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Messages - Usedtoposthere

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I have found that writing is the most Important thing. I have just written at a steady pace, written the book that came to me next, tried to learn as I go, and taken opportunities as they have come. Some have worked out great and others have not, but nothing has really bombed.

II have had a book-driven, voice-driven strategy, I suppose, which is also fairly market-driven in the sense that I have mainstream tastes and what appeals to me tends to appeal to my audience. I also know what I am good at in terms of writing and where my sweet spot is. The key has been trusting my instincts.

We all make some profitable decisions and others that work for us for other reasons. I do think it’s very important to be honest about your priorities and your capabilities, and to learn from the results of each of those microdecisions you make. Lots of paths to success.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Audio Books
« on: April 15, 2020, 10:27:55 pm »
My first one, ACX came to me. (The book had been very successful in ebook.) I don't think they're doing that anymore. That was Back in the Day, when they were just starting out and building their catalog.

I put the book up for audition, since I knew nothing. I picked a narrator who'd never done an audiobook before. She worked through a production company, though, and the producer was excellent.

The book ended up as an Audie finalist in Romance (ACX submitted it). The narrator choice worked out really well, and the book got a LOT of promo. (As Jill says, Audible promo is the golden ticket.) It was hard to listen to my words being spoken at first, when I was doing the narrator-choosing, but I got ten readers to listen as well and give me their feedback, which helped solidify my own decision.

Eventually, my narrator got out of the audio biz (she's an actor), and I faced the difficult task of finding a new one. (Many of my books feature a difficult and little-used accent. That's the big challenge.) I took my time and again got help, and my new narrator is fantastic. (Well, "new"--she's done at least 12? 15? books for me now.) She was an unknown again, but now is narrating for some of the biggest names in romance. She's doing some books for me now with dual male/female narration, and does all my project management on that (finding the guy & coordinating the whole thing), so that's awesome. But she only does that, I think, because of our history.

I have used other narrators also for other series. I pay a lot, $4-5,000 per book. Interestingly, although I have 7 books done through contracts with audio publishers (Brilliance & Audible Studios), my ACX audio does the best financially. I think that's because I've chosen the narrators myself, I pay more than they get from the publishers, and I'm more involved. The quality's higher on my ACX stuff.

ETA: Like other kinds of publishing, it's tougher now--more competition, and the royalties aren't as good. (They used to be 50%, and it went up 1% for each 500 sold to a max of 80%. I got four or five books in before they switched, which is nice as I continue to be paid under those contract terms, but it sure was easier with that higher royalty rate.)

Everybody writes in a different way. The only way to find out what your way is, is to do the writing and ... find out. I edit as I go, personally, but that's me.

First books aren't necessarily terrible. They are definitely a learning experience, though.

In contrast, I think it's exceptionally important for authors to share their numbers. For years, authors were prohibited from talking about their contracts with big publishers and how much they made off book sales or contracts (or were embarrassed to admit it). So, a lot of it was mysterious and out of the author's control. Today, that information is vital because it helps others to know what is possible, what success takes, and how hard it is, and also how it is also more possible than ever.

If it wasn't for people like JA Konrath posting his numbers, Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey an others for talking about their success, I wouldn't have given indie publishing a shot.

It is possible to make money as a self-published author now more than ever. You can pay bills, make a living, or even more rarely, make a fortune. The latter is of course vanishingly rare, but the former is possible.

Only, now its all up to you. Your skill, and your effort.
Agree with all of this. Including the part about early indies sharing their numbers. That's why I tried the indie path. Why on earth would it be bad to share your numbers? What are we worried about here?

I wrote a long post sharing my numbers, then deleted, because I only did it to respond to somebody I should've learned not to pay any attention to 7 years ago. I'll say that my first calendar year publishing, I made $225K with maybe a few thousand in expenses. I've made mid-six figures every year since until this past year, when I made $300K due to publishing much less and paying no attention (due to Life). This year will probably be low as well, but that's OK. I'm enjoying what I'm doing, I'm not doing anything I don't enjoy, and I'm just fine financially. Marketing expense has been 5-8% of my gross, very much less for the first 3-4 years (maybe 1%). And, yes, it's harder now. More competition, and Amazon's changes making visibility more difficult.

