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Author Topic: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?  (Read 11219 times)  

Offline DrewMcGunn

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #50 on: February 20, 2018, 01:07:17 PM »
Then you, not fox, should be writing the how-to's on SP'ing. I'm serious, not trying to sound flippant. If you can score top 100 off less than $3 a day with no mailing list and no author brand and no back catalog, then whatever you're doing is what we should all be doing. In my opinion that's the best performance out of any indie I've seen in terms of ROI.

It's great that you can do it, now share your secrets with the rest of us  ;D
Perhaps I misread the context about the top 100, but I was under the impression they were talking about within their genre. Depending on how narrow that genre's top 100 is, it's certainly do-able. But if I'm misunderstanding and they're talking about the top 100 of the kindle store, then I'm with you, I wanna know what the secret sauce is.

I write in a narrow niche and my $3 to $4 daily ad spend puts me in the top 100 of my little niche neighborhood. Now if I go up to the general SSF top 100, then I'm not even in spitting distance of the top 100.  :'(

Drew McGunn

Offline Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #51 on: February 20, 2018, 01:10:59 PM »
I know quite a few writers killing it, and not all of them are utilizing huge ad spends. My definition of "killing it" is six figures a year, by the way. I know one top 100 author right now spending a ton but he's also selling a ton (enough to garner a 70K monthly profit). I also know people spending nothing other than for the occasional free run on ENT, Robin Reads, OHFB, etc. One push every few months. People making 20K a month and spending less than $100 a month.
As for me personally, since my name was brought up earlier, I spend about 2K a month on advertising now. That's mostly AMS ads but I'm testing a Facebook pixel ad right now but the spend is low as I'm figuring things out. That might get me to 2.5K a month. I make more than six figures a month. I don't do ARCs, or giveaways, or huge ad spends. I still manage to do just fine.
And, yes, I started early and got in when the getting was good (which I don't discount and consider myself lucky for) but my pen name pulls in 300K a year on its own and it was started much later and basically has one AMS ad with a $20-a-day ad spend fueling it. I never hit the limit on that spend, by the way. I would say I spend about $350 a month advertising that name and the other $1,500 or so on my main name. On that amount of money, I hit my highest numbers ever in both December and January.
Now, to address the other elephant in the room, I release a lot. That's how I get my visibility. I release quite fast and that's what my focus is on. Do I think I would be making this much if I didn't release at a quick pace? Absolutely not.
There are more ways than one to success, though, and I know a lot of people using a lot of different ways to be successful. Some of those have names that are less than a year old. It can be done.

Amanda M. Lee

Offline It's A Mystery

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #52 on: February 20, 2018, 01:12:07 PM »
I hit a top 100 this month with my first release under this name, no mailing list and a $5 a day budget on AMS. For context that was getting to 10,300 in the overall store.

I seriously doubt the book will sustain this level, but I'm working hard to get the next one out at the end of March.

I'm not sure what the 'secret sauce' is there, but I suspect it is just a good combo of cover/blurb/genre.

Offline Dr. Faustus

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #53 on: February 20, 2018, 01:14:54 PM »
yeah, a lot of times I feel down about it. But that's just the game we choose to play.

Offline DrewMcGunn

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #54 on: February 20, 2018, 01:36:00 PM »
As someone who is in a similar situation--never done any paid promos, and has just one book right now--I want to look into AMS ads to wet my feet in that marketing world and see what kind of results it garners. I'm googling around at the moment, learning about it, and I know I've seen a few threads on the subject here I plan to hunt down. Just wondering, do you have any advice on that you'd recommend for single-book marketing?

Not to threadjack, but is your book going to be a stand alone or is it a first in a series or a prequel? If it's a standalone, I'm probably not the best to ask, as I've read that how you advertise a stand alone that won't have successive stories coming behind is different. First I would suggest you take a look at the AMS threads (start with the latest one, it's shorter), but setting up a AMS ad is pretty easy, just follow the instructions. I'd try to identify at least a hundred key words for the ad (keeping in mind that authors and their books work just fine as key words).

