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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wrote this for my blog today, but I would l like to ask you guys the same question:

What Do You Want?

Trying to get writers to agree on something is like herding cats. We are all passionate people. We have a tendency to flare up over minor disputes (especially online). And we can usually pen a tight argument for pretty much any position.

But I also think a lot of disagreements spring from the fact that we are all very different people, with different dreams, goals, and ambitions.

As such, what might be good advice for one writer could be bad advice for another. Especially if you are aiming for different targets.

So, what do you want?

It would be nice to sell a million books. It would be flattering to have every agent and publisher in New York clamoring for your signature. But it would also be nice to win the lottery.

Let's talk about realistic goals.

I'm going to earn enough this month - my third month self-publishing - to cover most of my rent. Next month, or the month after, I might be able to cover the whole thing. That's a realistic goal.

Before anyone gets too excited, my rent is quite low. However, that's one less bill for me to pay. And the thought of book royalties covering it is immensely satisfying.

Maybe I'll be earning enough in a couple of years to live off. Maybe not. But I think that's something I can aim for. I don't think it's unobtainable. Not if I can keep publishing stuff that people seem to enjoy.

When I was younger, seeing my book in a bookstore would have been my #1 goal. While I would still get a kick out of it today, it has been supplanted by the dream of making a living from writing. In fact, it's quite far down the pecking order of things I would like to happen.

More recently, getting a publishing deal - any deal - was all I was interested in. That's no longer important to me either. I'm very happy working on my own. I wouldn't be foolish enough to turn down a check with lots of zeroes, but it's not something I'm actively working towards.

Because seeing my work in bookstores and getting a publishing deal are not important to me, self-publishing makes perfect sense. My primary career goals at this moment are financial, and I believe that self-publishing affords me the best opportunity to make a living from writing. There's no question in my mind about that.

You may well be different. You may dream of being taken on by a super-agent, of hobnobbing with editors, of author signings, of being on a publisher's table at a conference, of getting a review in Kirkus. I don't. Those things aren't important to me. Some of them might be nice, but I'm not working towards them.

Decide what your dreams are. Decide what's important to you. Then set a series of obtainable goals - that you can work towards - that will bring you closer to your dream.

I would like to earn enough from writing so that I don't have to worry about money. That really wouldn't take much. I'm pretty low maintenance. I would like to travel quite a bit - that's pretty much the only thing I do spend money on, outside of seedy bars - but aside from that, my overheads are pretty low.

But money is only one aspect of what I want to achieve. I also want to write lots and lots of books. There are so many stories I want to tell. I'm sure you know the feeling.

My problem is never finding ideas; it's finding the time, the discipline, and the right words to execute them well. And there are some ideas that I'm not ready for yet, and they are waiting in my little notebook for me to improve.

I'm under no illusions. I think I can write a good story. But I also think I have a lot to learn about the craft. I can see areas where I can improve. Lots of them.

I would also like to expand the scope of what I write. I want to learn more. I want to grow as a writer. I want to improve with every title I publish. I want to push myself.

I also want every title I publish to be a quality title. I'm not just talking about the writing here. I want good covers, good editing, good formatting - I want to be proud of the work I put my name on. I want the story to be satisfying to readers. I want readers to really want to read more of my stuff after they finish one of my books.

I don't just want to take their money and run. I would much rather sell 5,000 copies each of 20 books than sell 100,000 copies of one book and a handful of the rest. I'd like to know that I found my audience and kept them.

My goal is to publish lots of different stories and lots of different novels in quite a few different genres. I think that's achievable. And if I work really hard, maybe some of them could be great. Time will tell.

There is a happy symbiosis here. If I work hard at the craft, if I only publish my best work, if I present it all professionally, and I publish lots of stories and novels, then that gives me the best possible chance of making a living from it.

Right now - for me - self-publishing is the only viable path I can see to achieve those goals. That may not always be the case. This business is changing so rapidly that no-one can say with any confidence what it's going to be like in five years.

There will be more people reading e-books. Some publishers will probably go out of business. But, there are so many variables that we can't say for sure if the business conditions for self-publishers will be more or less favorable in the future. My gut says that they will be more favorable, but nobody can be certain.

And maybe my goals will change. But for now, I'm very happy with the path I have chosen, and the opportunities it give me.

In a couple of months, I will release my first full-length work of fiction. It will also be the first time I attempt a higher price point - $4.99.

I think I can justify it. It's an epic historical, it took a very, very long time to write (in particular, to research), it's long (around 120k), and I think the genre can handle higher price points.

On top of that, I will have a few other titles at lower price points, so that readers have a cheap "in" to my work. If they like the way I write and the stories I tell, I don't think they will balk at paying under five bucks for a meaty novel.

If it sells well (at $3.49 royalties per copy), I will move a little closer to the dream of supporting myself.

Now, it may not. It may be priced too high. And there is some evidence to suggest that historical fiction readers haven't started making the switch to e-books yet. But I won't know unless I try. And I can always drop the price, because I am in complete control.

It will also be the first book that I do a print version for, which is very exciting (and maybe I'll try and get it into one bookstore in Dublin, just for kicks).