Success in publishing in my experience is a whole, whole lot of microdecisions (starting with what you write); a whole lot of writing hours (I won't say "hard work," because compared to my other jobs, writing isn't hard work, it's still fun. But it's a lot of hours); and a fair amount of talent/skill/whatever for telling a compelling story in a readable, hooky way. You won't make all the correct decisions, and yeah, you'll probably leave money on the table when you don't. The trick is to make mostly correct ones, and to learn along the way what your own best path is. Lots of ways to succeed at this job.

Also, nobody has The Answer or The Secret. Some people, like Crystal, analyze things in a very orderly manner, pay lots of attention to the market, and can explain their analysis and their decisions. (More power to you, Crystal.) Even she, though, doesn't have The Secret, or every smart person would be selling as much as Crystal.

Most certainly. I can think of two who post here often,  and I know several more. Per Author Earnings, something like 130 authors made over a million dollars a year in 2016. Quite a few make well over that, eight figures. There are some shady characters amongst them of course, the marketing-first folks who may use some sketchy techniques, but mostly they are just people who are extremely good at satisfying their audience.

Personally, the highest I have gone is about $88k in one month, with about $750 on marketing. But that was in 2016 or so, when this business was easier, and I am a lousy marketer who does not write mainstream enough.

The answer to, "How much can an individual author make?" is, "A bazillion squillion dollars."

The answer to, "How much will individual-I make?" is a shrug. Depends on your talent. Depends on how much time & effort you have to put into it, and whether you're capable of putting out a fair number of readable words per year. Depends on how much marketing you do. Most of all, depends on whether you have the x factor to make lots of people want to read your stuff.

But, yeah, the question of how likely you are to make 10K or 100K per MONTH (I didn't read that correctly in the beginning) is, "Not very likely." It's not impossible. It's just not very darn likely, if we're talking about you-as-an-unpublished-person-who's-never-written-a-book-but-are-looking-into-this-indie-publishing-thing.

It's still possible, depending on the stuff in paragraph 2. Just not likely.

TL;DR: most authors make under $10K a year. A majority of authors probably make under $5K.

Here's some info from the (no longer available) Author Earnings Report. 1,320 authors made over 100K during the period covered. Half of them were indie or Amazon Publishing-published or both; the other half trad.

I believe it was a year or so ago? That Amazon reported that over 1,000 authors made over $100K that year on KDP.

My best remembrance of the Author Earnings data was that it dropped by about half at each level. (This was authors published in all the different ways.) Something like:

5,000 authors made over 10K
2,500 authors made over 50K
1,000 authors made over 100K
500 authors made over 500K
100 authors made over 1M

Certainly, there are indie authors making over a million a year (some gross, and some net). I know many of them. And there are a whole lot more who consistently make over 100K a year. However, they're a minority of all authors published. I saw some other stat that 80-90% of authors (can't remember which) make under $10K per year.

There's also gross vs net. Some people make good money with little outlay; others lay out a great deal.

There's no generalizing on this. Some people make good money (six figures a year) very quickly upon publishing, as in--Month 1, Month 6, etc., and some people build up to it. Some never do earn a lot. Some keep writing and publishing because it satisfies them, some quit. I can tell you, though, that the rarer thing is to make good money consistently over 5, 10, 15 years, book after book, continuing to satisfy a changing audience. Not impossible, not at all. But rare.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Audiobook Length Sweetspot
« on: April 07, 2020, 01:04:36 pm »
A credit is minimum $10; usually $15. It's pricey, so yeah, unless it's a really popular book, length matters to lots of listeners.

If I had short books in Romance, I'd put them into the Escape program. That doesn't require the listener to use a credit on a 7-hour listen. If the audio isn't doing well anyway, worth a try. I make good money there; others have said they're disappointed, so YMMV.

