A hugely successful indie author, Russell Blake, summarizes the ways it just ain’t easy here:
I especially appreciated this:
That’s different than I thought when I started out. I kind of hoped that the old canard that you wrote a great novel, sold it to NY, and then sat back and got rich, was true. That you only needed to produce a little work over the years, and could devote lots of time to thinking great thoughts, traveling the world, observing, etc.
Maybe for a few of the very top earners who’ve been doing this for decades and can command seven and eight figure advances. Of which there are fewer than 100, by my estimation. But for the rest, and certainly for the self-published, it’s a job, just like showing up to work at Pixar or Disney and creating content is a job. If you don’t put in the time, your slot goes to someone else, and the world keeps turning, only without you getting paid as a writer.
Even for those who are already successful, being an indie writer is not a ticket to success. But it is a ticket to a job that can be successful if you keep putting in the work.
Luck and success to all!
Great post the other day by indie thriller writer Russell Blake, who manages to earn six figures a year with his self-published books. This is how he distills the habits of a successful indie author:
What do all of these authors have in common, though? All these indies who are making serious, and in some cases, insane, bank? First, they publish regularly. As in once every few months, and in some cases, once every month. Second, they work in genres that will support them. While most of the top earners are in romance or one of its offshoots, others are in science fiction, which voraciously consumes indie work; some are in my genre (action thrillers), some in mystery, some in fantasy. Third, they all work long hours and take this extremely seriously. Fourth, they operate their publishing businesses like businesses, not like hobbies. They have production schedules they stick to. They market and promote. They invest in professional help when necessary and grasp that you have to spend money to make it. Fifth, they write books readers enjoy reading, as opposed to books their muse dictates they write. That’s an important distinction, because what we as authors often want to write might not be all that marketable. So we compromise based on our understanding of the market. And sixth, they’re constantly adjusting their sails to best negotiate treacherous water and ever-shifting winds. They’re pragmatic. And most have great senses of humor, as well as a keen appreciation of irony. That goes with the gig, I suppose. As does pragmatism.
Of course, your mileage varies. It all comes down to how much you want to
1) devote to writing, and
2) devote to the market (which might involve giving up on that beloved project involving atheists colonizing a planet in space to flee fundamentalists …)
I’m not condoning all of Russell’s opinions in this post. I’m just offering it up as food for thought.
You can read the entire post here.