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Messages - Usedtoposthere

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Is ACX collapsing?
« on: Yesterday at 04:33:54 pm »
There are some older books that have been caught up. Newer stuff is going through. Also, if you're exclusive to ACX and have a narrator that has been tested through them your audio is going through in as little as three days.
I'm exclusive & my narrator is pretty well known. Haven't had anything take more than a week max. (I think the week was back in March or April.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 11, 2020, 05:57:29 pm »

It must be just like last year's big hit, but new and fresh.   

You don't want people to put words in your mouth? Don't put words in mine.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 11, 2020, 05:05:52 pm »
I think you're missing how truly "mechanized" writing for a publisher used to be. Harlequin told authors at what point hero and heroine should meet. When their first kiss should be. When to go further. How many pages the book had to be. How much sex there should be, and what words you could and couldn't use. And so forth.

I can't speak to what life is like for other writers. And, no, there's no magic sauce about having been around a long time, not really. I can't tell you how many authors were doing really well when I started and are gone now. Sure, you've got some visibility, but if you aren't delighting and surprising your readers, if your stuff is stale and interchangeable with everybody else's, they're not going to keep buying. I also cannot imagine that somebody with a fresh voice and a fresh take isn't more likely to break out than somebody trying NOT to stand out.

I suspect you're too cynical. Have you dug deep and checked out what is working in your preferred subgenre, with an open mind? Have you actually read the books and pondered why they work? Sometimes, books are just FUN. Or interesting, or captivating. They don't have to be redefining the genre or out in left field, the author just has to be good at being fun, or suspenseful, or whatever. As long as you deliver that bone-deep, basic thing that your reader comes to the genre or subgenre and, especially, your books for, as long as you have a style and voice they enjoy, you're good, and you can spread your wings all you like.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 11, 2020, 03:50:16 pm »
I write unusual books for my genre. They sell just fine. I know a number of other people who write unusual books in that genre, too. Not one of us writes like each other, although there can be some overlap in our readership. Fortunately, readers don't require that all books be exactly the same.

Genres are huge and diverse. Romance in particular is a big, big tent. You'll never see everything that's profitable in a huge genre by looking at the top 100. There are lots of niches where a writer with a strong voice can make a mark. You do have to write what SOMEBODY or, preferably, many somebodies want to read, though, and find a way to alert them, "This is your book!"

There is absolutely no resemblance to putting together IKEA furniture. I write all kinds of things. I enjoy the heck out of it. They all sell. Some authors prefer to target more tightly. To each their own.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 11, 2020, 03:23:49 pm »
Just because the cover signals genre and tone doesn't mean the writing or the subject matter is paint-by-numbers.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Can we talk about hooks?
« on: August 11, 2020, 02:46:51 pm »
I'm going to out myself some and use a recent series I wrote as an example. Not that it's the bestest thing evah, but it's the one I know. :)

(And yes, I'm procrastinating. We're buying a vacation home, which is super exciting and something I never imagined being able to do, but the process has been a little fraught and annoying. I'm supposed to be writing this new book that I already started and that I really like, but my thoughts are spinning and I can't make them stop. So I am spinning them here instead! Who knows, perhaps they will be helpful to somebody.)

OK. Onward. I wrote this series recently, New Zealand Ever After. (As usual, breaking up the books with other series in between, but oh well, I'm hopeless that way.) I called it New Zealand Ever After because I don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that "New Zealand" is my hookiest concept. (Though the historical-reenactment reality show worked really well too. Probably my most "high concept" book, and the one that reached across the "romance" aisle most effectively.)

So. New Zealand Ever After. Series title chosen because that is Hook 1. The "Ever After" tells you it will be a happily ever after book. The covers convey (1) sense of place (they're all beachy, but not generic-beachy); (2) Again, positive feelings will abound; and (3) Fun. (That's the font.) No people. So now my hook is "New Zealand fun read, but not necessarily "pure" romance." The subject matter of the covers is a little women's-fiction-y, but the font isn't. More contemporary fiction. Lower angst. Some romantic comedy.

Individual book titles. Each of them has the word "Kiwi" in it. If you've noticed, New Zealand is a place with high "positives" right now, and people actually know now what "Kiwi" means. That's title + series title reinforcing the hook. The titles, though, aren't necessarily "romancey." They're more snappy. Kiwi Rules, Stone Cold Kiwi, Kiwi Strong. Together with the covers, it's more "fun fiction about New Zealand" and possibly "longer, more complex story" and less "short romance."

