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Discussion Starter #1
I'm sure many people here will breathe a sigh of relief. It's time for me to hang it up.

When you reach adulthood, you learn there are times when you have to face facts. For whatever reason:

1. Lack of writing ability
2. Lack of marketing savvy
3. Lack of knowledge regarding all the little tricks and gotchas
4. Lack of ready cash for monster ad spends
5. Lack of access to VIP services like Bookbub
6. All of the above

My books don't sell. There's nothing to be gained by trying to compete with trillion-dollar companies and empires built by the rich and beautiful.

The market has spoken. I'm not a very good writer. I did my best and came up short.

Black out.
 

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Shane Lochlann Black said:
I'm sure many people here will breathe a sigh of relief. It's time for me to hang it up.

When you reach adulthood, you learn there are times when you have to face facts. For whatever reason:

1. Lack of writing ability
2. Lack of marketing savvy
3. Lack of knowledge regarding all the little tricks and gotchas
4. Lack of ready cash for monster ad spends
5. Lack of access to VIP services like Bookbub
6. All of the above

My books don't sell. There's nothing to be gained by trying to compete with trillion-dollar companies and empires built by the rich and beautiful.

The market has spoken. I'm not a very good writer. I did my best and came up short.

Black out.
Hey Shane, I was sorry to read your post, and my heart really goes out to you. Being an indie author is such a lonely and financially crushing endeavour at times to say the least. But mate, what an amazing feat to have done what you've done... to have put out so many books... I'm kinda envious of how prolific you are, honestly. I wish I could write as much as you have in such a short time. And I don't want to sound glib because I'm not being glib... but man, I'm in my early 40s, and if I've learned one thing in life it's that things usually turn a corner just as you're about to give up. I say keep going... keep doing what you're doing. In the very least, keep writing for the joy of it. You may just find your inspiration and your spark and your financial windfall all in one, and when you least expect it. I'm rooting for you, matey.

Yours,
Teddy
 

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I've been reading your posts for a while and, though I don't always agree, you definitely have a 'voice' that should be read. You are very much an all-or-nothing writer which I think is a blessing and a curse; it's great when the momentum is there, but it can be easily derailed by other problems. Know this - your devotion to the craft and the sage advice of you and so many others on here is inspirational. You seem to be a Marmite kind of guy on here (UK reference) but I would say that I sincerely hope you don't give up as the medium needs this passion.

If nothing else, I really think that, rather than write to market, you should write a book that encompasses the actual voice you use in the posts. It's frustrating, wonderful, baffling, grandiloquent and occasionally infuriating, but it is often beautiful to read. If my work disappears from the stratosphere, no-one would care one bit (why should they?), but I think you have enough of a following to mean that you would be missed.

 

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BuckarooBanzai said:
I've been reading your posts for a while and, though I don't always agree, you definitely have a 'voice' that should be read.
Ha, I agree with this post 100%. When I'm perusing through the writer's cafe and I see a SLB post, I know it's worth a read. And that might not be the same as selling a million books, but in a group of people who use words for a living, Shane is easily the most fun to read, and that definitely means something to me. Whatever the reason might be for having trouble with the books, I can tell you from my view that Shane has never lacked the voice, ability, personality, or perspective of a very entertaining writer.

And Shane, I wanted to just say a quick thanks for always posting questions. For my taste, this board has a lot of answers and few questions. People will always say, I did this and sold all the books in the world, but I always felt like your posts were more like data points in a study. Like, you tried something and posted the results. It was just kinda fresh, you know? In a world where everyone is a critic your posts seemed more like a scientist. What I'm trying to say is that everyone here is better off with your perspective, even if you catch a lot of flak for doing it. Anyone can say, hey I'm the best thing since sliced bread, my books are great beyond great, my advice is a golden gift, and everyone should do what I do. But it takes Shane Lochlann Black to say, wait, lets actually try to figure out why some things work and some things don't. So, whatever you end up doing, I just wanted to say a big whole-hearted thank you. For trying to ask the questions, and for doing it in a way that always got people's attention.
 

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Shane Lochlann Black said:
I'm sure many people here will breathe a sigh of relief. It's time for me to hang it up.

When you reach adulthood, you learn there are times when you have to face facts. For whatever reason:

1. Lack of writing ability
2. Lack of marketing savvy
3. Lack of knowledge regarding all the little tricks and gotchas
4. Lack of ready cash for monster ad spends
5. Lack of access to VIP services like Bookbub
6. All of the above

My books don't sell. There's nothing to be gained by trying to compete with trillion-dollar companies and empires built by the rich and beautiful.

