Author Topic: What makes a 100k author?  (Read 49838 times)  

Offline Usedtoposthere

  • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
  • *******
  • Posts: 5435
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #75 on: June 10, 2017, 10:21:56 PM »
I don't think I'm an outlier. I focus on what works for me. Advertising doesn't work well for me (other than Bookbub). Writing good books works (though due to illness etc I'm fairly slow compared to some with my releases), paying attention to passive marketing like covers etc works for me. So I do those things. I'm not an outlier anymore than someone who does something differently and gets good results is, imo. I think a lot of the time people spend a lot of effort on things that don't return nearly the results they think they do.
This. I look at the stuff-of-the-moment like the huge mailing lists and the cross-promo and really wonder. I've tried a few things and nothing works as well as simply writing another book and putting it out. I'm in KU because that makes me not have to market much.

Anybody who sells really well is an outlier, however they do it. Not that many people sell really well, and still fewer sell really well over time. The best, very best method I've seen is to write books that continue to sell well over time. But that entails turning your back on the very things that are the most popular at the moment: the shared worlds, writing to trend, writing super fast and short, and so forth.

Different paths, I think.

I "caught on," but I still work really hard. It's just that I work really hard on writing and not the other stuff.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2017, 10:25:59 PM by Rosalind J »

Online David VanDyke

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1346
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #76 on: June 10, 2017, 10:28:20 PM »
I don't think I'm an outlier. I focus on what works for me.



You are an outlier precisely because you do what works for you. Most don't, as you yourself argue.



Futuristic Thrillers, Mysteries and Science Fiction
David VanDyke | Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Contact

Online Annie B

  • Status: A A Milne
  • ******
  • Posts: 4976
    • View Profile
    • My website
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #77 on: June 10, 2017, 10:32:17 PM »


You are an outlier precisely because you do what works for you. Most don't, as you yourself argue.



Most people also aren't capable or don't write books that other people want to read in any quantity, so I guess that makes a lot of us outliers. I guess I don't find just saying oh, so and so is an "outlier" that useful because it doesn't tell me what I need to know to make decisions about my business.  Data does that. Data like that provided in the original post etc. :)

Offline AssanaBanana

  • Status: Jane Austen
  • ***
  • Posts: 261
  • Gender: Female
  • Los Angeles
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #78 on: June 10, 2017, 11:53:17 PM »
I work about 33 hours/week on average, but 11 of those hours are spent on marketing related stuff.

I have over 30 titles published, yet only earned about $50k last year (last year I averaged about 20 hours/week, counting marketing - I earned more the year before with fewer titles, thanks to KU1.0). The biggest reason I'm not earning more, at least from my own analysis of my career thus far, is that I haven't been consistently getting my butt in the chair, writing books, and publishing them with more than a half-assed marketing plan. I use the Rescuetime app to track my work and last year I excelled at doing unproductive things. This year I'm more productive but it's clear I need to spend even MORE time writing than I already am and be more on point with my marketing.

The 30 titles I already have published don't mean a damn thing if I don't keep at it and keep my catalog fresh in readers' minds.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2017, 11:57:29 PM by AssanaBanana »

Offline antcurious

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 102
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #79 on: June 11, 2017, 03:19:16 AM »
Most people also aren't capable or don't write books that other people want to read in any quantity, so I guess that makes a lot of us outliers. I guess I don't find just saying oh, so and so is an "outlier" that useful because it doesn't tell me what I need to know to make decisions about my business.  Data does that. Data like that provided in the original post etc. :)

Annie, what genre do you write in, if you don't mind me asking?

Anton

Online GeneDoucette

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1845
    • View Profile
    • Gene Doucette's Blog
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #80 on: June 11, 2017, 04:58:35 AM »
I think the entire point of articles like the one that began this thread is that any one of us can point to our own efforts and say "this works" and "this doesn't work" and be right, but with entirely too small of a sample size.

I agree with Rosalind and Annie on the basics: write good books people want to read. it's the thing that is both most in the control of the writer and least in control of the writer, because we're all doing our best and sometimes that's not enough.

I've seen this. I think my Immortal series is fantastic, great fun that is "the best" thing I've ever written. But what worked for me was The Spaceship Next Door. That book by itself has been more successful by a couple of orders of magnitude than any of the series books.

I went from fantasy series books to a standalone sci-fi that was clean (no swears) with cross-appeal to YA readers. People want to read the series, and I can build off the series until I run out of ideas for it (which is soon, tbh.) But more people wanted to read Spaceship, and many of them aren't interested in Immortal. Yet every one of my books is the best work I could have done at the time I did it.

