Navigating your route to success

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Oh joy, what great news: most writers only earn about $1,000 per year. But we knew that — and the Guardian article offers hope too, saying that most of us have motives other than financial gain. Better yet, indie- and self-publishing is expected to continue growing, becoming more mainstream each year. In fact, a quarter of US Kindle ebook sales in 2012 were primarily self-published works.

“Fortunately only a minority of respondents listed making money as “extremely important” – around 20% of self-published writers, and about a quarter of traditionally-published authors.” (Guardian)

Few people support themselves by writing and publishing books. But there are ways to maximize your profitability.

librarian keep churning out those titles!

One way is to study what has worked for others. Take a tip or two from this list of successful self-published authors. Most found creative ways to increase their audiences, from giving away ebooks to approaching niche reviewers.

Perhaps you’ll delve into a new initiative this year, like the WEBook program described here. The process sounds intricate, but it could lead to bigger things, particularly while it’s a novelty (everything online seems to get its 15 minutes of overexposure).

My primary publicity client is a midlist author with more than 20 books under his belt, the last several with major publishing houses (which do less publicity than you’d imagine). Generally, once one of his books has been available for a couple years, sales slow to a trickle. But this fall, a 3-year-old title was offered at a discount as an ebook and suddenly sales of that title rebounded, dozens of new reviews were posted to Amazon and many readers took interest in his other books of the same genre. (At the same time, he hasn’t been waiting for lightning to strike, as he’s built a strong platform of speaking engagements, continuing to sell copies of his books himself.)

Few of us will be the next Amanda Hocking, whose book sales went wild after she self-published them as e-books.

Hocking had a backlog of unpublished books when she finally self published. Readers who discovered her were then interested in finding more that she’d written, creating a fan base that boosted sales of everything she published online thereafter. Just as the writers interviewed in this Writer’s Digest article say, continue to focus on your writing even as you’re publishing and marketing your work.

The moral of her story is that she loved writing, honed her craft, kept writing and got creative with the resources that were available when she was repeatedly rejected. Who knew vampire stories set in Minnesota would be so popular?

The Wall Street Journal just published a story about a guy who writes under the name Russell Blake and churns out a book a month. That’s impressive in itself BUT there’s more — he gave away his first ebook to seed interest. His ebook sales are skyrocketing because he stays on Amazon’s list of “recently published” books, month after month. We salute his productivity (and thank him for this insight into sales!).

The takeaway: keep writing, even if it’s not selling now.

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