Blurbs. Here's where I explicitly state the hook. Each book contains one or more tropes (I'm bad about recognizing tropes, but even I can see that), but the hook is not the trope. Here is the tagline of each blurb. (I always do taglines. That's the hook, or it suggests the hook.) Oh--and each blurb has a peppy tone that suggests some humor and lightness--that the story will be delivered with a lighter touch. Reinforced by the font on the cover.

Kiwi Rules: I may have lost my leg. I may have lost my job. I didn't have to lose my courage.

Stone Cold Kiwi: Falling in love can be bloody inconvenient. (This one doesn't explicitly state the hook. You have to read the whole blurb for that. Here's the hook: "Beginning to fall for the much-too-charming, not-quite-available, stone-cold-beautiful Dr. Matiu Te Mana, on the day he delivered the third of those children on the grass outside Dunedin Hospital, a few short minutes before my marriage began its spectacular and very public final implosion? Possibly tricky."

Kiwi Strong: People who say "love is trust" probably didn't grow up in a cult.
This book has a little more serious tone. Blurb reflects it.
I chose the title "Kiwi Strong" and wrote the book pretty deliberately to appeal during a pandemic. (to me and to readers.) I wanted a title and a blurb that suggested triumphing over adversity. The cult is the hook, but the triumph is the appeal.

And then, in each book, I tried to write a really, really grabby first & second chapters. I tried harder than with any series before to really start each book off with a bang. That is part of the hook too. As in, "Get your hooks into the reader and make her want to keep reading."

I hope that helps explain what I mean by each thing reinforcing the other.

I have personally never understood things like tropes and hooks and high concept very well (I'd never heard of a trope until I probably had seven or eight books out), so I may be off the mark on what the accepted wisdom is. However, that is how I think about it and do it. I have never deliberately studied the market, I don't understand beats or whatever that is or elements that must or must not be in a romance (other than the happy ending), and I go for tone in my covers (and work with a designer who understands the market and how to convey the tone I want while still producing a clickable cover) rather than trying to make the books look like somebody else's.

Not saying my way will work for anybody else, but it's worked well for me.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Can we talk about hooks?
« on: August 11, 2020, 01:46:50 pm »
Grabby. Page turning. Getting the readerís attention with the premise (the hook), reinforcing the hook with cover and title, and then hooky writing. I wrote an article about it once. If you google how to be hooky, it will come up. All aspects reinforce each other.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 11, 2020, 01:41:30 pm »
Not writing something your market likes is like freedom of speech. You are free to write and publish whatever you like with the exception of rape or incest erotica, possibly, but you cannot really complain about the consequences.

That said, you do not have to write to trends, write super fast, put Manchest covers on contemporary romance, or whatever else to succeed. As long as there is a market for what you do. You can even create your own market, or try to. Clean romance was not a thing until it was.

If there is no sizable market, that is not the fault of Amazon. You could blame readers I guess for not liking experimental stuff? You can go on and write what you like anyway, though. Nobody is stopping you.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Can we talk about hooks?
« on: August 11, 2020, 12:18:36 pm »
I don't think it's really tropes per se, even in romance (which is what I write, but I also write suspense, mystery, women's fiction along with it). It's what's special about the book. That it's got a funny premise, or that it sets up a conflict the reader can instantly grab hold of. That it's set in a cool part of the world. The hook is simply what's intriguing about the book. It shouldn't just be in the blurb. It should be reflected in cover/blurb/title somehow, and it should grab the reader in the Look Inside also. Hooky titles really help!

A hooky premise is part of it, but hooky writing is what makes the reader buy the next book. Especially the beginning and ending. It's about keeping the reader turning pages and making them sad the book is over. And it's a technique, not magic. You can pay attention to it and get better at it. I keep working on it, myself.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 11, 2020, 11:57:08 am »

We agree! Only took seven pages.   

If anyone believes that you can just put some books up, releasing quickly, slowly, or otherwise, not even books in a form readers of your genre want, with no advertising and not much established readership, and be GUARANTEED success, their problem is not Amazon.

That doesn't mean rapid release doesn't work. It means rapid release with no advertising and no readership and in a not-what-the-market-wants format is unlikely to work. I guess the reason nobody bothered to contradict that was that we couldn't believe you were really expecting it to.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 11, 2020, 11:27:33 am »
You seem determined to lose. How about taking all that energy and putting it into a determination to win? Fix what is not working. Congrats, rapid release of a short form the genre does not care for  with NO marketing and apparently very little established readership does not work. How WOULD It work? Could you write novels, save them up until you have three, make a marketing plan, save some money from that tech career, and try rapid release again?

