Author Topic: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?  (Read 2899 times)  

Offline CloudStrife

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Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« on: April 06, 2018, 02:14:25 AM »
Conventional wisdom says not to do X, but you're doing it, and it's going well. What is X for you?

Conventional wisdom says to do Y, but you're not doing it, and it's going well. What is Y for you?

I'm interested in hearing about off-beat paths that are working well for you.

Offline Kathy Dee

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2018, 05:30:27 AM »
I'll start you off.

I am not doing the usual stuff at all. I do my own editing, my own covers and I do not do any marketing at all. See this thread for more details if you want  ...

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,260393.msg3626298.html

Offline Elizabeth Ann West

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2018, 06:08:22 AM »
I blog chapters. All of them. Readers still buy the books.


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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2018, 06:25:38 AM »
I write in a niche genre, and it's hard to find readers. So, I constantly reinvent the books, refreshing the covers, blurbs, etc. Contents stay the same because I'm really happy with what I write. Once people get into the series the reviews are very positive.

My latest cunning plan is to focus on the robots in my novels, hence today's cover refresh. (I've only done the first four so far.)

So, pushing along, hoping that one day the people who would love the books will be able to find them.


Yes, I'm writing a scifi/high fantasy/comedy crossover. What do you mean, write to the market?

Offline AlexisR

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2018, 07:26:07 AM »
Yes, but in my case it's a mix of using good judgment and listening to smart people who tell you what really works.

Advice I follow: I write to market. I found niches that I enjoy writing in where readers appreciate the stories I want to tell. I write fast and release often. I put about 10% of my revenue back into advertising.

Advice I don't: I do my own covers and editing (some books get edited, some don't, and I self-edit as I go), mostly ignore social media completely, and don't talk to my readers much at all with my newsletters (I basically just say, "Here's a new book.")

Went full time in December, easily now providing more than my half of household expenses.

(Any of you who know who I am from certain other forums and/or IRL, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your guidance and encouragement. I would not be here if not for your lessons and examples.)

Offline solo

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2018, 07:28:28 AM »
I blog chapters. All of them. Readers still buy the books.

Me, too.  ;D

I started off by writing for free and I don't think I'm going to stop doing that. And I don't do BookBub. Too expensive for me.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 07:36:02 AM by solo »

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2018, 07:30:18 AM »
I created a niche that didn't exist before in the romance genre, at least not to my knowledge. Gave it a name. Pretty popular now, from what I hear.

New covers and second book release: Coming soon!
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Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2018, 09:03:50 AM »
I self-edit, do almost my own covers, write what I feel like when I feel like, write under multiple names, price most everything at $4.99, etc., etc. etc. It's not the easy way to a steady income, but I've slowly earned more over time and last month was around $4K gross with no promos other than AMS and no releases since December. About half of that was in paperback, which is also not the norm. Of course, if I were doing all the things folks say to do maybe I'd be at two to three times that, but the way I do things is the way that allows me to keep moving forward and I've accepted it may make it a slower path than others have taken.


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Offline AlexisR

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2018, 09:48:24 AM »
Of course, if I were doing all the things folks say to do maybe I'd be at two to three times that, but the way I do things is the way that allows me to keep moving forward and I've accepted it may make it a slower path than others have taken.

This was such an important lesson for me, too. It took years of trial and error and learning to get to a point where I started finding something that worked for me, and it was specific to my working preferences. It's a different path than lots of my friends have taken with their writing, and that's okay. It's what I needed to keep going and trying. I'm right at about the same place that Cassie is, and I have a similar style of working. YMMV.

Offline P.J. Post

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2018, 10:29:37 AM »
"Going well" is a relative term.

I think, with every book, I'm becoming a better writer - so that's going really really well. And while I want readers and everything that goes with them, I'm not all that interested in becoming an internet-entrepreneur. I've never measured my success, or anyone else's for that matter, by income (regardless of industry). To me, this is about the Art, not the selling - although, I know that for many, the writing is completely incidental, and it's all about the revenue. And that's cool, too; it's just a different goal and therefore, a different process.

Also - what conventional wisdom?   :)

Online C. Gockel

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2018, 10:51:32 AM »
I don't write to market and I don't release often. My fantasy is all third person present tense, too. I write short stories fairly often (that is becoming more and more a no-no as multi-author short story anthos earn less and less.)

I do advertise a lot.

My income has grown consistently year over year. This year I expect it will take a hit--maybe in the range of $36,000 less than last year--but I have been socking away everything I make above what I need, and I should be able to weather it fairly well. (I made a blunder, a big one, but it should be okay by 2020. I had hoped 2019 would be my "good" year. Oh, well.)


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Offline DrewMcGunn

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2018, 11:09:33 AM »
I write in a small niche of SciFi - Alternate History. It's a very unforgiving genre. hardcore readers know their history and if you're going to flip the script, you need to know what it is you're changing. I envy folks who can write thousands of words in a single setting. I find that I can't write more than a few paragraphs before having to research some aspect so that I get it right for the dedicated reader.

