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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: Usedtoposthere on September 04, 2016, 01:43:56 PM

Title: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 04, 2016, 01:43:56 PM
(http://www.rosalindjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/kbaords-4-year-image.jpg)
On September 1, 2012, I held my breath and pushed the KDP "Publish" button for the first time, and sent off my first three books into the world.

I had never read a craft book or taken a writing class. My first book was my first fiction. I started writing it, and it just--boom. Felt like I'd found what I was born to do, 50 years AFTER I was born. I thought the books were pretty good, but, man, I really had no idea.

Boy, was I nervous. I just prayed I wouldn't crash and burn, and hoped in my wildest dreams that I'd make back my $1,400 investment by Christmas.

It took 10 days.

So it's been four years. In that time, I've written 20 books (about 2 million words in all--average length about 100K). I've sold (or had borrowed) about 700,000 books in ebook, audio, German ebook, and print (very few there!). I've made $1.43 million dollars [edited; I added wrong], and in 2016, for the first time, I should crack the $500K/year mark. This past year, I wrote 600,000 edited words--another personal record.

So--yeah. That's not bad. And yet...and yet. I still compare myself to other, better-selling authors all the time. I still hear that it's much more profitable to write 50K or 70K books, which I could get out there every month or six weeks, instead of every two and a half or three months. I still hear advice about studying the market and dissecting books and writing to trend, and wonder, "Should I do that?"

And still...what I actually DO, always, is write exactly what I want to write. I still need a few weeks between books to think up the new one. I still write in three or four subgenres in romance instead of sticking to one thing, with not always optimal results sales-wise. I still jump around in series instead of dancing with the one what brung me. I still write 2K to 8K a day instead of 10K, because I edit extremely heavily as I go, and I go back over and over my work to polish it. I'm a little faster than I used to be--writing a 100K book still takes about six weeks, as it did from the start, but editing has gone from a month to a week. But I don't use any techniques to get faster. I'm still in Select and not wide. I've still never put a nekkid manchest on one of my covers.

Basically, "artist me" wins every time. (Though I feel pretty uncomfortable with that "artist" label--call it "craftsman me.") What I want above all else is to learn and grow and try new things and take risks, as uncomfortable and scary as it is. Fortunately, I have some readers who will read me across subgenres and series, and my sales stay fairly steady over time; my early books still sell. So--it's a different way to "do" a career, but it's not bad.

I'm still struggling to accept that doing it my way probably means never cracking the really big time. I'll say I want to, but I'll start that new series anyway. Because I don't need a million dollars a year. I NEED the creative fulfillment of meeting that challenge, of pushing that new boundary, of writing in first person or writing a mystery that really works. Whatever it is.

I think my way "works," inasmuch as it does, because I do understand at a fundamental level what readers in my genre are reading for. It's not really "about" billionaires, stepbrothers, bear shifters, rock stars, or motorcycle guys. (Which is lucky for me.) It's about escape, and fun, and above all else, emotion. It's about believing in these people, feeling with these people. It's about being taken for a ride, even if that's not a bumpy rollercoaster one (I tend to write at the lower-drama end of the scale).

There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need. You might never hit seven figures a year, but maybe you'll get to spend a few months in New Zealand every year. And that's pretty nice.

Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 750,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Out_there on September 04, 2016, 01:51:55 PM
Thanks for the post. You sound wildly successful without letting the process suck your soul out. Good for you. Continued success.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 750,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: PaulLev on September 04, 2016, 01:56:07 PM
Congratulations indeed!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 750,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: EB on September 04, 2016, 01:57:09 PM
Thank you for sharing. I always look forward to your posts. It's awesome to see how your hard work has paid off.  8) 8)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 750,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: evdarcy on September 04, 2016, 01:57:19 PM
And still...what I actually DO, always, is write exactly what I want to write. I still need a few weeks between books to think up the new one. I still write in three or four subgenres in romance instead of sticking to one thing, with not always optimal results sales-wise. I still jump around in series instead of dancing with the one what brung me. I still write 2K to 8K a day instead of 10K, because I edit extremely heavily as I go, and I go back over and over my work to polish it. I'm a little faster than I used to be--writing a 100K book still takes about six weeks, as it did from the start, but editing has gone from a month to a week. But I don't use any techniques to get faster. I'm still in Select and not wide. I've still never put a nekkid manchest on one of my covers.

Basically, "artist me" wins every time. (Though I feel pretty uncomfortable with that "artist" label--call it "craftsman me.") What I want above all else is to learn and grow and try new things and take risks, as uncomfortable and scary as it is. Fortunately, I have some readers who will read me across subgenres and series, and my sales stay fairly steady over time; my early books still sell. So--it's a different way to "do" a career, but it's not bad.

...

I think my way "works," inasmuch as it does, because I do understand at a fundamental level what readers in my genre are reading for. It's not really "about" billionaires, stepbrothers, bear shifters, rock stars, or motorcycle guys. (Which is lucky for me.) It's about escape, and fun, and above all else, emotion. It's about believing in these people, feeling with these people. It's about being taken for a ride, even if that's not a bumpy rollercoaster one (I tend to write at the lower-drama end of the scale).

This, all this!  This is exactly how I want to write, how I want to get my tales out there.  I'm not looking to be a millionaire, just to be successful enough to give up teaching and write full time.  I don't want to write to market, I want to write the stories that I have to tell. The ones that I want to live!

Thank you for sharing this, for letting me see that I don't need to do x, y and z in order to achieve my heart's desire, I just need to follow said heart!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Sara C on September 04, 2016, 02:05:15 PM
You're an inspiration. Thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 750,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: EC Sheedy on September 04, 2016, 02:07:49 PM
Rosalind, thank so much for posting your story. It's awesome and inspiring.

We all need to be reminded that the pure delight in writing is in doing it our way--for better or worse. I believe those talented writers who can produce a book a month have their own kind of delight and sense of fulfillment. And, yes, I occasionally envy them.

When I get down about my own lack of production (which isn't even in the same league as yours!) I remind myself--again--that each writing path is as unique as the fingerprints on the keyboard, and I try never to check in to the Blue Guilt Motel that is always advertising from the side of the road. And I read stories like yours . . .   :)

I deeply admire your work, your contributions to this board, and your sure-footed way of handling your success.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: carrie 123 on September 04, 2016, 02:11:37 PM
You're awesome, Rosalind. You are hugely successful and get to do a job you love. Can't beat that! Thanks for sharing :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Lydniz on September 04, 2016, 02:11:40 PM
Great post, Rosalind. As other people have said, you're always an inspiration.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Howietzer on September 04, 2016, 02:28:19 PM
Bravo!!! Always enjoy your posts and insight. Thanks so much for sharing. :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: SarahHope on September 04, 2016, 02:31:59 PM
what an inspirational post. It's great to hear how others have and continue to succeed. Thank you.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: lyndabelle on September 04, 2016, 02:32:11 PM
Roselind, I want to be you when I grow up.

Thanks for proving that you can go out there, write the book you want to write, and make money. It is my dream. I'm doing the writing, but working toward getting that money. My take away from your post: write longer. Longer books seem to sell better. *sigh*
But I'm always finding that my books end up being shorter. Not sure if it's just me, or the fact I'm still learning how to get my books to be more noticed.
I guess if the same path worked for everyone, life wouldn't be as much fun or a challenge.