Find what is not working and fix it. Find what is working and do more of it. That is pretty much the secret.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 11, 2020, 10:57:41 am »
I had it (talent, success, whatever) in me, and all the discouraging words nearly derailed me. Many excellent writers lack self confidence. Comes from being introverted and all that. One of the reasons I do not promote much is that until the book is out there, I tend to think that everybody will hate it. And I do not think I am alone.

People are different. Nobody is arguing that the OP should have his posts deleted. People are saying such naysaying can be dangerous, and challenging the OPís assertions. Fair play, I would say.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 11, 2020, 10:23:44 am »
The thing is, new people do this all the time. When I broke in about three years ago, I heard the same stuff that I'm hearing now. It was too hard, too crowded, too everything. And yeah, it is hard and crowded and everything. It's probably harder and more crowded than it was three years ago, but new people are doing this every day and new people are successful at it every day. I've done rapid release and I can tell you that (at least for me) it makes all the difference in the world. I can't tell you specifics about algos or exactly why it works, but I can tell you that-if I release books written to market with good covers and at novel sized length at a quick pace, my bank account looks a lot better than if I don't.

I know the OP seems to think that a thread like this might save a potential writer a lot of heartbreak and wasted time (I'm paraphrasing), but if I'd have seen this exact thread three years ago, I might have closed the computer and never tried to self pub my novel, and that would have changed my life for the worse. The last three years have seen me become independent and fulfilled in a way that wouldn't have been possible if I didn't do this. So, I just want to throw that out there too. This job is hard, and it requires more dedication and frankly more work than a regular 9-5. To say otherwise would be to lie. But to say you definitively know that something wont work because it didn't work for you and because you seem to have a bit of information from Amazon that I'm not sure you understand correctly (to be completely honest, the fact that you've been on Amazon as long as you have and didn't know that the New Release list was also a sales ranking list is a bit curious) is also less than accurate.
Same. (I'd quote both responses above, but I don't know how to do that.) I published 16 months before the OP. I too nearly didn't publish at all, because I read similar things to his remarks on another board and momentarily despaired and assumed it was hopeless. Then I thought, "What the heck. May as well try. I've got these books," and published anyway.

I did publish three books at once, sort of like rapid release in that the idea is not to make the reader wait (and forget about you, and have you lose whatever visibility you have) for the subsequent books. It worked really well and solidified my audience, so I can see why rapid release works (besides working with the Amazon algorithms).

It's so, so hard to know whether this business can work for you, partly because a lot of it is so nebulous. To have longterm success without having to be on the Churn Train, you need to write something that hits your reader's sweet spot (which means capturing some segment of your genre, since most genres aren't monolithic), while also having something unique to offer, and you ALSO need to have your cover, blurb, and title reflect that sweet spot. And then, of course, the book has to deliver well enough to get them to buy the next one.

It's hookiness, mostly, and knowing your audience. It helps, as Crystal has said elsewhere, if you ARE your audience, but people have "made it" without that. You have to either "get" this stuff intuitively, though, or learn it by a lot of observation and analysis and trial and error, or some combo of all that.

It's not easy, but it can work, and just because it doesn't work at first, you can still learn and have it work better for you. But you can't close your eyes and ears to feedback from the market, from your peers, from your readers and insist on doing things the way that you already know DOESN'T work.

I'm posting that for the same reason as the poster above says--it's important to challenge the mantra that "It's impossible." It's not. It happens. But the only way to know whether you are capable of writing books lots of people will pay money to read is to learn from your mistakes.

If the people who ARE reading your books are super enthusiastic, you'll probably (A) grow your readership, and (B) know that purchasing or sweat-laboring your way to more visibility is likely to pay off. If the people who are reading AREN'T super enthusiastic, then maybe work on your product some more. Maybe it's something pretty simple to fix. If lots of readers say the books are confusing, that they jump around? That's an easy fix for a good writer, and you probably just amped up enjoyment a fair amount.

(Edited to add bold.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 10, 2020, 05:27:15 pm »
Do you imagine that other people spent money they did not earn from writing on their ads? Generally not.

We all started in the same place. With a book. Probably not knowing much.

If it's box sets--you could have done them.

If it's BookBub--it's a curated list. Selection isn't due to black magic, and they don't throw a dart at a bunch of book covers. You can also apply for it over and over again.

If it's ads--you could have taken out ads.

