I believe the key to earning a living as a self-published writer is two-fold: write short and write series.
1) Write short
It used to be that particular genres, such as crime fiction or paranormal romance, had to be a certain length.
My first paranormal romance was about 72,000 words because I had been told by the editor she expected all submissions to be between 70,000 and 75,000 words. Other genres have other requirements but, at that time, 70,000 words was considered on the short side for a novel.
With the growing popularity of lower priced ebooks readers have become more accommodating of shorter novels and don't mind paying a few dollars for a 30k, 40k or 50k word novel or novella. In fact, some readers prefer shorter stories.
As evidence of this trend, I give you these posts penned by authors writing in very different fields:
- Ian McEwan Believes The Novella Is The Perfect Form Of Prose Fiction
- Shorter Novels in the Digital Age?
- Indie Epublished Authors: Build Your Backlist Quicker with Shorter-Length Novels
2) Write Series
Not too long ago Melinda DuChamp, a writer with over 50 published books to her credit (although under other names), wrote a guest post for Joe Konrath's blog at his request. Melinda disclosed she had made $15,000 in one month from her first independently published book, 50 Shades of Alice in Wonderland, an erotic novel.
I mention Melinda's success NOT to suggest we all become erotic novelists but because she came up with a business idea I thought was brilliant.
5 trilogies + 5 omnibus editions = 20 books
Imagine you write a trilogy and that each of the three books is about 30,000 words long. You then bundle each of these books into an omnibus edition and sell that. You'll have written three novels--well, novellas--but have four items to sell (the three books plus the bundle of the three books).
For only 90,000 words you'll have a trilogy and four books to sell!
Let's take this a step further. If you wrote four more trilogies you would have a total of 20 books, and book bundles, for sale. That's 20 books for the work of 15.
How quickly could this be done? If you wrote 2,500 words per day you'd be able to write 15 novellas (450,000 words) in 6 months!
Amazon's KDP Select Program: With 20 books for sale one could always be free
Here's a twist: If you offered your 20 books for sale on Amazon and enrolled them in the KDP Select program, you'd always be able to offer one book for free!
I hesitate to recommend enrolling your books in Amazon's KDP Program because whenever exclusivity is required many other issues have to be considered. That said, it's something to think about over the short term, especially if no one knows your name and you want a lot of exposure in a short amount of time.
Other articles you might like:- NaNoWriMo: A Survival Guide
- Using Pinch Points To Increase Narrative Drive
- NaNoWriMo: How To Reach Your Daily Wordcount
- How To Write 10,000 Words A Day
Photo credit: "Psalm 103 texture" by Rachel Shirey under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.