Offline This_Way_Down

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 581
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #81 on: June 11, 2017, 05:55:03 AM »
I don't think I'm an outlier. I focus on what works for me. Advertising doesn't work well for me (other than Bookbub). Writing good books works (though due to illness etc I'm fairly slow compared to some with my releases), paying attention to passive marketing like covers etc works for me. So I do those things. I'm not an outlier anymore than someone who does something differently and gets good results is, imo. I think a lot of the time people spend a lot of effort on things that don't return nearly the results they think they do.
I think those of us making a certain level of income do have common practices though. That shows in the discussion we've had in the private groups. You know, the cabal we formed to dominate the indie world and keep all the secrets to ourselves, effectively shutting out everyone else?  ;) Though I couldn't imitate you exactly, I'm positive that if I took the framework of your methods and applied them to a system of my own, it would work just fine. I would go further and say that if you looked at my existing methods and compared them to yours, though we would see differences, we'd see enough similarities to connect the dots.

Offline notjohn

  • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • ****
  • Posts: 654
    • View Profile
    • Notjohn's Self-Publishing Guide
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #82 on: June 11, 2017, 09:15:15 AM »
I don't really think you can do that, can you?  :o

It's a favorite and famous fighter-pilot boast. (The balls, in this case, are at the top of the throttle lever.)
Notjohn's Guide to E-Book & Print Formatting: http://viewbook.at/notjohn

The blog: http://notjohnkdp.blogspot.com

Offline Brevoort

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 140
  • Calgary
    • View Profile
    • The Disaster Tourist
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #83 on: June 11, 2017, 09:46:38 AM »
It's a favorite and famous fighter-pilot boast. (The balls, in this case, are at the top of the throttle lever.)

Correct. It is an expression from sometime in the Korean War to mean, full-out, maximum effort, Warp Factor Whatever.

It has to do with the design of the throttle and propeller control quadrants in fighter aircraft. In order to go at maximum speed suddenly, one shoves the throttle and prop control levers full forward in the direction of the firewall and engine. "Going all out."


The levers were, and to some extent still are, topped by large balls. In single engine jet fighters there will only be one lever to shove forward, no prop.


There is no anatomical association.





Rick Grant
Calgary

Offline William Collins.

  • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
  • **
  • Posts: 59
  • Gender: Male
  • England
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #84 on: June 11, 2017, 10:19:19 AM »
Great article, thank you for sharing it.

William Collins

Online sela

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1398
  • Gender: Female
  • Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do.
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #85 on: June 11, 2017, 10:37:47 AM »
There is no one path to success because there is no one definition of success.

It really depends on how we, as individuals, define success and our ability to achieve it.

For some, success is being able to buy a house with cash and hiring a pool boy. High six figures or seven figures. Authors who earn high six and seven+ figures are vanishingly small in number if we look at the Author Earnings data. They ARE the outliers, when it comes to the data. They write books that are both popular and successful. They may or may not augment those sales with high spends on promotion and advertising. Whatever the case, if an author is earning mid - high six or seven figures, that's a huge level of success.

For others, success is a dollar figure that allows them to quit the day job and write full time. That may be a part-time income if they have a spouse or partner earning a decent income, or it may be breadwinner income to support a family. Five figures, in other words. Considering the history of the writing profession, a consistent five figure income writing books is amazing. In the history of the profession, only a small number of authors earned a consistent five figures in revenues / advances, etc.

For still others, success is seeing their fiction published and the mere fact that people are reading it, even if not in large enough numbers to allow them to quit the day job and write full time. They may write in very small niches or very different blends of genre / category that aren't as popular and so don't see high sales. Some sales and good reviews are enough to make them feel successful.

For others, success is critical acclaim that comes with awards and not necessarily sales. Lit fiction, experimental fiction, etc. It's art more than craft or business.

The paths to those different levels and measures of success vary depending on the person. Some may be natural writers or natural business people. Others may have to work hard and fight every step of the way.

No one can tell you what success means. Only you can define it.

There are many definitions and measures of success.

Even if a writer hasn't yet achieved their specific definition of 'success', there is still hope if you work hard and work smart.

Failure is when you stop trying.