Keep in mind that if you're not getting people to click on your ad, that you could have issues with the cover or the ad copy. I've experimented with more than a dozen ads and as of yet, still don't know that I've got a winning combo. And of course, keep your bids controlled. It's your first ad, set that daily bid at somewhere between 1 and 3 dollars, whatever you're most comfortable with. I started with $1 daily limit. IMO, your genre is crowded and getting your bid to get picked up at a decent spot on the carousel can be pricey. Some folks have luck getting lower bid prices by focusing their bids on the names and titles offered by midlisters, and ignoring the people dominating the top twenty spots in your genre. Also, be aware that words like "shifter" could be prohibitively expensive to get a high/good spot on the carousel.

Lastly, and perhaps just as important. YMMV. What works for one person may not work for someone else. If this doesn't work, then circle back around and look at what others are doing.

Drew McGunn

Offline KelliWolfe

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #55 on: February 20, 2018, 01:41:40 PM »
Perhaps I misread the context about the top 100, but I was under the impression they were talking about within their genre. Depending on how narrow that genre's top 100 is, it's certainly do-able. But if I'm misunderstanding and they're talking about the top 100 of the kindle store, then I'm with you, I wanna know what the secret sauce is.

I write in a narrow niche and my $3 to $4 daily ad spend puts me in the top 100 of my little niche neighborhood. Now if I go up to the general SSF top 100, then I'm not even in spitting distance of the top 100.  :'(
You're correct. I *wish* it was the store, but I do well enough hitting those ranks in my categories to keep me happy and the lights on. Without AMS my books tend to drift in and out of the low end of the top 100. Spending a little to keep them well into the top 100 makes me a lot more. I could probably get the same effect by running stacked promos, but AMS is much less of a headache and cheaper.

Olivia Blake | Lessons in Love

Offline Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #56 on: February 20, 2018, 02:03:38 PM »
You're making 7 figures monthly off $2.5k in advertising? I take it back, Kelli, you're out, Lee now has the best ROI.

Anyone doing better than $1M a month off $2.5k in spending?

If so speak up, I want to buy your how to book.
Where did I say one million? I said better than six figures, which could be misconstrued if you wanted to be a jerk I guess, but six figures is 100K to me. I make more than that. I know you get off on being a summer's breeze but it's not always necessary to give in to your baser urges. Try it one day.

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Offline Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #57 on: February 20, 2018, 02:12:58 PM »
You said you make more than 6 figures a months. More than 6 is 7 last time i checked. So no biggy, it was just a simple misunderstanding. You meant to say you MAKE 6 figures a month.

But because of that mistake, Kelli probably has the better ROI and I'll be buying her how to book. Sorry.
Or 100K is six figures and more than that is more than that. I think I know what I meant and said. I definitely think you should buy Kelli's how-to book, though. It might give you hope and stop you from trying to bring everyone down.

Amanda M. Lee

Offline rdperry57

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #58 on: February 20, 2018, 02:13:49 PM »
Hard not to get discouraged at times. I have one book out and two more in the editing stages. I've done a little marketing, but mostly free stuff. I'm hoping sales will pick up after the second one is published, but who knows? Either way, I'm pleased with the work and proud of the finished product.

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Offline KelliWolfe

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #59 on: February 20, 2018, 02:16:50 PM »
You said you make more than 6 figures a months. More than 6 is 7 last time i checked. So no biggy, it was just a simple misunderstanding. You meant to say you MAKE 6 figures a month.

But because of that mistake, Kelli probably has the better ROI and I'll be buying her how to book. Sorry.
I think I'd rather get Amanda's. Not that it would do me any good - on my best days I don't come anywhere close to her output or quality. While quite prawny compared to her, I have every expectation that I'll hit six figures for the year and beat what I was making at my former day job in IT, though. Would have done it last year but Things Happened and I went almost 7 months without writing or paying any attention to what was happening with my sales. Thank god for the Long Tail...

Olivia Blake | Lessons in Love

Offline SND

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #60 on: February 20, 2018, 02:18:39 PM »
I first published in Q3 2014 and it was a very different business even then to what it is now. I thought it was about writing and publishing books and for some of us it still is, but largely the cat 100s on Amazon have turned into a farce.

