgage.

              Lol – here’s mine –


        • J.M. – This is OT, but did you work at I.C.E. in Charlottesville?

          • Yes, I did work at ICE, back in the day: Art Director and Middle-earth series editor.

            ETA: Narnia series editor for the brief time that ICE had the license for those rights.

            • Good golly! Is that where I’ve seen your name before?!

              Ah, ICE. I loved everything about MERP except the Rolemaster mechanics. Rolling up a character was uncomfortably like doing a tax return. It didn’t help that we had a stingy GM who doled out experience with an eyedropper, so that it took us decades and centuries to go up even one level. (Real time, not in-game time; although these figures are approximate.) But I have fond memories of ICE’s products in all other respects.

              • LOL!

                I was more involved in the storytelling end of the games than the rules. One of the nice things about the Lord of the Rings Adventure Game was its simpler game mechanics. I wrote the adventure that kicked it off – “Dawn Comes Early” – and the last adventure before the series folded, “Over the Misty Mountains Cold.” (All the titles were Tolkien quotes.) I also wrote one of the Shadow World campaigns, Gethaena.

                Glad to hear that your memories are fond ones.

                • I’m going to jump in here because the word GAME was said and that’s going to be my excuse!

                  Since this thread has grown to include ideas and suggestions, I wanted to mention that I’m having a lot of success using The Game Crafter.

                  GC is a POD game site. I’ve done three projects through them. My projects are ways to share the non-fiction teachings I do so they aren’t even traditional “games.”

                  There are lots of ways to use what GC offers.

                  If you are looking for a departure from the traditional book presentation of your ideas, you might just find a new outlet, and new market this way.

                  Every time I go on this site I get filled with ideas and inspiration. They have something like 1000 different bits and bobs you can incorporate into your game. It’s super easy to use, they put out a very professional product, and it’s really fun too!

                  My designer and I often confess, “I was looking around GC again today!” It’s kind of addicting.

                  If you have any questions about GC, feel free to contact me. It’s a great company and I would love to see them continue to grow.

                  And since we are posting links to our offerings, here is my latest:

            • 🙂 I applied for a job there after grad school (’94-95). I was the one with the “scary” resume–dragons and castles on it. I was such a newb! I also interviewed 4:30 on a Friday night. Mistake, lol.

              • I was never involved in hiring decisions, but I’d agree that 4:30 on Friday wouldn’t have been optimal for a job interview. 😉

                I liked the summer gatherings, when we would all go play volleyball in the country.

    • And, here’s mine if anyone is interested in bourgeois, legal, science fiction:

  21. I’m not at the quit day job point. And probably won’t be for a while, but over all I’m not doing too badly. My novel has been out for three weeks as of today, and I’ve sold 55, and lent/rented 18. My paper books have sold about 10 I think, but I put that there just in case, and I’m just not focusing on them. and I’m getting good reviews, so over all I guess I’m doing okay, but I’m no Hugh.

    I know I need to get more books out, so I’m trying not to fixate on my numbers. But dang that is hard.

    And Yes I’ll take any comments on my blurb, still struggling with that, though I like the cover art as my other books will have the same feel. And it is different, which I rather like.

    Larry – as to what I did, frankly I cheated a bit. I had/have a decent amount of fans in the fanfic world, so I let them know I had a book out. I’ve had a lot of people buy it flat out because I wrote it. Which is both flattering and terrifying. So I’m hoping they will slowly spread the word, and give me a bigger platform as I go. I need to update my website and figure out how to merge my two identities and then see what happens.

    I’ve played with FB ads (waste of money) and I’m going to try an experiment with radio ads, just to see what happens.

    Otherwise, I’m going to try to quit worrying about marketing, and just write. As soon as Murphy lets me get my computer out of the shop. ~sighs~

  22. Long-time lurker, part-time commenter, here coming out of the darkness.

    I came at self-pub a rather curious way. I’ve been a publishing professional since graduating university in 2001. I happened to get a job specializing in electronic publishing when it wasn’t on the radar. Fast forward a few years and I got an MFA at a prestigious NYC school, got to meet and sit with mega authors like Jonathan Franzen and John Green.

    I was gonna be a successful trad author, in young adult lit, no less.