And no, Romance isn't normally long. Romance is normally pretty short (70-80K, more like a 7-hour audiobook), especially indie romance. But interestingly, most of the longterm bestselling audio authors write at the 10-hour-plus audio length. People like Kristen Ashley, whose latest is 16 hrs. The shorter, funny erotic ones are a different matter (indie). Lauren Blakeley etc. 7.5 hours. But funny stuff does really well in audio. I know my bestselling stuff is the funnier books. (I do have one novella in the most popular series, and one short book--and, yeah, they don't do as well as the other 11, which are 10-16 hours. They never have.)

ETA: Narration really matters in audio also. Readers can't really tell the difference between narration & story in their rankings. 

Writers' Cafe / Re: The Future of Audiobooks?
« on: April 04, 2020, 10:06:15 pm »
Audiobooks are expensive to produce.

I don't believe in audiobooks personally. To me the reading experience is to hear your own voice or your "creation" of the narrator's voice.

I laugh at the term audiobook. It is the same thing as a "spoken word"  album of old.

The mental process of reading is totally different than listening. 

Would love to see the economic model for any author selling this way.

I don't understand the question. What does "the economic model" mean?

A good narrator isn't reading the book aloud. That's not what listeners want. Good narrators are, above all, actors (speaking of fiction here). They bring the book to life.

And audiobooks are kind of like science, i guess. They don't care if you believe in them or not. :)

Writers' Cafe / Re: The Future of Audiobooks?
« on: April 01, 2020, 05:35:29 pm »
Audio is certainly more competitive than it was in the early days of ACX. I've found it a very good income source, but it's pricey. I'd say--if you do it, go with the very best narrator you possibly can, but don't risk money you can't afford, because it may take a while to earn out on it.

Some authors also go with traditional publishing deals from Audible Studios, Brilliance Audio, etc. I've actually done better with my indie audio, but I think that's because I have more control over it and it's a better listening experience.

I wouldn't say audiobooks have to be fast-moving or have tons of action. I'd say they have to be very engaging, whatever form that takes.

I don't know why some audio does better than others, although humor works well in romance, in my experience and observation. I also suspect that the audience for romance (at least) in audio may skew a little older, but I have no data for that. 

As always, the golden ticket is getting Audible to promote your stuff, but that's not something you have much control over, other than hiring that top-tier narrator.

Writers' Cafe / Re: New author adrift in a sea of information
« on: March 27, 2020, 08:20:06 pm »
David Gaughran's books, Let's Get Digital and Let's Get Visible, are considered excellent sources for this. You might want to check them out.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Publishing next week, kind of panicking.
« on: March 10, 2020, 12:50:50 pm »
I was terrified to push the button on my first three books. (Put three novels out together.) I said aloud—May as well try. What is the worst that could happen?

It is a pretty good mantra. It worked out just fine for me. I did put them in Select (no KU then), just to get my feet wet while I figured things out. It is not a life sentence. It is three months during which you can learn and try stuff. All sorts of paths can work in publishing as far as making a living. If you know your writing hits the target market, that is a huge hurdle crossed. Erotic romance (which is not erotica as you know) has heaps of competition, but also a huge market.

May as well try. What is the worst that could happen?

If your book is good, it can be a huge boost to sales (and borrows if that and other books are in KU). If you do not want to do it, just say no. No need for anger and hand wringing. It is a promotion. You do not get royalties when you offer a free book either. You do it for sell through.

The name of the game in this business is visibility. These days an unknown author has to pay through the nose for it. This is paid visibility. Also sells the audiobook big time. That is only if the book is compelling enough to rise in the PR charts and for people to finish it and look for more.

ETA: Whoops, old thread. Oh well; still true.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone can make a living self publishing
« on: March 04, 2020, 02:36:48 pm »
The big genres aren't monolithic. I write v long for romance. (Up to 150K.) Many other good-selling romance writers do as well. (You can tell by checking out the length of their audiobooks.) Most romance however is more like 75-80K. Erotic romance as noted above can be quite short. Really, novellas. Depends what the reader is reading for. :) 

PD James's books were quite long for mystery. More complex stories with subplots. Cozy mystery however tends to be quite short. Different kind of read. It can be helpful to think about the audience you're writing for, and what they like--even beyond your genre.

