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Thread: year seven? Eight? Report on successful career

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  1. #1

    year seven? Eight? Report on successful career

    Things are still going fine for me as a self-published novelist. I took some chances the past 18 months, and enough paid off to keep me at a fulltime level of earnings. I had an okay 2019, though not my very best year, beginning it with another trip up the best seller lists. (when I say “best seller" I mean "Best Seller. Overall, and usually in multiple countries and all stores. Top 50, sometimes top 10 in this or that country, ranking above King and Rowling and Patterson for a week. That kind of best seller.” Just so there’s no confusion about the term, which seems clear enough to me, but people get terribly confused.) In 2020 I had another such trip, though in fewer countries/stores--it was a targeted advertising push in those countries only.

    I turned down another agent a few months back. Trade is a slow system that holds no appeal for me, the royalties are too low, and this late in my life, I can’t see myself going that way ever, though in 2005, that’s what I wanted. People change and grow. Life’s externals change, and sometimes for the better, and the Kindle revolution fell solidly into that “better” category for me. I signed another audio contract as well a few months back.

    However, I’m easing up on production, which will mean a drop in income going forward. I’m getting older, and this route is harder than trade publishing by several steps because you’re a publisher and entrepreneur as well as a writer. Furthermore, there’s not much else I feel driven to accomplish. I’ve had my good years, I’m financially stable, I’ve had plenty of ego-satisfying moments. I’ve sold over a quarter-million books, and while that would be nothing to Stephen King, it’s plenty good enough for me.

    How do I have this success? Mostly, I write. Most of my books are priced at $4.99. 363 days of the year, I do not advertise. I don’t ever advertise books that haven’t taken off on their own first (which tells me there is a larger potential audience for them). I do no social media. No Patreon or other forms of begging. No side hustle that exploits wannabe writers (a practice I find pernicious and appalling). Instead, I write. I tell my fans when I release a new book. When they write me fan mail, I answer. That’s my simple, effective plan.

    This journey has been tiring at times, but it has also been rewarding, and all the more rewarding because my trade success which sounded impressive for more than a decade before I made this switch paid me diddly squat. I like that people all over the world are reading my books, that they’re crying over them or feeling their hearts beat faster when worried about the characters. I like knowing I’m a full-time novelist, an accomplishment sadly few can claim. I have a good team of contractors, and they like me as a client. It was as stable as a creative career can be.

    If you want to know the “secrets” (they aren’t) to success, start with my prior posts or with Shelley’s sticky post. If you don’t believe me or Shelley, no problem, and no offense taken; find someone you can verify is selling tens of thousands of books in your genre per year and listen to and watch them instead. In short, listen to the winners if you want to be a winner at this (or any) game. Plenty of decent human beings in that position are blogging or posting to forums or FB groups and telling their method for free. If you want success in trade publishing, listen to successful trade-published authors. If you want success this way, listen to successful writer-publishers. If someone with no writing success in the past few years is giving you advice, listen to them as attentively as you’d listen to your 3-year-old niece on the topic of your investments in the stock market.

    In sum: it’s possible to succeed at a moderate level, making a living as a novelist. Two s-p writers of my acquaintance made more than 3 million last year, and another 25 or 30 make over a million, so it’s possible to do very well indeed, but thousands more of us are earning a middle-class living. Keep working hard, learn to be a smart businessperson, learn to be a good writer, and spend much less time on social media or writers’ forums than you do on writing. Do this for enough years, and some good things will happen for you, almost guaranteed.

    Work hard and don't quit. That's the best advice I can give.
    Last edited by lorna_w; 05-28-2020 at 04:13 PM.


    I write when I'm inspired, and I see to it that I'm inspired at nine o'clock every morning. - Peter de Vries

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