Offline Jana DeLeon

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1092
    • View Profile
    • Author website:
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #86 on: June 11, 2017, 10:45:32 AM »
It's not a kboard success/sales thread until someone trots out the term "outlier." I think there should be a rule for kboards on this, like Godwin's Law. I think Amanda Hocking used to be a member here. Maybe we could call it Hocking's Law. Then when people want to imply that a person's information doesn't count because they're too successful, they can simply type "Hocking's Law" in the thread and be done with it.
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author

Offline P.J. Post

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2479
  • There is no spoon.
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #87 on: June 11, 2017, 11:02:52 AM »
It's not a kboard success/sales thread until someone trots out the term "outlier." I think there should be a rule for kboards on this, like Godwin's Law. I think Amanda Hocking used to be a member here. Maybe we could call it Hocking's Law. Then when people want to imply that a person's information doesn't count because they're too successful, they can simply type "Hocking's Law" in the thread and be done with it.

Seconded.

Offline Usedtoposthere

  • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
  • *******
  • Posts: 5435
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #88 on: June 11, 2017, 11:03:36 AM »
There is no one path to success because there is no one definition of success.

It really depends on how we, as individuals, define success and our ability to achieve it.

For some, success is being able to buy a house with cash and hiring a pool boy. High six figures or seven figures. Authors who earn high six and seven+ figures are vanishingly small in number if we look at the Author Earnings data. They ARE the outliers, when it comes to the data. They write books that are both popular and successful. They may or may not augment those sales with high spends on promotion and advertising. Whatever the case, if an author is earning mid - high six or seven figures, that's a huge level of success.

For others, success is a dollar figure that allows them to quit the day job and write full time. That may be a part-time income if they have a spouse or partner earning a decent income, or it may be breadwinner income to support a family. Five figures, in other words. Considering the history of the writing profession, a consistent five figure income writing books is amazing. In the history of the profession, only a small number of authors earned a consistent five figures in revenues / advances, etc.

For still others, success is seeing their fiction published and the mere fact that people are reading it, even if not in large enough numbers to allow them to quit the day job and write full time. They may write in very small niches or very different blends of genre / category that aren't as popular and so don't see high sales. Some sales and good reviews are enough to make them feel successful.

For others, success is critical acclaim that comes with awards and not necessarily sales. Lit fiction, experimental fiction, etc. It's art more than craft or business.

The paths to those different levels and measures of success vary depending on the person. Some may be natural writers or natural business people. Others may have to work hard and fight every step of the way.

No one can tell you what success means. Only you can define it.

There are many definitions and measures of success.

Even if a writer hasn't yet achieved their specific definition of 'success', there is still hope if you work hard and work smart.

Failure is when you stop trying.




Quoting all of this because it's awesome. :) All true.

Online Annie B

  • Status: A A Milne
  • ******
  • Posts: 4976
    • View Profile
    • My website
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #89 on: June 11, 2017, 11:16:09 AM »
Annie, what genre do you write in, if you don't mind me asking?

Anton

I write science fiction and fantasy, lately mainly urban fantasy and adventure fantasy.


And I agree, true failure is when you stop writing at all...but sometimes that's what needs to be done.  Just as not everyone can be a doctor or a zoologist or a pro musician, not everyone is cut out to be a professional writer. It's okay to quit, too. And it's okay not to quit. :)  There are plenty of legit reasons for writing and publishing that have nothing to do with how much money you make or how many readers you have (money and readership are often tied together of course).  But in threads like this, we're talking about what people who make a certain amount from their writing might have in common, so I think it is totally appropriate to discuss business tactics and what 100k+ earners do... no? :)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 11:19:50 AM by Annie B »

Offline Evenstar

  • Moderator
  • Status: A A Milne
  • *****
  • Posts: 4373
  • Gender: Female
  • South West England
  • YA and PNR
    • View Profile
    • Author Website
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #90 on: June 11, 2017, 11:46:11 AM »
There are definitely outliers, but we have so many of them on kboards that they are just normal  ;D  And I like that. I feel it benefits everyone to be able to pick the brains of these so called outliers and to see people joining those ranks. But I don't like the "luck" debate. Sure, luck exists but you absolutely can make your own luck.

Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

  • Status: Jeffry S. Hepple
  • *******
  • Posts: 9878
  • Durban, South Africa
  • Don't let your emotions overpower your intellect
    • View Profile
    • www.just4kix.jimdo.com
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #91 on: June 11, 2017, 11:54:17 AM »
Correct. It is an expression from sometime in the Korean War to mean, full-out, maximum effort, Warp Factor Whatever.

It has to do with the design of the throttle and propeller control quadrants in fighter aircraft. In order to go at maximum speed suddenly, one shoves the throttle and prop control levers full forward in the direction of the firewall and engine. "Going all out."


The levers were, and to some extent still are, topped by large balls. In single engine jet fighters there will only be one lever to shove forward, no prop.


There is no anatomical association.


Thank you. KBoardpedia once again  :D. Good one for my annual Christmas quiz  ;).

