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Thanks for sharing!  Awesome article and quite true.  I've seen a ton of people ask "how" before bothering to decide "should I?"  It's a bit late for me...and for probably a lot of us here, but food for thought nevertheless.

Also on the money about how much difference one year can make.  I can attest to that one.
 

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I liked the point and she had a great tone throughout to keep the article entertaining. I've encouraged several friends to self-publish if they feel the aspiration, but I try not to sugar-coat it and tell them it's going to be such a walk in the park.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
tensen said:
It definitely didn't end where I thought it was going.
Lol, it didn't end where I thought it was going either, but I'll tell you, it's motivated me to put a big push on writing for this year. I slacked off a little the end of last year waiting on announcements (re: the movie deal), but since that's moving slower than I imagined, it's stupid to waste my writing time.
 

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Definitely a surprise ending. At the rate I write, I'm not thinking less about the yacht and more about finally. hitting. publish. Kudos to you, though, Bella!
 

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The answer I always give whenever this topic comes up is actually a quote from the character Jayne Cobb from Firefly:
[...] percent of nothing is -- let me do the math here -- nothing into nothing, carry the nothing -- still nothing.
Self-publishing's a lot of work and, yes, most people won't have the work ethic to make it work. They won't do enough. They won't put in the hours and dedication needed to make it work.

But how is that any different than going the traditional write->agent->publisher->fans route? The way I see things, and the way I explain to my wife and parents when they ask, is that it isn't. So I only make <= $500 doing it myself once I actually publish. If that's the case... I very likely would have made $0 if I'd gone traditional. The way I see it if I can so much as buy a lunch with the proceeds from self-publishing instead of a "learn what didn't work and submit again" lesson I'll call it a success.

If my readers don't like my work that's one thing, but I'll never have Stephen King's railroad spike of publisher rejection letters. If I had that prospect to look forward too I'd stick to being middle management and fanfiction, I've no interest in it.
 

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To me, the relevant questions are: Who is your audience?  What should you do if a year later you are not on the yacht?  You don't need to quit writhing at that point; as long as Amazon offers a page rent free, your books will still remain online.  Meanwhile, you put your energy behind something else to make up for the slack in low revenue book sales.  Maybe, someday, your life will change and give you the story that will sell.
 

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Ahh!  My big goal for 2013 is to get a minimum of four more books out.  This article was an excellent reminder of why that is crucial, and it was just plain entertaining to read, too.  Thanks, Elle L.!

And that was rather cheering to see that Salon (or whoever it was) surveyed successful self-publishers and they were making less than $500 a year.  I'm doing much better than that, and that is very encouraging! 
 

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Dustin Metzger said:
The answer I always give whenever this topic comes up is actually a quote from the character Jayne Cobb from Firefly:
Self-publishing's a lot of work and, yes, most people won't have the work ethic to make it work. They won't do enough. They won't put in the hours and dedication needed to make it work.

But how is that any different than going the traditional write->agent->publisher->fans route? The way I see things, and the way I explain to my wife and parents when they ask, is that it isn't. So I only make <= $500 doing it myself once I actually publish. If that's the case... I very likely would have made $0 if I'd gone traditional. The way I see it if I can so much as buy a lunch with the proceeds from self-publishing instead of a "learn what didn't work and submit again" lesson I'll call it a success.

If my readers don't like my work that's one thing, but I'll never have Stephen King's railroad spike of publisher rejection letters. If I had that prospect to look forward too I'd stick to being middle management and fanfiction, I've no interest in it.
I agree.

I thought the final part, that you have to work at it, is a good one, but she brings in and seems to accept that "it has to be a huge success to be a success" attitude that gets on my nerves. Since I don't agree with the assumption that all novels have to be blockbusters to be successes, I wasn't really that thrilled with the article.

But she's right about one thing. It is work and if you don't want to work you shouldn't bother.

Hudson Owen said:
To me, the relevant questions are: Who is your audience? What should you do if a year later you are not on the yacht? You don't need to quit writhing at that point; as long as Amazon offers a page rent free, your books will still remain online. Meanwhile, you put your energy behind something else to make up for the slack in low revenue book sales. Maybe, someday, your life will change and give you the story that will sell.
I don't have to get rich or be able to afford a yacht to consider myself a success.

ETA: I mean if you do, that's not a criticism. You have a right to set our own goals, but I hate when we drag the best seller mentality from traditional publishing into self-publishing. I consider the point of self-publishing IS that we don't have to be best-sellers to be successful.
 

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I agree, JRTomlin.  Though I think with his comment about not being on the yacht, he was just referencing the fortune cookie from the article. 

I don't like the mindset that you have to become a household name in order to be a successful self-publisher.  To me, the measure of success has always been making enough money to support myself by writing full-time.  After a lifetime of being super-poor, I expect to be able to live in reasonable comfort and financial security, but being wealthy isn't a part of my long-term plan.  (I wouldn't complain, but it's not how I'll measure my success.)  Oh, and I expect to one day win some awards with my writing, but indie authors haven't yet managed to drive the wedge into the major awards.  Our time is coming, though.

