Woe to they who think the path to riches lies in self-publishing. Let’s just start with that.

I blog a lot about writing here. In fact, it’s probably the one thing I talk about the most. Part of that is for accountability – not to you, but to me. Blogging about writing gives me a place to talk about something that isn’t work related, a place to remind myself why I work so hard for my free time. I talk about the stories in progress, or more recently, my attempts at publishing and getting attention for those books, but these early days there is actually a lot of floundering going on.

Some of it is all me. I’m new at this, and while I think I’m personable, I lack that personality trait that let’s me just go out there and mingle randomly. That lowers my visibility, which in turn affects sales. The big problem I’ve faced, though, is figuring out how to encourage reviews. Reviews really are the force of the lifeblood of self publishing. The more you have, positive or negative, the more likely you are to have successful sales. I encourage folks to leave reviews in whichever venue they prefer, but when it comes to sales, the Amazon review is probably the most influential for me. Oddly enough, a handful of great reviews is worse for a book than a hundred mediocre reviews.

What?

Sadly, it’s true. Amazon ranking is based in part on how well reviewed your book is. And of course like the cart and the horse, the more reviews you have, the more visibility you get, the more sales you garner, and the more reviews you get. It’s a closed loop system that I’m trying to figure out how to breach. I know it can be done, and I know a few people recently that have done it with great success.

I just haven’t figured out how I can do it.

So what’s a writer to do? Because if you haven’t figured it out yet, there are no riches on this end of the rainbow. The answer for me is pretty simple: continue to write. While I enjoy the project I’m working on, at least so far book one hasn’t really snagged the interest I’d hoped for. That’s OK. I want to finish writing this series, or at least the first trilogy of it. If sales don’t pick up for the Niki books, I’ll move on to a different series. I have plenty of them bouncing around in my head, waiting to get out.

And that’s the other lesson I have in self publishing. If the first lesson was don’t expect sales to be great early on, the second is to keep writing even if you don’t think anyone is reading you. There are plenty of reasons we write, but the chief one should be to tell a story. If that means that for now only a handful of people are going to get that story, that’s fine. Isn’t it better to have a back catalog of works to share with new readers when something does hit a nerve in the future? How many times have you read a great book and wished the author had written more that you could binge on?

And to answer the question in the title – not rich at all. I’m barely breaking even so far on my writing when you include things like ads. My goal is to break even. Of course, like anyone, my day dream is to make enough to take my spouse out to dinner every now and then, but I don’t want to be greedy.

This week I’ve been closing with a reminder that Chrysalis is currently on sale for 99 cents, and this post is no different. But to add to that, if you’re a writer that stumbled on this post, ping me on twitter (@kodermike) – kindred souls deserve company.