    Then I made the mistake of actually starting to teach teenagers (the aforementioned “young adults”) and found out the reason they don’t read: the books shoveled out to them have nothing to do with their lives, pretended that their very existences as people of color, as queer teens, as people who couldn’t count on economic security in their near future, did not exist. None of the books trad pub markets to them were worth reading to them. Video games, in fact, held more allure not because of the flashiness, but because the games’ storytelling was much more skilled and prescient. Game makers included people of color as main characters. Queer characters were given full range to show who they were. The game space provided many of my students with the stories they’d been pining to get, but which would never come out from book publishers. So they stopped reading.

    I now fully understood the machine of discrimination with which I had been complicit. Oh, I’d seen the signs–marketing teams taking whole projects and changing things around so that their biggest customers would eat it up. I myself had been an editorial hatchetman who took others’ books and eviscerated them at publishers’ command. I’m pretty sure the changes that I made were not agreed to by the authors, but hey, as long as they didn’t find out, it was all good.

    Stuff like this still happens. Whitewashing covers continues in trad pub. The ghettoization of ethnic stories also continues in trad pub. Contrary to popular hope, it will never change. Ever. No matter how many good intentions authors and editors have. The system as a whole doesn’t know how to evolve and is scared to try.

    I took my book off the query-go-round after a short go in 2011. After a limited release a couple of years ago, I revamped the cover, had an editor clean up the insides, bundled it with an original musical album, and put it up again at the beginning of this month. I also put the book on Wattpad as well to give young people access to it. So far, sales are basically nonexistent, but that’s not the point.

    The point is breaking the gates off the hinges so that the gatekeepers don’t know what hit them. The point is being a part of a movement that has a chance to actually fix trad pub’s broken system. The hope is reaching out to young people with stories that will matter to them. That’s why I continue to write, and that’s why I’m proud to stand among your ranks.

    • Reinhardt, it looks like you’re just starting your journey, so be patient. I checked out your website and the first part of your Wattpad story, and it looks (and reads) fabulous!

      Seriously, I’m impressed.

      Have faith. It’s your first story. You can only rise up from there. If you like, contact Litreactor and tell them about your experiences there. They might be interested in a guest post.

  23. I wonder if we could collect those stories in an ebook and sell it to help fund TPV? I’d love to have a collection of this on my way to/from the unloved corporate day job – just to see what’s possible and to lift my spirits.

    Right now I really need that (legal) upper, because while I’m making some money from small press and indie publishing, I had to return to a corporate job two months ago and a little piece of me is dying every morning when I step on the fully packed commuter train. And no revival happens when I arrive back home – I’m so depressed and unhappy that the writing has dried up entirely. Why bother?

    So yeah, posts like these nearly have me in tears.

    The big thing is the supportive spouse. I’m making some money from writing, and if I can manage to go back to writing and return to my normal rate, I should be able to make a living in 2-3 years, but the crucial thing is, my partner much prefers the steady income from working for a corporation (though Spouse makes plenty of money, our policy is one of equality, where everyone pays heir own way.)

    I guess it’s also strange when the spouse is suddenly “free” to travel and write/work whenever, whereever, while you yourself still have to go to work. Maybe there’s an element of envy or jealousy, I don’t know. (And it’s the reason why I’m using a pseudonym to post here.)

    I get Spouse’s point, but I’m torn right down the middle. I know success isn’t guaranteed, and then there’s the whole ticklish thing of mortgage and pension, and money anxieties kill my writing, too; my job isn’t too bad, it’s decently paid and I’m possibly being entitled and spoiled, since most of humanity has to work for a living, and loving your work is the exception rather than the norm – and there are people who desperately need a job and can’t get it.

    On the other hand, I’m sitting here trying not to cry at work.

    Maybe do a collection of posts on spouses, support and how to sell the new, insecure life?

    • She supports you for two years, then you (with your writing) support her two years. Equality can be serial as well as parallel. 🙂

      • She supports you for two years, then you (with your writing) support her two years. Equality can be serial as well as parallel. 🙂

        I like the idea. The trouble is, that’s a huge salary to replace. Not that I wouldn’t be happy to set Spouse free, too.

    • My heart goes out to you.

      Since you just returned to the day job, it’s a new change. Can you give yourself a little more time to adjust? And try not to see it as defeat, but just a temporary set-back?

      I suspect my suggestions don’t address the heart of your challenges, because I don’t know you or your situation, but your account touched me. I hope you are able to regain your equilibrium and, especially, return to writing.

      • My heart goes out to you.

        Thank you. Just venting helped a fair bit.

        Since you just returned to the day job, it’s a new change. Can you give yourself a little more time to adjust? And try not to see it as defeat, but just a temporary set-back?

