So you can read my books

Friday, March 22, 2013


You've heard it said ... I've said it myself ...

Success with eBooks?  Lightning strikes where it will. 

Meteorologists will tell you that lightning bolts strike for a reason.  Let me pull back the curtain of misinformation and tell you about some of those reasons.

John Locke -

     Every struggling eWriter would like his success.  He wrote a book on how to copy his plan for success.  It cost $5 for an ebook and $10 for print -- it was 170 pages.

     After the scandal, he now sells the ebook version for $3.  What scandal?

     He bought 300 reviews for $6000 from Todd Rutherford's now defunct review mill.  Can you imagine the impact on YOUR book if within days 300 copies sold, each receiving a glowing review?

E.L. James -

     Fifty Shades of Grey, which began as self-published Twilight fan fiction but wound up making 2012 so bountiful for Random House that it gave a $5,000 bonus to each employee.

     She rode the coat-tails of TWILIGHT buzz with kinky sex scenes.

     Fifty Shades, which some have taken to be the definitive evidence in favor of self-publishing, is more accurately a demonstration of the opposite:

     The book became a massive commercial success only after Random House got involved, placing giant stacks of paperbacks in bookstores everywhere and buying huge ads in the London Underground.

Amanda Hocking -

     The 26-year-old Minnesotan who worked days at an assisted-living facility, grossed about $2 million on ebooks in a little over a year with her paranormal romances and zombie novels for young adults.

     She was one of the first to capitalize on twitter connections but now Twitter is a hailstorm of sad pleas for you to buy their books.

Hugh Howey -

     The 36 year old college drop-out, while working at a bookstore in Boone, North Carolina,  started writing a series of sci-fi novellas called Wool.

     His stories were set in a postapocalyptic world where all human survivors live in an underground silo, a microsociety where resources are so scarce that one person has to die before another can be born.

     He decided to put out the new books himself, selling digital downloads and print editions through Amazon. In the first six months he sold 14,000 copies. Each new installment met with immediate enthusiasm. Within hours he’d receive emails from readers hungry for more.

     By January of last year, agents were calling Howey, looking to publish the books through more established channels, but he was reluctant. At that point, the Wool series was already making him close to $12,000 a month.

     Nelson Literary Agency founder Kristin Nelson won Howey over when she admitted that she wasn’t sure traditional publishing could offer him anything better than what he was doing on his own.

      By May, Wool was bringing in $130,000 a month, and Howey and Nelson had sold the film option to 20th Century Fox and Ridley Scott. A couple of publishers made seven-figure offers for the rights to sell the book in hardcover, paperback, and ebook, but Howey and Nelson turned them down. He’d make that much in a year of digital sales alone.

     Howey had discovered the NEXT BIG THING: serials.

     Amazon smelling profits began their own serial program.  But now the Gatekeepers are back.  Like Samuel Goldwyn, they want "the same thing -- only different."  They will accept Romancerotica and Same Old Thrillers but little else.


1) You position yourself for success --

     You do Yeoman Work, pun intended of course.  :-)

     Yeoman refers chiefly to a free man owning his own farm, especially from the Elizabethan era to the 17th century.

     Work requiring a great deal of effort or labour, such as would be done by a yeoman farmer, came to be described as yeoman's work. Thus yeoman work became associated with hard, dedicated toil.

     Day, week, month, year out you write ... as best as you can, editing your work as best you can.

2) You submit your work
      to magazines, anthologies, getting your work and name out there like Milo James Fowler.

3) You ePublish the best product you can, as many titles as you can.

     The worst nightmare of a salesman is having a hot brand and no product to sell.  If a reader is wowed by you -- you want him to be able to go and buy more titles of yours. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY had three titles from which to reap the profits.

4) You throw out the most alluring hook you can --

     Make your title teasing.  Make your cover gorgeous (both in thumbnail and full).  The title and cover are what will make the eReader pause and consider your book.

5) Bring as many fellow authors with you as you can.

     Alex Cavanaugh excels at this.  Is there a profit in this for you?  Life is not all about profit.  Sometimes it's just about enjoying the journey.  And good friends make for a better ride, right?

6) You look for that new way to get your eBook out there.

     If a new twist to publishing your book occurs to you, try it.  If it fails, then you've learned a method that doesn't work.

     Keep thinking of what would startle you into buying a stranger's book.  One day, you or I will come up with that magic way.  Bet on it. 


  1. You bet friends make the journey more fun!
    Howey was smart to keep his rights and not sell out. If he's smart, he'll never have to work again.
    I wish I could produce faster. I just don't write that fast.

  2. Very interesting commentary of various examples of how things have worked for Indies that have been at this a little longer than I have.

    But the end result comes back to the Yeoman work...putting in the work, the writing and producing products for readers to love and spread the word about.

  3. Yep, have to keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities.

  4. You hit the nail on the head: if you've got nothing to sell, it doesn't matter what works. You certainly have quite a few books written. Perhaps it's just a matter of timing and luck for you, now.

  5. Roland:

    You have a uniqueness about you. Your writing voice is wonderful. I've got 10 % more to read.

    Everything takes time. That's what I keep telling myself. In the meantime, I'm working on two more books and have three short stories to go.

    Wished I wrote and read faster, but I just don't.

    Hugs and chocolate,

    Everything comes full circle. It just has to.

  6. Alex:
    It's the company you have with you that makes the journey fun -- think THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN! :-)

    I am happy for Howey. Wouldn't it be nice to have enough money to write or to sing your songs?

    At least I have the last name for Yeoman work! Now, to do work to earn that name, right? Those Indie success stories give us hope though!

    I try to keep my thinking cap on to come up with unique angles to breathe new life into my novels! I'm sure you do, too!!

    I've worked hard to position myself to have the backlist to take advantage of whatever lightning comes my way. Timing and luck. A hard duo to come by these days! :-)

    Thank you so much for those kind words about my writing -- what with the uneasy, unstable environment at work, those words did help.

    I hope you are enjoying the last 10% of THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT. The struggle to defeat SHE WHO BREEDS is at fever-pitch as I recall the ending. I liked writing the character of Coyote. How do you like my interpretation of him?

    And it tickled me to have Victor becoming both the Champion of the Goddess Mercy and the living Embodiment of Sarcasm. What a pairing, right? :-)

  7. I just hope the fact that I'm buying inde-published books is helping authors, even when I don't have the time to read the dozens of books published a month.

    This is an encouraging post for those looking to self publish. So many opportunities for those like you with the dedication and ability to consistently produce. I struggle to write one short story a year, let alone get it submitted to an anthology.


  8. Donna:
    I thought you wrote at least two short stories last year and aren't you going to be published in two anthologies this year?

    And I know I appreciate my books being bought. I am sure our fellow strugglers are encouraged by you buying their books!

    I pray that somewhere in the near future our writing dreams perk up for you, me, and the rest of our cyber friends, Roland

  9. What a great overview of "indie" ebook history! Your advice is spot on. Keep on producing the very best product you can produce, build inventory and hope for that lightning strike!

  10. loved your article! for the last two years I've kept an eye on the publishing industry. you summarized it so well!

  11. Anne:
    Sometimes we buy the word on the street when there is more going on than meets the eye: John Locke's supposed innocent success

    I wish you, me, and our other friends that lucky lightning strike!

    I'm so happy you liked my article. I wanted to give the late arrivals to our party a little perspective! :-)