Author Topic: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?  (Read 2406 times)  

Offline Don7

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What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« on: April 17, 2018, 05:45:53 PM »
I have a background in writing, and have read a LOT of online articles and posts about writing ebooks for Amazon.  I'm only familiar with reading hard copy books myself, and in the last 5 years or so have bought 2 e-books for the iPad.  I have no idea about the different Kindle options, or the e-book seller outlets that exist.  Also, as I research this I am noticing that the specifics of device, length, and even genre vary over time when people mention the most popular or most profitable things to write.

Suppose I wanted to examine what formats, genre, and length that would be the most profitable and to explore my opinions/abilities and interests from there... as of mid-2018 what would be one of the most profitable types of books to sell?   And would that be to sell through Amazon, or another outlet?   I'm happy to hold out if there is some strategy like avoiding low priced versions, or adding an audio version.  I'm open to investing time and money (or the lack of pay right away) for a better strategy, so if someone who is familiar with what sells best on what platforms could give me an idea what is most profitable, it would be useful as I look into what might be a good fit for me.

Thanks!

Offline SueSeabury

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2018, 06:01:49 PM »
Sue Seabury | blog | facebook | twitter

Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2018, 06:49:16 PM »
When the concert finishes and the audience files out of the hall, a man rocks up to the solo pianist.

He puts his hands in his pockets and leans against the ($200,000k!) grand piano and says: "Sooo, tell me all about earning big bucks playing music."

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2018, 07:03:51 PM »
I have a background in writing, and have read a LOT of online articles and posts about writing ebooks for Amazon.  I'm only familiar with reading hard copy books myself, and in the last 5 years or so have bought 2 e-books for the iPad.  I have no idea about the different Kindle options, or the e-book seller outlets that exist.  Also, as I research this I am noticing that the specifics of device, length, and even genre vary over time when people mention the most popular or most profitable things to write.

Suppose I wanted to examine what formats, genre, and length that would be the most profitable and to explore my opinions/abilities and interests from there... as of mid-2018 what would be one of the most profitable types of books to sell?   And would that be to sell through Amazon, or another outlet?   I'm happy to hold out if there is some strategy like avoiding low priced versions, or adding an audio version.  I'm open to investing time and money (or the lack of pay right away) for a better strategy, so if someone who is familiar with what sells best on what platforms could give me an idea what is most profitable, it would be useful as I look into what might be a good fit for me.

Thanks!

My suggestion is that you buy the nonfiction ebooks written by frequent posters to these boards and buy their fiction, too. Then you'll know if they are merely brilliant marketers or if they are both brilliant marketers and writers. Read as many posts here as you can bear, and you'll identify who those people are.

Or, as my MIL used to say, "Why don't you just write a bestseller?"

Online Usedtoposthere

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2018, 07:09:30 PM »
It's easy to write a bestseller, or it's impossible. You find out which it is for you by trying.

The answer to "which genre?" is--the genre in which you can write the best, most readable, most satisfying book. Or the genre that you study and calculate and research and imitate and apply and all that. Either way.

Offline C. Gold

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2018, 07:44:18 PM »
You need to know how long it will take you to finish a book first. If it takes many months, then it might not matter what genre is hot right now because by the time you are done and published, that fad is gone.

You need to read the hot selling books in a genre to get a feel for what is popular and decide whether you can provide what readers enjoy. If so, then write away. If not, research something else.

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2018, 07:47:32 PM »
I found Chris Fox's Write to Market a pretty good introduction to this topic.

Offline Don7

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2018, 07:48:40 PM »
Right, but I'm not asking what full length best seller to write, which is a different question actually and maybe I wasn't clear....  What I'm asking is what shorter books/stories sell the most, what subject or category.... like if you read the ebook and Kindle related articles from 5-6 years ago, the ones that are on how much you can make quickly if you're a good writer, they almost all say that erotic short stories sell the fastest, or erotica in general is the hottest category but that more titles with shorter stories sold fastest.   So if someone were interested in building a list of titles to keep selling in certain categories, what type and length books are the hottest at the moment, is it still short story form erotica, or has that been flooded with submissions and now some other category is the most popular?

Online Nicholas Erik

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2018, 07:54:41 PM »
I'd assume the "Ultimate" strategy, if such a thing exists, is something like this.