Organic sales come mainly from word of mouth. Believe it or not. **ETA: And reviews, and the snowball effect of having a book on the charts.***

I'm afraid I still don't get it. If a couple thousand bucks would set you up so you could retire forever, why don't you advertise with the money you DO have now and scaffold? Reinvest the proceeds. If you're sure the books will delight readers, why not? That's what other authors have done. Virtually nobody comes in with $100,000 (from their venture-capital days?) and says, let me build my empire, because those fool readers will buy anything if it has a pretty cover--and somehow they will keep on buying my future books, because .... ????

I've got a reasonably large mailing list, 31 books out, audio on all 31, translations on many, and have been very successful for 8 years now. But let me tell you--no way could a couple thousand bucks in ads set me up to retire forever, not in the sense of continuing my current income. And I'm 61. :) Publishing doesn't work that way.

Good luck. Back to work for me.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 10, 2020, 04:55:22 pm »
Even if it were true that it's impossible to succeed without an established readership and a (presumably large) mailing list of people who will actually pay for or borrow one's books, how do you imagine other authors acquire this dedicated readership and mailing list? Did they not grow that readership organically, getting eyes on the book by free promos, cross-promo, ads, or whatever else, and picking up people who liked the books enough to pick up the next one? Unless folks are actually utilizing click farms or something, how else are they building their readership, and what is keeping other, equally talented writers from doing so?

Specifically, if you've been publishing all these years, what has kept you from growing your readership and mailing list? Is the theory that it's due to Amazon's evil? But then, why DOES it work for other people? Is it a plot against specific-you, a plot in favor of some hypothetical group whom Amazon has advantaged for reasons of their own, or what? I'm still not clear on this. What do you see standing in your way that is not also standing in everybody else's way?

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 09, 2020, 02:36:46 pm »
I'm going to throw this out there, because a lot of people are looking at this (bizarrely fascinating) thread.

The good thing about being an indie--the fantastic thing--is that there are no limits to how often you can try again. (Well, unless you play so dirty that Amazon bans you forever, but let's assume we're not doing that.) In traditional publishing, one book that doesn't sell well enough can put an end to your "career," but on this journey, you get to tweak, learn, try something new ad infinitum. If a series doesn't work as well as you like, you can change your tagline, your blurb, your cover, your price, your strategy--or just learn that your audience really prefers books set in X country/with Y tone/whatever, and file that away for future use--or not, because maybe you want to keep trying with non-X country, with non-Y tone, because that matters to you.

At the beginning of my own journey, every thing that went wrong (and there were plenty of them, including mistakes/missteps by Amazon but more often those made by me) felt like a gigantic, unrecoverable disaster. After a while, I realized that there was always another release. Always another series. Always another ad. Nothing is the end of the road. You don't have to give up unless it's not worth it to you anymore.

Most people don't make a living publishing. That doesn't mean personal-you never will. Or maybe you'll just share your words with a smaller core group, and know you've expressed yourself. Or maybe you'll decide that you were primarily doing all this as an entrepreneurial venture, and if it doesn't work--you'd prefer to find another entrepreneurial venture, or a non-entrepreneurial one. Hey, I used to be a marketing writer, among other things. There are ways to get paid for snappy writing without going the fiction route. 

ETA: The key word above is learn. You really do have to figure out what's working and what isn't and then adjust, if you want different results.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 07, 2020, 12:39:27 pm »

That's the entire point of this discussion. You insist there is some magical advantage to being on Amazon and that somehow, someday visibility there will rocket into the sky while we all sing.  All I have to do is publish a new book every morning at 9:30AM Pacific Time.   

Except visibility never rockets into the sky. It relies on mailing list and ads, and it will always rely on mailing list and ads no matter how much you wish it were otherwise. 
I could name you countless authors off the top of my head for whom that is not true, but you would dismiss othersí experience as you have all along. It is not fairy dust. It is word of mouth

Just because something does not work for you, it does not logically follow that it works for nobody.

There are countless factors to success. The most important is the book. One possibility a rational person needs to look at is: if Iím doing all the right things and am getting NO organic sales, maybe my product is lacking.

That requires looking inward at your lack of success instead of blaming somebody and everybody else. You will never win by wallowing in anger at others. You only have a chance if you take a long hard look at what you, personal you, can do differently.

Your reviews are poor. Check your product.