Fiction, family saga, humour, short stories, teen, children's
Jan Hurst-Nicholson | author website

Online brkingsolver

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3748
  • Baltimore, MD
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #92 on: June 11, 2017, 12:03:12 PM »
Most people also aren't capable or don't write books that other people want to read in any quantity, so I guess that makes a lot of us outliers. I guess I don't find just saying oh, so and so is an "outlier" that useful because it doesn't tell me what I need to know to make decisions about my business.  Data does that. Data like that provided in the original post etc. :)
I hate to throw out a word that is probably as offensive to some as "work" or "luck", but I was thinking about it this morning. I received an email from Amazon about Amanda's new book, "Make a Witch". I marvel at the cleverness she displays at continuing to come up with these catchy titles after publishing 20,000 novels. I'm smart but I'm not that clever.

Anyway, the word that we often shy away from on this forum is "talent". We talk about promotions and editing and craft and covers... No matter how great Annie's covers are, she wouldn't sell a truckload of series book 7 unless the previous six satisfied her readers more than all the other writers (me included) in her genre. Mark Twain and Stephen King aren't selling because of their covers. There are tiers of authors, and the cream rises to the top.

BR Kingsolver | Author website

Offline Shelley K

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1826
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #93 on: June 11, 2017, 12:22:22 PM »
Someone whose first book rises to the top or who finds success doing everything against conventional wisdom may be an outlier, but Annie has worked hard for a very long time. A success story doesn't equal an outlier.

Having said that, many people with 8 books that sell, a small ad budget and no help aren't going to achieve the same income, simply because they haven't put down the words or hours before that and/or they're not writing books as good as hers that connect with their audience. It might take more paid promotion/help/whatever and a lot more books to reach the same income, if they can reach it.

Many paths to the same mountaintop, and pretty clearly the foundation of that (and in some cases the only thing really necessary) is writing a lot of words for an audience who wants to read them.

Offline MonkeyScribe

  • Status: Dostoevsky
  • ******
  • Posts: 3940
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #94 on: June 11, 2017, 12:42:17 PM »
What looks effortless and natural in others is usually the result of tons of hard work. That's not to say that we aren't all born with varying levels of native ability, but it can be deceptive from the outside to look at someone's polished draft and try to figure out how they reached that point.

Online sela

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1398
  • Gender: Female
  • Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do.
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #95 on: June 11, 2017, 01:52:53 PM »
It's not a kboard success/sales thread until someone trots out the term "outlier." I think there should be a rule for kboards on this, like Godwin's Law. I think Amanda Hocking used to be a member here. Maybe we could call it Hocking's Law. Then when people want to imply that a person's information doesn't count because they're too successful, they can simply type "Hocking's Law" in the thread and be done with it.

I don't think anyone said that a person's information doesn't count because they're too successful. No one I can see... When people refer to those who earn high six or seven figures as outliers, they usually mean that they have a certain level of success that most people can never attain no matter what they do.

I never intended to insult the high earners and dismiss their views and opinions and success so if I did, my apologies.

BUT... there remains a harsh reality we all have to face:

There are 4.3M Kindle eBooks for sale on Amazon. Only about 100,000 of those books sell a copy a day on average. Only 10,000 make it on any bestsellers list on Amazon. Only a very small number of authors make six figures in a year. Fewer still seven figures or eight.

Most authors make less than $1000 in a year off sales. 

Everyone wants to discover the recipe for success, but the problem is that the recipe is so general and at the same time so specific that it's impossible to write it down.

Some people can do everything "right" and still not sell books. Some people can do everything "wrong" and make a mint. Some writers have innate storytelling and writing and business skills and find success right out of the gate. Some writers have to work hard at their craft for and business for years to get to a point where they can find success.

There is no recipe because even if every single aspiring writer did everything professionally from the get go, only a certain fraction would become six and seven figure earners or win accolades and awards.

Offline katrina46

  • Status: Arthur C Clarke
  • *****
  • Posts: 2303
    • View Profile
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #96 on: June 11, 2017, 02:06:58 PM »
There is no one path to success because there is no one definition of success.

It really depends on how we, as individuals, define success and our ability to achieve it.

For some, success is being able to buy a house with cash and hiring a pool boy. High six figures or seven figures. Authors who earn high six and seven+ figures are vanishingly small in number if we look at the Author Earnings data. They ARE the outliers, when it comes to the data. They write books that are both popular and successful. They may or may not augment those sales with high spends on promotion and advertising. Whatever the case, if an author is earning mid - high six or seven figures, that's a huge level of success.