It's good for everybody to have a clear idea of what his or her idea of success means.  What does that picture look like, for you?  That's the only reasonable way to gauge your success -- not by comparing to how well Authors X, Y, and Z are doing.  Hell, you can't bank on anything by going with traditional publishers, either.  I know plenty of writers who have sold several books to traditional publishers and who've never gotten off the midlist.  They are not household names, either.  They either keep a day job or their spouse's income allows them to write full-time, because the money they earn from their writing isn't enough to support even themselves alone, to say nothing of a family.  I think that is the reality for most writers, whether indie or not.  That a writer must produce a large volume of high-quality work in order to turn it into a solid career...that was true back when traditional publishing was the only game in town.  It's just as true, maybe more true, now that anybody can (hypothetically) self-publish and reach readers.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hudson Owen said:
To me, the relevant questions are: Who is your audience? What should you do if a year later you are not on the yacht? You don't need to quit writhing at that point; as long as Amazon offers a page rent free, your books will still remain online. Meanwhile, you put your energy behind something else to make up for the slack in low revenue book sales. Maybe, someday, your life will change and give you the story that will sell.
For those that don't know, Bella Andre comes to the Writers' Cafe, and she was writing for years traditionally (Elllora's Cave?, and others) before she started self publishing. She was one of Amazon's first self-published million dollar earners, etc. And that all would have been before the yacht fortune cookie.
She keeps writing, sticks to her schedule, and is building a large fan base. Work and striving to be a better writer can breed all kinds of success. Of course, we hold the Outliers up as examples, but we know there are tons of self-publishers making an extra 5k to 50K a year that will never grab the notice of many people outside their fan base. THIS IS SUCCESS. They've just earned as much as they would have from most publishing houses, but the beauty is instead of the book being pulled off the shelves, or not promoted at all, they can repeat that the next year.
 

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Bella described the grueling schedule that allowed her to publish a book about every three months. She offered strategies and suggestions, illustrating specific points with examples.
If you want it, you have to work for it. Period.
 

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LisaGraceBooks said:
For those that don't know, Bella Andre comes to the Writers' Cafe, and she was writing for years traditionally (Elllora's Cave?, and others) before she started self publishing. She was one of Amazon's first self-published million dollar earners, etc. And that all would have been before the yacht fortune cookie.
She keeps writing, sticks to her schedule, and is building a large fan base. Work and striving to be a better writer can breed all kinds of success. Of course, we hold the Outliers up as examples, but we know there are tons of self-publishers making an extra 5k to 50K a year that will never grab the notice of many people outside their fan base. THIS IS SUCCESS. They've just earned as much as they would have from most publishing houses, but the beauty is instead of the book being pulled off the shelves, or not promoted at all, they can repeat that the next year.
Exactly. Most of us will never make millions. That doesn't mean we aren't a success.
 

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LisaGraceBooks said:
For those that don't know, Bella Andre comes to the Writers' Cafe, and she was writing for years traditionally (Elllora's Cave?, and others) before she started self publishing. She was one of Amazon's first self-published million dollar earners, etc. And that all would have been before the yacht fortune cookie.
She keeps writing, sticks to her schedule, and is building a large fan base. Work and striving to be a better writer can breed all kinds of success. Of course, we hold the Outliers up as examples, but we know there are tons of self-publishers making an extra 5k to 50K a year that will never grab the notice of many people outside their fan base. THIS IS SUCCESS. They've just earned as much as they would have from most publishing houses, but the beauty is instead of the book being pulled off the shelves, or not promoted at all, they can repeat that the next year.
I know it's unofficial policy never to offer a discouraging word when someone asks what should I do after years of struggle and sales in dribbles. My point is, you need Plan B. You can say, heroically, failure is not an option. The fact is, many more writers don't own the yacht or ever ride aboard it. If you're drowning, you need help. And that might include taking two steps back from writing and reassessing your goals and strengths before continuing on the path you've been on. You don't want to drown, period, if you've ever watched a swimmer go under.
 

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Hudson Owen said:
My point is, you need Plan B. You can say, heroically, failure is not an option. The fact is, many more writers don't own the yacht or ever ride aboard it. If you're drowning, you need help.
Yes, but the point for many of us is that we have no desire to own or even ride on a yacht. That doesn't equate to drowning but to different desires. Sure I have a Plan B if my books every stop selling at the level I need, which is laughably short of a yacht, but my Plan B is safely filed away, and unless things change drastically in the next few years, will stay there.

I agree with JR, Libby, and Lisa. It's too bad the media ignores those of us in the middle, but if you remember Hugh Howey's thread on just that subject, he gathered stories from many of us making as I remember more than $500 a month for at least a year, and he couldn't interest anyone in writing about us. Stories of yacht-buying success or depressing lack of success are interesting. Those of us in the middle aren't.
 

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I've already quit twice this week. I removed "meltdowns" from my chart due to embarrassment.

Sometimes I feel like the secret to self-publishing is doing the stuff you don't want to do.
 
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