Thanks for posting that it is possible to make it all happen.  ;)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Kit Hallows on September 04, 2016, 02:33:46 PM
This is a hugely inspiring read! I'm three weeks from publishing my first novel and it's posts like these that motivate me to believe anything is possible.
Thank you!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: katygirl on September 04, 2016, 02:35:08 PM
Wow!  I consider you fairly big time.  Thank you for still hanging out at boards and inspiring those of us just starting out.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Scout on September 04, 2016, 02:39:15 PM
Amazing story. Congrats!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 04, 2016, 02:48:22 PM
Roselind, I want to be you when I grow up.

Thanks for proving that you can go out there, write the book you want to write, and make money. It is my dream. I'm doing the writing, but working toward getting that money. My take away from your post: write longer. Longer books seem to sell better. *sigh*
But I'm always finding that my books end up being shorter. Not sure if it's just me, or the fact I'm still learning how to get my books to be more noticed.
I guess if the same path worked for everyone, life wouldn't be as much fun or a challenge.

Thanks for posting that it is possible to make it all happen.  ;)
Most bestselling authors in romance seem to write more like the 75K level, so I'm not so sure about that! The book that's coming out in February from Montlake is 145K. That's just crazy long. Takes a long time to write, and it's not profit-maximizing. So I'd say, from a "sales" point of view, writing shorter is probably better.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Rica G on September 04, 2016, 02:52:59 PM
Thank you :) Very inspiring post.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: CJArcher on September 04, 2016, 02:55:48 PM
What an awesome post! Congratulations on your success, and thanks for the reminder that it's possible to do incredibly well by doing things your own way.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: IreneP on September 04, 2016, 04:06:43 PM
Thanks for sharing! I always love to hear from authors who have had success writing exactly what they want to write!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Karl Fields on September 04, 2016, 04:12:04 PM
Thanks for posting this Rosalind. I needed to read something like this today. Congratulations and best wishes for continued success!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Andrew Dorn on September 04, 2016, 04:38:47 PM
Very informative and interesting post. Thanks Rosalind and all the best for your next 20 books!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: James R Wells on September 04, 2016, 04:48:14 PM
Wow, on a break from deep inside Volume II, it's humbling to read this, both on the levels of success and also tremendous effort.

My favorite parts, subsetted here with a comment below.

And still...what I actually DO, always, is write exactly what I want to write. ... I still write in three or four subgenres in romance instead of sticking to one thing, with not always optimal results sales-wise. I still jump around in series instead of dancing with the one what brung me.

Basically, "artist me" wins every time. (Though I feel pretty uncomfortable with that "artist" label--call it "craftsman me.") What I want above all else is to learn and grow and try new things and take risks, as uncomfortable and scary as it is. Fortunately, I have some readers who will read me across subgenres and series, and my sales stay fairly steady over time; my early books still sell. So--it's a different way to "do" a career, but it's not bad.

I think my way "works," inasmuch as it does, because I do understand at a fundamental level what readers in my genre are reading for. ... It's about escape, and fun, and above all else, emotion. It's about believing in these people, feeling with these people. It's about being taken for a ride, even if that's not a bumpy rollercoaster one (I tend to write at the lower-drama end of the scale).

There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need.

In any business, there is an "optimal" way to make the donuts. And that way works for a lot of businesses. Choose the right kind of donut, be efficient, get it done, make sure it's good enough, make the next donut. There's always someone who will want a donut.

But sometimes that model doesn't work. Sometimes "optimal" doesn't produce the best actual result.

What I'm reading from this inspiring post is: Yes, do find the processes that are efficient and effective, that will help you in the market. Then do only those things that are true to yourself and your intent.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Denise Templey on September 04, 2016, 04:49:06 PM
Congrats, Rosalind. Great post (as always).
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: pwtucker on September 04, 2016, 05:21:43 PM
Thank you for sharing, Rosalind, and huge congrats. You've been one of the most generous authors on KBoards, and your example has always been inspiring. Here's to your breaking many more of your personal records in the years to come!

PS: You didn't mention my favorite accomplishment of yours: having that All Black player read your book on TV while dressed in a terry cloth robe ;)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 04, 2016, 05:24:10 PM
Thank you for sharing, Rosalind, and huge congrats. You've been one of the most generous authors on KBoards, and your example has always been inspiring. Here's to your breaking many more of your personal records in the years to come!

PS: You didn't mention my favorite accomplishment of yours: having that All Black player read your book on TV while dressed in a terry cloth robe ;)
Haha, that really WAS a dream come true! Seeing that on national TV...that was just an amazing moment. ("World famous in New Zealand," as they say.)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: JRTomlin on September 04, 2016, 05:28:24 PM
Rosalind, you look pretty big time to me, doing what you love and doing great at it. You go, girl!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.33 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Augusta Blythe on September 04, 2016, 05:43:53 PM
Bookmarked to read again on rainy days when I need a pick-me-up. Thanks, Rosalind!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Will C. Brown on September 04, 2016, 06:05:16 PM
Thanks for sharing this, Rosalind! This is very inspirational and something I need right about now.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: RMGauthier on September 04, 2016, 06:08:29 PM
Thank you for sharing. It's so nice for us newbies to hear these inspirational stories. I'm about to hit the publish button on my debut novel and I keep thinking I'm missing something... but I don't know what. You've inspired me to just do it and move onto the next. So thank you for that. Good luck in future endeavors.  ;D
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Julie-Anne Fountain on September 04, 2016, 06:12:29 PM
There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need. You might never hit seven figures a year, but maybe you'll get to spend a few months in New Zealand every year. And that's pretty nice.
Thank-you Rosalind.
I had to admit I got a bit teary reading your post (I'm a bit of a sook for people baring their soul and succeeding).
I wish you continued success and growth in your 'craft'.
And thank-you for your dose of inspiration to a yet-to-be Author.
Cheers
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Harriet Schultz on September 04, 2016, 06:31:02 PM
Rosalind...Both your output and your results are amazing and your success is well-deserved. I've read several of your books and they never seem to be the product of someone who rushed just to produce something. Each is an engrossing, well-written read.

I'm curious about your initial success since you were an unknown at that point.  Did you advertise those first three books or did the sales come from word of mouth?

Congratulations!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Ryn Shell on September 04, 2016, 06:37:57 PM
Brilliant! Congratulations.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Romancer on September 04, 2016, 06:43:36 PM
You're one of my heroes.

Not just as a fellow romance author, but as a fan. You write amazing stories.

So happy for you. Here's to millions more; words AND money!

Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 04, 2016, 06:43:58 PM
Rosalind...Both your output and your results are amazing and your success is well-deserved. I've read several of your books and they never seem to be the product of someone who rushed just to produce something. Each is an engrossing, well-written read.

I'm curious about your initial success since you were an unknown at that point.  Did you advertise those first three books or did the sales come from word of mouth?

Congratulations!
I did a few free periods on books 1 & 2 in the first few months, advertising on a few small sites. That was it, but that was a less competitive period. I also did blog tours that brought me to the attention of an influential Goodreads member who pushed me some there. She reviewed all 3 of the first books on her blog, and my sales took a jump.

My big breakout after 4 months of 1500-2000 sales/month came at the beginning of month 5. I'd published book 4 and dropped price of book 1 to 99 cents. I did a free period and BookBub picked it up unbeknownst to me. It got a lot of attention and word of mouth and continued to sell. It sold 10k units that month and I got a lot of word of mouth, selling 10k total of the other books. That was the tipping point. Free periods in Select and word of mouth.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Clementine on September 04, 2016, 06:52:10 PM
This post made me so happy. You're an inspiration to me, not just as a writer, but as a really decent human being. I love getting to hear about the path that you've forged for yourself. I hope that the next four years are just as creatively fulfilling.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: SallyRose on September 04, 2016, 07:03:46 PM
Big congratulations on your much deserved success! Thanks for all that you share so generously here - you're a huge inspiration and I learn an incredible amount each time you post about your story, process, and results. I absolutely love that you've accomplished so much by doing it all on your own terms - for love AND money, brilliant!