Although its fair to say there is room for a wide range of reading interests, its really odd how so many people want to read erotica, magic spaceships, role playing games, and sassy witches/vampires/shapeshifters/werewolves (did I miss any?), all of which are mostly in KU. I find it hard to believe that the majority of readers in the world only want these niches, but thats what Amazons KU download equals a sale makes it look like.

Of course, it isnt true. KU subscribers see KU books as free, which means they are less discerning when they download. They abandon downloaded books without any thought, and skim through one easily absorbed book after the next. Its reading of a sort, but equating a free book to a paid one is lying. Even if you choke past that piece of BS, what it led to isnt survivable for most authors.

Authors realized all they needed to do was publish a bazillion books. Even if they get one download a month, thats still a shedload of cash for nothing. Sounds like a cool opportunity, and youve got your pen ready to sign up, but wait theres more.

Authors copy authors, meaning when one decides publishing 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 books a month is the key to success, so do 10,000, 20,000, 100,000, 500,000 authors. Now we have books being published at a mad rate of 100,000, 250,000 and one day itll be a million a month. Woo hoo!

Uh oh, now there are so many books with the same covers and tropes the reader cant tell them apart, so youll need to do some serious marketing to stand out. Luckily, Amazon have just the tool for you enter AMS.

Whew, thought I was screwed there for a minute. Finally, my books can be seen and pages are being read. Oh no, Jeff, whats that? A bill from AMS? But you cut the page rate to .0044, .0040 and eventually thatll become .0030 or even .0020 (you know its going there). Now my AMS bill is more than I was paid in page reads. That makes me sad...and poor.

Not to worry, eh. All you need to do is outrun the marketing cost by publishing books faster, but writing them takes time. Hmm, maybe I can outsource that. Surely there are some equally sad and even poorer authors wholl let me publish their books under my name for free. Ill share any earnings, honest.

When you understand the game being played on indies you realize youve made a terrible mistake. It was an honest mistake in that you thought it was about publishing decent books and it is, but not on Amazon. Amazons ecosystem has nothing to do with selling books and everything to do with using downloaded (not necessarily read) books to make KU books appear popular. In fact, its designed to bury any book that isnt in KU.

Most books in KU have to pay AMS to be visible, so even if the books are in KU, most authors still wont make much or any money. The price of paid books and the KU page rate (both of which are declining) are just too low to pay for AMS level costs. Originally, you needed 10,000 page reads a day to break even, then a hundred thousand, and in the future itll be a million page reads a day just to cover the marketing costs.

I do make money publishing, but its not critical if I dont. For someone in your position Id say tread carefully because you can lose your shirt in this business. Think hard about whether to enter the KU AMS treadmill game, or if marketing wide has a better chance of success. Ive done a lot better since I left KU and went wide.

Making the right decision for you isnt about letting despondency take over, but taking a step back and acknowledging the ecosystem for how its really working versus what people say. People may spin the truth about what they sell and why, how well theyre doing, what their margins are, whether theyre increasing or not, and how reliable their earnings are likely to be in a growing competitive environment.

But the model is the model, theres no lying about the impact of a download equals a sale, the effect of loading millions of books, the cost of being visible, and a ranking system intentionally designed to bury sale only books. Youre obviously young (compared to me) so keep it real. There is a time to dream and you might become a lucky lottery winner, but it always pays to have a back up plan to Lady Luck.

This post warmed the cockles of my heart, or the void where it once resided. It also nudged me toward a decision to go wide.

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #61 on: February 20, 2018, 02:20:51 PM »
If I have one of those days, and I'm sure we all have them, I remember I wrote for trad for years, selling short stories for few hundred bucks at most. I sold two novels, one deal fell through, the other publisher never paid half my advance. Since in the world of genre trad everyone knows everyone, you can't even have a good whinge about it. I had cupboards full of stuff that would never see the light of day under the trad model--because they were series, and series are useless if you can't sell book 1. I was growing depressed because I had so much stuff, but nothing I could do with it.

So that's what I think about when I have one of those bleh days and some eejit buys a copy of all my books and then returns all of them, and you're *sure* there ought to be more sales on your dashboard, but they somehow fail to make an appearance.