The good news is that you can range pretty widely within your genre in terms of length, subject matter, tone, etc., as long as you are providing (and providing well) the fundamentals of what your reader is reading for. Which, again, may not be the same for all readers of your genre. In romance, the one & only requirement is a focus on the relationship w/ a happy ending. Some readers want a whipsawing roller-coaster ride of angst and drama. Other readers want a more feel-good experience, a light read. Similar in other genres. Think of crime fiction & the wide variety of experiences a reader might want. Just align your writing with an ideal reader, and target them with cover, blurb, title, tone. (You can do this on purpose or more subconsciously.) Lots of things work. That's the beauty of indie publishing.

Writers' Cafe / Re: The Future of Audiobooks?
« on: March 03, 2020, 01:20:03 pm »
Audio, at least now and for the past 30 years (the length of time I've been listening to audiobooks) is all about the narrator and the depth of the story. With written books, we tend to do a bit of skimming. With audio, you hear every word. That deepens and enriches a good book, but makes the flaws of a shallow story painfully obvious.

Re the narrator: the best ones don't come cheap. (Think $375+ per finished hour.) Readers also follow good narrators, as they make the book sound even better than it is. Good narrators will also be picky about which books they take on, because it's their reputation. It's hard for readers to separate narrator quality and story quality. Some books are also stronger in audio. Mystery/suspense with a page-turning plot, books with humor performed by a narrator who's good at that, and dialogue-heavy, character-driven books with a narrator ditto are some examples. 

I base the above on (a) 30+ years of heavy audio listening, being a very early adopter of Audible, and reading a bazillion audio reviews for others' books; and (b) having all 30 of my books available in audio or in production and heavily reviewed.

The future, I believe, looks ever-more borrower-and-subscription-based. (Audible Escape isn't called Audible Romance anymore for a reason--they're bound to roll out all-you-can-listen subscription "borrow" programs for other genres).

Besides getting the very best narrator you can afford, it's important to realize what you ACTUALLY get paid for audio. You might think it's the retail price. Almost nobody pays retail price. They either pay based on their subscription (the cheapest being $10 a book), or through borrows, or at a reduced price via WhisperSync (currently $7.99 for most indie books), or free if the book is published by Amazon Publishing and the person has KU. I've found that, for my ACX books produced under the recent contract terms (flat 40%), I've made about $4.00 per copy sold. I pay up to $5,000 to get an audiobook produced, as I write long. You can do the math. Audio also generally sells much less than Kindle, especially in romance, which isn't actually a huge audio genre (the reason, I believe, that Audible did the Escape program--trying to change that).

For context, I did only 2 new audiobooks last year (slow year for a number of reasons). I paid $10,000. I made $66,000 in indie audio (which makes up 21 of my 28 audioooks done by the end of 2019). My promotion cost was 0. I'm middling successful in audio, but I've been in it for a long time, almost since the beginning of ACX. You also generally HAVE to keep new audiobooks coming out for continued audio success (though I'm sure there are exceptions). Audio is pretty new-release-driven, and series-driven.

Some authors like Jill, above, do much better than I do in audio as a percentage of total sales. Some of that depends on how much Audible promotes you, but THAT depends on how dynamite your audiobooks are. In case I haven't convinced you--quality really matters here, in both story and narration.

(Note: my examples are ACX only as I'm too lazy to go wide with audio. (Since I don't promote my audio.))

