Showing posts with label author. Show all posts
Showing posts with label author. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 7

How To Earn A Living As A Self-Published Writer

How To Earn A Living As A Self-Published Writer

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.

Saturday, July 28

50 Shades Of Alice In Wonderland: Another Indie Success Story

powered by Fotopedia

Melinda DuChamp is following in E.L. James' footsteps--or at least riding her coattails--with her novel 50 Shades Of Alice In Wonderland, free till Monday (July 30th). In a way, this is fan fiction as well since it is based on the characters in Lewis Carroll's novel, although this version is definitely for adults only.

Joe Konrath interviewed Melinda on his blog, here is an excerpt:
Joe: Why did you start self-publishing?
Melinda: I've had shelf novels that never sold for various reasons, and it seemed like an obvious way to supplement my income. Now they have become my main source of income.
Joe: Would you go back to legacy publishing?
Melinda: I go where the money is. When my agent gets an offer, I listen. But the offer has to be serious to make me consider it.
Joe: So why call it Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland?

Melinda: I'm not above riding on coattails, and I don't believe Ms. James will mind, considering the inspiration for her trilogy.
This is something for writers to consider if they don't have a large backlist and want to increase sales, and by 'this' I do not mean writing erotica. Writing erotic novels isn't easier than writing in any other genre, in fact isn't likely more difficult.

What I'm talking about is associating yourself or your book with something already popular. In Melinda's case she is doing this with both Lewis Carroll and E.L. James. So far her strategy seems to be working. Joe writes:
Also worth noting is this ebook was only released a few days ago, and is already on the Top 100 free list in the UK, and close to the Top 100 in the US. It got there without any name recognition, publicity, promotion, marketing, or advertising. I tweeted about it earlier today, and got in touch with Melinda to request this interview after I'd read the book (my cover artist showed me the cover last week) but it was already at its current rankings before I did so.
It's something to consider! Hmm, I could write, "50 Shades of  Bourne Identity In Wonderland," ... or maybe not.

If you're a first time author, or just using a pen name for the first time, I hope you find something that works for you. Remember, whatever happens, keep writing! Cheers.

Related reading:
- Fifty Shades of Grey - Oh My!
- How To Increase Your Sales: 6 Tips From A Successful Indie Author
- 8 Ways To Become A Better Writer
- Marketing Strategies For Writers

Monday, June 25

How To Become A Full Time Indie Author

How To Become A Full Time Indie Author
I can't believe I've never heard of Lindsay Buroker before. Even now I don't know much about her, but I do know three things:

1) She's an indie author
2) She sells enough books as an indie that she's able to write full time
3) She gives awesome advice about how to become a full time indie author

I'd go so far as to say that anyone who follows the advice Lindsay has given is guaranteed to sell more books. Of course, milage will vary. You might not be able to quit your day-job, but her advice to indie authors is along the lines of, "look both ways before you cross the street". You could ignore it, but I wouldn't advise it.

Here is Lindsay's advice:

1. Don't just write novel length stories, write shorter ones too

This allows you to publish more in the same amount of time, and the more you get your name out in front of readers, the better. Especially in the beginning. Lindsay writes:
... I’ve never been in the Amazon Top 100 (or in the Top 1000 for more than a couple of days), and I’m not particularly visible even in my sub-categories (epic fantasy/historical fantasy) in the Kindle Store. You don’t have to be an uber seller to make a living, though you have to, of course, have characters and/or plots that capture people’s imaginations and turn them into fans (not everyone has to like your books but enough people do so that you get good reviews and you word-of-mouth “advertising” from readers). If you have ten books priced at $4.99, and they sell 200 copies a month, you’re earning over $6,000 a month.

I don’t mean to make it sound like it’s easy to write ten books or sell 200 copies a month of a title (I would have rolled my eyes at such a comment 16 months ago), but, right now, the numbers tell us that making a living as an indie author is a lot more doable than making a living as a traditionally published author (where the per-book cut is a lot smaller). If you’re mid-list as an indie, and you have a stable of books that are doing moderately well, you’ve got it made in the short-term. If… you’re building your tribe along the way, you ought to have it made in the long-term too (more on that below).

 2. Use the power of free to promote your books

Lindsay writes:
I’ve tried a lot when it comes to online promotion, everything from guest posts to book blog tours to contests to paid advertising, and nothing compares with having a free ebook in the major stores. Not only will people simply find it on their own, but it’s so much easier to promote something that’s free. If you do buy advertising (and I do from time to time), it’ll be the difference between selling 25 copies and getting 5,000 downloads (i.e. 5,000 new people exposed to your work), because people live in hope that they’ll find something good amongst the free offerings.

I’ve heard authors argue that most people who download free ebooks just collect them, like shiny pebbles on the beach, and that they never even bother to check them out. I say B.S. to that. I’d bet money that most people try the books they download; it’s just that they find most of them don’t pique their interest. Maybe they’ll download 50 or 100 ebooks and only find one where they want to read the whole thing. That’s fine. That just means you have to make sure your story is entertaining enough to be The One.