        I’m trying. I essentially can do two things in the real economy, and one of them is dead in job market terms. The other is lively, but returning to that desk being expected to do those things, I realized why I flipped over to the other side. I found that profession a lot of stress and almost impossible to leave on my desk when I leave the office. They waved a decent salary at me, and I bit, and now that sharp pain in my upper lip reminds me there was a hook.

        I suspect my suggestions don’t address the heart of your challenges, because I don’t know you or your situation, but your account touched me. I hope you are able to regain your equilibrium and, especially, return to writing.

        I have to. It’s my ticket out. If I stop writing, I might just as well stop breathing. Thank you.

        • I found that profession a lot of stress and almost impossible to leave on my desk when I leave the office.

          Yes, that definitely makes things harder. Sure hope you can carve out some time in which you regularly do leave the work stress back at the office and leave yourself mentally free to live, to create, to rejoice.

          Glad venting helped! I’m cheering you on! I imagine many others here are doing so as well.

    • I feel for you. I don’t know what I could advise. My spouse has no problem with this, but we have resources to depend on and some time.

      Since you mention riding a train, maybe you can use that to write. Write about your feelings. Maybe find some anger at your situation and use that energy to positive use. Devote a bit of that time staring off into space and write a paragraph, and it might help you feel better, to see that you are moving at least a little bit.

      • I feel for you. I don’t know what I could advise. My spouse has no problem with this, but we have resources to depend on and some time.

        Thanks. And–well done on the supportive spouse. I read KKR’s article the other day about freelancing and she numbers “getting all stakeholders on board” among the main criteria. We don’t have dependents, thank God, but that supportive life partner is the bit that’s not working in my case. And I don’t want to jeopardize a 12-year relationship by pressuring somebody who’s not onboard.

        Since you mention riding a train, maybe you can use that to write. Write about your feelings. Maybe find some anger at your situation and use that energy to positive use. Devote a bit of that time staring off into space and write a paragraph, and it might help you feel better, to see that you are moving at least a little bit.

        I’m trying. The train is a no-go–I can’t concentrate when sardined with hundreds of people on their phones. I’ll try to get into a better headspace–despair sucks. Thank you.

    • I’ve been in your emotional shoes more than I should probably admit. I spent 3 years trying to get an agent – I thought an agent and a publishing deal would be my ticket out of my day job. It never happened.

      I found out about self-publishing through KDP, checked it out, and started using it not quite 2 years ago. Again, I overestimated how well things would go. Very few sales, very little money. Now the day job I wanted to quit after 1 or 2 years I’ve been stuck in for 5 with no signs of being able to leave it anytime soon.

      I know the pain, the frustration. Wanting to make the spouse proud. Wanting to build a real life on the earnings from the craft we love. But probably one of the best pieces of advice I’ve come to rely on is this:

      Don’t try to control what you can’t control – how many followers, Facebook fans, subscribers, and sales you have. Control what’s in your power to control – how much and how well you write, what your covers look like, and how you’re marketing your work.

      I’ve gotten to the point where my negative emotions feed my writing. When I feel discouraged, jealous, or frustrated, I think of what book or character I can channel it into. It’s the best way I can think of to release my negativity safely and productively.

      I wish you the best of luck! If you need someone to talk to, follow my name to my blog – there are ways to reach me from there.

      • Thank you. I guess I’m in the “depression” stage of mourning, and I hope to cycle out of it naturally. I do have a novel I want to get written before the year’s up.

        If anything, I guess it reminds us that the process is its own reward. Few people can launch that rockstar lifestyle even after a few years. Maybe it’s time to re-read King’s “On Writing”–still a huge inspiration against giving up.

  24. I am one of those who still need a day job. Book sales vary, but have never made enough to even think about quitting the day job.

    Like many people here, I never joined the query-go-round, though I thought about it. Luckily, I discovered PG and Konrath before the dark side could suck me in, and was saved a lot of angst.

    But reading the stories here is inspiring. Hopefully, I’ll be able to add my name to the list soon. PG- keep the post (or a version of it) open.

  25. My first book has earned out the cost of the Julie Dillon cover. (She just won the Best Professional Artist Hugo! Yay!)

    Second book is taking a while to get going. But I have time. And a full-time day job, so I can wait.

    Slowly but surely, I’m growing a readership, from ten-year-old girls to their teenage big brothers to their parents and grandparents.