Cheers to your continued success!!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: C. Gockel on September 04, 2016, 07:16:13 PM
Congrats! Thanks for sticking around, and being your upstanding self. You're one of the loveliest people on this board.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: KL_Phelps on September 04, 2016, 07:25:00 PM
awesome, thanks for sharing
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: CarlaBaku on September 04, 2016, 07:28:54 PM
Happy 4th anniversary, Rosalind. Love your story. Love your posts. Love your attitude. Many continued successes to you in the days and years to come.  :-*

Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: JaclynDolamore on September 04, 2016, 07:34:28 PM
Your success is always inspiring, and so is the savvy combination of understanding the market but not giving it the most obvious thing it wants. I suspect that writing something that isn't quite THE biggest thing pays off in the long run, with loyal fans and less downturn from changing trends.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Howtoguru on September 04, 2016, 07:37:45 PM
Thank you for this.  While I do not write in your genre at all, this is very inspiring to read.
Best wishes,
- Dan Grijzenhout
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Carol (was Dara) on September 04, 2016, 07:42:27 PM
(http://www.rosalindjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/kbaords-4-year-image.jpg)

Love this picture of four years worth of work. *Punches invisible like button*
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Verve on September 04, 2016, 08:07:59 PM
I admit that $1.43 million is an amount that seems almost...unfathomable. I have no plans to write to market, and I doubt I will ever write in the most popular genres. Still, if I can achieve even half that, that would really be....well, still unfathomable.

Congrats on the success and being a true inspiration!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Kessie Carroll on September 04, 2016, 08:17:58 PM
In the picture, is that all the notebooks/binders that you wrote in? You wrote all these longhand?

If so, do you have a callus on your finger from the pencil/pen? When I wrote longhand, I had a funny little one on my finger from holding the pencil so much.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 04, 2016, 08:35:08 PM
In the picture, is that all the notebooks/binders that you wrote in? You wrote all these longhand?

If so, do you have a callus on your finger from the pencil/pen? When I wrote longhand, I had a funny little one on my finger from holding the pencil so much.
I write some scenes longhand. The scarier a book is to write, the more I will write in a notebook. Writing in a notebook feels like less of a "commitment" than typing into my book's Word doc, so if I'm scared, sometimes I do that. I've written less of the books longhand, in general, as I've gone along.

Also, I'll tend to write longhand more if I'm in New Zealand, since people there don't take laptops to cafes. They go out for coffee, sit down there, and consume it in a leisurely manner whilst chatting. Then they go back to work. Weirdos.

In the early days, I wrote most of the sex scenes either in longhand or in a separate document, telling myself, "I don't have to publish this. It's just for me." Then I always would. Oh, well. :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: taliwrites on September 04, 2016, 08:39:43 PM
That's awesome! Congrats!  :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: NeedWant on September 04, 2016, 10:27:38 PM
Thanks for sharing this! It's always interesting to see all the different paths to success.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Rinelle Grey on September 04, 2016, 10:54:02 PM
I always love your posts Rosalind.

There are many paths to success, and it doesn't always look the same to all people.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Abalone on September 05, 2016, 01:07:44 AM
Congratulations, Rosalind! In my time on this board, you've always been a delight to speak to and have always helped others when they sought help. A true wonder!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: RedAlert on September 05, 2016, 01:57:11 AM
Thank you for your post, Rosalind!

There were studies done that showed you can learn more by writing notes in longhand and NOT typing on a computer keyboard.  Not sure how this fits in with writing novels, but it has to do with the way the brain works.  Worth noting.

I am curious about how BookBub picked you up without your knowing.  I am really impressed with that!

Anyway, congratulations! 
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: EvanPickering on September 05, 2016, 02:32:55 AM
(http://www.rosalindjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/kbaords-4-year-image.jpg)
On September 1, 2012, I held my breath and pushed the KDP "Publish" button for the first time, and sent off my first three books into the world.

I had never read a craft book or taken a writing class. My first book was my first fiction. I started writing it, and it just--boom. Felt like I'd found what I was born to do, 50 years AFTER I was born. I thought the books were pretty good, but, man, I really had no idea.

Boy, was I nervous. I just prayed I wouldn't crash and burn, and hoped in my wildest dreams that I'd make back my $1,400 investment by Christmas.

It took 10 days.

So it's been four years. In that time, I've written 20 books (about 2 million words in all--average length about 100K). I've sold (or had borrowed) about 700,000 books in ebook, audio, German ebook, and print (very few there!). I've made $1.43 million dollars [edited; I added wrong], and in 2016, for the first time, I should crack the $500K/year mark. This past year, I wrote 600,000 edited words--another personal record.

So--yeah. That's not bad. And yet...and yet. I still compare myself to other, better-selling authors all the time. I still hear that it's much more profitable to write 50K or 70K books, which I could get out there every month or six weeks, instead of every two and a half or three months. I still hear advice about studying the market and dissecting books and writing to trend, and wonder, "Should I do that?"

And still...what I actually DO, always, is write exactly what I want to write. I still need a few weeks between books to think up the new one. I still write in three or four subgenres in romance instead of sticking to one thing, with not always optimal results sales-wise. I still jump around in series instead of dancing with the one what brung me. I still write 2K to 8K a day instead of 10K, because I edit extremely heavily as I go, and I go back over and over my work to polish it. I'm a little faster than I used to be--writing a 100K book still takes about six weeks, as it did from the start, but editing has gone from a month to a week. But I don't use any techniques to get faster. I'm still in Select and not wide. I've still never put a nekkid manchest on one of my covers.

Basically, "artist me" wins every time. (Though I feel pretty uncomfortable with that "artist" label--call it "craftsman me.") What I want above all else is to learn and grow and try new things and take risks, as uncomfortable and scary as it is. Fortunately, I have some readers who will read me across subgenres and series, and my sales stay fairly steady over time; my early books still sell. So--it's a different way to "do" a career, but it's not bad.

I'm still struggling to accept that doing it my way probably means never cracking the really big time. I'll say I want to, but I'll start that new series anyway. Because I don't need a million dollars a year. I NEED the creative fulfillment of meeting that challenge, of pushing that new boundary, of writing in first person or writing a mystery that really works. Whatever it is.

I think my way "works," inasmuch as it does, because I do understand at a fundamental level what readers in my genre are reading for. It's not really "about" billionaires, stepbrothers, bear shifters, rock stars, or motorcycle guys. (Which is lucky for me.) It's about escape, and fun, and above all else, emotion. It's about believing in these people, feeling with these people. It's about being taken for a ride, even if that's not a bumpy rollercoaster one (I tend to write at the lower-drama end of the scale).

There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need. You might never hit seven figures a year, but maybe you'll get to spend a few months in New Zealand every year. And that's pretty nice.

Thank you for sharing Rosalind, truly. I hope I can continue what success I've had with my book and build a career like that. 20 books in four years, hot damn. The best thing I can say is that you'd never have gotten that success if you weren't a great writer, clearly. As to the need for more, to make it 'big time', I think it is truly human to always strive for more. Noble too, to pursue greatness for it's own sake. Just make sure you're enjoying what you have and appreciate the greatness you've already achieved.

Thanks again,
Evan
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: martyns on September 05, 2016, 02:35:21 AM
Congratz on a great success story!

