Author Topic: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]  (Read 16321 times)  

Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #100 on: April 18, 2017, 05:19:32 AM »
Good writers can be bad marketers. I would think that's self-apparent.

Not relevant to the discussion of luck. Not acquiring or having the skill to properly market your product as a PUBLISHER has zero to do with luck and everything to do with an inability to learn the business you have entered. People don't luck onto major bestseller lists. Never have. On the flip side, people who have a great marketing ploy can manage a bestseller list once but if that book doesn't resonate, the second book won't go anywhere.

Marketing sells your first book. The first book sells your second.

To declare that successful people got lucky is to insult their hard work and the talent they were born with. And I absolutely believe that storytelling is in the bones. You cannot learn to be a great storyteller although it is possible to be a decent writer.
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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #101 on: April 18, 2017, 05:34:25 AM »
I hear this all the time but have yet to see an example, so share a few with me. If these books are really that excellent, I'd like to read one.

Have you never 'discovered' a writer you've never heard of before, someone who's not in the Top 100 of some category, or not the talk of the genre?  To me that's the best part of looking for books--purposely choosing a book that's a little more 'obscure,' but which offers an interesting story.  Sure, there are clunkers out there (maybe lots of them), but that does not negate the fact that there are also undiscovered gems. 

Regarding the 'luck' discussion, there's a quote that says "It's hard to detect good luck--it looks so much like something you've earned."  So maybe people don't actually know when they've run into good luck.  For example, getting a Bookbub ad....  people credit the ads with helping 'launch' a writing career.  So getting a Bookbub is actually a stroke of luck.  A glowing review can also be considered lucky, or being chosen to have a book mentioned in an influential blog.  Even something a simple as finding the perfect premade cover (or cover image) can be a matter of luck; after all, you can't find the perfect image if someone hasn't posted it on an image site.


(Even the president is known to have said, "Everything in life is luck."  And he would know.   ;) )


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Offline Paul Hector Travis

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #102 on: April 18, 2017, 05:44:16 AM »
I hear this all the time but have yet to see an example, so share a few with me. If these books are really that excellent, I'd like to read one.

Are you implying that all excellent books are successful, or are you genuinely asking to be supplied with unsuccessful yet excellent books?

Offline BellaRoccaforte

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #103 on: April 18, 2017, 05:51:22 AM »
If it truly was her passion, she would have found a way. Indie publishing is hard, it's not a cakewalk and no, I'm certainly not in the category of full time writer. But I'm a published author and I feel successful. I don't have hard feelings for authors that are selling more than me, we have a different success path. But have the same accomplishment, we wrote a book(s) and people are reading. That's AMAZING!
   
             
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Online Kristen Painter

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #104 on: April 18, 2017, 05:56:00 AM »
Are you implying that all excellent books are successful, or are you genuinely asking to be supplied with unsuccessful yet excellent books?

I'm genuinely asking. My best reads have all come from word of mouth.
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Offline Paul Hector Travis

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #105 on: April 18, 2017, 05:56:09 AM »
Not relevant to the discussion of luck. Not acquiring or having the skill to properly market your product as a PUBLISHER has zero to do with luck and everything to do with an inability to learn the business you have entered. People don't luck onto major bestseller lists. Never have. On the flip side, people who have a great marketing ploy can manage a bestseller list once but if that book doesn't resonate, the second book won't go anywhere.

Marketing sells your first book. The first book sells your second.

To declare that successful people got lucky is to insult their hard work and the talent they were born with. And I absolutely believe that storytelling is in the bones. You cannot learn to be a great storyteller although it is possible to be a decent writer.

So one can learn to be a great marketer, but one can't learn to be a great storyteller?

Offline Paul Hector Travis

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #106 on: April 18, 2017, 06:01:34 AM »
I'm genuinely asking. My best reads have all come from word of mouth.

Fair enough. It's sometimes hard to gauge tone on the Internet! One of my favourite sci-fi books of all time, Idyll by James Derry, was written by an (as yet) unsuccessful independent author.

Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #107 on: April 18, 2017, 06:36:37 AM »
So one can learn to be a great marketer, but one can't learn to be a great storyteller?