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon is giving negative reviews more weight?
« on: February 25, 2020, 12:27:07 pm »
I see your point, but there are other factors. Like the reviews themselves, like you mentioned. Even on GR I'll read a review that's basically a rewritten blurb with pictures and gifs and no substance. It looks like there's a lot there, someone fanning out, but it's just noise when I look closer. Doesn't mean they aren't real, it just puts me off. Then there's the difference between first in series and the remainder. With the exception of someone(s) hate reading your series, which to me is a huge compliment, don't review averages tend to go up as the series progresses because the people still with you are with you for a reason? They dig it. When it comes to your example, the woman who writes what her people love without fail, it seems odd to me that there's someone who's grown such an audience without attracting the wrong readers here and there. Maybe her branding is perfect, maybe Amazon is just really good at selling her to the right people, I don't know, it just doesn't sound right to me. Good for her, though. My reading/shopping habits don't detract from her accomplishment.
Nope, the person I remarked on is just that good. Simple as that. Her Book 1 in that series has a 4.6-star average on almost 6,500 reviews. 1% 1-stars, 1% 2-stars. Hard to explain that away as anything but a writer who really, really knows what she's doing, especially as the book is free on all platforms and has been downloaded a whole, whole lot. I'm sure over a million times. All the other dozen or so books in the series have 4.8 or 4.9 stars on hundreds or thousands of reviews, and have for years. It's obvious, when you look at the reviews, that they are well earned. Is that normal? Nope. I'm in awe. But it's definitely possible.

I have a Book 1 out there now that was quite different for me in a number of ways, that I wasn't at all sure people would like. It has a 4.7-star average and no 1-stars, either in the US or anywhere else, on nearly 200 reviews. For me, that's partly fan base, but not completely--new readers also read it. Mostly, it's just satisfying most of your audience, and delighting enough of them that they feel compelled to review.

Many of my early books DO have 1-stars, and so do the books where I wrote a completely new subgenre or tone. Fair enough. That's partly that I write a bit differently from some authors, and partly just that I wasn't good enough yet at that subgenre. But I do have a number of books with no 1-stars, and so do lots of other folks.

ETA: I checked, and that author's "most helpful" review on Book 1 is a 2-star! Funny, in regard to the thread topic. That review has about 1/3 the number of upvotes of the review below it. Doesn't seem to have hurt the author much, though.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon is giving negative reviews more weight?
« on: February 24, 2020, 05:39:49 pm »
I read reviews on GR more than Amazon but I always scroll to the negative ones. Then, I weigh how much I was pulled in by the blurb, the average rating, and what the haters critics had to say. Lots of times the things other readers complain about are the very things I'm looking for. Maybe having the most-helpful negative review at the top is just for efficiency, helping people decide faster to buy or not with less work digging around. Either way, if you don't have lower than a 4-star average I wouldn't worry about it. As a reader, I don't trust books with a bazillion 5-star, gushing reviews that no one has any gripes about.

You know, I hear that a lot, but the book of mine that Amazon keeps picking up for promos and things lately is one that has only one 3-star review and 94% 5-stars out of 228 reviews--pretty much a bazillion gushing reviews on a book that no one has any gripes about. I'm not sure readers are really put off by a lack of negative reviews, unless the reviews are obviously fake. At least Amazon doesn't seem to think so. I've noticed the same thing with some other authors' books, where the author has a pretty good following and is delivering what their audience expects--it certainly doesn't seem to hurt sales at all. I can think of an author who launches onto the NYT list every time without promo whose books' review patterns tend to look like that. She just knows how to write what "her" people love.

On books where that one-star-at-the-top thing happens, it does seem to put a damper on sales, in my experience. Unfortunately, nothing you can do about it, because Amazon does what they do. I figure, save my energy for stuff I can control.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone can make a living self publishing
« on: February 24, 2020, 08:50:18 am »
Thank you for your compliment. I know every author doesn't need hundreds of books. This approach is the road less traveled. There are plenty of successful authors who succeed the traditional way.  My posts are for letting struggling authors know that it's possible without novels and marketing.
Gotcha. Best wishes on your journey.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone can make a living self publishing
« on: February 24, 2020, 08:36:26 am »
Short romance. Anyone can make a living self publishing. It takes hard work. No you can't make a living with a few books a year and no marketing. You need hundreds of books if you can't succeed the traditional way. That is the point of my posts. It's very possible. I have short romance from 2015 that still gets KU reads.
You do not need hundreds of books. You can absolutely succeed with a few books a year. There are many paths to success.