1) pick a popular sub-genre. Note I said sub-genre, not genre. E.g. urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy or paranormal romance is a sub-genre of romance. You might need to niche down further, depending on the size of the sub-genre - too big, and it gets very expensive to gain visibility. It's probably easiest/fastest to pick a sub-genre that does well with Kindle Unlimited, but doing so opens you up to risk, since the program is currently in a state of flux and changes - potentially big ones - seem imminent.

1a) read 50 books from the sub-genre - 25 current indie bestsellers on the Top 100, 25 genre "classics." Note that a "classic" might only be five years old, or two, depending on how new the genre is.

2) get covers that emulate the key tropes/style of the Top 100 bestsellers in that genre, particularly the Top 20. Pro covers can be had for $200/ea; any more than that might get you better designs, but typically doesn't move the needle. Being on the nose will do more than a beautiful design; you want people to instantly recognize, in under 1 second, your book's sub-genre from the title/cover. No need to release in paperback unless you want to. Audio is expensive to produce up front (if you're commissioning the books yourself), but can be lucrative in some genres if the eBook is already selling. If it's not, then don't bother with audio.

3) study the blurbs in the Top 100 of your sub-genre, and copy at least 50 of them by hand (one per day) to get the feeling in your bones. Break them apart and see what similarities/differences there are in them. Analyze what the key tropes are by reading reviews/studying the blurbs and finding what readers actually want from the genre.

4) write a full-length novel (50k+ words) a month, minimum, all on the same pen name. All the same genre. No weird [crap]. Pound the tropes and give readers what they want. Only write in series; at least trilogies. You can write longer series if the first book in a series is a hit and you like writing longer than a trilogy. Otherwise, trilogies limit your risk while also giving you good sales upside.

4a) do this for a year.

4b) write sixteen books instead of twelve in that year, if you can manage it; this will get things going even faster.

4c) release your first three books at once (e.g. an entire trilogy, or the first three books of a series) and go all out with the advertising on Book 1 @ $0.99. Have Book 4 or the next series's Book 1 available a month later. This, coupled with sixteen releases (e.g. you'd have 3 right out of the gate, then write basically a book a month thereafter) could blow the doors off your earnings right from the drop and keep them trending up.

5) start an email list. Write a novella that ties into your main series, and offer that for free to entice people to sign up. Put the link to your free novella sign-up in the front matter on its own page, and also put it in the back matter, right after the end.

5a) or, alternatively, don't write a novella. End every book on a cliffhanger (except the last one in a series, obviously) and include a newsletter link to "get an email when the next book comes out" right after the end. The cliffhangers will make some readers extremely angry, but - if done right - will also generate many sign-ups to your newsletter and also increase sell-through from Book 1 > Book 2 > Book 3 and so forth. Your call.

6) do a bit of advertising - promo sites, AMS/FB/BookBub. If you release once a month or quicker, you can probably get away with like $200/mo and still make good money. Perhaps even no advertising, depending on the sub-genre. If you pick a very competitive sub-genre, even with quick releases your ad budget will probably need to be high.

Marketing books to read:

Chris Fox's Write Faster, Write Smarter series (all six books; they're short)
Brian Meeks's Mastering Amazon Ads,
Michael Cooper's Help! My Facebook Ads Suck!
Bryan Cohen's How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis

To learn the fundamentals of Facebook/PPC Ads, the best option is to take Mark Dawson's Ads for Authors course, which is $750, but will shortcut your learning curve significantly and save you time/money. You can sign up for the mailing list to receive three free videos to if his teaching style resonates, as well as to get an email when the course opens again.

I have no affiliation with any of the authors listed; I just thought those books/courses were good. I've also written a free guide that totals 40,000+ words which distills most of the common knowledge into a step-by-step kind of system online here.

In summation:

1) read 50 books in your sub-genre over the next year.
2) write 12 - 16 full-length novels (50k+ words) in your sub-genre over the next year. All the same pen name. All at least trilogies; successful series can be extended if you like.
3) get pro covers ($200 max) that match the feel/tone of your sub-genre's bestsellers
4) study the Top 100 bestselling blurbs in your sub-genre
5) analyze the Top 100 sub-genre's reviews for common reader likes/dislikes.
6) make an email list and build that continuously
7) advertise
8) read the marketing books above

While it's impossible to engineer a true bestseller a la The Hunger Games (or even a breakout indie hit), you can create a steady stream of midlist hits that make good money if you develop the right skills. There's much less variability in the midlist game, provided you have the skills - although, even if you're really, really good, certain books won't resonate with your sub-genre's audience and you'll have misses. That's why the ability to crank out books is so important.