That is my opinion, yes. And it's also the opinion of Stephen King, Nora Roberts and a lot of other huge names that believe storytelling is in the bones. I will agree to being lucky if you're born with that ability, but you still have to put in all the hard work to make it marketable.

Great marketing is not a requirement though. Few people are capable of putting together a marketing campaign like Meredith Wild, but most are capable of learning to be good at marketing. There's plenty of information/training available for that. And before you suggest that there's plenty of training for writing, that's technique. Technique and storytelling are two different things.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 06:40:23 AM by Jana DeLeon »
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Online Kristen Painter

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #108 on: April 18, 2017, 06:51:08 AM »
That is my opinion, yes. And it's also the opinion of Stephen King, Nora Roberts and a lot of other huge names that believe storytelling is in the bones. I will agree to being lucky if you're born with that ability, but you still have to put in all the hard work to make it marketable.

Great marketing is not a requirement though. Few people are capable of putting together a marketing campaign like Meredith Wild, but most are capable of learning to be good at marketing. There's plenty of information/training available for that. And before you suggest that there's plenty of training for writing, that's technique. Technique and storytelling are two different things.

I agree with all of this too. But writing is no different than any other pursuit. Not everyone who plays football will become a star quarterback, not everyone who strums a guitar will win a Grammy for their efforts, and so on. In nearly every profession there are people who have some innate ability that sets them apart. Writing is just one of those professions, and that ability is storytelling.
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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #109 on: April 18, 2017, 06:53:41 AM »
Think of all the things authors control:

- storytelling

- packaging

- pricing

- platform

- launch

- discoverability (lists, also-boughts, etc.)

- marketing

- advertising

- accumulation of reviews (ARC team)


It's true that authors don't directly control some aspects of this business. For example, we don't control when Amazon emails its customers and recommends our books. But if we get the other things right, we can increase the likelihood that Amazon will give us a boost.

In that scenario, is luck involved? Sure. Is it a necessity for publishing success? In my opinion, no.

I studied how to succeed in this business before I published my first book. I built a platform, researched my audience, and created products that audience wanted. I continue to create products for which a measurable demand already exists.

I'm not making Amanda money, but I'm doing a lot better than an office manager in California with fewer than 10 books.

Was luck involved? Maybe. I can say that one of my books continues to be a huge disappointment (ranking is stuck between 80,000 and 100,000). But its failure is entirely my fault. It's the only time I went off script. I've since returned to my "system," and haven't had another failure.

I have one book that's sitting well under 3,000 (no promo, full price). It's several months old, and has managed to stick. I don't think that was lucky. I wrote to market, created an irresistible package, launched hard, and engineered the also-boughts. I also dominated my territory via AMS and created an autoresponder series that regularly promotes the book.

In other words, careful execution.

But awhile back, through no effort of my own, it received extra visibility, pushing it under 65 (no promo, full price) for awhile. Was that lucky? Yes. But was that short-term luck a corequisite of the book's longer-term success? No.

The fact is, as authors, we control the levers to our commercial success. If we fail, it's on us.

Do we sometimes get lucky? Yeah, sure. But we don't depend on luck. Instead, we depend on our ability to leverage the factors we control, and build systems to that end.



« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 07:31:21 AM by Anarchist »
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

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Offline KennySkylin

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #110 on: April 18, 2017, 08:02:45 AM »
The fact is, as authors, we control the levers to our commercial success. If we fail, it's on us.

Do we sometimes get lucky? Yeah, sure. But we don't depend on luck. Instead, we depend on our ability to leverage the factors we control, and build systems to that end.

Exactly. A vast majority of the time when some author claims they are failing because they just can't get lucky, they are not pulling all those levers correctly. There are one or more key things they just are not doing at all or not doing well. They have a terrible cover or bad blurb or the writing is just not as good as they think it is. They are writing in a genre with a very small audience. They are not hitting any genre expectations. They are not writing with readers in mind. Maybe they are not building a mailing list at all, no social media presence, no blog, no platform at all, their website design is horrible. Or they are doing little to no marketing, advertising, and promotions.

Then studying a huge majority of the successful people, they are doing pretty much all of the important things really effectively. But then they get called lucky...