Not sure if you are replying to my comments but I'm 77. I've done nursing and some teaching and other hard jobs. Believe me I know what is difficult. My choices are to write or die or run for president. I wasn't born in USA so wouldn't even qualify for that.
I have a retirement. I don't need to make a six figure income, but there may be a few things I'd like to say to people before I move on. 
Sorry. Wasn't replying to you! (I think you posted while I was writing the above, actually.) You sound like you've got your head on your shoulders to me. Best of luck with it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 06, 2020, 02:22:39 pm »
I am not talking to you at this point, Shane, because you are not listening. But maybe somebody else needs to hear this.

Every. Single. Successful author started out in exactly the same place. With a book. Maybe they sold it to a tradpub, either easily or after a lot of slogging. Maybe they published it as an indie. Maybe they were wide. Maybe in Select. They all found a way to get their book out there. Maybe they spent money on advertising, and maybe they worked with a network of other authors and cross-promoted each other's books. Maybe they did some of all of that. Maybe they hit big out of the gate and kept going. Maybe they hit big and then stumbled. Maybe they made a lot of mistakes early on and got better at all of it--at writing, at packaging, at promoting.

Publishing, no matter how you do it, involves an endless series of tiny microdecisions. Nobody makes all the right ones. The trick is to, first, have the talent, or develop the talent, to write books people want to read, and then to make enough right decisions along the way to get those books into enough hands that you build a career.

Nobody gets it all right. Nobody is owed one single solitary thing. NOBODY (except maybe one of those scammers) promised that all you had to do was write books and release them fast, and you'd succeed. NOBODY, not Amazon, not Nook, not iBooks, not Google Play, not your publisher, promised that your book would magically be SEEN by all the millions of POTENTIAL readers out there. All you can do is give it your best shot, try and do it better next time, and repeat. For as long as it takes. Or until you decide to spend your time and energy on something else.

Why do something that makes you mad and doesn't give you the return you want? If I tried day trading and lost my money, I'd quit day trading and get a regular job. If I tried art but couldn't paint anything people wanted to pay for, I'd paint for fun like 99.9% of people do and ... get a regular job. There's no difference. It's an opportunity, that's all, and one I feel lucky to have. There are no guarantees.

The thing I think people really don't understand is--this isn't a business where you coast once you "succeed." Think of being a pro athlete. Nobody's coasting! They work hard and they KEEP working hard, because it is a rocky, narrow slope up near (or at) the top of that mountain. You keep striving not just to maintain, but to get BETTER.

So, yeah, money's nice. But when you start doing well, if you want to stay in this business (if you aren't just looking for some get rich quick thing), you double down and work harder. I worked a good 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for my first five years or so. Now I don't work as hard, because Life, and, yep, it shows in how I do. (Which is OK. Those first five years set me up well.)

I'm still trying to write better, though. ALWAYS. Still pushing my way up that mountain. The truth is that I'm not good enough to satisfy myself yet. That's really frustrating sometimes, but I just keep pushing the envelope with every book, and with every book, I come a little closer to becoming the author I want to be.

This is a great job, and I wouldn't even call it a hard job. A hard job is teaching or being a nurse or a landscaper or a commercial fisherman. (My kids have done most of those jobs. Way harder.) But it's a job that requires a lot of effort and, depending on your personality, probably a fair amount of doubt and anguish at times.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 06, 2020, 12:38:40 pm »
Haha yep.

ETA: The question was why anybody would choose to be in KDP Select.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 06, 2020, 12:34:49 pm »
I didn't have a mailing list, a reader group, or anything at all for my first three or four years in the business. i'd sold probably 500K books by then. And my stuff has always sold well in audio with virtually no push from me. People see the cover and the title and the reviews, and they click, I guess.

Again--just because it doesn't work for everybody, and just because mailing lists and ads CAN help, doesn't mean there's no such thing as organic sales.

The new releases list in any genre is ONLY the Top 100 books published within the last three months in that genre. It doesn't include every book in that genre.

Rapid release is one method to try to achieve more sales. It doesn't work for everybody, because--and this is the main thing--NOT ALL BOOKS SELL. It also isn't necessary. Many authors sell great without rapid release. There are a number of paths that CAN work. That does not mean they WILL work.

The main question I'd have is this. How does believing what you believe help you? It seems to be simply angering you. How is that useful? What could you do that might help you more?

One thing most successful authors do is--take a good, hard, cold look at what you're putting out there. What isn't quite good enough? What could be better? How do your books, really and truly, stack up against the best sellers in your genre?