Anyway, I excited myself just writing all that out - woooo, fast riches - and I honestly think that would work really, really well, but here's the catch: if you can't crank at that level (the most important variable here is to release a full-length novel every month in a popular sub-genre), which most people can't (myself included; the above is not what I do, but I've spent a lot of time thinking about "optimal" strategies, and that's what I've settled on), you have to start tweaking the variables.

Instead of releasing every month, you might do it every two, but bump up your advertising budget. Work on networking with other authors. Build your email list more aggressively That sort of thing. To execute this strategy, you must be able to grind through the workload, which is an insurmountable challenge for most. To be clear, most of this is not what I do (production pace-wise, at least), nor have I tested it as laid out. But it does strike me as the most direct path to writing full-time.

Nick

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2018, 08:20:53 PM »
Right, but I'm not asking what full length best seller to write, which is a different question actually and maybe I wasn't clear....  What I'm asking is what shorter books/stories sell the most, what subject or category.... like if you read the ebook and Kindle related articles from 5-6 years ago, the ones that are on how much you can make quickly if you're a good writer, they almost all say that erotic short stories sell the fastest, or erotica in general is the hottest category but that more titles with shorter stories sold fastest.   So if someone were interested in building a list of titles to keep selling in certain categories, what type and length books are the hottest at the moment, is it still short story form erotica, or has that been flooded with submissions and now some other category is the most popular?

You'll find the answers re erotica on the Dirty Discourse (I think that's the name) forum somewhere else on the internet. KBoards does have some erotica authors, but you probably want to go where the in-depth discussions are.

I'm not sure what you think you mean by "submissions." Do you mean releases? Can it be possible to have too much erotica on the market? I suspect not.

Offline Don7

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2018, 08:22:26 PM »
I'd assume the "Ultimate" strategy, if such a thing exists, is something like this........ (see full quote of Nick's reply above) ..................Nick


WOW!   Thank you Nick!   That's an incredible reply that I read through twice.... and saved to read again.  I was thinking of more like short stories that can start earning within a few months, but this is a much, much better and well thought out plan for the longer term- and coming from someone who's familiar with all of this, it's far more useful than the stuff I see on YouTube or blogs about the subject.   Thank you SO much for taking the time... far more than I expected.   Thanks.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 08:25:36 PM by Don7 »

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2018, 08:24:19 PM »
Lol, Nick ... definitely bookmarking that post!  :)

Offline JulesWright

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2018, 08:28:39 PM »
One thing to note about short stories, if you are seeing advice from several years ago the conditions have changed. People used to be paid in Kindle Unlimited based on borrows but they have switched over to page reads - so that favors longer works.   In general, novels sell much better than short stories. I am not sure what is going on in Erotica, but you do need to know what you are doing to make sure you stay in compliance with Amazon.


Offline Carol (was Dara)

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2018, 08:34:20 PM »
Pretty much everything Nicholas said. Familiarize yourself with your chosen genre, write novel series, release frequently, use strong packaging (don't be subtle), grow mailing list, advertise, repeat over and over. Be prepared for it to take awhile to get off the ground. Most people write/publish a lot of novels before they get somewhere. Do a lot of research but realize info from five (or even two) years ago is often outdated. Look for what's working in 2017-18.

Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2018, 09:28:00 PM »
Oh, and just so you'll know... nobody's telling you how to make a fortune writing erotica on Dirty Discourse either. The boat has sailed. There's no money in erotica, the focus on DD is on writing as a business, and erotica is not a business for most people, rather it's a hobby that makes a few extra bucks. The person in the other post who said they earn less than $2K/month writing erotica is probably in the top 5% of erotica authors at this point...

Visit my website for free reads & giveaways for lovers of steamy m/m romance https://parkeravrile.wordpress.com/blog/

Offline DonovanJeremiah

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2018, 02:44:08 AM »
What I'm asking is what shorter books/stories sell the most, what subject or category.... like if you read the ebook and Kindle related articles from 5-6 years ago, the ones that are on how much you can make quickly if you're a good writer, they almost all say that erotic short stories sell the fastest, or erotica in general is the hottest category but that more titles with shorter stories sold fastest.   So if someone were interested in building a list of titles to keep selling in certain categories, what type and length books are the hottest at the moment, is it still short story form erotica, or has that been flooded with submissions and now some other category is the most popular?

The bolded is the flaw in your question.