For the record I think you are right, the trimmings and themes aren't what make stories, it's the personal relationships between the characters and how they interact that engages readers.

Always make the big story small and the small story big!

It's definitely encouraging to hear how self-publishing worked for a fellow KBoarder, so thanks! :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: geraldmkilby on September 05, 2016, 03:32:23 AM
Thanks for the post, you've always been an inspiration to me ever since I started.
Like you, that didn't happen until I was over 50, and I had never written fiction before, never read a craft book and never heard of self-publishing. Being dyslexic didn't help my confidence much either. But I read a lot and just wanted to write more of the stories I like to read. My first book went nowhere, but that was OK. Even just to finish it and publish was a major achievement. However my next two books took off, I don't know why exactly. I didn't study the market, I just wrote what I like, the way I like.
So I'm planning to go full-time early next year as I'm now earning more than my day job, and all my friends who thought I was crazy to write are now giving me strange looks... and asking advice.
I may not reach your level of success, but it's feels great to be where I am right now... all because I said 'why not?'
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Michele Brouder on September 05, 2016, 04:09:23 AM
Amazing! Just another reminder to myself that it is a marathon and not a sprint. Any advice for us newbies?
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: B.A. Spangler on September 05, 2016, 04:56:47 AM
Thanks for sharing. Inspiring.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Jennifer Joy on September 05, 2016, 05:25:41 AM
Thank you so much for this, Rosalind. And for sharing that you still sometimes get scared with scenes and write them longhand. It's encouraging to read!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: franseen on September 05, 2016, 05:39:51 AM
Your success is extremely inspiring, and your willingness to showcase your journey is one of my favorite things about you. Wishing you even more success in the future.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: jlstovall4 on September 05, 2016, 06:41:03 AM
Thanks for sharing. Truly inspirational.  :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: TobiasRoote on September 05, 2016, 07:21:41 AM
Jolly well done. I think I'm going to copy your post to my desktop and read it once in a while to remind me to get off my backslide and write more.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: SidK on September 05, 2016, 07:29:06 AM
Wonderful post and Congratulations!

This post gives great hope to the beginners about the possibilities opened up by Self-Publishing.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Dominique Mondesir on September 05, 2016, 07:44:57 AM
Love reading threads like these keeps my hopes up.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Athena Grayson on September 05, 2016, 08:06:06 AM
Congratulations, Rosalind! May the next 4 years see your success grow even bigger! You really did grab the brass ring.

Roselind, I want to be you when I grow up.

Thanks for proving that you can go out there, write the book you want to write, and make money. It is my dream. I'm doing the writing, but working toward getting that money. My take away from your post: write longer. Longer books seem to sell better. *sigh*
But I'm always finding that my books end up being shorter. Not sure if it's just me, or the fact I'm still learning how to get my books to be more noticed.
I guess if the same path worked for everyone, life wouldn't be as much fun or a challenge.

Thanks for posting that it is possible to make it all happen.  ;)

Lyndabelle, I didn't take that away at all--I really don't think the length matters as much as what Rosalind did overall--seems to me that what she really does is know her own writing very well--well enough to know all the ways *her* stories satisfy the genre expectations of *her* readers, and knowing what unique elements make her books a "Rosalind" book. I think we can all take that to heart--even if you don't write spot-on to genre, if you know your storytelling, and know your own "brand," (and you're willing to do the work) then you can find the readers who want what you're writing, no matter if it's door-stoppers or pamphlets.

Certainly, there are some elements of luck involved for every author--being in the right place at the right time and all--but part of what makes the "right place at the right time" is knowing your work, and how and where you fit in.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Evenstar on September 05, 2016, 08:09:09 AM

NO no no! You're doing it all wrong ... let me put you right.

Just kidding, you're a rock star, love the books, love the attitude to writing. x
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 05, 2016, 08:28:50 AM
Lyndabelle, I didn't take that away at all--I really don't think the length matters as much as what Rosalind did overall--seems to me that what she really does is know her own writing very well--well enough to know all the ways *her* stories satisfy the genre expectations of *her* readers, and knowing what unique elements make her books a "Rosalind" book. I think we can all take that to heart--even if you don't write spot-on to genre, if you know your storytelling, and know your own "brand," (and you're willing to do the work) then you can find the readers who want what you're writing, no matter if it's door-stoppers or pamphlets.

Certainly, there are some elements of luck involved for every author--being in the right place at the right time and all--but part of what makes the "right place at the right time" is knowing your work, and how and where you fit in.
That's put very well. Better than I could put it.

I should say that I haven't understood until recently what it was about my books that was unique to me, or maybe I should say "branded to me," or whatever, since nothing I do is actually "unique." What combination of things made my books a "Rosalind James" book. I just wrote them. Over the years, though, I've gathered enough from reviews, emails, editors, other authors, etc. to sort of figure that out.

A lot of things one does aren't explicitly "known." You don't have to be able to explain what it is that makes a book in your genre "work" in order to know that at a deep level. I do think, though, that you have to have read widely in it (and maybe watched movies in it--that helps also) and really enjoy it in order to understand it without dissection. If you're trying to write a genre you don't love, I'm guessing you'd have to do that dissection and so forth.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: ParaRom-Writer on September 05, 2016, 08:46:44 AM
You are an inspiration to me and I appreciate your posts. Congratulations on your success.  :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: FFJ on September 05, 2016, 08:47:46 AM
I NEEDED to read this today.

Thanks so much for sharing and continued success to yourself and all the indie & published authors out there.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Mxz on September 05, 2016, 10:12:22 AM
Congratulations and thanks for sharing!  It's good to keep hearing about not having to chase romance trends.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: SevenDays on September 05, 2016, 10:45:48 AM
As always, thank you so much for sharing. And congratulations! Couldn't happen to a more gracious person. :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on September 05, 2016, 11:07:13 AM
Congratulations!

Way to rock the indie world!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Alan Petersen on September 05, 2016, 11:27:37 AM
Awesome! Thanks for sharing, it's inspirational to get typing!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Claire_Gem on September 05, 2016, 12:12:35 PM
<I've still never put a nekkid manchest on one of my covers.>

Thank you! I argued with a small publisher I was contracted with over this very issue. So much so that I bought my rights back from them! You DON'T have to have a nekkid man chest on the cover to sell big in romance! Your story is inspiring, and just the boot in the keyboard I needed right now, Rosalind. My fourth novel is coming out the end of this month and it's the 3rd this year, so I've been so tempted to slack. NO. No time for slacking! Back to the keyboard!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Rachel E. Rice on September 05, 2016, 12:21:20 PM
Wonderful Rosalind! I read all genres of books, and when I read one of your books, I knew right away why they sold. It was the feeling I got from reading a few words and a few paragraphs which caused me to want more. I fell into the world you created and I didn't want to leave it.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: J.J. Fitch on September 05, 2016, 01:13:24 PM
Lovely.  Thank you for sharing.  I love hearing about success stories.  This is the type of success story that keeps my nose to the grindstone  :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: AnitaLouise on September 05, 2016, 01:58:35 PM
(http://www.rosalindjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/kbaords-4-year-image.jpg)
I had never read a craft book or taken a writing class. My first book was my first fiction. I started writing it, and it just--boom. Felt like I'd found what I was born to do, 50 years AFTER I was born. I thought the books were pretty good, but, man, I really had no idea.

