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Messages - Usedtoposthere

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I disagree with this sentiment.

You can keep attacking them like that, but I know for a fact that many of these people have and continue to write their own books. Buying a few ghostwritten titles along the way doesn’t make you “not an author”.

Yeah, nah. They (and you, from what I know) are marketers. It's a job. It's just not the same job.

Thank you (and David) for your efforts, Phoenix.

I'm also disappointed with the TechCrunch article. Did they even speak to any authors? It doesn't seem like it. It has a bunch of pretty critical inaccuracies, and is pretty much exclusively focused on Chance Carter. Which is also unfortunate, as there is quite obviously a wider issue here I would rather journalists focus on. The piece here if anyone wants to see it:

Much more welcome is this more properly researched piece from Pajiba. It's very well done, calls out a few of the major stuffers (there are many more of course), and it documents a few aspects of the entire scheme with screenshots and the like. It's a great piece overall:

I didn't have anything to do with either of these particular articles but all I'll say is... lots more to come! There is also a big meeting happening in Seattle today about all of this. Can't wait to hear the outcome.

For the stuffers who still are stuffing: you really want to call that formatter of yours. This might be your last chance. And drop the formatting hacks too. We see those...
Can’t wait. Great work, David.

Absolutely, but there's really nothing we can do about anaconda unwillingness to take on scammers (outside of pleas to the KDP team). The decision should be is my career better in KU or it of it? Scammers might be taking money from me, but if I'm earning more in KU than I would out of KU, I'm not leaving out of hate for scammers. (Of course, there is more to career planning than money, but that is the metric I use).
I feel similarly to you, but I had to laugh at “anaconda” for Amazon. :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Do Americans say gobsmacked?
« on: June 07, 2018, 11:56:27 AM »
No that one is brit. They use it a lot in AU and NZ too. I had never heard it before living in AU. US people sometimes use poleaxed and I do not think Brits know that one.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 04, 2018, 04:23:53 PM »
The focus on the distinction between gross and net is interesting, because the implication of the question is that such-and-such author only grossed X00,000 last year because he/she spent Y0,000 on advertising, and so actually earned substantially less. I think sometimes the reason is that the amount he/she spent on advertising was negligible, and so the net wasn't all that different, and it didn't occur to them to draw the distinction.

2017 was a stupid-good year for me, and I just went to look at my numbers with this in mind: how much did I actually spent on advertising? It wasn't a lot. Of the $32K or so in expenses, $20.5K went to audible narrators, and $2K went to buying a new computer. Most of the rest was for advertising, but that's just not much, and almost entirely bookbub costs.

I don't know if I can repeat that kind of year, so I don't know if I could say to anybody 'do this and you TOO can succeed at this". (I wouldn't say this anyway, for the record.) But: not all of us are following the 'publish-often, advertise heavy, write series, keep it moving' approach, which I think IS one with high advertising costs associated.
Yep. I think my max ad spend for a year is about 5%. Most of the time it's been more like 1%. It's harder now to keep things sticky without ads in the marketer-centric genres, but some people are still managing it. There are lots of different models for success. Lots of paths. The heavy-ad-spend, trend-writing one is probably the easiest to follow,  since it doesn't rely on outside forces like word of mouth--it's more under your control, and there are people willing to assist you to do it for $$$. If you're willing to bend your ethical standards, there's yet another path, or a wider path, or whatever you want to call it. But that doesn't mean that everybody who makes money is following those paths.

The people I know who make good money 5 or 10 or 20 years running are definitely NOT following those paths--they're building an audience. That's kind of like flying a 747--hard as heck to get it off the ground, easier to keep it up there, though you can't abandon the controls. There's no autopilot. :) Lots of people do seem to use tons of ads to get off the ground (or to get a new pen name off the ground), but they spend less once they've done that. They still have to work hard, though. Every book had better be great, or you won't hang onto that audience. Sometimes tastes change enough that it's harder to hang onto them even if your skills are fabulous. That's why those long-term big earners are so very rare. 