I admire your work ethic and wish you the best. I could not do it your way for many reasons (it is extremely difficult for me to come up with book ideas, for one), but more power to you for pursuing your dreams in a way that works for you. 

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone can make a living self publishing
« on: February 23, 2020, 05:20:38 pm »
People can think I got lucky if they want to. I can't control what anybody thinks.

Meanwhile, I'll be over here doing the exact same things I've been doing for seven and a half years. Working like this could all disappear tomorrow. Figuring out how to write better, evaluating what I didn't do so well last time and why, so I can become the writer I want to be. Reaching out to my readers in as authentic a way as I can possibly manage, and never taking them for granted. Being my own worst critic.

I'm lucky to have been born intelligent and emotionally sensitive, with an excellent memory and high verbal ability (all of that is exactly like most authors), and to a family that valued education, in the Western world where women count. Lucky to be a smart person with mainstream taste, and to have started publishing in the autumn of 2012--though in that case, I seized the moment, recognizing that indie publishing was booming and that if I didn't jump, I could lose my best chance. You could say I'm lucky to be a disciplined worker with my nose perpetually to the grindstone, but that's not really luck. That's a choice. You could also say I'm lucky to have a "voice" that readers enjoy, but that's due to 10 years writing copy, and working really hard to get better at it and to hone that easy-breezy voice.

I'm fortunate that all those things together can help a person succeed as a romance author, and that I had the guts to jump in and try. Lots of people don't. If you've finished a book, if you've had that book edited and published it--congratulations! Seriously, congratulations. You're way ahead of a whole, whole lot of people who've always thought about writing a book. You've got a shot at this thing.

Everybody's lucky in some ways and unlucky in others. That's people, and that's life.

Writers' Cafe / Re: I�m no longer telling people about my projects
« on: February 23, 2020, 12:20:53 pm »
Do what works for you. Stephen King's advice is what works for Stephen King. In almost everything I've read, his advice wouldn't work for me--and that's OK. The right way to write books is the way that works for YOU. The way that keeps you doing your best work. For me, that's sharing on a daily basis (sometimes an hourly basis--just ask my poor husband). The only way to find out what that is--try it and see. 

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone can make a living self publishing
« on: February 23, 2020, 12:15:17 pm »
It isn't only about being lucky. You need to be a great storyteller as well. The better writer and more hard working you are, the less luck you need to be successful. Stratospheric success might rely on a fortuitous confluence of events, but if you can write really compelling fiction and you combine that with a good work ethic, I believe you'll make it in this business so long as you are able to put together a viable product in other areas (as in, the cover and editing).

It isn't luck when a literary agent accepts your manuscript. If they are good at their jobs (and most of them are) then they understand what kind of fiction sells, and the vast majority are good at judging the quality of submissions. Most books - the overhwelming majority - simply are not up to trad's standards when it comes to craft.

Nor is it luck when a self published author is able to make a living out of this. Their books satisfy. They are successful in giving the readers of their genre what they want, which not all writers can do. 
This, and everything Brian said as well.

Leaving aside the question of whether successful authors can be objective about their success, the problem with believing, "It's all luck," is that it makes you powerless.

You aren't powerless. You control the genre, the hook, the concept, the writing. The grabby beginning and the satisfying ending that has the reader looking for your next book. You control the blurb and the cover and the title and series title (title + series title + cover--that's your first hook right there), and you control the price and the formatting and the editing and all the initial marketing. You control how hard you are willing to work to get the book out there, and then to start the next one, and the next, all of them executed at the very best level of which you are capable.

And you control how you bounce back from disappointment. How you look critically at your mistakes and correct them next time. Being successful at this for the long term involves a million tiny microdecisions. You don't have to get all of them right, but you have to get a lot of them right. Most of all, you have to LISTEN and LEARN. Does it hurt to read your critical reviews? Sure it does. Can you learn from them? Sure you can. If your response is to think, "Idiot. What does she know?" or "She just doesn't get it" every time, you probably aren't learning much.