So it's been four years. In that time, I've written 20 books (about 2 million words in all--average length about 100K). I've sold (or had borrowed) about 700,000 books in ebook, audio, German ebook, and print (very few there!). I've made $1.43 million dollars [edited; I added wrong], and in 2016, for the first time, I should crack the $500K/year mark. This past year, I wrote 600,000 edited words--another personal record.

I still write 2K to 8K a day instead of 10K, because I edit extremely heavily as I go, and I go back over and over my work to polish it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! You're and inspiration. I haven't made anywhere near what you made in your first ten days in my first ten months, but I still believe I can make a good income with my writing.

Will be submitting my 5th book in the series I'm writing to Kindle Scout.  :o Wish me luck!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: BeachB on September 05, 2016, 03:17:50 PM
I wanted to add my "thank you" to all of the others.  You continue to be an inspiration to so many of us with the amount of information you share.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: KevinH on September 05, 2016, 03:46:44 PM
Congrats on your success! This was an inspirational post!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: eastwest97 on September 06, 2016, 03:31:02 AM
Like everyone else has written; thank you for taking the time to inspire us all!  Congratulations and wishing you much more success!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Mare on September 06, 2016, 04:31:57 AM
Thank you , Rosalind, for sharing with us here on KBoards. Anytime a person gets to do what they love day after day and get paid for doing it—they are wildly successfully. Congratulations! You give me courage to continue writing the stories I like to write.

I listened to you in an interview and liked what you said as well as what you write.  ;)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Okey Dokey on September 08, 2016, 06:38:04 PM
Just a boost to get this great thread in front of new readers
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Lizzie G on September 08, 2016, 06:49:26 PM
I haven't posted in quite awhile but I'm still a constant lurker :) I have always loved your posts and the humble way you carry yourself despite your success. And yes- you are big time! I love so many things about this post, but the picture was my favorite. The notebooks...the books...those are the things I love most in this world. Congratulations!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Sever Bronny on September 08, 2016, 09:59:11 PM
Congratulations, Rosalind. Well done indeed :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: AgnesWebb on September 08, 2016, 10:34:51 PM
Rosalind, THANK YOU for your endless generosity with sharing your journey!!! Inspirational. And congrats on your hard-earned mil!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on September 08, 2016, 10:48:21 PM


I should say that I haven't understood until recently what it was about my books that was unique to me, or maybe I should say "branded to me," or whatever, since nothing I do is actually "unique." What combination of things made my books a "Rosalind James" book. I just wrote them. Over the years, though, I've gathered enough from reviews, emails, editors, other authors, etc. to sort of figure that out.


Lovely story Ros. I think the above can be boiled down to voice. YOu have found your author voice--that thing that's unique to YOU.

I also write what I love and not to trend, but I've been lucky. The books I read and write are in hot genres. So although I don't write space opera or my urban fantasy to a trend, it happens to be IN one! haha. I have been going since 2001 and have written only half as much as you. You're a dynamo! How others write 10 a year I will never understand.

Keep it up. I love success.

PS: Being rich isn't a goal for me either. I love my life and what I do. That's what's important. We all have a certain amount of time on Earth, and at the end I want to look back and say "I did that. I didn't shy away." I saw a photo the other day on Facebook. One of those meme things. It said, "Time is limited. Buy the damn boat!"
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: MicaK on September 08, 2016, 10:59:03 PM
Congratulations to you, Rosalind. I so appreciate your clear thoughts on writing and your generosity in sharing all of this with all of us here. I wish you much continued success!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: TheNovel Factory on September 09, 2016, 04:10:56 AM

Really inspiring - thanks for sharing.


I'm still struggling to accept that doing it my way probably means never cracking the really big time. I'll say I want to, but I'll start that new series anyway. Because I don't need a million dollars a year. I NEED the creative fulfillment of meeting that challenge, of pushing that new boundary, of writing in first person or writing a mystery that really works. Whatever it is.


As far as I'm concerned earning almost $1.5 million in four years is cracking a pretty big time : )

Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: BellaJames on September 13, 2016, 01:59:45 AM
Congratulations Rosalind. I personally love these inspirational stories.

I recently read your 'what worked for me' post on your blog. Do you think a new author could launch with half of your success if they followed your method today? Or have things changed too much in self-publishing and on Amazon?


Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Bbates024 on September 13, 2016, 08:16:27 AM
Love it, I'd say a 500k year and a million dollars in the bank speaks for itself that what you are doing works for you. I wouldn't change a thing.

Congrats on the success, and I always see you on the forums willing to help others. That is pretty darn nice.

It's exciting for me to see other authors having success as I try and climb the mountain. I know it's out there and every day, every word, I feel like I get a little bit closer. :-)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: MarcyLooWho on September 13, 2016, 08:37:33 AM
Thanks for sharing, and congrats on your success - but most importantly that you found something you LOVE. My story is by far much smaller-scale, but I also found my love for writing unexpectedly and without any training, and at a later age. May you love the next 20 books, and the following 20 after that!  :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 13, 2016, 09:56:50 AM
Congratulations Rosalind. I personally love these inspirational stories.

I recently read your 'what worked for me' post on your blog. Do you think a new author could launch with half of your success if they followed your method today? Or have things changed too much in self-publishing and on Amazon?



I don't know. I was surprised it worked for ME. I think Russell Blake's blog post is better overall advice.

http://russellblake.com/how-to-sell-loads-of-books/

I don't do things the same as Russell, but his general points are common-sense, direct, and pretty darned accurate from where I sit.

I think the best post I myself have done is the "How to be hooky" one, partly because a lot of other people chimed in and offered valuable insight. It's so important to be hooky, to keep people turning the page. Your beginning gets them reading. Your middle has to KEEP them reading, and your ending has to get them to want the next book. All that is a skill, and you can get better at it. I know because I've been working hard at it for the past year, and I can tell I'm better at it now.

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,228998.0.html

Russell wrote something like this, too--how to write a page turner.
http://russellblake.com/writing-a-page-turner/

I think those posts are probably more useful than the "marketing" parts of mine--besides the cover, title, blurb parts, which I DO think would still work. Covers, blurbs, genre, and titles aren't going anywhere as the most important elements of success (edited to add: besides the book. The book's the main thing, the dealbreaker.) Here's my blurb post for anybody who wants it:

http://www.rosalindjames.com/how-to-write-a-romance-blurb/

Hope those help.



Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Becca Mills on September 13, 2016, 10:19:37 AM
Don't change a thing, Rosalind. I have a feeling you're a major role model for many of us!  :-*
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Abigail Stark on September 14, 2016, 05:44:47 AM
Absolutely inspiring, and completely deserved. I love your books!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Anne R. Tan on September 14, 2016, 07:04:14 AM
Thank you for writing this Rosalind. Your success is much deserved.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: SA_Soule on September 14, 2016, 11:41:00 AM
After reading this post, I am reminded not to give up on my dreams. Thank you, Rosalind! You're an inspiration to the writing community.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: TMG on September 14, 2016, 12:42:27 PM
Sooo amazing. I want to be you if I ever grow up ;) only in a different genre - ha.

Congrats. I love your success <3

TMG
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Lora_Richardson on September 14, 2016, 01:38:39 PM
Thank you for sharing your story!  I love seeing all your books laid out like that.  What an inspiration!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: matthewsylvester on September 14, 2016, 02:10:48 PM
(http://www.rosalindjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/kbaords-4-year-image.jpg)
On September 1, 2012, I held my breath and pushed the KDP "Publish" button for the first time, and sent off my first three books into the world.

I had never read a craft book or taken a writing class. My first book was my first fiction. I started writing it, and it just--boom. Felt like I'd found what I was born to do, 50 years AFTER I was born. I thought the books were pretty good, but, man, I really had no idea.