I know what I want: to earn enough so that I never have to worry about money. Maybe that's pie-in-the-sky. But I also know what I would be very, very happy with: supporting myself from writing.

Maybe that's a little more achievable. It may seem far away right now, but I just have to break it down to tangible steps. Like paying the rent by October. Releasing my historical novel before then would help.

It's written, but it needs work in places (a lot in some). But I think I can get that done in two months. I have a realistic, achievable goal with a clear plan of action. I may succeed, I may not, but it's in my hands.

What do you want? How are you going to get it?

http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/what-do-you-want/
 

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Thank you, that was thought-provoking.

I want to tell stories, have readers for my stories, and to earn a living from telling stories. I'm fortunate to be working in a time and place where there are many different ways to accomplish these goals.
 

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That's such a great question to ask yourself... it's very easy to get lost in the woods of the business... writing, editing, pricing, marketing, networking, etc etc etc etc etc... and sometimes you need to stop ask yourself that question... WHAT DO YOU WANT?

And when you answer yourself, then get out there and get it.

As always David, great post.

-jb 8)
 

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What do I want? I just want readers to read my book. What do publishers want? They want to make money, often at the expense of the writer. I've had a publishing deal and it's not all it's cracked up to be. I don't really write for the money, although it's quite nice to get some, but I can't help comparing the 8% royalties I get from my paperback, to the 70% I get for my e-books. Don't think I could pay much of the rent with paperback royalties, but the ebooks certainly cover it.
Chris L.  ;)
 

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My goals have changed as I have tried to build a writing career (As in earning a living from it.) And from the usual trying to find a publisher through to self publishing.

I no longer look for a publisher, but if ones comes along, then great (maybe)

My goal now is not to earn a living, but to invest my royalties in having my stories translated (Two in German completed and halfway through a B/Portuguese translation) and to continue to add to my catalogue with new work. I hope one day to have all, or most of my work translated to the top five languages. Hopefully when I have achieved my goal I will be earning a living in time for my retirement.

I don't know why, (because I can't stand the guy) but David Hasslehoff (ex baywatch) is my inspiration (and other examples like him) in that he has a career as a singing star in Germany, but is unknown for this in his own country.

As for the price point of your new release, David. I wish you luck and I think you are doing the right thing. I have a conviction that my short stories are as good a quality as any on the market. I have Priced my compilation at $4.99 and it is currently 40,000 in the charts. Like you I have plenty of single shorts that readers can cut their teeth on at 99c to see if they like my work before buying the higher priced book. I know my follow up book to Survival Instinct is going to be similarly priced. Editing and proof reading doesn't come cheap and if you are putting out a quality product, the price should reflect this. Just what the readers will think is another matter.
 

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Great question.  As you say, often the arguments here (and elsewhere) go bad because people make assumptions that everyone shares their goals. 

At the moment, I want to have the chance to discover myself as a writer, to develop my ability to write.  Everything from knowing how to create characters and put together a gripping plot, to how to make my writing available so others can read it.  I started late as a writer.  I used to write when I was a child and young teenager, but stopped for some reason.  Now I'm 39 years old and finding that I have this new world to discover.  I fear is that I will fizzle out as a writer through lack of discipline, or through the lack of time because I have to work to pay the rent.

Although I need to make money (dont we all?) I know it is extremely unlikely that writing will do that for me. 
 

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What is the Chinese curse?  "May you get what you wish for."

Like you, David, the goal posts have shifted for me.

My husband is an IT guy and he talks about people who come to him, telling him what they want, but what they tell him isn't what they really want but what they think they want him to do.  I feel the same way about my writing.

I started out wanting to get my books published (traditionally, of course).  But what I really wanted was other people to read my books and like them.  Friends and family are great, but . . .

So, although my 'goal' was a traditional publishing contract, I have actually achieved what I initially wanted without one.  And I am SO glad I never succeeded that way.  I wasn't ready and the industry blew up just when I would have been signing one.  If I got one now, it would be different for me, but it isn't a goal.

"I want to tell stories, have readers for my stories, and to earn a living from telling stories. I'm fortunate to be working in a time and place where there are many different ways to accomplish these goals."

That's what I want.

My more recent goals are to expand my audience and to triple my book sales by next year.  I have two books in the finishing stages that I want to put up this fall, and a WIP I want to finish and put up before Christmas.

Plus do NaNoWriMo for the fourth year.
 

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I've thought about this a lot. It always comes down to different levels of goals.

On a personal/spiritual level, I want to tell the best stories I can and make a significant, positive impact on someone's life.

On a potentially realistic material level, I want to be able to write full time with a comfortable income and a balanced work schedule while inspiring my readers and following my own passion.

On a shoot-for-the-stars level, I want my books made into an HBO series. I'd settle for Hollywood if they'd do a good job with the story. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I started thinking about my goals last night. And I was surprised to see that I had already hit some of the big ones: get published, sell books to strangers, have them enjoy it and ask for more, make a little money.