The market has spoken. I'm not a very good writer. I did my best and came up short.

Black out.
Shane...I don't like you very much, your posts get on my nerves, but...stop being a baby! don't quit. Take a minute, regroup. I've read samples of your books (When amamzon chooses to show them) you can write, you just have a crappy point of view on how to market books. If I can give you one piece of advice, go join the 20books to 50k group. Read through all of the free adive they give (It's organized like a course)

It does not take big money to make money. You don't need a $ 2000 cover, but a 100 - 200$ dollar cover will do fine (Goto fiver and get some nice indian chap to do your cover, they work cheap)

Get editor's on the come up, people who are new to the game and willing to work for reasonable amounts 200-400 is what I paid for my first book.

Get organized, exploit the pre-order system so that your books are showing a few months in advance, that way someone who clicks on your book sees that it is part of a series and that more books are coming.

Give away your first book in series (Make it permafree or ,99c) its too hard for someone to get into your books if your first book is 4,99$ most people will take a flyer for ,99c and might actually read it because they paid for it.

In anycase, put on your big boy pants and get back to work...nobody likes a whiner.

Cheers!
 

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+1000 to Rhett Gervais post!

I also don't like many of your posts. They are negative, you love to blame 'the system' and assume just because you're smart at technical things you know stuff for sure (as proven by many of your thread titles being declarations). You're too smart for your own good kinda, to the point of arrogant sometimes. You even started a test of marketing technique and didn't actually finish because partial data confirmed your POV so you didn't need to continue. You were just happy to ''prove'' your point.

If you stop that, look in the mirror and clear your book marketing assumptions and start fresh, you might make it and do better. You have plenty of decades left to live so no reason to stop.


Some options:

If your writing is bad, then get a coach. Maybe it's a blow to ego but it doesn't have to be the end of the road.

Create a mastermind of 5 writers who work on the craft and critique each others' work once a week. That will improve your writing. And mastermind like this is FREE. You can probably start one here on Kboards and meet on Zoom.

Take a break. It's smart to refresh. Maybe write one book completely for yourself. Or don't write for few months and just do something else pure enjoyment.

You're too negative, maybe that comes from overworking, overthinking or whatever. That attitude will seriously hamper you, there is no benefit in looking at life as if it's out to get you. Criticising the system is easy and common, but system still works for many people who come from getto or third world countries and make it in any industry. But somehow system is keeping you down. That attitude will not lead you to a good place.

And worst-case scenario, if you did suck at fiction, well you could be writing for a living in technical topics and make good income writing great content for other websites. With personality and experience of writing fiction, you'd have advantage over some newbie. It's totally an option.

So, maybe you got a humble pie, but it doesn't need to end your journey.
 

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This place will be a lot duller without you Shane! You may get up a few people's noses, but your posts are always a lot of fun.

Anyway, I hope you keep going. Sooner or later, I feel sure you will manage get all of your ducks in a row (another English expression) if you were to continue. If you do decide to jack it in, then farewell and good luck to you in whatever you decide to do with the eons of time that will be freed up.
 

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Just flounce already.

Seriously, how many writers give up and never post about it anywhere, they just stop and go do something else? Thousands, probably. They'll have various reasons, but they don't have to whine about it.

You know what? I've basically quit. Writing and publishing. I'm no good at marketing, I don't write to market, and I haven't been very prolific. But I have a good reason, as I'm going through the grieving process and my mind isn't focused on writing. First my father, eighteen months ago, and then my brother just over four months ago. I barely got through the worse of it and then I had to start over.

Life's hard. We're not all good at every aspect of this self publishing business. Many of us have had to shoestring our way into it, which is it's own source of pressure. It can be heartbreaking. But don't blame the system. Don't blame people who are basically marketers and ruined self publishing with their ghostwriters and huge ad spends. They've happened to pretty much every self starter business.

Find your groove and keep going. Or quit. Up to you.
 

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Yeah, my books don't really sell, either.

But I don't write to sell books--I write because I'm a writer. I was doing it long before Createspace or KDP, with no expectation that I'd even publish anything, much less get rich from it.  Having access to a free platform to publish where someone *might* read my work and *might* have something complimentary to say about it is just the icing on the cake.
 