Boy, was I nervous. I just prayed I wouldn't crash and burn, and hoped in my wildest dreams that I'd make back my $1,400 investment by Christmas.

It took 10 days.

So it's been four years. In that time, I've written 20 books (about 2 million words in all--average length about 100K). I've sold (or had borrowed) about 700,000 books in ebook, audio, German ebook, and print (very few there!). I've made $1.43 million dollars [edited; I added wrong], and in 2016, for the first time, I should crack the $500K/year mark. This past year, I wrote 600,000 edited words--another personal record.

So--yeah. That's not bad. And yet...and yet. I still compare myself to other, better-selling authors all the time. I still hear that it's much more profitable to write 50K or 70K books, which I could get out there every month or six weeks, instead of every two and a half or three months. I still hear advice about studying the market and dissecting books and writing to trend, and wonder, "Should I do that?"

And still...what I actually DO, always, is write exactly what I want to write. I still need a few weeks between books to think up the new one. I still write in three or four subgenres in romance instead of sticking to one thing, with not always optimal results sales-wise. I still jump around in series instead of dancing with the one what brung me. I still write 2K to 8K a day instead of 10K, because I edit extremely heavily as I go, and I go back over and over my work to polish it. I'm a little faster than I used to be--writing a 100K book still takes about six weeks, as it did from the start, but editing has gone from a month to a week. But I don't use any techniques to get faster. I'm still in Select and not wide. I've still never put a nekkid manchest on one of my covers.

Basically, "artist me" wins every time. (Though I feel pretty uncomfortable with that "artist" label--call it "craftsman me.") What I want above all else is to learn and grow and try new things and take risks, as uncomfortable and scary as it is. Fortunately, I have some readers who will read me across subgenres and series, and my sales stay fairly steady over time; my early books still sell. So--it's a different way to "do" a career, but it's not bad.

I'm still struggling to accept that doing it my way probably means never cracking the really big time. I'll say I want to, but I'll start that new series anyway. Because I don't need a million dollars a year. I NEED the creative fulfillment of meeting that challenge, of pushing that new boundary, of writing in first person or writing a mystery that really works. Whatever it is.

I think my way "works," inasmuch as it does, because I do understand at a fundamental level what readers in my genre are reading for. It's not really "about" billionaires, stepbrothers, bear shifters, rock stars, or motorcycle guys. (Which is lucky for me.) It's about escape, and fun, and above all else, emotion. It's about believing in these people, feeling with these people. It's about being taken for a ride, even if that's not a bumpy rollercoaster one (I tend to write at the lower-drama end of the scale).

There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need. You might never hit seven figures a year, but maybe you'll get to spend a few months in New Zealand every year. And that's pretty nice.

Wow, if I achieve even 10% of that I'll be very, very happy indeed! Congratulations and I hope you continue to do what you love!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: BellaJames on September 14, 2016, 10:53:14 PM

Rosalind, Thank you for those links. I read Russell's post and listened to one of his recent interviews. Very knowledgable and giving man.

I like the method of releasing more than 1 book at the same time because I look at my reading habits and I pay attention to what my 'friends' on Goodreads are doing and we read fast. When I find an author I like/love/want to read every single thing they've ever written, I wish they had several books that I could just buy and read all together, especially if I'm going travelling and want lots of waiting room and on the plane reading material. I don't watch much TV too and I prefer to read.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: CrissyM on September 15, 2016, 12:04:55 AM
20 books in 4 years. That sounds awe inspiring to me.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: angela65 on September 15, 2016, 04:56:55 AM
As always, thanks again Rosalind, for the motivation and inspiration. And congratulations!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Jedi Reach on September 15, 2016, 05:10:35 AM
Great for you, but this isn't that helpful. Yeah, we get it, you write for your specific sub-genre audience. That's cool, but what else do you do? How are you managing your email lists? What tactics do you use to bring in your audience? Are you successful straight through Amazon only? Do you avoid promotion companies? Are you saying you just published specific genre based books and got lucky? Seriously, what are you doing? Make this post actually helpful. Right now it's just like 'yeah, I did it and I didn't even need to sell out.'

Cool. I guess?
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: angela65 on September 15, 2016, 05:50:16 AM
Make this post actually helpful. Right now it's just like 'yeah, I did it and I didn't even need to sell out.'

Cool. I guess?

Wow. Really? Rosalind is one of the most helpful authors on here. I keep waiting for her to disappear like so many successful writers before her- Amanda Lee, Chris Fox, Libbie Hawker, Annie B. and I could go on and on. These were all Kboards regulars who were always willing to help out, and now they rarely show up, if at all. I suspect many of them leave because of posts like this.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Ian W. Sainsbury on September 15, 2016, 06:42:31 AM
I'm new at this - been lurking on these boards for a few months now, slightly intimidated by the sheer amount of information, help and advice available here. So thanks, everyone, for this incredible resource.
Rosalind, what a great post. I've had some early success with my first book (particularly in the UK) and I guess it's down to a combination of luck and the fact that I wrote a story I wanted to read. Your approach really resonated with me. There's a ton of stuff on kboards about marketing, promoting, blogging and selling - and I hope to be able to apply some of what I've been reading when I launch book 2 of my series at the end of the month. But hearing about someone doing so well by concentrating on what's really important - the storytelling, the writing, the importance of being 'hooky' - really made my day. The writing - the story - is the exciting bit!
"There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need."
I guess we figure it out by writing books we'd buy and read ourselves.
Thanks again - and congratulations on your success.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Evenstar on September 15, 2016, 06:59:26 AM
Wow. Really? Rosalind is one of the most helpful authors on here. I keep waiting for her to disappear like so many successful writers before her- Amanda Lee, Chris Fox, Libbie Hawker, Annie B. and I could go on and on. These were all Kboards regulars who were always willing to help out, and now they rarely show up, if at all. I suspect many of them leave because of posts like this.

Nope, it's posts like yours (and those below) that make them stay  :D
I was recently skewered in a similar way and several people jumped in to say how helpful and nice I was. Each one of those posts lifted me way higher than the other post could ever have managed to bring me down. I think it's great, because Rosalind doesn't even need to respond herself for that message to be sent.

I am constantly struck by how supportive the Indie community is in general, but especially here. There are so few places on the internet where other people in your field are never treated like competition but instead are always doing their best to help each other.  There is no inner-circle here, but there is certainly a lot of great advice and more than that, a lot of support, not just for writing, but in general. Many people have said they found the post inspirational, which is just as helpful as the areas that Jedi Reach wanted her to cover. Yay!

Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Moist_Tissue on September 15, 2016, 07:40:43 AM
Thank you Rosalind. Your journey is inspiring.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on September 15, 2016, 07:45:42 AM
OK, folks.

Thanks to all of our members who have kept it civil.

I have removed a post, however, that crossed the line and some that responded to that post.

Jedi Reach, if you would like more information from Rosalind, there's nothing wrong with asking for it civilly.  Posts that are not civil or include personal attacks will be removed.  PM me if you have any questions.  If this thread is not interesting to you, please move on.  Lots of other threads.

Let's move on, folks, so as to not derail the thread for others.

Betsy
KB Mod
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 15, 2016, 07:56:05 AM
Great for you, but this isn't that helpful. Yeah, we get it, you write for your specific sub-genre audience. That's cool, but what else do you do? How are you managing your email lists? What tactics do you use to bring in your audience? Are you successful straight through Amazon only? Do you avoid promotion companies? Are you saying you just published specific genre based books and got lucky? Seriously, what are you doing? Make this post actually helpful. Right now it's just like 'yeah, I did it and I didn't even need to sell out.'