Because writing and publishing as we are is still the coolest thing ever.

ETA. edited because I need to clean my keyboard and some keys don't appear to work.

Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #62 on: February 20, 2018, 02:31:29 PM »
Because writing and publishing as we as is still the coolest thing ever.

Right on.

Looks as though everyone's been busy while I've been asleep... yeah, you guys are all clearly right. Honestly I think at the route of my blues is the money I've spent, but I've also paid for everything through a side income, so I haven't had to go without to pay for this stuff. I haven't gone the cheap route at all, so things have added up, but I know I made that decision early on.

Once this third book is done, they'll be done. Then I'll be in a position to market, and hopefully then I can start to see some return. Of course I"m not expecting to break even immediately, but I suppose if I start seeing a return then it'll be a lot easier to be positive about it all.

And thanks to everyone who has complemented the books :)

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Offline CynthiaClay

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #63 on: February 20, 2018, 02:37:38 PM »
It's a mistake to not do any advertising on books. Even if you only have a single book, you should start doing cheap and free promos for it. At $3.99, you can earn more than you spend on very cheap AMS ads with low bids and a dollar a day budget. The longer you delay, the more money you are letting slip past your fingers.

You can use services like Instafreebie and Book Cave for free and get involved with group giveaways and reader magnets. You could either give away one of your books and have a link to the other at the end to encourage buys of that one, or you can put a 10% sample to entice people to buy it.

You can begin collecting emails with Book Cave for free, and Instafreebie for 30 days free trial and use that list of emails in newsletter swaps with other authors. There are numerous Facebook groups devoted to author swaps. Most are free and several are willing to accept authors with few subscribers.

I have only one novel and I'm earning more than I'm spending on low cost advertising. Sure, I made a few minor mistakes with AMS, but the way it's set up allows you to nip ads in the bud if they spend more than you are comfortable with. And sure, I'm not making a huge amount, but this is ONE book. You have two. I envy you!

Also, make sure both books have links to the other in the back, so people know you have another book if they read through the first.

There is zero reason why your books shouldn't be able to earn you money right now. You just have to utilize the resources many authors have posted on this forum to your advantage. Stick with the cheap and free for now, and once you have that third book, you'll be experienced enough to know how to make the most of the higher cost promotions and ads. Good luck!

This was such good advice it deserves repeating! Thanks for posting!

Thanks for supporting my art.
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Offline EvanPickering

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #64 on: February 20, 2018, 02:57:47 PM »
If I have one of those days, and I'm sure we all have them, I remember I wrote for trad for years, selling short stories for few hundred bucks at most. I sold two novels, one deal fell through, the other publisher never paid half my advance. Since in the world of genre trad everyone knows everyone, you can't even have a good whinge about it. I had cupboards full of stuff that would never see the light of day under the trad model--because they were series, and series are useless if you can't sell book 1. I was growing depressed because I had so much stuff, but nothing I could do with it.

So that's what I think about when I have one of those bleh days and some eejit buys a copy of all my books and then returns all of them, and you're *sure* there ought to be more sales on your dashboard, but they somehow fail to make an appearance.

All of this. Winning.
Because writing and publishing as we are is still the coolest thing ever.

ETA. edited because I need to clean my keyboard and some keys don't appear to work.

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Offline Sam Rivers

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #65 on: February 20, 2018, 02:58:07 PM »
Quote
Honestly I think at the route of my blues is the money I've spent, but I've also paid for everything through a side income,

What is a side income?

Offline Evenstar

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #66 on: February 20, 2018, 03:02:23 PM »
I hear you, I really do.

I feel low a lot of the time as I'm trying to break away from teen romance and into a new genre, and it's hard starting from scratch again. Of course, I picked a really saturated genre simply because I love to read it, but it's depressing seeing my rankings and my income all fall as I ignore my old name and focus on a new one that has yet to move the needle.

But like you, I sometimes think this is a time spent issue. I can only really write at night (even though I call it my job - because being a full time mother to little ones doesn't earn squat), so I try to aim for 1000 words a day. But it's constantly interrupted, and of course, being a Moderator I spent far too much time here at the WC.