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Rhett Gervais said:
Shane...I don't like you very much, your posts get on my nerves, but...stop being a baby! don't quit. Take a minute, regroup. I've read samples of your books (When amamzon chooses to show them) you can write, you just have a crappy point of view on how to market books. If I can give you one piece of advice, go join the 20books to 50k group. Read through all of the free adive they give (It's organized like a course)

It does not take big money to make money. You don't need a $ 2000 cover, but a 100 - 200$ dollar cover will do fine (Goto fiver and get some nice indian chap to do your cover, they work cheap)

Get editor's on the come up, people who are new to the game and willing to work for reasonable amounts 200-400 is what I paid for my first book.

Get organized, exploit the pre-order system so that your books are showing a few months in advance, that way someone who clicks on your book sees that it is part of a series and that more books are coming.

Give away your first book in series (Make it permafree or ,99c) its too hard for someone to get into your books if your first book is 4,99$ most people will take a flyer for ,99c and might actually read it because they paid for it.

In anycase, put on your big boy pants and get back to work...nobody likes a whiner.

Cheers!
I agree. I wouldn't normally take this tone, but I will, because it's what you need to hear:

Stop being so stubborn.

You are right. The market doesn't care what you want. But you wear that like a badge of honor. You are clearly not trying to meet the market or make your books more marketable. You seem to prefer arguing that the market is evil and unfair.

If you really do want to sell, then stop blaming the system, and learn how to work the system.

I used to be the same way. I still am, sometimes. I am stubborn about what should sell. I get upset when readers don't act the way I want them to act. Why are they buying from that author? Why are they buying that book? Why do they say they want X and then buy Y? Screw them! I should quit...

But I can't change the readers. I can only change my strategy. And I'm not going to quit. I'm not qualified to do anything else.

So I change what I do, tweak it to make it more commercial, or move to a different avenue. It sucks that my spin off series, that readers literally beg me for, isn't selling that well to a broader audience... but dwelling on it doesn't help. I look at what is selling now and follow that.

Don't hate the player. Don't hate the game. Figure out the rules of the game and use them to your advantage.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I promised myself I wouldn't reply to this thread but goshdarnmit, it needs to be said. For brevity's sake I'm not going to quote here. You'll just have to figure out who I'm replying to on your own. These will well and truly be my last words on the subject.

Let's cut right to the chase. The market doesn't have a goshdarnn clue what it wants. All it knows is it wants something new that isn't different. I have a subscriber who excoriated me this morning because I spend too much time promoting Bitbook. I considered replying, but he's not going to take what I say at face value, nor is he going to understand what it's like to write a novel with a knife to your throat. I built Bitbook and my own bookstore because my current retailer can flip a switch and erase my career any damn time they like. They don't need a reason. In fact, there's about a 98% chance they won't have a reason. It's all automated.

The market has no idea what it wants. What the market needs is a Jan Stenerud-style kick in the ASS, but it's never going to happen on the smilin' bookstore.

My mailing list was sure engaged last night when I informed them Jacks Full of Aces had flopped. I asked them to unsubscribe if they weren't interested in my writing and oh my lawd how them notifications POURED in. You offer them a free novel and they don't give a damn. You offer them discount after discount and "meh." But they got all the way to the last paragraph in last night's e-mail and got their asses right in gear.

That's how the "market" feels about my books. I got a handful of nice e-mails too. Very gracious. From about the same number of people who bought the book.

I've lived my entire life failing to earn an adequate income. All it's ever taken is one jackass at my employer to get butthurt because of something I said and I'm back out in the street. Story of my life from the moment I was old enough to sign my name. I'll leave out the details about the company that didn't listen to me and ended up enduring a three-year $600 million "wild dogs biting your [Uranus] out" bankruptcy. They asked for a technology expert and then didn't listen to him. But they did listen to the mumu-clad crybaby working the receptionist desk in between stints in the break room working the waffle iron like she was in a slots tournament at the goshdarnn Tropicana. Clearly she must have been the first witness they called to explain why their 20,000-user distributed five-state database application failed. If we had satellites that could detect stupid, this woman's location would blot out San Bernardino County.

When I believe the stories I'm told about "oh, just do X and you'll be sure to get Y dollars" what really happens is I end up where I am now, with a trillion-dollar company pointing a gun at my face and daring me to try something that will get me noticed. Sure, I can have a glittering castle on their land, but instead I built this little grass hut on my OWN LAND. That way I don't have to worry that some random keyword in my blurb is going to earn me a "I'm terribly sorry" e-mail and a free cab ride to the nearest homeless shelter.