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 04, 2018, 09:40:51 AM »
After a fair number of years doing this, one thing I know for sure is that nothing is for sure. :) There's no "right" writing process, no "right" marketing methods, no "right" distribution strategy or price. There are best processes. A while back there was a post somewhere called "The Six-Figure Author," that looked at the commonalities. They are super general and nothing to do with whether somebody is a plotter or pantser or in Select or not or any of the other things. I think the things were something like

- Editing
- Professional covers
- Books in series (does not mean they have to contain the same characters--just that they are connected somehow)
- Genre with good readership accessible to indies (literary fiction for ex is a hard sell for indies)
- ETA: I think it also said writing reasonably fast--3 or 4 books/year or more.

I think that was actually about it.

And if somebody on these boards bugs anybody, one cool feature is the Ignore List. I have quite a few folks on my own, if I haven't ever found their contributions helpful or I know they hate me. :) Ain't nobody got time for that.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 03, 2018, 08:53:56 PM »
I think some people are far too cynical. The bad actors generally out themselves with the flashing red lights around their necks (poor-me victimhood while trying to sell you services, for instance--that one's common. Doing dick moves and then putting up 2-hour videos about how they're actually the sufferer. Stuffing books. Etc. Not that hard to sniff out.) Otherwise? In my experience, people are pretty honest. For heaven's sake, we can all go look at their books and see how they're doing (and how well they actually write, and what shady-or-not techniques they're using), and everybody knows it. It's a fairly transparent business.

If they're trying to sell you something, ask around. The bad actors are WELL known. Where there's smoke, there's generally fire. Otherwise, there's not much reason for people to lie. What do you imagine they get out of it?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 03, 2018, 03:53:25 PM »
I just don't think it's an either/or. I think it's a spectrum. I absolutely am trying to write commercial fiction for a large audience, and I make my choices--mainly about WHAT to write--based on what that audience wants (what sells). For example, I'll never write a physically weak guy, or a short guy, or a "realistically ambiguous" ending, because for my audience, it just doesn't work. The biggest part of marketing IMHO is what you write--an appealing idea for your genre. And that means "commercial." I'd put myself halfway on the spectrum. I'm writing to my market and to my genre, absolutely, though.

Like I said--Farmburger hamburgers. I'm not out there creating duck confit with raspberry coulee or whatever for the discerning diner. :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 03, 2018, 02:00:52 PM »
I am not writing a commodity. I am writing the books of my heart. I think that is a disingenuous distinction. As long as you love some genre, you can write commercial fiction. If you are writing something very offbeat and are fine with it not selling much, I do not understand why you would be reading posts about how to succeed monetarily. Personally I am in between. I write the story I want to write even if I am pretty sure that it will sell half as much as my most popular series. I look to the long term and take risks in my writing to get better. The success I would ultimately love would be to do great because I wrote something distinctive although still within the genre I love, and I wrote it extremely well.

Everybody has their own priorities. But I absolutely cannot stand this idea that if you write successful commercial fiction and are writing for your audience, you are somehow making McDonalds hamburgers. I make Farmburger hamburgers, personally, because they are delicious and I like them a whole lot better than most fancy piled-up food. My books are distinctive enough to have great legs. That is my own sweet spot.  I do not think it is helpful though to oneself or anybody else to sneer at others who sell better and imply that they are churning out crappy mass produced hamburgers.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 03, 2018, 01:04:46 PM »
I don't care one way or the other if people post how much they've made, but I notice that very few people ever itemize their expenses.  They give you the gross, but not the net.  I'm extremely skeptical of the usefulness to any author of "I made such and such," without a breakdown of the costs involved.  I've seen more than a few indie authors disappear from publishing over the years because they ended up in a big financial hole and had to quit. 
I just gave you my net. That included two months in NZ and Australia going first class. Advertising was my highest ever: about 4% I think.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 03, 2018, 11:28:12 AM »
Money is and will remain a touchy subject to most people -- whether you're struggling to survive or just want to keep up with the joneses.  I'm sure some of what I've said has come across as bragged (and from my POV was just being so thrilled to have enough!).  It's hard to gauge tone on the internet. 

Most people seem to post money figures to help. On the other hand, a casual comment about how much money someone else made in a thread where I'm humbling myself asking for help / encouragement / advice--really can feel like a kick in the pants.

My skills are not entirely fungible.  I've written other genres and the results have not been particularly useful to me for earning money.  I don't have the capacity to suddenly take up the most popular genre, write a bunch of perfectly targeted material, and then market the [expletive] out of it.  That's not in my skill set and it's not likely to become my skill set.  I have my own set of limits!