Now, the emphasis is definitely on the "little" there, so far at least. But I think I sometimes forget, with the breakneck pace that the self-publishing world seems to move at, that I have achieved what were major life goals for me for a very long time. And I probably didn't celebrate them properly either.

I guess I'm a restless type, and always looking at the next target. It's funny actually, when I finish I book I go into a deep funk for a day or two. I never really know why, and then I snap out of it and congratulate myself.

I think I'm not very good at focusing on what I have achieved, and am always pushing myself on to the next thing. But that's not so bad either.

Great answers from everyone.

Dave

P.S. Double points for the Freddy Mercury vid.
 

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I'll be honest, at this point I desperately, desperately, desperately want to be able to make a living and support my family off my writing so I can get us out of our current situation.

Long term, I want to be a mildly popular writer who can make a living off it.  I love writing more than anything except my family and would smile like a fool if I could get up every morning to do it. :)
 

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kookoo88 said:
I'll be honest, at this point I desperately, desperately, desperately want to be able to make a living and support my family off my writing so I can get us out of our current situation.

Long term, I want to be a mildly popular writer who can make a living off it. I love writing more than anything except my family and would smile like a fool if I could get up every morning to do it. :)
I'm in the same boat, without needing to support a family. I'm working on paring down my expenses to make that easier to achieve, but it's a long, long way away yet.

I want people to pay me to daydream up stories about wizards and blimps.
 

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I'd ultimately like to reach a point where I can make a comfortable living from writing.  By comfortable I mean not having to work a day job.  That's the dream.  That's what I'm aiming for.  If it goes further than that, great.  If not, modest success is enough for me.
 
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Chris L said:
What do I want? I just want readers to read my book. What do publishers want? They want to make money, often at the expense of the writer.
Fine, then why are you not just posting your stories for free? You don't want to make money, right? Who would want to do that? Post your stories for free and have all the readers your little heart desires. :eek:

I really hate this sort of blanket comment. Anyone who sells a product, whether it is an indie or a corporation, wants to turn a profit. How we define that profit may vary, but people sell things to make money. If you aren't interested in making money, give your stuff away for free. But let's not play the "starving artist oppressed by the evil publishing overlords" card.

Trust me. There are more profitable industries than publishing. Any evil overlord only interested in money would be working for the oil companies or the banking industry. ;D
 

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Thinking big - I want to write books that will still be popular in 200 years! :p

On a more realistic level - I would like to make a living from my writing. As I'm the (currently potential) second income that's an achievable goal. I'd also like to be earning enough by the time I retire to provide me with a 'pension'.

Why try and do it through writing? Because I've always wanted to write. I've written since I knew how to write (apart from a dozen or so years of writer's block post uni). I want to produce books and maybe films and plays that people enjoy and that leave them feeling good. I've had so much joy from reading over the years and I'd love to think that something I produced was making other people feel that way. If I can do what I want to do for a living and make a living from it then that will be wonderful!
 

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I want to pay off the mortgage by writing books that I want to read and provide some info-tainment along the way.

I already know how to herd cats.  ::)
 

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I want electronic monies wired to my account monthly. Difficult to do without a product to sell. That must be the disconnect.
 

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I want to keep what I have - I published one book in February 2010, a second in April, and a third in November. Since June 2010, the books have made me enough supplemental income to change life from tight and worrisome to comfortable. I also have enough readers who write me and are enthusiastic about my books to make me feel the whole thing is worthwhile. I wouldn't mind more income - making as much as I did this past January would be more than I ever made at a full time job, but I don't want to get to the range where I feel compelled to deal with agents and accountants. I don't want to deal with a traditional publisher.

My sincere hope is I can keep what I have if I put out at least two more books each year. In aid of that, I'm trying the "write at least 1,000 new words a day come hell or high water" thing, which I've never done before. So far that's resulted in greater output, but I since I made that vow, I've only succeeded maybe 80% of the time. Time will tell.
 

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I would like to sell enough books and make enough money from the articles I write that I could do that full time.  I really am about at my wits end working for the PR firm I work for to pay the bills.  My boss is beyond demanding.  Recently she told me that a 90% success rate on a project was not good enough.  I had a near nervous breakdown just yesterday because of her.  Anyway, I want to work for myself, writing and promoting my novels and writing my articles and not have to go into the office every day.

At the same time, I want to make enough money that I can give most of it away and still live.  Support my parents...make sure my niece and nephew are taken care of...be able to donate to charities that mean something to me...
 

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I want my pleasure center stimulated like the rat who learns that pressing a little lever rewards her with a treat so she keeps pressing it incessantly.

I just want to click on the report links on Amazon, BN and SW and see a gratifying change each time I click. And I want it to happen without my having to do tons of promotion or leaving the house.

I feel like I'm supposed to be making money, so maybe I should ride out the $2.99 price and see if my low but steady sales pick up. But seeing so little fluctuation in the reports when I click isn't very gratifying, even if my 53 sales this month have made me more than the 184 I made last month at 99c. I was 3 times more gratified in June even if I was left almost half as poor. Who knew making more money would be so hard on the pleasure center!
 
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