I started writing around a year ago and published my first book less than 5 months ago, so I don't know exactly how I'm ultimately going to define success, but I have enjoyed both the positive feedback my readers have provided as well as the increased income my writing has provided. But more than that, I get to take my inner "Walter Mitty" out for a drive regularly.

I understand that past performance is no promise of future returns and that YMMV, but if things continue as they have over that past year, within another few years, it may be that I may earn enough to do this full-time. All from a small sub-genre of Scifi.

Drew McGunn

Offline kw3000

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2018, 01:06:32 PM »
I'm incredibly not good at self-publishing. I'm doing well at doing badly.  8)

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2018, 04:34:48 PM »
I started out writing to market and failed completely. I then "de-to-marketed" my first three novels, which involved massive rewrites and new covers, launched a fourth title written for my enjoyment, and things started taking off. In other words, the genres weren't for me. I was foolish to attempt writing genre fiction as I don't read it or enjoy it.

So now my books don't follow any rules. Plots are not heavy. There's very little conflict (breaking a big rule there). Stories are basically about smart couples dealing with the various delicate trials of coupledom.

There isn't a big market for it, but it's big enough to support my habit -- writing what I want.

I don't use ARCs or paid newsletter promotions. I have one tiny mailing list of 60 organic subscribers, and another bursting with Instafreebie subscriptions. The jury is still out on their worth. I do use AMS and have for six months, and understand it less now than I did at the beginning.

I do my own covers, which I view as fun projects. This isn't to say they're great covers. I also do my own editing but plan to run each book through professional editors once (or if ever) I'm clearing $4000 a month (I wanted to determine if there was an audience for my books before making big investments).

I release new titles every seven to eight weeks, though it'll be ten weeks with the next one (I'm flexible). They're on the short side (45-50K).


Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2018, 05:21:37 PM »
"off-beat path" and "going well" are all relative concepts and doing well needs to be quantified to be of any use.

As far as I can see, *everyone* here will do at least one or two things that could be considered off-beat by some other person's standards.

What is off-beat anyway? And who decides what is on-beat? I suspect you won't find any uniform answer to this.

There are things you can do, like writing three books in a series and then releasing them in Select, that have a proven higher chance of doing well. However, I'm not in Select and I can't write that many books at once. Maybe I could, but I wouldn't be enjoying myself, and I've already ditched one job that I hated, I don't need another one.

"People say" you have to advertise, and I don't. I prefer to funnel everything through my newsletter and website so that I can direct people to various retailer sites. I figure this is cheaper than advertising Amazon links, Kobo links, Apple links etc etc all separately.

"People say" you have to have an active Facebook page or a Facebook reader group, and I don't. I have a page, but I use my Facebook account mostly to talk about politics and to hang out in closed groups. I don't particularly like Facebook. And no, I'm not going to stop talking about politics so I don't accept a lot of friend requests from authors or readers.

I think that when you make a choice that runs against what other people have shown to be successful, this needs to be offset by something else you're doing well.

It may be that publishing a lot, having awesome covers and grippy books is all you need. I still suspect that if your books are selling well by themselves, they'll sell better if you occasionally do some of the things that successful self-publishers do.

I'd also be careful that by declaring yourself to be anti-indie-establishment-canon (an entity which imo doesn't exist for self-publishing as a whole, although it certainly exists in subgroups), you are not using your anti-statements as a way to shoot yourself in the foot. If there is something "everyone" is doing and you can bring yourself to have a go, try it just to see if it works. On the other side of the coin, if you have an idea and it doesn't take too much out of you in terms of time and money, and it's not something you can see people doing, no one is going to stop you. Only you can do the sums and decide if it's worth your time. But do the sums, and wield the machete if needed.

Having been through this whole rigmarole, I suspect that as an author's earnings go up, their activities will increasingly resemble a subset of the stuff done by bestsellers and some of the more esoteric activities will fall by the wayside. I've just dropped hand-selling my books at cons. Although it's fun, it takes too much time, and costs too much money, for not enough return.

To quantify my statements, in the last three months--which have been comparatively [crappy] as I've been away, been sick and sales have just been bleh--I've cleared just short of 7k per month. The stuff I do now is very different from the stuff I did--and could afford to do, time-wise--when I was selling less than 100 books per month.

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2018, 06:10:21 PM »
With pricing all books at $9.99 in all stores, my partner spent $8 on advertising and made $25. Sounds good to me.


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Offline Will Kurth

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2018, 06:46:33 PM »
Interesting question, what is off-beat?

I write, I ski I repeat, so yes in that way Im doing well. Ive self published 4 professionally edited books that have sold enough to pay for themselves and number 5 & 6 are under development. Any sales for the first four from here out is pure profit, walking around money if you will.

