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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Newbie Impatience

I'm not sure if I'm finally understanding career writers, or if I'm just getting old. I'm seeing a lot of impatience in new writers. By new writers, I mean those folks seeking a trad publishing deal and those indies who've published within the last couple of years or only have 1-3 books out.

Now, let me be clear--I started indie publishing on April 29, 2011. In other words, just four years and twenty-one days ago. But I wrote a magazine column for three years before that, plus tech writing, legal writing, training manuals, etc. over the last thirty years.

I also admit I had my own share of impatience in trying to build my fledgling fiction career. But I read something on a closed loop Alter Ego is a member of that blew my mind.

A young writer (YW) had one trilogy out (one book per year) and was only on Amazon. YW was complaining that she was only selling 300 books per month.

WTF!

YW expected to be making millions of dollars in a subgenre that has been slowly receding to normal sales levels after a particular break-out book went mainstream in 2012. YW had no sense of the normal market for that subgenre. YW refused to expand into other markets. YW complained about visibility.

Thinking you're going to makes millions with one book (or one trilogy) is lottery thinking.

If you're selling 300 books a month, you've got a fledgling fan base that needs to be nurtured. They like you. They're telling their friends about you. Why aren't you feeding them?

If you have work/family situations that keeps you down to one book a year, it's going to take you a little longer to build that fledgling fan base into a massive one. Before you get your panties in a wad, let me remind you I've been there. I was practicing law full-time with a toddler when I wrote what eventually became Blood Magick, Zombie Love, and the unnamed really crappy first book that will never see the light of day.

Are you willing to work past the obscurity? The initial long hours with no financial reward in sight? The thousands, or millions, of words you'll need to commit to screen or paper to come up with a story a total stranger wants to buy?

E-books and POD have opened up incredible possibilities for writers, but it doesn't mean instant fame and riches. It means passion and a lot of hard work.

Don't believe me? That unnamed POS that's under my figurative bed was started in 2003 and finished in October of 2004.

On Monday, I made my second trad sale, and on Tuesday, the lovely Elaina Lee of For The Muse Designs delivered the cover for Ravaged (Bloodlines #7).

So, for all you folks just starting on this incredible, frustrating, rewarding path, be patient.

Trust me, you'll get there.

If you have fortitude to keep plugging away.

4 comments:

  1. Preach it, sister. :)

    You really have to wonder about people who think that putting out a book or three and instantly making millions is somehow "normal," and if it's not happening that means something's wrong. Boggling, seriously. :P

    Angie

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    1. Sorry if it came across as preaching, Angie. It's just that YW is making around $1K a month as a debut author. She's not doing a damn thing to expand her audience other than a bundle with a few other writers.

      I've seen so many of these fledgling authors flog their one and only work to death in the last five years, but not write the next book, which will keep the fans they've already made.

      I now understand the sadness Kris Rusch feels when she talks about these types of writers. If I want a career as a computer programmer, I can't write just one program and expect to live off that for the rest of my life. *smh*

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  2. I didn't mean that in any kind of a negative way. I agree with you completely, and that's an excellent comparison, with a programmer who's expecting to make their rep on one program and live off it forever. It's clearly stupid when a programmer is doing it, so why do so many writers think it should work that way for them? :/

    Angie

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    1. Sorry, my own insecurity was popping up. *grin* But yes, there's so many practices in publishing that when I try to explain them to people outside of it, their eyes pop out.

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