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Saul Tanpepper said:
We've just witnessed a movement passing through its infancy. By maturation, let me use the analogy of the Gold Rush:

In those days, there were no rules, no conventions, no standards. Gold was everywhere; you could pluck it off the ground. But that quickly passed. Mining as a business matured. Most of the prospectors went home (or met worse fates). Some day, we may fondly refer to the indies who led the self-publishing charge as the Oh-Niners. They got rich by the sweat of their brow and the luck of their timing. Those of us who came after are left resifting through the well-trodden ground to find our gold. And there's still much of it to be found. We just have to dig deeper.

[and that concludes my analogy ;) ]
I think this is apt.

Also, to simplify it, we may be in a lull. Back in 2010, it seemed like book bloggers were the golden ticket to riches. In 2011, it was $0.99 pricing. In (early) 2012, it was Select. All those things were "I win" buttons for people able to take advantage of them. There doesn't appear to be an obvious one right now.

But this is too simplistic. Whatever the flavor of the week, it's not like everyone with a book took off in ye olden days. Also, new releases were visible for more time on Amazon through, what, 2011. Then they changed things again between March-May to nerf Select and to reward authors with a large fanbase that would immediately snap up their new releases. At the same time, indie authors have become much more sophisticated. Better covers. Better writing. Closer and closer in appearance and quality to trad stuff until the lines have become severely blurred. And the big promo sites get more and more selective. All things that make it tougher for a new writer.

But all the lasting results seem to be for authors who either had a big backlist ready to go or steadily wrote new titles. And if there's a trend going on right now (serials? box sets?), it's also dependent on being prolific.

Old ladders are getting yanked up all the time. It's more cutthroat by the week. Even so, I think Select is still useful for new authors to get a toe in the door, and, as everyone else has said, the only way to increase your long-term odds is to keep writing.

Incidentally, this is a great thread. Kind of thing that keeps me coming back to KB.
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