Author Topic: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money  (Read 11677 times)  

Offline EvanPickering

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #50 on: September 05, 2016, 02:32:55 AM »

On September 1, 2012, I held my breath and pushed the KDP "Publish" button for the first time, and sent off my first three books into the world.

I had never read a craft book or taken a writing class. My first book was my first fiction. I started writing it, and it just--boom. Felt like I'd found what I was born to do, 50 years AFTER I was born. I thought the books were pretty good, but, man, I really had no idea.

Boy, was I nervous. I just prayed I wouldn't crash and burn, and hoped in my wildest dreams that I'd make back my $1,400 investment by Christmas.

It took 10 days.

So it's been four years. In that time, I've written 20 books (about 2 million words in all--average length about 100K). I've sold (or had borrowed) about 700,000 books in ebook, audio, German ebook, and print (very few there!). I've made $1.43 million dollars [edited; I added wrong], and in 2016, for the first time, I should crack the $500K/year mark. This past year, I wrote 600,000 edited words--another personal record.

So--yeah. That's not bad. And yet...and yet. I still compare myself to other, better-selling authors all the time. I still hear that it's much more profitable to write 50K or 70K books, which I could get out there every month or six weeks, instead of every two and a half or three months. I still hear advice about studying the market and dissecting books and writing to trend, and wonder, "Should I do that?"

And still...what I actually DO, always, is write exactly what I want to write. I still need a few weeks between books to think up the new one. I still write in three or four subgenres in romance instead of sticking to one thing, with not always optimal results sales-wise. I still jump around in series instead of dancing with the one what brung me. I still write 2K to 8K a day instead of 10K, because I edit extremely heavily as I go, and I go back over and over my work to polish it. I'm a little faster than I used to be--writing a 100K book still takes about six weeks, as it did from the start, but editing has gone from a month to a week. But I don't use any techniques to get faster. I'm still in Select and not wide. I've still never put a nekkid manchest on one of my covers.

Basically, "artist me" wins every time. (Though I feel pretty uncomfortable with that "artist" label--call it "craftsman me.") What I want above all else is to learn and grow and try new things and take risks, as uncomfortable and scary as it is. Fortunately, I have some readers who will read me across subgenres and series, and my sales stay fairly steady over time; my early books still sell. So--it's a different way to "do" a career, but it's not bad.

I'm still struggling to accept that doing it my way probably means never cracking the really big time. I'll say I want to, but I'll start that new series anyway. Because I don't need a million dollars a year. I NEED the creative fulfillment of meeting that challenge, of pushing that new boundary, of writing in first person or writing a mystery that really works. Whatever it is.

I think my way "works," inasmuch as it does, because I do understand at a fundamental level what readers in my genre are reading for. It's not really "about" billionaires, stepbrothers, bear shifters, rock stars, or motorcycle guys. (Which is lucky for me.) It's about escape, and fun, and above all else, emotion. It's about believing in these people, feeling with these people. It's about being taken for a ride, even if that's not a bumpy rollercoaster one (I tend to write at the lower-drama end of the scale).

There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need. You might never hit seven figures a year, but maybe you'll get to spend a few months in New Zealand every year. And that's pretty nice.

Thank you for sharing Rosalind, truly. I hope I can continue what success I've had with my book and build a career like that. 20 books in four years, hot damn. The best thing I can say is that you'd never have gotten that success if you weren't a great writer, clearly. As to the need for more, to make it 'big time', I think it is truly human to always strive for more. Noble too, to pursue greatness for it's own sake. Just make sure you're enjoying what you have and appreciate the greatness you've already achieved.

Thanks again,
Evan

A Legend Is Reborn In The American Apocalypse.
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Offline martyns

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #51 on: September 05, 2016, 02:35:21 AM »
Congratz on a great success story!

For the record I think you are right, the trimmings and themes aren't what make stories, it's the personal relationships between the characters and how they interact that engages readers.

Always make the big story small and the small story big!

