Friday, August 3, 2012

What Makes an Indie Book Take Off?

I've been getting that question from other writers a LOT lately. I've found my best answer is to turn the question around.

What make a traditionally published book take off?

No one knows. It's been the age-old question since the first caveman painted on the walls. How do I get people to look at my work when they're starving and freezing and sabertooth tigers want to eat them?

The folks in New York don't know. Every single book coming from the major houses would be best sellers if they knew.

The indie folks can tell you what worked for them. But the gimmicks that they used two years ago don't affect the buying public like they used to.

And frankly, anyone who tells you they know for sure how to make your book a best seller is probably lying. Especially if they want you to pay them $499.99 before they will tell you.

The reading entertainment field has truly become level.

What can I tell you?

Write the type of books you would want to buy and read. Write a lot of them. Put them up for sale. Write some more. Don't nag people about buying your books. Make an announcement that the new book is available and start writing the next one. Say 'thank you' to the readers who give you compliments. Ignore the trolls. Write some more.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Get the picture?

What I can tell you is that your first book out of the gate will most likely NOT be a major seller. If it is, more power to you and tell me where to send the bottle of champagne.

For the rest of us, we need to keep working. It wasn't until I uploaded the tenth story that I saw an income jump--from the double digits per month to triple digits. Shortly after the thirteenth book, income jumped from the low triple digits to the low four digits.

I can't tell you when this could happen for you. It may be the first book. It may be the fiftieth. I don't know. You don't know. The executive in his Manhattan office doesn't know. Joe Konrath doesn't know. The guy panhandling on the street corner doesn't know.

If you love telling stories, you will keep at it. If you don't, you will find another hobby to occupy your time.

Sometimes it pays to put yourself in the mindset of Dorie from Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming..."


  1. Sums it up nicely, Suzan. William Goldman said it best in his book on Hollywood ADVENTURES IN SCREENWRITING:

    "Nobody Knows Anything"

    I remind myself all the time, DR. NO, FORREST GUMP, E.T., RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, were *all* rejected by the majors studios at least twice before coming about.

    Nobody knows anything.

  2. *sigh* And it's so true of bestselling books, too, Will. GONE WITH THE WIND, HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE, and THE HELP are just a few that come to mind.