Online Douglas Milewski

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #111 on: April 18, 2017, 08:04:41 AM »
I don't think that anybody gets lucky and makes money, skipping to the bank, but that's not the same as saying that no luck was involved. There's too much variation in the market for there to be no swing, no unexpectedness.

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #112 on: April 18, 2017, 08:10:52 AM »
I don't think that anybody gets lucky and makes money, skipping to the bank, but that's not the same as saying that no luck was involved. There's too much variation in the market for there to be no swing, no unexpectedness.

There may be something to that.

For example, I suspect Michael Jordan would admit that a few of his game-winning 3-pointers happened because circumstances aligned perfectly right before the buzzer sounded.

But I'm equally certain those circumstances were at least partly engineered by Jordan, made possible by his skill, cunning, and foresight.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Online Douglas Milewski

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #113 on: April 18, 2017, 09:34:49 AM »
There may be something to that.

For example, I suspect Michael Jordan would admit that a few of his game-winning 3-pointers happened because circumstances aligned perfectly right before the buzzer sounded.

But I'm equally certain those circumstances were at least partly engineered by Jordan, made possible by his skill, cunning, and foresight.

True story.

On Aliens 3, they were filming the basketball scene. For the last take of the day, the director yelled cut. For some reason, the camera operator forgot to stop his camera. Sigourney Weaver, the last to have the basketball, and somehow still well framed by the camera, tossed the basketball backward over her head, swishing it into the basket. That's how the perfect backward basketball toss made it into the film Aliens 3.

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Offline Rick Partlow

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #114 on: April 18, 2017, 09:42:57 AM »
True story.

On Aliens 3, they were filming the basketball scene. For the last take of the day, the director yelled cut. For some reason, the camera operator forgot to stop his camera. Sigourney Weaver, the last to have the basketball, and somehow still well framed by the camera, tossed the basketball backward over her head, swishing it into the basket. That's how the perfect backward basketball toss made it into the film Aliens 3.

That's the only luck that horrible freaking movie had.  Blecch.

Online Anarchist

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #115 on: April 18, 2017, 09:46:49 AM »
That's the only luck that horrible freaking movie had.  Blecch.


"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." - Sun Tzu

Offline ThomasDiehl

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #116 on: April 18, 2017, 10:23:55 AM »
I hear this all the time but have yet to see an example, so share a few with me. If these books are really that excellent, I'd like to read one.
I could recommend a few, but I'd need to know how good your German is to find out whether my recommendations would help you in any way ;-)

Though I could mention all those writers failing to make a living from their works that are now considered classics.
H.P. Lovecraft did not take off before August Derleth united his disparate stories into one mythos. Franz Kafka did so poorly, his Last Will asked for all his work to be destroyed, for it was worthless and made no money (thankfully, his heirs disagreed). Thoreau failed to gain an audience until 40 years after his death. E.A. Poe's poverty is almost proverbial - yet so are his tales.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2017, 10:31:50 AM by ThomasDiehl »
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Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #117 on: April 18, 2017, 10:39:17 AM »
I could recommend a few, but I'd need to know how good your German is to find out whether my recommendations would help you in any way ;-)

Though I could mention all those writers failing to make a living from their works that are now considered classics.
H.P. Lovecraft did not take off before August Derleth united his disparate stories into one mythos. Franz Kafka did so poorly, his Last Will asked for all his work to be destroyed, for it was worthless and made no money (thankfully, his heirs disagreed). Thoreau failed to gain an audience until 40 years after his death. E.A. Poe's poverty is almost proverbial - yet so are his tales.

You cannot compare literary works to commercial fiction. There's a reason it's called commercial fiction.
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Offline KennySkylin

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #118 on: April 18, 2017, 10:45:05 AM »
Though I could mention all those writers failing to make a living from their works that are now considered classics.

There are other skills besides the quality of writing that someone needs to become a successful author.

Offline Guy Riessen

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #119 on: April 18, 2017, 11:00:58 AM »
Think of all the things authors control:

- storytelling

- packaging

- pricing

- platform

- launch

- discoverability (lists, also-boughts, etc.)