5-6 years ago is ancient history on the internet. Things move so quickly. What was true 5-6 years ago has little bearing on today.

Nick's post was spot on. If writing and making money is what you want, heed his advice.

If you're insistent on writing erotica for money, I'd suggest checking out eroticauthors on reddit. I think you'll see they'll tell you (or you'll see for yourself if you lurk there long enough and read all the topics) the same thing Parker said.

Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2018, 04:59:23 AM »
WOW!   Thank you Nick!   That's an incredible reply that I read through twice.... and saved to read again.  I was thinking of more like short stories that can start earning within a few months, but this is a much, much better and well thought out plan for the longer term- and coming from someone who's familiar with all of this, it's far more useful than the stuff I see on YouTube or blogs about the subject.   Thank you SO much for taking the time... far more than I expected.   Thanks.

To bridge the gap, there might be something to be said for 15-20k steamy romance stories. I was over on Dirty Discourse when KU switched to pages-read, and many of the 5k erotica short story authors ventured up to those. This was a couple years ago and I moved in a different direction, so I can't say how that evolved for them from then, but there had definitely been a market for those before the pages-read switch, and I imagine there still is. ;)

At any rate, you should check out http://dirtydiscourse.com/

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #17 on: April 18, 2018, 05:16:57 AM »
If your main goal is money, I suggest real estate investing.

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2018, 05:28:45 AM »
Short works -- even erotica, these days -- is not going to make you money. As much as some of us wish it were so, the market just isn't there. To begin to make good money writing short erotica, you're going to have to be able to publish three or more shorts (approx 8K words) a week, in a good kink, with fairly decent covers. Of course, there's going to be some time involved in learning what sells, what Amazon will get you for doing wrong, and the constant churn of stories.

I'd take Eric's post to heart. It's about the most basic advice you can get in one place.

The thing about writing is, no matter what some sites would have you believe, it's not easy money. We would love it if there was some magic formula we could hit and sit back and watch the money roll in. If you love to write, figure out what you can see yourself writing, study the genre, study what's selling, and keep up with the latest in publishing news (not trad world, indie world!), and keep at it. If you are a decent story teller -- note, I didn't say writer, as you can fix writing issues but telling good stories is much harder -- you can make money at this if you work it. Maybe not a good living, or a miracle wage, but you can make some money.
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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2018, 05:40:40 AM »
Also, ya know, coming up with great stories that you feel passionate about and delight readers.

Offline Evenstar

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #20 on: April 18, 2018, 06:52:19 AM »
I'd assume the "Ultimate" strategy, if such a thing exists, is something like this.

1) pick a popular sub-genre. Note I said sub-genre, not genre. E.g. urban fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy or paranormal romance is a sub-genre of romance. You might need to niche down further, depending on the size of the sub-genre - too big, and it gets very expensive to gain visibility. It's probably easiest/fastest to pick a sub-genre that does well with Kindle Unlimited, but doing so opens you up to risk, since the program is currently in a state of flux and changes - potentially big ones - seem imminent.

1a) read 50 books from the sub-genre - 25 current indie bestsellers on the Top 100, 25 genre "classics." Note that a "classic" might only be five years old, or two, depending on how new the genre is.

2) get covers that emulate the key tropes/style of the Top 100 bestsellers in that genre, particularly the Top 20. Pro covers can be had for $200/ea; any more than that might get you better designs, but typically doesn't move the needle. Being on the nose will do more than a beautiful design; you want people to instantly recognize, in under 1 second, your book's sub-genre from the title/cover. No need to release in paperback unless you want to. Audio is expensive to produce up front (if you're commissioning the books yourself), but can be lucrative in some genres if the eBook is already selling. If it's not, then don't bother with audio.

3) study the blurbs in the Top 100 of your sub-genre, and copy at least 50 of them by hand (one per day) to get the feeling in your bones. Break them apart and see what similarities/differences there are in them. Analyze what the key tropes are by reading reviews/studying the blurbs and finding what readers actually want from the genre.

4) write a full-length novel (50k+ words) a month, minimum, all on the same pen name. All the same genre. No weird [crap]. Pound the tropes and give readers what they want. Only write in series; at least trilogies. You can write longer series if the first book in a series is a hit and you like writing longer than a trilogy. Otherwise, trilogies limit your risk while also giving you good sales upside.

4a) do this for a year.

4b) write sixteen books instead of twelve in that year, if you can manage it; this will get things going even faster.