For others, success is a dollar figure that allows them to quit the day job and write full time. That may be a part-time income if they have a spouse or partner earning a decent income, or it may be breadwinner income to support a family. Five figures, in other words. Considering the history of the writing profession, a consistent five figure income writing books is amazing. In the history of the profession, only a small number of authors earned a consistent five figures in revenues / advances, etc.

For still others, success is seeing their fiction published and the mere fact that people are reading it, even if not in large enough numbers to allow them to quit the day job and write full time. They may write in very small niches or very different blends of genre / category that aren't as popular and so don't see high sales. Some sales and good reviews are enough to make them feel successful.

For others, success is critical acclaim that comes with awards and not necessarily sales. Lit fiction, experimental fiction, etc. It's art more than craft or business.

The paths to those different levels and measures of success vary depending on the person. Some may be natural writers or natural business people. Others may have to work hard and fight every step of the way.

No one can tell you what success means. Only you can define it.

There are many definitions and measures of success.

Even if a writer hasn't yet achieved their specific definition of 'success', there is still hope if you work hard and work smart.

Failure is when you stop trying.
Yep. My big goal is to buy a house with cash. However, the type of house I want and am currently saving for is only about 60,000k, which will get you a modest but decent house in my area of the country. I can do that simply by continuing to work a regular job and not spend my royalties a while longer. After that, I'm perfectly happy to earn between 3-5k a month, which puts me in the middle class and allows me not to work for someone else anymore because my biggest expense is taken care of. Wealth is not your income. It's your debt to income ratio, so I consider myself very successful to be able to acquire enough supplemental income to buy a house with cash. Other people might say that's nothing.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 02:09:55 PM by katrina46 »

Offline Mike Stop Continues

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 147
  • Gender: Male
  • New York City
    • View Profile
    • Mike Stop Continues
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #97 on: June 11, 2017, 02:09:04 PM »
Some people can do everything "right" and still not sell books. Some people can do everything "wrong" and make a mint.

Show me a person who did everything right and didn't sell books. I don't believe that person exists. By the same token, I'm certain that anyone who's making a mint did most of the important stuff right.

Believing in chance disempowers writers from growth, even if it saves them from the truth that they can and must do better.

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

Mike Stop Continues
website | facebook | twitter


Online nikkykaye

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 123
  • Frisky. Funny. Fearless.
    • View Profile
    • Nikky Kaye
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #98 on: June 11, 2017, 02:32:09 PM »
There are 4.3M Kindle eBooks for sale on Amazon. Only about 100,000 of those books sell a copy a day on average. Only 10,000 make it on any bestsellers list on Amazon. Only a very small number of authors make six figures in a year. Fewer still seven figures or eight. Most authors make less than $1000 in a year off sales. 

I'd suggest that in fact people who are actively engaged in places like kboards are already outliers, in a sense. I think it might have been in an Author Earnings Report, but I thought that the vast majority of self-published authors quit after the "one book" they think they have in them. And sell only a few dozen copies. I'm the prawniest of prawns, never having had a four-figure month, but I have to remind myself that even my "failure" is successful by many people's standards.

Like Rosalind said, success is a subjective construct. I feel successful in that I have the luxury of being able to flop (as I do) without my kids going hungry. But damn, I want the monies! I want the income and the visibility that comes with "success", because in a way it's external validation of the work I've been doing and sacrifices made.

I've tried to write to trend, and I'm not great at it. I can fret and obsess about it, or I can take what I'm learning and apply it to each new release in a positive way. That is a better-paved path to success to me, and hopefully that path will be lined with evergreen trees. :)

Offline Jeff Tanyard

  • Status: Scheherazade
  • *****
  • Posts: 1715
  • Gender: Male
  • Georgia
  • Wait and hope.
    • View Profile
    • My Blog
Re: What makes a 100k author?
« Reply #99 on: June 11, 2017, 02:47:15 PM »
Correct. It is an expression from sometime in the Korean War to mean, full-out, maximum effort, Warp Factor Whatever.

It has to do with the design of the throttle and propeller control quadrants in fighter aircraft. In order to go at maximum speed suddenly, one shoves the throttle and prop control levers full forward in the direction of the firewall and engine. "Going all out."


The levers were, and to some extent still are, topped by large balls. In single engine jet fighters there will only be one lever to shove forward, no prop.


There is no anatomical association.

I wasn't aware of that.  Thanks, Brevoort.  :)

While we're on the subject, I'll add the phrase "shot his wad."  It goes back to the days of muzzle-loading firearms.  Its origin has nothing to do with human biological processes.
            v  v  v   Short Stories   v  v  v               vvv FREE! vvv
     
Jeff Tanyard | Author Website