My youngest will start pre-school soon and I keep thinking I should probably go back to an office. But I don't want to! I want to do this!

I just keep telling myself that it doesn't matter that my new series isn't "resonating", because there will be other series and at least I'm building a back list for my new name/genre. Put in the hours you can, keep learning and experimenting and give it time...

Offline AlexaGrave

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #67 on: February 20, 2018, 03:10:03 PM »
Right now, the only thing keeping me going is that I love to write. It's definitely not sales (hey, I sold 1 copy this month - that's a good month for me - lol).

It is hard, and marketing frustrates me to no end. And I'm also recently running into issues on getting the second novel out in my trilogy, which I know the long time span between books doesn't help, so it stresses me out even more and...

Ah, the endless cycle.

Right now, the point for me is to enjoy what I'm doing. I write more now than I did when I was querying agents and editors, so that's a plus.

Maybe, just maybe, one day I'll gather a small following of readers, but I understand it will take time and more full length novels (most of my titles right now are short stories and novelettes, though I won't stop writing those either - I must have fun and those short series are a blast for me and close to my heart). And maybe one of these days all the marketing will just click with me.

Until then, there's only one thing I can do - keep writing.  ;)
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Offline Luke Everhart

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #68 on: February 20, 2018, 03:16:55 PM »

I just keep telling myself that it doesn't matter that my new series isn't "resonating", because there will be other series and at least I'm building a back list for my new name/genre. Put in the hours you can, keep learning and experimenting and give it time...

This is really important to remember. I'm pretty sure that even Amanda Lee, one of my heroes of indie publishing (and probably a lot of yours), didn't get great traction on her books until her 2nd Series (I think? if I'm wrong please correct me Amanda) series. Pretty sure the 1st series was Avery Shaw iirc, later came the Witches of the Midwest which knocked it out of the park.

I'm hoping my debut series does reasonably well, but my actual career plan is based on Third Porridge Theory; that is, that by my 3rd series I'll get it right and it'll really resonate with readers OR by the 3rd series even if I still don't have a huge winner I'll have a backlist that will start to add up. (PS: If you are at all curious about my debut series please don't interpret this to mean it's not a 100% effort and don't let it deter you from buying it if inclined 🤞 ;D  (when it comes out late spring). I just expect to learn a lot and be a much better writer, and a little more tuned to readers from feedback, by the 3rd series.)

Even if there are disappointments and it's a drag some of the time, doesn't it beat the heck out of waiting month after month on query letters to trad; and then, if your ship comes in, waiting months and months for the book to come out -- and knowing that if it doesn't sell like hotcakes the 10-15% royalty rate isn't going to buy much?
Does to me.  ;)
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Offline Sam Rivers

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #69 on: February 20, 2018, 03:18:17 PM »
One thing I noticed about this thread is everyone acts like advertising is the only expense. There are a lot of other expenses related to writing and publishing. It is the bottom line that is important. If you don't make a profit, you are in trouble.

Offline Skip Knox

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #70 on: February 20, 2018, 03:36:00 PM »
Bill Hiatt made an important observation, one that I did not see echoed, so I'll do it.

Most writers don't make a living publishing fiction. Never did. I don't have sort of numbers to support this, but I would not be surprised to find *more* writers making a living solely from publishing fiction since 2000 than in any twenty years prior to that. As Bill pointed out, many made rent money off writing for newspapers and magazines, publishing fiction on the side, as it were. Rather notoriously, a number of well-known SF writers made a living in the 1950s and 1960s writing porn.

Art just ain't a paying gig, save for the fortunate few.

Someone here said maybe they'd quit the day job if they started making big bucks. Me, I'd still be cautious. Most any well-established writer will tell you, it can all vanish dishearteningly fast. Suddenly your books don't sell and it's been fifteen years since you held a regular job and *now* what?

Art just ain't a long-term gig, save for the fortunate few.

We've had a stretch of extraordinary good fortune thanks to some big shifts in the industry. It's worth mentioning that these same shifts have ruined careers that people thought were well established. Sad because your ROI on your AMS ads is tanking? Think about the journalist who is not just out of a job but is out of a career, a life's work.