Maybe you don't have enough distance for this. Ask an honest friend! Better yet, ask ten. That's what I did before I first published. I learned so much from my brutally honest friends. I still learn a lot from reviews, from straight-out asking readers. Not just what DOESN'T work, but what DOES work. Do more of what you do well.

But meanwhile, if your first books have crappy reviews, is there a pattern to them? If there is, it's not that readers don't appreciate your genius. It's that your books HAVE A PROBLEM. (And potential readers look at those "intro books," and they'll think--nah. Despite what people sometimes say, readers don't hate 5-star reviews! They like high reviews that say something genuine.)

One solution is to take those books down, FIX the problem, and republish them. Then take what you learned from fixing them and apply that knowledge. Find a better hook. Package better. Work on your promotional strategies, so that when your book DOES get in front of readers, they are intrigued enough to click, and when they read the Look Inside, or better yet, an excerpt right there on the product page, they want to read that book.

Or you can decide it's too much work for too uncertain a reward, and just stop. Write for yourself for a while. Remember what you love about it. See if a few months or years bring you more perspective and more life knowledge to put into your books. Heck, I didn't start writing fiction until I was over 50. Most of what my readers like about my stuff, I'd never have been able to produce until then. I'm a whole heck of a lot smarter about life than I was when I was in my 30s, I'll tell you that.

Some writers do great in their 30s. More power to them! Like I said. Many paths. Everybody has to forge their own.

Writers' Cafe / Re: And The Hand Finally Closes Around Our Throat
« on: August 06, 2020, 08:03:51 am »
Organic visibility worked pretty spectacularly for me eight years ago. I did two ads for a free run for about $10. No mailing list and no Facebook signups. That was eons ago, but I know several other people whose first books caught on organically much more recently. You need to have a book lots of readers recommend once they do read it. Organic visibility is mostly word of mouth. I still get itónew readers who stumble upon my stuff because somebody tells them or the cover and title are hooky.

Saying you did not get it does not mean it does not exist. It just says it did not happen for you. Nobody can say exactly how it works or why their books managed to catch that wave. We do not really know, though we see that book mentioned all over in reader groups. That is the main thing. Mostly it is genre, title, series title, hook, cover, blurbóand then the book. And then the ending. And then another book and another.

Personally I have been in Select with my indie books most of the time. I also have trad books, but they too are Amazon only. And audiobooks which I do not do anything for other than let my readers know. I get a great many first time readers in audio, which is not as crowded as Kindle. (I am in an extremely crowded genre.)

Most big earners left this board years ago. Up to eight or nine years ago, but especially three or four years ago. A great many are still big earners.

Brian Anderson is right. It is rare to be able to write books lots of people want to read, and to be able to do it year after year. Talent is not enough. You also need one heck of a work ethic and generally the ability to put out those very readable books pretty fast. (Not necessarily a book a month. At least a few books a year.)

That is not just true in indie. Even fewer tradpub authors make a good or great living.

Many people who eventually make it do not hit big at first. The only way to know is to try again, getting lots of hard feedback (including, sorry, taking note of how your work is received, which means reading those bad reviews), and see if you get there.

Even if you never earn a good living at it, that does not mean you will earn nothing, or that you cannot share your work with the readers you do have. That is the beauty of indie. Before, if your first book tanked or just did not sell great, good luck selling another. Now, people can keep trying, or just keep writing for enjoyment.

Indie has pushed expectations higher, that is all. Great success was pretty much a pipe dream before. Now, it is merely unlikely.


I think you're underselling yourself a bit. You have very clear, very hooky packaging and that's a huge part of the overall picture.

I usually separate packaging and marketing when I talk about selling books, because I see them as separate skills, but they are highly intertwined. If I was telling someone to only focus on one of those skills, I'd tell them to focus on packaging. Great packaging + okay marketing will do more for you than okay packaging + great marketing.

You are right, Crystal. I think I say somewhere up there that it's product, presentation, promotion, price. We tend to think "marketing" means "promotion," and you're right, promotion is only one piece of it.

Personally, I'm fine on three of those. I should have said, I hate promoting my own books. I really enjoy the title/cover/blurb part (and the idea part), partly because I'm good at those things, and partly because I just plain enjoy the heck out of them. I think I know my reader and my market, because I pretty much am my reader and my market. But I hate promotion. Cross-promo with other authors. Advertising. Conferences. The works. It makes me anxious and brings up a lot of feelings that kill my creativity stone dead. So I don't.

It's better if you have all four legs of the stool, obviously, but things can work OK with three strong legs. On the plus side, I have much more time and energy for writing, and less anxiety.

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