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Forget the writing – how rich are you now?

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.

The Mermaid’s Tears – working back cover

A little summer treat. This isn’t the final draft – I’m not even done writing the book, to be honest – but this is the back cover blurb I’m working with as motivation for The Mermaid’s Tears. Enjoy! Continue reading

The Data Isn’t There

This summer, as you all have no doubt noted, I’ve had some real trouble with writing. My recollection, anecdotally, is that summer’s tend to be the doldrums of my writing year. I know that in Fall and Winter, especially when I lived somewhere those seasons were expressed with cold temperatures and turning leaves, my writing time and pace increases. This current lack of productivity, I’ve been telling myself, is just my natural writing rhythm during the summer.

Only, the data doesn’t quiet support that.

I should start by saying my data isn’t perfect. Over the course of a year, I’ll change up my writing tools more than once. My word tracking system is less than agile when it comes to adapting to new data sources, especially since that usually requires me to do some fiddling to make it work. Right now, for instance, I’m using a bastardization of Jamie Rubin’s scripts, with markdown as my format. Friends who have heard me praise, then moan, then praise again the virtues of Scrivener will now doubt roll their eyes at that. That does mean, though, some of my productivity isn’t always captured perfectly by the scripts I’m using.

That said, the data of my writing trends since July of 2014 (when I first started formally recording them) tells an interesting story. The biggest revelation to me, insomuch as the data is trustworthy, is the volume of writing being accomplished. Yes, quality is more important than quantity, I agree, but there’s definitely been a shift in the last three years. I went from at best a few hundred words per session, to at my peak last year writing thousands of words a day. It’s a peak I haven’t had since, but more on that later. The data also shows a clear trend of increased writing, followed by month long gaps. At least in that I’m not atypical this summer. But my recollection that I’m like this every summer? The 2016 data refutes that completely. In fact, the 2016 July data suggests I was really active last summer.

So, that peak in the data. I racked my head on why and how that was, but it was my lovely wife who pointed out that obvious. While I may have sat on it for a long, long time, it was last summer that I was both finishing the first draft of Chrysalis, getting it copy edited. It was also when I decided to take my first foray into self publishing with A Scent of Roses.

Sadly, none of that helps me this week. I’ve let myself slide too much lately, filling writing time with other things, chiefly The Last Guardian and then Mass Effect 3 (which I picked up for a song through a Father’s Day sale on the Playstation Network). The time for writing again is upon me. Tomorrow, I’ll post the excerpt I’ve been working from for The Mermaid’s Tears. The book is (believe it or not) far enough along that I don’t think it will diverge too much from this blurb. Let me know what you think!

Also, on sale this week for just 99 cents, you can get Chrysalis for your Kindle! Member of Kindle Unlimited? Then you can read it for free every day!

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