I'm an Authoring Outlaw, I just ride my own path...
If you asked people (especially authors) how they would write a story to get to the top of a mountain, I can only imagine some of the responses (some, not all) such as:
1) Go straight up, don't allow anything to stop you. Blow chunks of rock to bypass obstacles (even if going around is easier).
2) Find the easiest path, finding clues how to get you there. Kiss a few dames on the way.
3) Grab a group of dwarfs to tunnel up to the top.
4) Hercules C-130, parachute down.
5) Warp in from a different solar system, then grab the escape pod and hope like h#ll you stick the landing.
I state these paltry examples because I feel it illustrates a point. The point is that as creative as humanity is, there is ALWAYS another way to get to the top.
Can you write to market and up your chances? H#ll yes! I think Chris (Fox) makes a good point. Did I do this? No
. I wrote about vampires and aliens and military sci-fi and absolutely no one was screwing anyone else - even sex is alluded to most of the time. Genre? Fat chance on defining that one. (Much to my chagrin as I've tried to figure out how to place it appropriately for fans now
You shouldn't have cussing? I have so many cusswords in my books fans want a list of all of the different ones. Do you believe that you can put too many 'F-bomb's' in a book? Yeah, well, the books can still sell. Trust
Can you have a poorly edited book (or let's face it, originally abysmally edited) and be successful? Yes. Should you release it that way.... Yeah, probably not. Lot's of issues in your future if you do this. Much easier to have a decent edit job and skip the problems.
Can you succeed with short stories? YES.
I've talked in the past about how I wanted to create an income of $50k a year by having a backlist of 20 books. I came up with this number because I noticed after the first few days of selling my first book, I was averaging about $7.50 a day in income. At that number ($7.50 a day for each of the 20 books) I'd make $54k. You only need $36k to enjoy a very nice retirement in Cabo San Lucas. That was my goal.
When I started and released my first book in November (2015), I was happily ignorant. I had no experience, no one to tell me all of the reasons it can't be done (conversely, I didn't have some of the awesome and incredible wisdom I've read here on this same board to refine my path, either.) I still don't understand where the 'box' is and I never will. I refuse to accept normal conventions - but that doesn't mean I ignore the wisdom, I just refuse to accept dogma.
I was on The Author Biz with Stephen Campbell in January. I had just released my 5th book and was going to close above $10k that month. The title to that show is '90 days to $10,000' and it was a blast talking to him. I mentioned how Rick Gualtieri and Annie Bellet shared some incredible information here on kBoards and I really appreciated their willingness to lay out their information here for newbies like myself to read.
I admire both of them, as well as many more who share their information on what is possible. I enjoy Rosalind James's posts, Timothy Ellis's posts and many others. Rick G. has been nice enough to share with me on multiple occasions and I'm still working on implementing some of his recommendations. Trust me Rick, I listened! The box sets and the Audible will happen. Soon...sometime. Screw it, probably within two months as I'm hiring my own help now to help accomplish more.
Point of fact, one of my core decisions on how I decided to attack my strategic selling effort (or 'aha' moment) was when I FOUND Timothy's Hunter Legacy series. I was a super happy reader that Friday when I first saw that he had a series and it had 4 FREAKING BOOKS IN IT! Hot [email protected]
, I had a weekend of fun ahead of me. If I felt that way, wouldn't others?
How long did my book #7 (Kneel or Die) take to write, edit, and put up on Amazon? Twenty-five days, which included breaks for a funeral and a Production Editor who was sick as a dog for a few days. How many people beta read and helped with editing on it? Well, depending on what part we are talking about it ranged from four to eight. The book was written and reviewed by a group and there is a system to do it. I've still got some pretty picky readers and those readers say they found two mistakes. Two mistakes out of almost 75k words. Would a 'professional' find more? Sure, but I'm not going to get a professional to run their editing simultaneously with my writing. I invited Stephen Campbell (The Author Biz) to lurk in the FB Group as we made this happen. He had complete access to ask any questions and see exactly what I did and how the group worked.
He interviewed Stephen Russel and myself on Tuesday about the experience. That podcast releases on Monday if your interested on his insights.
When I did that first podcast with Stephen in January, I pulled back and stopped responding and lurked mostly here on kBoards. I suffered from the normal thoughts of 'What if it is just a fluke what I accomplished?'. Some of the push back I received on a couple responses (I also wrote on Amazon's forums a few times) caused me to go back and decide that suggesting a different way up the mountain wasn't being well received. Why was I going to fight that battle?
What if they were right? What if I had got lucky and I couldn't duplicate the results? I could always do a pen-name to test my method, but not when I'm on a book-a-month release cycle, now with a short story tossed in between (but that's another story). But I could do it if someone else was willing to let me teach them.
So, what makes me think I have anything to add to the paths to the top? Because results always matter, talk can always walk.
Here are my results:
1 - I made $10k in my first 90 days.
2 - I've made $60k in 150 days
3 - I'm on track to hit $300k this year - Obviously things can happen. My goal for March (to hit $300k in 2016) is $17,360. I'm projecting a gross of $25k this month - over $20k has been sold to date.
* 'So what' I've been told. You got lucky, your writing is crap - it's poorly edited, you need to do better. You need to do this, you need to do that. To those I would suggest that the ONLY one who has a vote is the person who pays you and pays me. The reader
. Not the reader who downloads the free book, but the reader that buys your second (or any) that cost's money. So, how do I answer those who believe I 'got lucky'? - Well, here are some additional efforts I undertook since February. *
4 - I'm helping four (4) others in a tiny mentoring group. All four were fans of my work and three were helping me beta read / edit. I've offered any one in these beta reading groups that if they wanted to be a writer, I was willing to help mentor them (this was after the effort was over, not as an incentive). Two guys took me up in February after book 6 (2/3). One fan reached out to me and I invited him in between 6 & 7 and one lady took me up on the offer after book 7's release (3/7) :
* Of the two who started in early February, both have released books (all-in on Amazon).
* My female mentee has her first book and will release around the 22nd of April. She started on 3/9 or so.
* One (a fan, not part of the editing group) is 1/2 done with his first. However, he still has University papers to write (he is in Australia)
Of the two who have released stories:
* One released his first 'series' and it sold 68 books, 185 'free' and 9851 KENP in the first three weeks. He has paused that series to try another. His best was #5 in a smallish niche and he has fans asking for what's next.
* One released his first 'series' and he will close out his first 45 days at the end of this month with over $3,000 in sales. His fourth book should be out in a week or two. Hit #1 in multiple small to medium level Niche's.
I've been blessed. Hugely blessed. I've offered to help and spent a fair amount of time to coach and encourage these writers to help them in their effort to be successful. I don't have all the answers, I have a path to the top that has been successful for more than just myself, as I have proven.
Are the answers on these boards for most writers? Certainly. Are they 'all' the ways up the mountain?
No. Because there will always be an Authoring Outlaw or two. Some of us fall off the mountain to an ignoble death... A few of us will see the rest of you up at the top*.
I hope to see you all there,
* You define the top! For me, the definition is to have a series that has rabid fans that enjoy it and buy my books and want me to keep writing. For others, it will be to be sold in a bookstore, or on the New York Times Bestseller - may you all
find your path to your own