Plus I've done a lot of stuff people would always tell you not to do--don't quit your day job (didn't have one), do not make two major life purchases in cash while your income is going down (but these were opportunities I needed to jump at), and "always have health insurance."  (As for that, my state is not a good place, and the current laws are evil, by, for, and of the rich!  Anyone who has a just government and a SOCIALIST medicine system has my envy!)

Things have been a struggle recently and it's humbling and even humiliating to talk about it and not have any real help for advice, except to do things I can't actually do.  Some of us don't actually have a huge subset of skills or abilities or even health to fall back on.  We're just doing the best we can.  Hell, probably most of us are doing the best we can, and sometimes we get lucky and it's wonderful!

I am very grateful for writing and what it's gotten me.  It's also been the most stressful thing I've ever done in my life, making my creativity pay.  Or getting lucky.  Or doing my absolute best and watching the results vary widely.

Capitalism sucks.  There.  I said it.  Your survival depending on the your ability to earn money according to an increasingly fickle if not downright evil "market" is not right.  And I think any conversation that revolves around money = rightness is bound to make some people unhappy and displeased.  People who fall on the other end of the scale and don't believe they have less of a desire for life and what it takes to survive it than the rich. 

But that same conversation from another's POV may just be encouragement and sharing game tactics.  I see both POVs and have felt both perspectives. 
My skills are not fungible either so I totally sympathize. I have no stories in my head that are not romance, and I do not have enough imagination to make something up. Even though the scammers are concentrated in my back yard, too bad, because this is where I live. And it is hard.

I quit my job one week into writing my first fiction. Fortunately my husband had health insurance, but yeah, we rolled the dice. I also care less and less about marketing and have been trying hard to take my ego out of the equation this past year and be good with whatever I sell without the effort. But I can do that because I invested so much of what I made earlier. Risk taking is necessary sometimes in this business IMHO, but the one thing I would NEVER do is make a large CREDIT purchase on the assumption that big sales would continue. Where I see people get into trouble is in buying a big house after their first good year or whatever.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 03, 2018, 09:10:21 AM »
:D :D :D  Best post ever.
I will never forget the day when the person who wrote that comment you love so much told me I was lying about my sales. At the time, he was telling all new authors constantly, as a self-proclaimed expert, that they should never, ever, give a book away for free. It was absolutely terrible advice, especially in 2013. I shared that due solely to 5-day free runs, I had made $225,000 (and over 200k net) in Months 5-17 of publishing, years before KU and solely on Amazon, with 6 books out by the end of it, coming in as a nobody from nowhere and writing nothing trendy. He told me I must be lying. I posted my bank deposit screenshot from the previous month and my author rank graph from the start (which was mostly in the top 200 starting in month 5.) He said I had probably Photoshopped it. That was the day I left that forum, where I had shared all the stuff I did and my results. I got an email the other day from somebody from that time who is now writing full time and doing very well, saying thanks for sharing back then. I helped many people rewrite their blurbs then, since that was one thing I actually felt confident about, and shared things like what promo sites had produced what results and how to choose a narrator on ACX, since that was right at the start. But being publicly accused sucked, especially since my integrity is the most important thing I have. I was out of there.

People have very little reason to boast of sales if they are not making them. Most of us in the beginning used our pen names here and linked our books as we shared what was working. It was perfectly easy to see how we were doing. We were still sometimes met with this attitude. Not by most people, but by enough. When you have written long posts about exactly what steps you took, posts about how to work with cover designers and write blurbs and stack ads and write hookier prose, and shared your sales to back those posts up, it does not take many snide comments like that to metaphorically throw up your hands. That is why I no longer put my books in my signature, and why almost none of the big names post here anymore. They belong to private groups where we share our successes and our failures and doubts, and where we all know nobody is making up their figures because why the heck would we? We want to help and get help. That is the point.

I cannot imagine the bitter and negative mindset of somebody who assumes everyone is lying, even when they are trying to help others achieve the same success they have found. So yeah. I made 590k in 2017. My net was 500k. I put 245k into a defined benefit plan. I have an assistant, a bookkeeper, and a daily housekeeper, my house is beautiful and 100% paid off, and I just got back from my annual months-long stay in Australia and New Zealand. And I have shared virtually everything I have done to get here. It is not magic. It is knowing how to write books people want to read, steady hard work, being honest about what is not working, including learning from bad reviews, and not settling for good enough in your work. The bar has been raised. You need polished prose and polished covers and something unique to offer. And yes it is harder than ever due to changes in publishing, more competition, and cheaters and scammers.