I'm not going to say quit your complaining. Complaining is a fundamental human activity. Deciding things ain't right is a good motivator. I'm just trying to add some perspective on the complaints. Personally, making a profit from writing--never mind a living wage--is more of a hope than an expectation. When I fall short, I don't assume it's because I'm doing something wrong. I assume I'm typical.



Offline KelliWolfe

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #71 on: February 20, 2018, 03:41:52 PM »
One thing I noticed about this thread is everyone acts like advertising is the only expense. There are a lot of other expenses related to writing and publishing. It is the bottom line that is important. If you don't make a profit, you are in trouble.
You can get decent premade covers without having to spend much, and editing doesn't have to cost a fortune, either, if you learn how to write clean copy and fix most of the problems yourself before sending your manuscript off. Or if you're hurting for funds find a friend or colleague who is willing and able to edit for you until you can pay someone to do it. It's very possible to publish on a budget. Other than that, what expenses are there, really?

In this sense things are much better than they were just a few years ago. There weren't nearly as many cover designers and editors available, and they tended to charge significantly higher prices.

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Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #72 on: February 20, 2018, 04:54:38 PM »
What is a side income?

I have a 9-5 job but I also work as a freelancer. My life (food, bills, rent, etc) is totally covered by my 9-5 job, and freelancing totally covers the publishing.

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Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #73 on: February 20, 2018, 04:59:04 PM »
Bill Hiatt made an important observation, one that I did not see echoed, so I'll do it.

Most writers don't make a living publishing fiction. Never did. I don't have sort of numbers to support this, but I would not be surprised to find *more* writers making a living solely from publishing fiction since 2000 than in any twenty years prior to that. As Bill pointed out, many made rent money off writing for newspapers and magazines, publishing fiction on the side, as it were. Rather notoriously, a number of well-known SF writers made a living in the 1950s and 1960s writing porn.

Art just ain't a paying gig, save for the fortunate few.

Someone here said maybe they'd quit the day job if they started making big bucks. Me, I'd still be cautious. Most any well-established writer will tell you, it can all vanish dishearteningly fast. Suddenly your books don't sell and it's been fifteen years since you held a regular job and *now* what?

Art just ain't a long-term gig, save for the fortunate few.

We've had a stretch of extraordinary good fortune thanks to some big shifts in the industry. It's worth mentioning that these same shifts have ruined careers that people thought were well established. Sad because your ROI on your AMS ads is tanking? Think about the journalist who is not just out of a job but is out of a career, a life's work.

I'm not going to say quit your complaining. Complaining is a fundamental human activity. Deciding things ain't right is a good motivator. I'm just trying to add some perspective on the complaints. Personally, making a profit from writing--never mind a living wage--is more of a hope than an expectation. When I fall short, I don't assume it's because I'm doing something wrong. I assume I'm typical.

Very true.

I'd be happy if I broke even, to be honest. That's my main goal.

As for big bucks... I mean, I've got friends who are corporate lawyers, doctors and investment bankers. They're earning huge amounts of money, but have brutal work loads. Especially the doctors... can you imagine the stress of that? Bleagh.

Actually one of the lawyers told me over a few beers the other day that he wished he could write and indie publish. Grass is always greener, I guess!

James Lawson

Offline IreneP

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Re: Feelin' down, and wondering "what is the point"?
« Reply #74 on: February 20, 2018, 05:03:51 PM »
Bill Hiatt made an important observation, one that I did not see echoed, so I'll do it.

Most writers don't make a living publishing fiction. Never did. I don't have sort of numbers to support this, but I would not be surprised to find *more* writers making a living solely from publishing fiction since 2000 than in any twenty years prior to that. As Bill pointed out, many made rent money off writing for newspapers and magazines, publishing fiction on the side, as it were. Rather notoriously, a number of well-known SF writers made a living in the 1950s and 1960s writing porn.


About 10 years ago I read an article that placed a respectable income for a solid mid-list author at around $12k per year.  That was before the indie explosion and by mid-list we were talking people with a nice readership and books in all the major retailers, just not household names.

So, yeah. There's a reason the term "starving artist" exists.