Just three days ago, for not the first or even second time in recent weeks, I was asked about giving someone some tips on publishing, in this case a friend’s daughter. They live in another state, so I’ve not really met her; I’ve only met the parents at some live events about three times (and swapped texts on multiple occasions.) And the point there is that I have no knowledge of her chosen genre, the length of what she’s written, her desires in publishing, etc. If you missed the Part 1 to this series a few weeks back, I covered quite a bit about the mindset and motive questions one should answer (first) if they’ve just written a book. Please go check that out, as the rest of the series is written on a few assumptions: You want to self-publish; you want to grow a brand and make a profit; you want to write serialized fiction; and the biggest one—you acknowledge some form of understanding that the publishing venture you’ve yet to undertake will be the much tougher half of the equation. Anyone can write a book (though most don’t, they could); but not just anyone has the stones to sell books in this business.
Let me be clear—six novels published, two novellas (one of which was in a multi-author anthology), and five years in this game… and I’m just now starting to see a path to profitability next year. I’m still a year away from paying myself, and two away from doing so at what I’d call a comfortable middle-class income. And in those coming two years, I’ll have published between eight and ten more novels as part of that plan. This game aint for the faint of heart.
Now, I have been my own worst distraction a lot of the time. A YouTube channel come and gone. A podcast barely come and very quickly gone. TV shows binge watched. Gardens, fences, and chicken coops built. So with egg [fresh as they may be] on my face, I’ll acknowledge that as part of my own journey, my learning was just as much about myself as it was the indie-author/video/podcast industries. But the lesson may well be relevant to you: are you the type to get stuck in “learning and planning” phase? Lots of us are. (Hint: that is a fear-based stall tactic. 99% of the time, whatever new venture you’re starting, there is a point early on where you’ve learned enough and just need to pull the trigger and get moving.)
But I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and if you’re reading this because you think you might actually want to try earning a good living from writing fiction, then stick around—this series will be a big one, probably taking up better than 70% of my articles for months to come. Call this self serving: every time I have to send an email or lengthy Messenger reply on this topic, I lose an hour or three I can’t get back. In the future, I’ll simply start sending blog links.
Before I forget… I’ve made a huge amount of mistakes. I’ve paid for life access to apps I don’t use. I’ve spent years learning to use Wordpress only to switch to a Shopify store. I’ve had to move to a better newsletter service after “choosing the wrong one.” I think you get it. The point is this—by highlighting my experiences instead of trying to sell you a course or fill these posts with affiliate links to apps and service providers, you’ll be able to take some faith that the things I say truly will save you time and money.
So what are just some of the things I’ll deep dive in the future?
- Writing and craft:
- Minimum Viable Product
- Write to market
- Tropes vs Plot Beats
- Editing, Beta Readers, and Proofers (Plus similar apps)
- The other things in your book (front and back matter)
- Amazon publishing
- Kindle Direct Publishing
- Kindle Select (Kindle Unlimited)
- Author Central
- The importance of writing series
- Selling Ebooks on other retailers
- Getting into physical stores, libraries, etc.
- Newsletters and (Gasp!) giving away books for free
- Promotion services
- "Must" use apps or service providers
- "Should" purchase courses
- Social media (Lots of authors are now finding success with Tik Tok; I will NEVER be one of them)
- Live events (I’ve been criticized by old friends and new about my lack of selling skills at these; they were all 1000% wrong. You’re not selling books: you’re selling yourself. It is much better to drive them to Amazon or your website with a QR code post-card than to be a pushy salesman.)
- And a lot more
I also plan on grabbing a few of my fellow authors—the "Millie Coppers and DJ Coopers" of this world who I look up to and try to learn from—and twisting their arms to help write some of these. I know that these articles may not appeal to all of you, but I hope you’ll check them out for another reason: it isn’t always about trying to earn six figures. Perhaps you have a job you enjoy and you just want to test the waters with a nice little “chunk of change” side gig. There is a path here for that. Maybe you don’t write. But do you use Adobe? Can you make graphics? Are you experienced with using AI prompts to make ad copy? Do you proof read things at your job? Get it?
Thanks for checking it out. Now, one thing we all learn when we start is that our first draft of our first book sucked. (“Not mine, man! Mine turned out awesome!”) Yeah, probie, we all said that. But it needs help—I’ll bet on it. Not even your oyster had a perfect pearl on the first go. So we’ll continue this series there: What it means to write to market with a minimum viable product
Til then, Peace.