It's definitely encouraging to hear how self-publishing worked for a fellow KBoarder, so thanks! :)


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Offline geraldmkilby

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #52 on: September 05, 2016, 03:32:23 AM »
Thanks for the post, you've always been an inspiration to me ever since I started.
Like you, that didn't happen until I was over 50, and I had never written fiction before, never read a craft book and never heard of self-publishing. Being dyslexic didn't help my confidence much either. But I read a lot and just wanted to write more of the stories I like to read. My first book went nowhere, but that was OK. Even just to finish it and publish was a major achievement. However my next two books took off, I don't know why exactly. I didn't study the market, I just wrote what I like, the way I like.
So I'm planning to go full-time early next year as I'm now earning more than my day job, and all my friends who thought I was crazy to write are now giving me strange looks... and asking advice.
I may not reach your level of success, but it's feels great to be where I am right now... all because I said 'why not?'

Offline Michele Brouder

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #53 on: September 05, 2016, 04:09:23 AM »
Amazing! Just another reminder to myself that it is a marathon and not a sprint. Any advice for us newbies?

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Offline B.A. Spangler

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #54 on: September 05, 2016, 04:56:47 AM »
Thanks for sharing. Inspiring.

Offline Jennifer Joy

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #55 on: September 05, 2016, 05:25:41 AM »
Thank you so much for this, Rosalind. And for sharing that you still sometimes get scared with scenes and write them longhand. It's encouraging to read!

Jennifer Joy | jenniferjoywrites.com

Offline franseen

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #56 on: September 05, 2016, 05:39:51 AM »
Your success is extremely inspiring, and your willingness to showcase your journey is one of my favorite things about you. Wishing you even more success in the future.

Offline jlstovall4

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #57 on: September 05, 2016, 06:41:03 AM »
Thanks for sharing. Truly inspirational.  :)

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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #58 on: September 05, 2016, 07:21:41 AM »
Jolly well done. I think I'm going to copy your post to my desktop and read it once in a while to remind me to get off my backslide and write more.


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Offline SidK

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #59 on: September 05, 2016, 07:29:06 AM »
Wonderful post and Congratulations!

This post gives great hope to the beginners about the possibilities opened up by Self-Publishing.

Offline Dominique Mondesir

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #60 on: September 05, 2016, 07:44:57 AM »
Love reading threads like these keeps my hopes up.

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Offline Athena Grayson

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #61 on: September 05, 2016, 08:06:06 AM »
Congratulations, Rosalind! May the next 4 years see your success grow even bigger! You really did grab the brass ring.

Roselind, I want to be you when I grow up.

Thanks for proving that you can go out there, write the book you want to write, and make money. It is my dream. I'm doing the writing, but working toward getting that money. My take away from your post: write longer. Longer books seem to sell better. *sigh*
But I'm always finding that my books end up being shorter. Not sure if it's just me, or the fact I'm still learning how to get my books to be more noticed.
I guess if the same path worked for everyone, life wouldn't be as much fun or a challenge.

Thanks for posting that it is possible to make it all happen.  ;)

Lyndabelle, I didn't take that away at all--I really don't think the length matters as much as what Rosalind did overall--seems to me that what she really does is know her own writing very well--well enough to know all the ways *her* stories satisfy the genre expectations of *her* readers, and knowing what unique elements make her books a "Rosalind" book. I think we can all take that to heart--even if you don't write spot-on to genre, if you know your storytelling, and know your own "brand," (and you're willing to do the work) then you can find the readers who want what you're writing, no matter if it's door-stoppers or pamphlets.

Certainly, there are some elements of luck involved for every author--being in the right place at the right time and all--but part of what makes the "right place at the right time" is knowing your work, and how and where you fit in.

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Offline Evenstar

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #62 on: September 05, 2016, 08:09:09 AM »

NO no no! You're doing it all wrong ... let me put you right.

Just kidding, you're a rock star, love the books, love the attitude to writing. x

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #63 on: September 05, 2016, 08:28:50 AM »
Lyndabelle, I didn't take that away at all--I really don't think the length matters as much as what Rosalind did overall--seems to me that what she really does is know her own writing very well--well enough to know all the ways *her* stories satisfy the genre expectations of *her* readers, and knowing what unique elements make her books a "Rosalind" book. I think we can all take that to heart--even if you don't write spot-on to genre, if you know your storytelling, and know your own "brand," (and you're willing to do the work) then you can find the readers who want what you're writing, no matter if it's door-stoppers or pamphlets.