  26. My first novel (thriller/romantic suspense) drops on Kindle in about 60 days and I hope to follow with a second (different genre – historical romance) about 30 days after that.

    I am self-employed and my goal is to first phase out the non-fic content writing and then gradually close out my other business over the next 2-3 years. I’ll never stop picking and antique-hunting, but I hope to make it more into a profitable hobby than depending on it for income.

    I’ll keep running my little newspaper for as long as it has advertisers and readers.

    I see several attorneys on here. *raises hand* Two years ago I was interviewed by Library Police when I won the Claymore Award at Killer Nashville. They asked me why so many lawyer write. My answer was, “As a group, we’re intelligent, articulate, educated, and bored to tears.”

    T-60 days (give or take depending on how bad the editor beats on me.) Cover is ready. Blurb is at V 99.65 and counting.

    Wish me luck!

  27. OMG, I love stories like R.D.’s, India, and James—all of the stories, actually. I will never grow tired of reading about how self-publishing continues to change lives. For those 20 years that I was writing while raising four kids, my husband was working a 9 to 5 job, and like many people, he was not following his dreams, his work was not his passion, in fact, it was pretty stressful for him…no free beer. I used to joke, often, that if I ever sold a book, he could quit his job. It was a joke because back then, my hope was to someday get a five thousand dollar advance. The mantra for the authors I knew was “don’t quit your day job.” Anyhow, I self-published in 2011, and three years later my husband was able to leave his job. As I type this, he’s outside using the weed whacker. No more hiring and firing. No more corporate meetings. He just passed by my window with a quick wave and a smile on his face. Here’s to hoping that everyone’s dreams come true. Keep the stories coming!

  28. If I had to choose between the money and the feedback I’ve been getting, I’d go with the feedback, believe it or not. After two months, my one novel has sold about 180 copies, roughly speaking. And I’m grateful for every one of those sales. But it’s the way the book has resonated with readers that feels like a dream come true.

    Complete strangers: the Awesome Indies folks gave it two five-star reviews and a Seal of Excellence. Other reviewers have praised it to the point where I step back and wonder who they’re talking about.

    Even more amazing is what friends are saying. One from my New York days delivered what she termed the highest praise a New Yorker can give: she nearly missed her subway stop several times because she was too busy reading. Another friend from those days said she’s been taking local trains rather than expresses so that she’ll have more time to read. Still another said she never wanted the book to end.

    But the most important revolves around my father, who remains a hero of mine. An exceptionally smart man who once worked in the space program, he’s now 87, blind, and suffering from short-term memory issues while living in a home in Florida. He can’t read my book, though he used to ask about it all the time while I was writing it. He can’t have anyone read it to him because he won’t remember details from one day to the next. Some days, I don’t think he even remembers that I wrote it.

    But my mom, who visits him every day and sits with him among their friends, has been pushing it to anyone who’ll listen. And one day, while my parents were sitting outside the home with their ring of regulars (both residents and those whose loved ones live there), a retired pediatrician my mom foisted my book upon sat down to tell her how much he enjoyed it. He praised me and my work to the skies.

    “Ira,” my mom said to my dad. “Do you hear what Lloyd is saying about Michael? The book he’s talking about was written by Michael.”

    My dad heard and understood. And while he may well have forgotten it by the next day, at that moment, he was proud of me.

    As a colleague of mine says, maybe someday I won’t have to choose between the feedback and the money. But for now, it’s not even close.

    My dad was proud of me.

    Great idea on the page sharing. My name above links to my site, and here’s my Amazon author page. I can’t tell you how much I get out of reading these stories.


  29. A few thoughts. First of all, I’m very thankful for this wonderful community.

    There was a discussion thread up above about tailoring writing to genres that sell. I could never do that. I write what I write. It comes from way down inside the heart and guts and could not be anything but what it is. I consider it not a hobby or pastime but a calling – the reason I am here on this Earth. Whether I write fiction or nonfiction, my genre is myself and all that I have learned and am, all the experiences, reading, traveling and everything else. I put my life on the line and went out on the road decades ago to find my voice as a writer, and returned to the States recently after 35 years abroad. I have written and published one science fiction novel, two mainstream novels, five short story collections, two novellas, and three memoirs. Right now I’m working on a fantasy/thriller/murder mystery. What comes out, comes out – and it’s part of me so I put my name on it.