Cool. I guess?
On page 4, I link to other posts and threads by myself and others that give specific info on specific topics. I also have a thread in the sticky threads at the top of the Writers Cafe called FAQs and Useful Threads or something called What Worked for Me. Or you can go to my website and search for that and find it. That FAQs sticky has the most useful threads from lots of successful folks. Well worth a look.

To answer your specific questions, I don't write in a niche. I write in four subgenres of romance but some common elements in my work seem to come through for a certain audience. I write realistically and with a lot of warmth and an emphasis on family and friendship, and I write with humor. I write place well and I write emotion well. I write steamy but not explicit. Those are some of the specifics about the writing.

I am in Select and it seems to work better than wide for me. I am not a great marketer and don't do that much. Currently I am using Amazon ads and getting some visibility from the books of mine that are trad pubbed through various Amazon arms. Almost all my books are in audio and five are translated to German with more to come, and those things help. Basically though, IMHO the most important marketing happens before you publish the book, as I explain in my What Worked for Me post. I can't give too many specifics about "Do This and You'll Be Successful." My advice tends to be very basic and I think a lot of success comes down to basics. Many people have found books like Chris Fox's and Libbie Hawker's useful for specifics.

I have a mailing list now but I didn't for the first few years. Probably dumb. Most of my success has been word of mouth I believe.

I hope that helps. Thanks to all the others who've chimed in. I do understand how frustrating this business can be.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 15, 2016, 07:57:26 AM
Whoops sorry Betsy. I wasn't offended. I got it.



My post referred to a post that has been removed.  Thanks for responding to Jedi Reach's legitimate question. --Betsy
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Jedi Reach on September 15, 2016, 09:27:45 AM
On page 4, I link to other posts and threads by myself and others that give specific info on specific topics. I also have a thread in the sticky threads at the top of the Writers Cafe called FAQs and Useful Threads or something called What Worked for Me. Or you can go to my website and search for that and find it. That FAQs sticky has the most useful threads from lots of successful folks. Well worth a look.

To answer your specific questions, I don't write in a niche. I write in four subgenres of romance but some common elements in my work seem to come through for a certain audience. I write realistically and with a lot of warmth and an emphasis on family and friendship, and I write with humor. I write place well and I write emotion well. I write steamy but not explicit. Those are some of the specifics about the writing.

I am in Select and it seems to work better than wide for me. I am not a great marketer and don't do that much. Currently I am using Amazon ads and getting some visibility from the books of mine that are trad pubbed through various Amazon arms. Almost all my books are in audio and five are translated to German with more to come, and those things help. Basically though, IMHO the most important marketing happens before you publish the book, as I explain in my What Worked for Me post. I can't give too many specifics about "Do This and You'll Be Successful." My advice tends to be very basic and I think a lot of success comes down to basics. Many people have found books like Chris Fox's and Libboe Hawker's useful for specifics.

I have a mailing list now but I didn't for the first few years. Probably dumb. Most of my success has been word of mouth I believe.

I hope that helps. Thanks to all the others who've chimed in. I do understand how frustrating this business can be.
Thank you.




Edited.  As I said earlier, if you have any questions about the moderation of this thread, please PM me. --Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: BellaJames on September 15, 2016, 09:43:29 AM
I'm going to say this because I'm one of those people who needs to find answers to my burning questions and I search, I ask, I read and I listen.

Jedi Reach, I get your point but maybe the first part of your comment didn't sound so friendly.

I'm a long time lurker and I read quite a few posts by authors like Rosalind, H.M. Ward, Bella Andre and numerous others (I am writing romance so they interest me more) and I spend far too much time searching round the internet for more information on self-publishing. I have a folder full of stuff.

I just read an AMA on reddit by a NY times bestselling romance author and I was shaking my head at some of the questions the members asked. They were odd. Not much about her preparation, the way she works, how she got published, how she achieved her success etc... I presume most on that AMA are not writers but readers or people who wanted to ask a romance author about bedroom issues.

I like these sorts of threads, however I will add that these threads are more helpful when other members ask direct questions to the OP, rather than the OP writing a novel length first post. If you understand what I mean.

How I see it is, you have a successful author on here who is open and sharing her knowledge and experience, ask her some questions.

Oh and from what I've seen, Rosalind has shared a lot of good information and advice on here. You can look back at her old posts.

Thank you Rosalind for answering my question earlier.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: KeenToWrite on September 15, 2016, 10:03:34 AM
Jedi Reach, the point of the original post wasn't to provide a flow chart for success. It was to share a personal story with the intent of offering inspiration to others. Saying "this isn't that helpful" and "make this post actually helpful" and "Cool. I guess?" - those are far from neutral statements, nor do they constitute a simple request for information. This post has been helpful to a lot of people here, as is apparent in the responses. There's plenty of great advice on these boards that can help you, which other authors have been more than happy to provide out of kindness. I don't think it's a huge ask that they be offered the same kindness in return.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 15, 2016, 10:18:20 AM
Look, I'm pretty sure my post was neutral and if anything, leaning on the right intent to sort out helpful information. At no point was there ever a personal attack. The only 'attacks' came after when the fans lost their mind at me ASKING FOR INFORMATION instead of [mutual admiration society]ing. If that's the 'reg' on these boards to worship over gaining USEFUL INFORMATION THAT CAN HELP US then you can go ahead and close my account right now. I didn't sign up to fan anybody.
Thank you.

I think folks jumped in because I actually have given all the info you asked for in other posts (including What Worked for Me, which pretty much details everything I did during my first year or so of publishing). This particular post was on another topic. People who responded to say "thanks" have probably read my other posts and my responses in other threads, so I guess they were just responding to this particular thing at this time.

Mostly, in this post I wasn't trying to say, "Yay, me" (at least I hope I wasn't) so much as to talk about the ways our minds try to trick us into thinking, "You're not good enough" and "Look at how much better Author X is doing." I was trying to offer up my own approach to dealing with that critical voice, because that's been my biggest struggle so far in publishing.

If you want more step-by-step advice, I do suggest you (or anybody) check out that FAQs thread at the top. That's FULL of step-by-step advice from people more successful than me, who've approached their careers much more methodically. Here is the link:

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,41454.0.html

(And, yes, although I understood where your post came from, I did think it came off a little harsh. If you want info from authors, there's probably a better way to ask for it.)



Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Dale Ivan Smith on September 15, 2016, 10:29:20 AM
(http://www.rosalindjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/kbaords-4-year-image.jpg)
On September 1, 2012, I held my breath and pushed the KDP "Publish" button for the first time, and sent off my first three books into the world.

I had never read a craft book or taken a writing class. My first book was my first fiction. I started writing it, and it just--boom. Felt like I'd found what I was born to do, 50 years AFTER I was born. I thought the books were pretty good, but, man, I really had no idea.

Boy, was I nervous. I just prayed I wouldn't crash and burn, and hoped in my wildest dreams that I'd make back my $1,400 investment by Christmas.

It took 10 days.

So it's been four years. In that time, I've written 20 books (about 2 million words in all--average length about 100K). I've sold (or had borrowed) about 700,000 books in ebook, audio, German ebook, and print (very few there!). I've made $1.43 million dollars [edited; I added wrong], and in 2016, for the first time, I should crack the $500K/year mark. This past year, I wrote 600,000 edited words--another personal record.