There are some excellent books out there by people like David Gaughran and Chris Fox to help people get better at all the aspects of indie publishing. Like many successful indies, I still have my own posts on my website for anybody to read. But not so much here anymore.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Romance word counts?
« on: June 02, 2018, 09:38:10 PM »
Write the length where you write best. Romance is a big, big tent. Lots of bestselling indie authors in contemporary romance write 120k and up. Look at the length of the 50 Shades books in audio for further evidence.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 02, 2018, 08:48:05 PM »
Talking about results and sales numbers isn't boasting. Calling it boasting is a great way to stop people from sharing their data with you, though ;)
As always, I love you.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 02, 2018, 02:44:32 PM »
I will add that I originally self-published because I read accounts by Darcy Chan and Karen McQuestion in which they shared their numbers. I knew nothing about indie publishing and did not realize it was possible to be so successful. In my turn, I shared numbers towards the beginning of my journey to encourage others as Chan and McQuestion encouraged me. I love posters like Annie B also, who started out being fairly unsuccessful, stopped listening to bad advice from low-selling "experts," and achieved remarkable success. She has detailed her numbers on a before-and-after basis. Pretty enlightening.

Writers' Cafe / Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« on: June 02, 2018, 02:06:05 PM »
I don't want to give the mods too much work to do this weekend, so forgive me for being somewhat enigmatic.

Let me just say this. What's happened over the last day/week, this isn't the end of something. It's the start of something. Many things are in motion, and we'll see how they all play out. I'm aware of some of the pieces in play, but I don't know what the end result will be. I have my theories, and my hopes, not necessarily identical.

I think the next month or two will be interesting...
I think I may have mentioned this before, but I love you.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 02, 2018, 02:00:04 PM »
If somebody is trying to sell you something, you'd better look at their numbers. That is the only credibility really out there. There are soooo many indie authors making low-day-job money at writing, but touting themselves as bestsellers to sell their insights. (Being #1 in Dark Horror with Vampires or whatever is not being a "bestselling author," nor is getting into the top 100 with one book via a BookBub at 99 cents, a book that immediately fell back to 300,000 post-BB.)

I'm going to add though that some of those people selling books or courses are very good at laying out the publishing process step by step, so they may well have useful information--perhaps more useful than a truly bestselling author, one who makes great net (after advertising) money. That second author's success may be due to voice or some other aspect of writing ability that is hard to replicate.

This business, however, like any other entrepreneurial business with big money on the table, has many unscrupulous actors. Some of them share their techniques for cash. I would look up the author's books' ranks on Amazon, and also look at how much they're advertising. If you see their books everywhere on the sponsored products list, you can bet that they are spending a lot. And, yes, Amazon isn't everything, but somebody who truly sells well enough to be listened to on that basis alone will be doing pretty well on Amazon.

Truly bestselling indie authors tend to be really aware of the state of the industry, and how much bad advice is out there. When they share their own numbers, they are probably trying either (a) to encourage folks that it is possible, or (b) to add some credibility to their point in a world o' bad advice. Or both. Or neither. Whichever.

Caveat emptor, and YMMV, and so forth.

Writers' Cafe / Re: KDP Issues "Bonus Content" Guidelines
« on: June 01, 2018, 05:13:20 PM »
Anyone want to bet on how long until we get the "but what if you're hopping on one foot" response?
I thought they'd moved on to jewelry now...

Writers' Cafe / Re: To plot or not to plot
« on: May 30, 2018, 01:06:22 AM »
Genre is a big factor. Aside from always having a overall premise — an idea of a cause and resolution to my narrative — I pants my horror. But genres that require a solid framework of mystery and puzzle need plotting. Otherwise you just end up creating a Get Out Of Jail plot device to tie everything together.
I write mystery with only a vague plot beforehand. Sometimes I do not know who did it. Lee Child is a total pantser. He does OK. :) Though with chemical help. I write reasonably fast. My first real mystery/romance took about 6 or 7 weeks for 105k. I do not throw any scenes away though I sometimes add one or flesh one out later. Pretty efficient in general though. That is why I do not think there is any right way. Everybody has their own process.