I'd rather drop to my knees and scratch a living out of the soil around here with a sharp rock than chain myself to that goshdarnn megalomaniac and his sprawling empire of miserable enslaved "human resources." There. I said it. And don't get your bloomers in a wad either. You've been thinking the same damn thing the whole time we've been side by side pushing boulders up this [expletive]ing Sisyphean hill. That company doesn't give a sweet goshdarnn about electronic books. They don't give half a damn about children or literacy. They don't care about books at all. If they had the chance, they'd dynamite every library in this country and pass legislation to ban unauthorized books in classrooms. People who read books get ideas and don't make good warehouse drones.

Being a Kindle author means you are a paycheck-optional marketing consultant. You are rewarded when you buy big traffic. Sometimes. You don't have a job, but you can still be fired. You are a corporate manager's ultimate "rain falling in slow motion on Phoebe Cates" fantasy.

What the big bookstore cares about is when Bob the bored millionaire springs for a Bookbub and sends them 40000 new customers they can monetize the p*ss out of. Or when Susie the romantic bride (just check out her 9700 perfect wedding pictures on Insta) drops ten large a month on Facebook ads and drives enough traffic in two weeks to fill the [expletive]ing Superdome. One would think on a message board filled with so many smart people someone far brighter than I would have figured this out by now, but it's all understandable in a world where I can send a new novel release announcement to 600 subscribers and it lands with a thud that breaks windows in the next county.

Pay attention here and for once get it through your head: EVERY ONE OF THOSE BOOK PAGES IS THE ENTRANCE TO A SALES FUNNEL FOR EVERYTHING BUT YOUR BOOK - THAT'S WHY YOU HAVE NO CONTROL AT ALL OVER WHAT APPEARS ON IT Understand now?

I built my own bookstore as a survival strategy, like the people who grow their own food in case the grocery store goes away. It may not be listed on the NASDAQ but it belongs to ME and it can't be taken away from me like everything else has. When a man is reduced to his last possession and his last reason for making one more attempt to be something other than a skull under the wheels of a trillion-dollar robot programmed to starve us all to death, he's likely to get a little testy. He's likely to get combative. In fact, he might be expected to raise his voice on occasion. He might even stand between his little grass hut and the soulless pestilence we've all been handcuffed to and say THIS IS MINE and it will NEVER BE YOURS AGAIN.

I was there when other authors were run through with swords for doing nothing other than tending their buy pages. I saw what could happen, and I knew I was next. It might not be today. It might not even be a year from now, but if Lord willing I ever have children I will not look into my son's or daughter's eyes and fill them with the same fear I've been living with my entire life. I will make a living like a grown adult and I will have an income that can't be taken away from me. My children will live in peace. They won't lay awake in the dark listening to their financially-embattled parents scream at each other like I did.

That's why I'm stubborn. That's why I'm quarrelsome and contrarian. Nobody should take my words personally, because they aren't meant that way. I'm not a mean person, and I have no ambition to become one. I speak the truth. I do so as eloquently as I can because it's the only thing I'm good at. The story of my life can be reduced to this: I work tirelessly to build. Others come and destroy, and I am powerless to stop them. Well, not any more. I will gladly trade the smidgen I earn from selling Kindle books for my dignity and liberty.

Charges of bitterness have frequently been raised on this board and directed at me. I am bitter. I freely admit it. I have no family. I have no friends. My technology career was taken away from me in my early 30s and with it my chance to be a husband and father. I lost my family home a few years later, primarily due to the criminal acts of my uncle and grandmother. I haven't lived. I've survived, and that's all I've ever done. The single trail of footsteps marking my journey stretches forever behind me. My writing is my one last hope to be taken seriously. Without it I have nothing. I will have failed as a man and as a human being, and I will be ashamed.

One day, when the final solution comes for the book business (and how those bells toll), you'll remember me. You'll remember I was the one who spoke up for pictures in e-books and stood up for the authors being punished for including them. You'll remember I was the one who spoke up for things like footnotes and indexes. You'll remember I was the one waving e-reader customized comics in the air, and proposing things like choose your own adventure books with hyperlinks, and game books and all kinds of other things that would get my smilin' bookstore presence vaporized in a mushroom cloud that would startle people on Mars. I see the potential in this stagnant, captive, desiccated technology. I want to explore it. I want readers to see what I see. I want to push the electronic publishing business forward. But we all know what happens to the troublemakers in corporate America.