- marketing

- advertising

- accumulation of reviews (ARC team)


It's true that authors don't directly control some aspects of this business. For example, we don't control when Amazon emails its customers and recommends our books. But if we get the other things right, we can increase the likelihood that Amazon will give us a boost.

In that scenario, is luck involved? Sure. Is it a necessity for publishing success? In my opinion, no.

I studied how to succeed in this business before I published my first book. I built a platform, researched my audience, and created products that audience wanted. I continue to create products for which a measurable demand already exists.

I'm not making Amanda money, but I'm doing a lot better than an office manager in California with fewer than 10 books.

Was luck involved? Maybe. I can say that one of my books continues to be a huge disappointment (ranking is stuck between 80,000 and 100,000). But its failure is entirely my fault. It's the only time I went off script. I've since returned to my "system," and haven't had another failure.

I have one book that's sitting well under 3,000 (no promo, full price). It's several months old, and has managed to stick. I don't think that was lucky. I wrote to market, created an irresistible package, launched hard, and engineered the also-boughts. I also dominated my territory via AMS and created an autoresponder series that regularly promotes the book.

In other words, careful execution.

But awhile back, through no effort of my own, it received extra visibility, pushing it under 65 (no promo, full price) for awhile. Was that lucky? Yes. But was that short-term luck a corequisite of the book's longer-term success? No.

The fact is, as authors, we control the levers to our commercial success. If we fail, it's on us.

Do we sometimes get lucky? Yeah, sure. But we don't depend on luck. Instead, we depend on our ability to leverage the factors we control, and build systems to that end.

Luck can determine the speed of success, not the success itself, due to all the controls that fall under the author's purview that you point out. And the biggest failures I see in the indie-scene, by far, are plotting/writing/storytelling followed by packaging.

Guy Riessen | website

Offline This_Way_Down

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #120 on: April 18, 2017, 11:38:35 AM »
There is no such thing as luck; there is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe.
Robert A. Heinlein

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #121 on: April 18, 2017, 01:20:53 PM »
Fair enough. It's sometimes hard to gauge tone on the Internet! One of my favourite sci-fi books of all time, Idyll by James Derry, was written by an (as yet) unsuccessful independent author.

The cover was cool and the blurb of this sounded awesome. Then I read the sample (which gives you nearly 6 chapters, so a decent size sample) and noped out, sorry. It goes to show how one person's favorite doesn't even get the "it's only .99, I'll try it" treatment from another. Readership is tough to gain. I think a lot of peeps underestimate just how difficult it is to write a book that a lot of people want to read.

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #122 on: April 18, 2017, 02:15:43 PM »
There is no such thing as luck; there is only adequate or inadequate preparation to cope with a statistical universe.
Robert A. Heinlein

"I'm a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the luckier I get." Jefferson, maybe.

Offline Paul Hector Travis

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #123 on: April 18, 2017, 02:50:43 PM »
The cover was cool and the blurb of this sounded awesome. Then I read the sample (which gives you nearly 6 chapters, so a decent size sample) and noped out, sorry. It goes to show how one person's favorite doesn't even get the "it's only .99, I'll try it" treatment from another. Readership is tough to gain. I think a lot of peeps underestimate just how difficult it is to write a book that a lot of people want to read.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess  :)

And yes, readership is difficult to gain and retain. My first book was warmly received, but it took me another 9 months to write and publish its sequel. By then, nobody cared! This time, I'm going to write a whole series, and then release one book a month.

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Re: The Failed Novelist [MERGED]
« Reply #124 on: April 18, 2017, 02:54:26 PM »
I don't think that anybody gets lucky and makes money, skipping to the bank, but that's not the same as saying that no luck was involved. There's too much variation in the market for there to be no swing, no unexpectedness.

Exactly.  Nobody in their right mind would rely only on luck-- we all have to do the work, or else the stroke of luck would be wasted.  But there is still some element of luck in pretty much every success.

Even Michael Jordan, with all his skill, had to rely on some bit of luck (plays working out a certain way, teammates willing to pass him the ball at just the right moment, an opponent not jumping to block at the exact second he throws, etc.).
Jena