3. Make your stories part of a series

I'm a sucker for a good series, and I know I'm not the only one. Even if one, or perhaps two, of the books in the series aren't great, chances are I'll stick with it if I have hope things will improve. In other words, series help develop dedicated fans, people who are going to be with you for the long haul. Lindsay writes:

I should mention here that, while giving away a free ebook can be huge, it’s key that the story be part of a series, or at least strongly related to the book(s) you’re trying to sell.

I just don’t see people having the same sorts of results when their free novel or short story isn’t related to the rest of their work. Oh, it might help a little, but not the way a Book 1 that ends on a cliffhanger will. (My first book admittedly doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it does have a teaser epilogue to let folks know that there’s a lot more to come.)

4. Form a tribe

You don't have to be everything to everyone, concentrate on forming close connections with a small group. Like ripples on a lake, your influence will spread.

Lindsay suggests cultivating 10,000 fans rather than 1,000 because if you write two books a year and sell each for $5.00 on Amazon then you'll make 70,000 dollars a year. That's gross income, so you'll have to pay tax and I'm sure you'll have many writing-related expenses (website, newsletter, advertising, etc.) but that's a decent wage. Lindsay writes:
Early on, I stumbled across Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fans” article. If you’re an indie anything, it’s a great read.

The gist is that you don’t have to be a mega seller. You just need X number of true fans (people who love your stuff and will buy everything you put out), and you’re assured that you can make a living at your art, so long as you to continue to produce quality material.

Lindsay's tips for acquiring 10,000 true fans

a. Place links in the afterword to each of your books. 

Links to your:
- Twitter account
- Facebook account
- Blog
- Newletter

b. Use Facebook to interact with your readers. 

This is your place to be more personal; interact with your fans, post links to things like interviews, to scenes you liked but were cut from your book, to contests you're running, to discounts or giveaways.

Obviously that advice is working for Lindsay, but I've never gotten into the Facebook experience. I love Twitter. Really. It's simple to use and it allows me to connect with folks I never would have otherwise been able to. Also, I don't have to worry whether I've written too little or too much; the 140 character limit is genius!

That said, authors do need a place to let down there hair and be more personal, which is why I'm in the (painful!) process of setting up my own website.

c. If your fans do something like start a fan forum or website, plug it! 

Mention it in the occasional tweet, or when you're chattering on Facebook.

If my fans did something like this I'd do backflips and name my children after them. Just sayin'.

d. Go the extra step to help create a community. 

Lindsay gives the example of installing a plug-in that allows nested comments. (You might need to be running WordPress.)

Great idea! Anything to help foster a community. It's interesting, though, that Seth Godin, one of the folks who helped spread the idea of developing a community, a tribe, doesn't have comments on his blog. Of course Seth has a large and rabidly devoted community, so that choice has obviously worked out for him, but still. I thought it was interesting.

e. Do goofy things just to please your fans. 

For instance, Lindsay's latest contest asks fans to design funky hats. The winner will receive signed copies of her book and the hat will appear in the next book in that series.

Awesome idea! As Lindsay notes, not many writers do this, but I love it when writers have a contest of some sort where the prize is that the winner will have a character named after them in the next book.

Well, that's it! I hope something Lindsay said will help. I encourage everyone to read her article here: What Does It Take to Become a Full-Time Indie Author?

Photo credit: Empty Nest

Thanks to the Passive Voice Blog for posting a link to Lindsay's article.

Related reading:
- The Vandal's 10 Ways To Promote Your Book
- The Most Common Mistakes In Writing: A Series
- 10 Reasons Why Stories Get Rejected

Photo credit: "color bricks" by Luz Adriana Villa A. under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Sunday, June 17

Amazon's KDP Select: Another Author Shares Her Experience

P.J. Sharon writes:
I’ve come to the end of my ninety days of exclusivity with Amazon’s KDP Select program. That means that I’m now able to upload and distribute SAVAGE CINDERELLA on other sales channels, such as B&N,  Smashwords, and coming soon, Kobo. I thought I would give you my final analysis on my experience.

1)      All sales on one distribution channel. Easier accounting and focused marketing plan.

2)      Cross promotion opportunities with other KDP Select participants.

3)      Five days to offer the book FREE in an effort to gain exposure and readership.

4)      Participation in the Prime Lending program (approximately $2 per borrow).


1)      Narrows your readership to Kindle owners, and may alienate Nook or I-pad owners.

2)      Contributes to Amazon’s attempt to monopolize the e-reader market.

3)      Unable to post excerpts for advertising purposes.
All in all, I’m very pleased with the outcome of my KDP Select experience. I’m not sure if I will do it again, only because I think it’s generally bad for the publishing industry for any one entity to have exclusive rights to our work, but I can’t deny the short term benefits are very enticing.
Read the rest here: The End of Select

Although it seems P.J. won't be re-enrolling in Amazon's KDP Select anytime soon, I'd say her experience makes the program seem attractive.

The problem is it's devilishly hard to decide if a book would have done better if it hadn't been placed in the KDP Select program. From what I've seen, when authors report their sales, generally over 60% come through Amazon.

Are Amazon's promotional efforts worth losing up to 40 percent of your sales? I don't know. I'm very interested to read what authors say about their sales (thanks P.J.!) after the changes Amazon made to its all-important ranking algorithm.

Stay tuned and keep writing!