Certainly, there are some elements of luck involved for every author--being in the right place at the right time and all--but part of what makes the "right place at the right time" is knowing your work, and how and where you fit in.
That's put very well. Better than I could put it.

I should say that I haven't understood until recently what it was about my books that was unique to me, or maybe I should say "branded to me," or whatever, since nothing I do is actually "unique." What combination of things made my books a "Rosalind James" book. I just wrote them. Over the years, though, I've gathered enough from reviews, emails, editors, other authors, etc. to sort of figure that out.

A lot of things one does aren't explicitly "known." You don't have to be able to explain what it is that makes a book in your genre "work" in order to know that at a deep level. I do think, though, that you have to have read widely in it (and maybe watched movies in it--that helps also) and really enjoy it in order to understand it without dissection. If you're trying to write a genre you don't love, I'm guessing you'd have to do that dissection and so forth.

Offline ParaRom-Writer

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #64 on: September 05, 2016, 08:46:44 AM »
You are an inspiration to me and I appreciate your posts. Congratulations on your success.  :)

Offline FFJ

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #65 on: September 05, 2016, 08:47:46 AM »
I NEEDED to read this today.

Thanks so much for sharing and continued success to yourself and all the indie & published authors out there.

Offline Mxz

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #66 on: September 05, 2016, 10:12:22 AM »
Congratulations and thanks for sharing!  It's good to keep hearing about not having to chase romance trends.

Offline SevenDays

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #67 on: September 05, 2016, 10:45:48 AM »
As always, thank you so much for sharing. And congratulations! Couldn't happen to a more gracious person. :)

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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #68 on: September 05, 2016, 11:07:13 AM »
Congratulations!

Way to rock the indie world!


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Offline Alan Petersen

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #69 on: September 05, 2016, 11:27:37 AM »
Awesome! Thanks for sharing, it's inspirational to get typing!

Offline Claire_Gem

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #70 on: September 05, 2016, 12:12:35 PM »
<I've still never put a nekkid manchest on one of my covers.>

Thank you! I argued with a small publisher I was contracted with over this very issue. So much so that I bought my rights back from them! You DON'T have to have a nekkid man chest on the cover to sell big in romance! Your story is inspiring, and just the boot in the keyboard I needed right now, Rosalind. My fourth novel is coming out the end of this month and it's the 3rd this year, so I've been so tempted to slack. NO. No time for slacking! Back to the keyboard!
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Offline Rachel E. Rice

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #71 on: September 05, 2016, 12:21:20 PM »
Wonderful Rosalind! I read all genres of books, and when I read one of your books, I knew right away why they sold. It was the feeling I got from reading a few words and a few paragraphs which caused me to want more. I fell into the world you created and I didn't want to leave it.


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Offline J.J. Fitch

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #72 on: September 05, 2016, 01:13:24 PM »
Lovely.  Thank you for sharing.  I love hearing about success stories.  This is the type of success story that keeps my nose to the grindstone  :)

Offline AnitaLouise

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #73 on: September 05, 2016, 01:58:35 PM »

I had never read a craft book or taken a writing class. My first book was my first fiction. I started writing it, and it just--boom. Felt like I'd found what I was born to do, 50 years AFTER I was born. I thought the books were pretty good, but, man, I really had no idea.

So it's been four years. In that time, I've written 20 books (about 2 million words in all--average length about 100K). I've sold (or had borrowed) about 700,000 books in ebook, audio, German ebook, and print (very few there!). I've made $1.43 million dollars [edited; I added wrong], and in 2016, for the first time, I should crack the $500K/year mark. This past year, I wrote 600,000 edited words--another personal record.

I still write 2K to 8K a day instead of 10K, because I edit extremely heavily as I go, and I go back over and over my work to polish it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You're and inspiration. I haven't made anywhere near what you made in your first ten days in my first ten months, but I still believe I can make a good income with my writing.

Will be submitting my 5th book in the series I'm writing to Kindle Scout.  :o Wish me luck!

Anita Louise | blog | twitter | facebook

Offline BeachB

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Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
« Reply #74 on: September 05, 2016, 03:17:50 PM »
I wanted to add my "thank you" to all of the others.  You continue to be an inspiration to so many of us with the amount of information you share.

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