Maybe some day the series will take off and Ill have a tax problem and maybe someday I will start a mailing list and do marketing. I dont have a business plan because, for me its not a business. Its a passion, an interest and something I love to do!

So yeah, Things are going  well:).

Offline Adam Croft

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2018, 11:51:22 PM »
I specialise in off-beat paths.

I listened to conventional wisdom for years, then ignored it to leave my series and write a standalone. That went quite well (read: mortgage balance covered inside 12 weeks).

I still do Facebook Ads when so many people consider them to be dead. I spend around $1500 a day on them and make double that in sales off the back of them.

When the industry had gone cold on BookBub Ads due to its Amazon obsession I found a way to make very healthy sales on the other vendors using BookBub Ads, which has given me a strong platform on some otherwise very small vendors. For example, last month (March 2018) I made three times my wife's old teaching salary on NOOK alone.

The beaten path is often exactly that: beaten. It's clogged and you'll struggle to be heard. The people on that path will often tell you it's the only path to be on, but I can tell you from experience the other paths are pretty damn decent, too. To the tune of about $100k a month in my experience.

Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2018, 11:55:27 PM »
I specialise in off-beat paths.

I listened to conventional wisdom for years, then ignored it to leave my series and write a standalone. That went quite well (read: mortgage balance covered inside 12 weeks).

I still do Facebook Ads when so many people consider them to be dead. I spend around $1500 a day on them and make double that in sales off the back of them.

When the industry had gone cold on BookBub Ads due to its Amazon obsession I found a way to make very healthy sales on the other vendors using BookBub Ads, which has given me a strong platform on some otherwise very small vendors. For example, last month (March 2018) I made three times my wife's old teaching salary on NOOK alone.

The beaten path is often exactly that: beaten. It's clogged and you'll struggle to be heard. The people on that path will often tell you it's the only path to be on, but I can tell you from experience the other paths are pretty damn decent, too. To the tune of about $100k a month in my experience.

Wait, Adam, Bookbub ads are *on* the beaten path again, thanks to you LOL.

Agree about Facebook and apparently using FB ads for leads is out, too. Seems to be working fine for me.

Offline Adam Croft

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2018, 12:29:53 AM »
Wait, Adam, Bookbub ads are *on* the beaten path again, thanks to you LOL.

What can I say? I'm a trendsetter  ;D

Agree about Facebook and apparently using FB ads for leads is out, too. Seems to be working fine for me.

Me too. I'm getting mailing list signups at 4/5p a piece (5.7 - 7 cents).

Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2018, 12:34:47 AM »
I specialise in off-beat paths.

I listened to conventional wisdom for years, then ignored it to leave my series and write a standalone. That went quite well (read: mortgage balance covered inside 12 weeks).

I still do Facebook Ads when so many people consider them to be dead. I spend around $1500 a day on them and make double that in sales off the back of them.

When the industry had gone cold on BookBub Ads due to its Amazon obsession I found a way to make very healthy sales on the other vendors using BookBub Ads, which has given me a strong platform on some otherwise very small vendors. For example, last month (March 2018) I made three times my wife's old teaching salary on NOOK alone.

The beaten path is often exactly that: beaten. It's clogged and you'll struggle to be heard. The people on that path will often tell you it's the only path to be on, but I can tell you from experience the other paths are pretty damn decent, too. To the tune of about $100k a month in my experience.

Not to come across as an embarrassing fanboy... but your career has been very clearly helped by your ability to write f*cking awesome books, too.

James Lawson

Offline Adam Croft

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2018, 12:35:38 AM »
Not to come across as an embarrassing fanboy... but your career has been very clearly helped by your ability to write f*cking awesome books, too.

Haha, thank you :)

Offline Kathy Dee

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2018, 01:54:35 AM »
I blog chapters. All of them. Readers still buy the books.

Interesting idea. Thanks, I'll think about that.

Offline Jessie G. Talbot

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2018, 07:10:22 AM »
Conventional wisdom says not to do X, but you're doing it, and it's going well. What is X for you?

Conventional wisdom says to do Y, but you're not doing it, and it's going well. What is Y for you?

I'm interested in hearing about off-beat paths that are working well for you.

What benefited me the most on my self-publishing journey was learning how to do as much as I could myself for FREE. I write in Open Office, I format my .docs, I use beta-readers exclusively, I self-edit, and I usually make my own covers. That's a priceless technical education.

Is it going well? No! I fell on my face in terms of genre and branding because I didn't do my research BUT knowing what I know now I can start fresh. Onward, ever onward.

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Re: Are you on an off-beat path that is going well?
« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2018, 08:06:20 AM »
I've been focusing on a pen name that does a variety of gay erotica niches, and the scenarios that have taken off are precisely the ones that everyone says don't sell under any circumstances.
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