So--yeah. That's not bad. And yet...and yet. I still compare myself to other, better-selling authors all the time. I still hear that it's much more profitable to write 50K or 70K books, which I could get out there every month or six weeks, instead of every two and a half or three months. I still hear advice about studying the market and dissecting books and writing to trend, and wonder, "Should I do that?"

And still...what I actually DO, always, is write exactly what I want to write. I still need a few weeks between books to think up the new one. I still write in three or four subgenres in romance instead of sticking to one thing, with not always optimal results sales-wise. I still jump around in series instead of dancing with the one what brung me. I still write 2K to 8K a day instead of 10K, because I edit extremely heavily as I go, and I go back over and over my work to polish it. I'm a little faster than I used to be--writing a 100K book still takes about six weeks, as it did from the start, but editing has gone from a month to a week. But I don't use any techniques to get faster. I'm still in Select and not wide. I've still never put a nekkid manchest on one of my covers.

Basically, "artist me" wins every time. (Though I feel pretty uncomfortable with that "artist" label--call it "craftsman me.") What I want above all else is to learn and grow and try new things and take risks, as uncomfortable and scary as it is. Fortunately, I have some readers who will read me across subgenres and series, and my sales stay fairly steady over time; my early books still sell. So--it's a different way to "do" a career, but it's not bad.

I'm still struggling to accept that doing it my way probably means never cracking the really big time. I'll say I want to, but I'll start that new series anyway. Because I don't need a million dollars a year. I NEED the creative fulfillment of meeting that challenge, of pushing that new boundary, of writing in first person or writing a mystery that really works. Whatever it is.

I think my way "works," inasmuch as it does, because I do understand at a fundamental level what readers in my genre are reading for. It's not really "about" billionaires, stepbrothers, bear shifters, rock stars, or motorcycle guys. (Which is lucky for me.) It's about escape, and fun, and above all else, emotion. It's about believing in these people, feeling with these people. It's about being taken for a ride, even if that's not a bumpy rollercoaster one (I tend to write at the lower-drama end of the scale).

There are lots of readers out there. Figure out what your genre's readers really want, underneath the surface trappings, and satisfy that need. You might never hit seven figures a year, but maybe you'll get to spend a few months in New Zealand every year. And that's pretty nice.
Rosalind,

Congratulations on your very well-earned success! This is so inspiring, especially that you write what you are passionate about even as you aim for your genre's "reader bullseye" (to quote my editor). I'm pushing publish two months from today--the first novel is ready to go, and I'm rewriting the second. I also love how in tune you are with your own process. Thank you for sharing this!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Steven Slavick on September 15, 2016, 11:04:05 AM
Thanks for taking the time to post, Rosalind! You're always gracious and inspiring, and I love it when fellow authors reveal a little of the backstory behind their success, especially when they didn't follow the typical road to achieve their goals. Kudos to you!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: m.a. petterson on September 15, 2016, 11:53:34 AM
Thank you for posting, Rosalind -- especially the links.

I found the hooky one pretty damn hooky!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: SM Barrett on September 15, 2016, 04:01:13 PM
Rosalind,

First of all, thank you. Trying to convince myself that the new series I'm working on might just find some success is certainly the most difficult thing I deal with, and it seems many authors struggle with self-doubt. Recently, in a conversation on stage with Stephen King, George R. R. Martin expressed doubts on his abilities, which was sobering.
Posts like yours are like cool water after a hike through a desert.

I noticed you mentioned using Amazon ads. I've looked into this, especially the pay-per-click vs. Campaign options, and I'm wondering if you've ever written in detail about your experience and advice with this marketing option.

Long-time lurker, fan of your posts! :)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Andrew Murray on September 15, 2016, 04:53:16 PM
Super inspiring. :) Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 15, 2016, 05:03:01 PM
Rosalind,

First of all, thank you. Trying to convince myself that the new series I'm working on might just find some success is certainly the most difficult thing I deal with, and it seems many authors struggle with self-doubt. Recently, in a conversation on stage with Stephen King, George R. R. Martin expressed doubts on his abilities, which was sobering.
Posts like yours are like cool water after a hike through a desert.

I noticed you mentioned using Amazon ads. I've looked into this, especially the pay-per-click vs. Campaign options, and I'm wondering if you've ever written in detail about your experience and advice with this marketing option.

Long-time lurker, fan of your posts! :)
I don't have too much to say about those ads, really. I use both kinds, and they both work pretty well. I experimented with them--they're much, MUCH easier to learn to use than Facebook ads. The Product Display ones are quite a bit easier to "get," and they pay off about as well in my experience. The main thing is having a hooky tag line and a good cover.

I guess I'd say, set your budget low and try a few ads and see which work best, draw some conclusions, keep experimenting. Remember that they'll only show the amount you earn from SALES, not borrows. You can probably figure that you'll get borrows on your usual sales-to-borrows ratio, so you can add that amount in there as well.

I figure these ads are strong because you're advertising exactly where people are looking for BOOKS, and you can target people who buy exactly your type of book. They're on their Kindles or on an Amazon book page because they're shopping for books, and they're two clicks away from being able to buy or borrow yours. That's about as targeted as you can get for an ad--a whole lot more targeted than Facebook.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: SM Barrett on September 15, 2016, 05:08:14 PM
Much appreciated! These sorts of details do help!
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 15, 2016, 05:12:51 PM
Much appreciated! These sorts of details do help!

I should add that my effective ads range from about 7-17 cents/click, and that the click-through rate on the good ones is .7-.9%. I consider those pretty good numbers in the context of a positive or nearly positive ROI from purchases alone.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on September 16, 2016, 11:34:24 AM
Great for you, but this isn't that helpful. Yeah, we get it, you write for your specific sub-genre audience. That's cool, but what else do you do? How are you managing your email lists? What tactics do you use to bring in your audience? Are you successful straight through Amazon only? Do you avoid promotion companies? Are you saying you just published specific genre based books and got lucky? Seriously, what are you doing? Make this post actually helpful. Right now it's just like 'yeah, I did it and I didn't even need to sell out.'

Cool. I guess?

Dude, Rosalind has made more than 4000 posts on here, nearly all of them helpful and you haven't even cracked 50. Every question you asked she's written about at length in those 4000 posts. Stop being a whiner and demanding people do for you. There's a search function. Make it your friend.
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: smw on September 16, 2016, 12:39:18 PM
My very important ( :D ) question is:

In that picture you have a lot of notebooks.  What was your favorite notebook to use so far?
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: Usedtoposthere on September 16, 2016, 12:48:23 PM
My very important ( :D ) question is:

In that picture you have a lot of notebooks.  What was your favorite notebook to use so far?
Probably these two. The pepper one (I actually needed 2; wrote A LOT of that book in a notebook) made me smile every time. It's my notebook for CARRY ME HOME, my first real-deal  romantic suspense/mystery, and the first time I wrote for a publisher. Huge challenge, very scary. I needed my hot peppers.

(http://www.rosalindjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cmh-jom-notebooks-e1474055142968.jpg)
Title: Re: 4 years, 20 books, $1.43 million, 700,000 sold: Writing for love & money
Post by: smw on September 16, 2016, 12:52:58 PM
Probably these two. The pepper one (I actually needed 2; wrote A LOT of that book in a notebook) made me smile every time. It's my notebook for CARRY ME HOME, my first real-deal  romantic suspense/mystery, and the first time I wrote for a publisher. Huge challenge, very scary. I needed my hot peppers.

(http://www.rosalindjames.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/cmh-jom-notebooks-e1474055142968.jpg)

Haha.  That pepper one is great.  And congratulations on your success.