The most important marketing happens before you publish your book. Write a book and present it in a way that intrigues readers and makes them check it out, and don't put any barriers in the way to their doing so. (Like poor formatting, a lack of editing, a story that isn't "tight" enough, overly florid prose for your genre--whatever it is.) After that? It's on the writing to hook them and keep them coming back. And you control ALL of that, even before you place a single ad or join a single Facebook group, or whatever else you do.

If you do it right, you may get some word of mouth going. A huge, effective marketing spend can get a lot of eyes on a book, but it's up to the BOOK--not just its presentation, but its effectiveness in reaching and delighting your reader--to get them reading it, to keep them reading it, to get them recommending it and posting it themselves.

That kind of "exponential" marketing, the kind you don't do directly, is golden. It's the key to long-term success at this deal. You don't control it, but your actions and decisions and care can absolutely increase the chances that it happens.

If it does happen, you will experience the dubious joys of people telling you that you got "lucky."

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone can make a living self publishing
« on: February 22, 2020, 12:16:14 pm »
Just to be sure--that's to be read "Of those 5000, 2500 make $50k a year..." and so on? If yes, then 5000 total make a living (if $25k is the defining threshold)?

Yes. 5000 total made 25K plus a year (in 2016, per Author Earnings, and other caveats I am sure I have forgotten).

ETA: Out of all authors (or pen names) published on online stores.

There is a huge difference between median and mean in author incomes, because the people at the very top earn so much.

I want to take a moment to say - do not let those numbers stop you from publishing. I was myself very nearly deterred by similar conversations before I published. I only did it because of a bad diagnosis. I literally said out loud, as I pushed the button, “May as well try.”

We all may as well try. What else are you going to do with your wonderful stories? If something does not work, move on and learn more and try again. If it gets too discouraging, you can always stop. But you may as well try before you give up. Nobody ever succeeded by giving up before they started.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Anyone can make a living self publishing
« on: February 22, 2020, 09:34:10 am »
I am going by late 2016 numbers (that I recall), so take it with a grain of salt, but the Author Earnings Report at that time was something like this:

5,000 authors make more than 25K a year
2,500 authors make more than 50K a year
1,000 authors make more than 100K a year
A few hundred authors make more than 250K a year
A hundred authors make more than 500K a year
A few dozen authors make more than 1 million a year

That is all authors--indie, tradpub, APub. I do know that most authors have to spend more on marketing now than they did in 2016, so gross (as reported above) is not net. And some of the "authors" above have multiple pen names. But those are the figures--at least they were in 2016.

So I'll say kudos to the OP for her (his?) work ethic, and I hope she/he finds a way to continue without burning out. Every very successful author I know, though, works a LOT. I spent my first five years working 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week, but I'm not a super fast writer. Many folks can go much faster, and can get their words out in far fewer hours.  (I write at max 500-600K edited words a year. While I'm actually writing a book, I can do about 2,500-3,500 fully edited words on a normal day, but I'm only writing about 60% of the time, as it takes a while to think up and research a book.)

Lots of ways to do this job, and lots of ways to succeed, too. It definitely takes effort, though. Some people spend most of that effort on the book, others spend most of it on the marketing, some people split their time equally. But it always takes effort to succeed *over time.* (Not as hard to have a hit with one book or one series, but still not easy!) 

Writers' Cafe / Re: First day on KDP was a major disappointment. Advice?
« on: February 20, 2020, 11:43:27 am »
Don't fool yourself. All but the biggest moneymakers in trad pub have to do the same thing.  It's a marketing game, pretty much for all but the very top.  If you put out a book by a small or mid-sized publisher and expect to do no marketing, that simply isn't realistic in this industry.
True. It's become much harder. To do really well now, most writers have to market at least to some degree. (Nora Roberts, for example, really hustles.)

I do some. I have a mailing list, which I didn't have for the first 3-4 years (a mistake), though I don't send out newsletters nearly often enough, and I do a free offer of an early book in a series, supported by some smaller ad sites, once a month. (Since I have 7 series, I can do that pretty easily.) I also get some push from Amazon, especially on my Amazon Publishing books, though not nearly as much as I used to. I definitely under-market and sell myself short in that way. Not recommended for max success.

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