I may never sell another book, but you'll remember me.

I built my own store as a last chance. It may not be much, but it's mine. I will either make it on this little patch of Earth or I will die trying.
 

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But do you have a lack of passion about telling stories? All the other stuff doesn't matter as much as that, when you really get down to it.
 

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I've just ready your last post and even though you say you won't reply I'll bet my last penny you'll read these replies, so I will say this:

I've never ready your sci-fi so have no idea of the quality. But IMO you should write a piece of contemporary fiction in the first person, your own voice. Something about the absurdity of the modern world, with elements of your own life thrown in. I think people would love that and buy that. You could create the modern day equivalent of Holden Caulfield.
 

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EleanorRigby said:
I've just ready your last post and even though you say you won't reply I'll bet my last penny you'll read these replies, so I will say this:

I've never ready your sci-fi so have no idea of the quality. But IMO you should write a piece of contemporary fiction in the first person, your own voice. Something about the absurdity of the modern world, with elements of your own life thrown in. I think people would love that and buy that. You could create the modern day equivalent of Holden Caulfield.
I hope you are still reading the posts

I went over to sample his writing and thought it to a good standard, however, it doesn't have the same voice as his posts, which I find both annoying and endearing in good measure, but what he uses in his posts is a distinct voice which is priceless and the reason I always gravitate to them.

I could see that voice used in threads having a better chance of success as it is distinct in first person and would be well received in hard boiled contemporary crime fiction for an angry / anti establishment style of MC who doesn't suffer fools gladly

I don't sell either, because circumstances mean I can't throw a penny of any kind at a budget, and so I stopped writing for two years to regroup. If you do carry on, forget your current series if you're flogging a dead horse with it. Reduce all your prices to 99c, forget marketing, and walk away from the series and try something new. Use a new pen name if you are to try a new genre.

Maybe try a, series of standalones with the same MC,, so that you're not relying on selling the first book in the series to garner sales.

All I can say is that I stopped writing 2 years ago, but I'm now back in the saddle. So never say never.
 

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EleanorRigby said:
I've just ready your last post and even though you say you won't reply I'll bet my last penny you'll read these replies, so I will say this:

I've never ready your sci-fi so have no idea of the quality. But IMO you should write a piece of contemporary fiction in the first person, your own voice. Something about the absurdity of the modern world, with elements of your own life thrown in. I think people would love that and buy that. You could create the modern day equivalent of Holden Caulfield.
I agree with this.
You have the personality of a razor. Cut something with that razor and use its blood as ink and start writing.
 

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Good luck with whatever you do. You're obviously a very smart and articulate guy who (from the sounds of it) had a rough start and took a few hits along the way. I won't give you advice about writing or publishing or whatever. You've been around. You know the lay of the land and honestly the land isn't for everyone. That doesn't make you less than anyone. It's the fish/bicycle thing. I will say that maybe you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. You fell down. Everybody does. It's nothing to be ashamed of. You're not a failure as a human being. You're tired. At least, you seem tired to me. Take a nap, go out to dinner, go on a date. Don't use horrible words to describe yourself. Your success or lack thereof is not tied to your worth as a human being. Neither is whether or not you can write.

Good luck.
 

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Sam opened a pizza store. He knew the customer didn't know what they wanted so he did it his way. Square box? Nope he went circular. Wings? No sir, he went with fried zuchini strips.

There is a reason why when you order a pizza in Dallas or London it comes in a square box. Or why salads,chips, wings are always offered. ....its because its what people expect.

Your consumer (reader) know what they want and they have been kind enough to let you know in their feedback. They love your writing and world building, but then they get lost in descriptions and character names. If I was to write in your genre,  a lightbulb would go off. Hey these people want x,y, z, this guy is not delivering 100 percent, so an opportunity is here.

Your opportunity that you are ignoring.

They have been telling you what they want. You take it personally rather then delivering. Think about your own interaction with a business. Hey my food is cold. This is the wrong size. -What do you expect from them? To fix it and make it right.

The issues which are holding you back are not drastic. No one is telling you to go to writers camp, sing kumbaya and braid someone else hair. If you want to make a genuine go of it, look at your feedback collectively and then ask, what is the customer telling me?

Its up to you, I have no stake in it but you have a solid house (your backlist)  that has a few broken windows and a missing door. A bit of work and its going to be something really good.  Or you can walk away and let a squatter take over.



 
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