    I’m not as successful as I would like, and I have complained about it on my website and in these comments, but I am truly thankful for self-publishing. I have published short stories in traditional magazines and anthologies, but only one or two a year – I wouldn’t get anywhere like that. Now I can look at the shelf and see fourteen of my books side by side. I know readers will find them eventually. I thank you all for your supportive voices, which gives me hope and makes my struggle less lonely.

  30. Several years ago I gave up teaching so that I could spend my time writing. In those days, at least in India, the only route was the traditional one, and I took it with a vengeance, sending out query letters and waiting months for a reply, if there was a reply.

    It took me five years. Some wanted me to pay for the publishing. One particularly bad contract wanted both copyright and non-compete. I knew enough to say no.
    And then I had the misfortune to find a publisher. Can you believe it – I was actually happy.

    I found out the realities soon enough. The small press publisher did publish the book and did a thorough edit – and nothing else. No publicity, (“I told a couple of people I know”) no book reading, (“you can do one if you like”). People complain about cheap covers but what this publisher gave me would make an artist cry. I, of course had no say in the cover.

    It was a non-fiction book and the publisher made ridiculous formatting errors – like forgetting to put in a page of contents. Who would expect a publisher to mess up like this?
    What I made on the book might pay for a month, but not even close to a living. It’s been several years and the cheque is always in the mail but never quite arrives. I know the book is selling, despite its cover, and it’s because of my blog a whole lot of people telling one another. The only one benefiting is the publisher.

    So, I want to thank my publisher and the whole lot of them, agents (“your book is unpublishable”) and publishers alike. If it was not for them I would not be here, taking my very first steps towards a long and hopefully happy self publishing journey.

    If the publisher had treated me – okay let’s not fantasize about respect – but even as person rather than a commodity – I would not be an avid reader of this blog (with breakfast every morning) and I might have happily stayed in their stable at subsistence levels.

    In an ironic way, giving up my teaching brought me here. For most of my life I thought all I wanted was time to write, my laptop, my dog and coffee. I don’t want to do all the fiddly stuff.

    Now I am doing it and enjoying it too, as I get my first book ready for self publishing. I did not actually quit a day job for this, and have not yet uploaded my first self pub – which I why I did not comment for a long time. But the stories have been so inspiring that I wanted to say thank you, thank you.

    And a big thank you to publishers without whom this whole self publishing revolution would have never taken off. A publisher – a very young and immature intern – once said to me, “I am the publisher, you are the writer and you have to listen to what I say.” Yes, those are the exact words.

    So, let me reply to them. I am the writer and no, I don’t have to listen to what you say.

  31. J.A.,

    Others don’t have a delete button for your post. If you truly want it gone, email PG. He can delete anything he cares to. 🙂

  32. J.A., I don’t know if you’ll pop in here again, but this is for you and anyone else in the same position.

    I’ve been there. Really, I have.

    That forty minutes? Those were the rare days I actually had a lunch hour. 2004 heralded the first novel that will forever remain under the proverbial bed. 2005 thru 2010, I produced four novels in between working full-time, my special needs child’s six surgeries, and my own serious illnesses.

    And no publisher or agent, big or small, wanted those novels. I got the same rejection over and over again. “Love you style. Love your voice. I can’t sell this.”

    It was discouraging. It sucked. But I kept at it.

    Then Amazon came along, and the rules of the game changed. I found people who enjoyed my snarkalicious heroines, and holy cow, they were willing to plunk down their own hard-earned cash for my stories.

    J.A., those forty minutes each day add up. The words add up. No one is an overnight success. Not Joe Konrath. Not Hugh Howey. Not me. We all succeeded in our own way because we made those forty precious minutes count.

    Trust me, keep making your forty minutes count.

    • Suzan,

      Best. Pep-talk. Ever!

      My own writing is going great guns at the moment. In fact, I’m working on two stories at the same time for the first time ever. (I was always a one story at a time writer.) I’m lovin’ it!

      But! I know from experience that there will be at least a few low moments in my writing future. And that will be when I need the words above.

      I’m going to copy them into a file on my computer, so I can read them during the next low moment, whenever it may arrive. Thank you! 😀

    • Thanks Suzan. All encouragement is good… And serious kudos- you had far more to deal with than I’ve been grumbling about. Congrats on well-deserved success!
      All the best;

    • So nice to see this thread pop back into my feed. It just keeps encouraging all of us.

  33. Angela M. Hawkins

    Would love to hear if and how you all have marketed yourselves since you self-published. I just finished my first book and it goes to print early next week. It’s a non-fiction, Christian title and I have the feeling marketing will be much more needful.

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