4c) release your first three books at once (e.g. an entire trilogy, or the first three books of a series) and go all out with the advertising on Book 1 @ $0.99. Have Book 4 or the next series's Book 1 available a month later. This, coupled with sixteen releases (e.g. you'd have 3 right out of the gate, then write basically a book a month thereafter) could blow the doors off your earnings right from the drop and keep them trending up.

5) start an email list. Write a novella that ties into your main series, and offer that for free to entice people to sign up. Put the link to your free novella sign-up in the front matter on its own page, and also put it in the back matter, right after the end.

5a) or, alternatively, don't write a novella. End every book on a cliffhanger (except the last one in a series, obviously) and include a newsletter link to "get an email when the next book comes out" right after the end. The cliffhangers will make some readers extremely angry, but - if done right - will also generate many sign-ups to your newsletter and also increase sell-through from Book 1 > Book 2 > Book 3 and so forth. Your call.

6) do a bit of advertising - promo sites, AMS/FB/BookBub. If you release once a month or quicker, you can probably get away with like $200/mo and still make good money. Perhaps even no advertising, depending on the sub-genre. If you pick a very competitive sub-genre, even with quick releases your ad budget will probably need to be high.

Marketing books to read:

Chris Fox's Write Faster, Write Smarter series (all six books; they're short)
Brian Meeks's Mastering Amazon Ads,
Michael Cooper's Help! My Facebook Ads Suck!
Bryan Cohen's How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis

To learn the fundamentals of Facebook/PPC Ads, the best option is to take Mark Dawson's Ads for Authors course, which is $750, but will shortcut your learning curve significantly and save you time/money. You can sign up for the mailing list to receive three free videos to if his teaching style resonates, as well as to get an email when the course opens again.

I have no affiliation with any of the authors listed; I just thought those books/courses were good. I've also written a free guide that totals 40,000+ words which distills most of the common knowledge into a step-by-step kind of system online here.

In summation:

1) read 50 books in your sub-genre over the next year.
2) write 12 - 16 full-length novels (50k+ words) in your sub-genre over the next year. All the same pen name. All at least trilogies; successful series can be extended if you like.
3) get pro covers ($200 max) that match the feel/tone of your sub-genre's bestsellers
4) study the Top 100 bestselling blurbs in your sub-genre
5) analyze the Top 100 sub-genre's reviews for common reader likes/dislikes.
6) make an email list and build that continuously
7) advertise
8) read the marketing books above

While it's impossible to engineer a true bestseller a la The Hunger Games (or even a breakout indie hit), you can create a steady stream of midlist hits that make good money if you develop the right skills. There's much less variability in the midlist game, provided you have the skills - although, even if you're really, really good, certain books won't resonate with your sub-genre's audience and you'll have misses. That's why the ability to crank out books is so important.

Anyway, I excited myself just writing all that out - woooo, fast riches - and I honestly think that would work really, really well, but here's the catch: if you can't crank at that level (the most important variable here is to release a full-length novel every month in a popular sub-genre), which most people can't (myself included; the above is not what I do, but I've spent a lot of time thinking about "optimal" strategies, and that's what I've settled on), you have to start tweaking the variables.

Instead of releasing every month, you might do it every two, but bump up your advertising budget. Work on networking with other authors. Build your email list more aggressively That sort of thing. To execute this strategy, you must be able to grind through the workload, which is an insurmountable challenge for most. To be clear, most of this is not what I do (production pace-wise, at least), nor have I tested it as laid out. But it does strike me as the most direct path to writing full-time.

Nick

Very nice summary Nick, that's pretty much my plan too  ;)

Also, branding! Brand yourself, make your covers instantly identifiable as your brand, and get a website to match (website is optional, but very inexpensive).

Online Anarchist

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2018, 07:01:15 AM »
If your main goal is money, I suggest real estate investing.

I prefer REITs. Fewer headaches and more liquidity.

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

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2018, 07:38:57 AM »
Also, ya know, coming up with great stories that you feel passionate about and delight readers.

Heresy!

We all know that 'reverse harem erotica shifter military sf' is the only sub niche genre worth writing in! Buckets of loot in there. Somewhere.

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2018, 08:09:41 AM »
Nick, that was a wonderful post.

10/10

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Re: What would be the ultimate write-to-market strategy...?
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2018, 01:01:02 PM »
Also, ya know, coming up with great stories that you feel passionate about and delight readers.

Now that's just crazy talk.


;)



(I couldn't agree more.)

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