You are so powerful and capable. Just opening up here about your struggles shows how determined you are.

My 2c is this- change your expectations. Your expectations are your own, and it sounds like you're trying to adapt how others write to how you write and it just doesn't work. You aren't them, they aren't you.

Find a process that works to your own cycles. Let go of the need to be like others, that's not the only way to find success. Yes you can still have your goal, but you need to walk your own path there. Expectations exist purely in your own mind, they don't exist anywhere else. You are the one who creates them, which means you have the ability to change them.

Be kind to yourself, however you decide to move forward is totally your call. You don't need to replicate the process of others in order to be defined as a 'writer' or 'author'. Everyone does it differently, that's the beauty of it.

Brainstorm some different daily schedules, see which one works best for you. If you are in so much pain when you wake, then give yourself the first half of the day to spend focusing on yourself until you're able to sit down and write.  You don't need to do anything. There are so many different ways to reach success, and be open to finding out which way you kick ass at!
I just want to say that I love this advice. Compassionate and wise. We sure do like to beat ourselves up. And I will second the notion that you do not have to publish 6 times or 12 times a year or whatever the number is now. Do what you can do.

There was this advice from Ann Landers in the paper once, decades ago, that I still remember. The person said something like, "I have always wanted to go to medical school, but if I start now, I will be 45 in eight years, by the time I finish everything."

Ann answered with one sentence. "How old will you be in eight years if you don't go?"

I suggest all authors pass through this same stage, I know I did.

What brought me out of it was the realization that the very lack of perfectionism is what makes some stories better than others.

Apart from spelling, which of course must be correct and is easily adjusted when the whole deal is finished, I now consider the perfectionism of prose, plot and execution completely unnecessary and barely even edit what I have written. To good effect, I might add.

Just write the damn story down. Once finished you can polish it to hearts content if you so desire. Forever if you like, or just for a moment, which I have found to be so much more satisfying.

If we pass through it, I for one am still waiting. Any year now ...

Writers' Cafe / Re: Poll - Dissatisfaction with Kindle Unlimited
« on: May 27, 2018, 06:17:10 PM »
Some people are worriers, sure. That doesn't mean that everyone who is staying out of KU (or leaving) because of all the recent problems is doing it out of worry or paranoia.
No, I assume they are making a business decision based on an evaluation of their current situation and their individual priorities. As should we all. I have done all the things, myself. Trad. Indie. In Select and out. I do what works for me at the time. I am by nature pessimistic, but one thing I have learned is that most things are glitches, not disasters. Also that authors are different and books are different. There are no one size fits all answers.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Poll - Dissatisfaction with Kindle Unlimited
« on: May 27, 2018, 04:44:19 PM »
Not quite the same, in that you have some control over whether you will fall into that statistic. If you're a careful, safe, defensive driver, you will lower your chance of getting in a car accident compared to someone who isn't. Not eliminate it, of course, but you have some control. The thing that concerns people with the KU problems is that there's nothing we can do to avoid getting targeted by scammers and punished by Amazon. I agree that worrying doesn't do any good, but there's a risk assessment issue. A lot of us are looking at what's happening with KU and deciding that the potential benefit isn't worth the risk. Which I don't think requires any actual worrying to be done.
Perhaps you have not seen authors run around with their hair on fire as often as I have. Everything is the End of Days until it is not. This is not either. So far nothing has been. It is another change and potential challenge.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Poll - Dissatisfaction with Kindle Unlimited
« on: May 27, 2018, 04:26:57 PM »
Most surprising is the low number of "nervous" KU authors. Either they haven't been paying attention, don't care or for reasons that would be interesting to hear, feel immune to malicious bots that could cause suspension of their accounts.
Nobody I know who is legit has had their account permanently closed. Amazon is fighting spammers and legit people will be temporarily caught in the net. I do not expect them to pay me for illegitimate page reads. Why should they? I want them not to pay out for those reads. Not that they care what I want.

I have been doing this for a long time. Tradpub or indie, there is ALWAYS something. Unfairness. Glitches. Maddening rule changes. I have paid off all debt and have a very solid net worth. When I next have to change, I will grouse, but I am not going to go to a whole lot of effort and ad spend “just in case.” Everybody decides on their own business plan based on their own priorities. Does not make them stupid or uninformed.

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