Friday, November 8, 2019

Real Life Vampires

Is it just me or have a large number of indie writers turned to writing how-to books for writers instead of writing fiction?

Yes, money's down for a lot of writers when it comes to fiction.

First of all, the complaints are coming at a normal time of the year. August-September is filled with parents and grandparents dealing with new schedules, new schools, and new kids' clothes. It's all our readers can do to deal with their own job, homework, and dinner before they collapse on the couch in exhaustion, only to run the same race the next day.

There's not too much you can do about the natural yearly highs and lows of books sales.

Secondly, I know I can't just put out a book and make a ton of dosh anymore, but I expected that with a maturing system. A lot of folks seem to think the gold rush should have kept going forever. Those writers with business experience realized it wasn't going to and made adjustments. Those who haven't? Well, they have seen a sharp decline in sales.

Why? Because there's a surplus of material. Hell, I've got 559 books in Kindle right now. I've read maybe 100 of them so far. That doesn't count the 1,000+ paper books, and the Nook and iBook books I haven't read yet.

Do I think people should stop writing? Nope. That's not my worry.

It's seems like more and more writers are supplementing their income by writing and selling industry-related how-to books. But a lot of these folks don't have the expertise they claim they have.

Or worse, they advocate gray hat or black hat tactics that will lose a new author not only their money, but their retailer accounts and their reputations.

"But, wait!" I hear some of you saying. "You put out a book on business planning a few years ago."

Yes, I did, but it was based on experience as a lawyer writing up business plans, both for personal use and for clients. By the same token, I took the book down when I didn't have enough time to update it properly. So much was changing so fast in the early days of indie publishing. The last thing any new writer needed was outdated information.

And that's probably the difference. I took my ethics seriously as an attorney, and I still do as a writer. I believe we should be making money from our art. Not from speaking engagements. Not from shilling get-rich-quick schemes to people with stars in their eyes.

Does this mean every self-help thing is bullshit? No, but take a hard, HARD look at who's offering it and what their bonafides are. And I don't mean their fucking Amazon rank. That number is irrelevant. It doesn't tell the whole story of someone's income, much less their entire career.

In any time of chaotic change, there are those looking to make a difference and those who want to suck those dreams and dollars from anyone. Take a hard look at what anyone, including me, is offering.

Ask the hard questions. Follow the money path. Who's actually profiting from your time and your money? What are you really getting from the services and/or products offered?

Most of all, remember that when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is too good to be true.

It's okay not to know everything. None of us does. But you and your work are the most important things, and you need to do everything in your power to protect them.

Good luck!


  1. Yes, this. [nodnod]

    I see people I've never heard of offering to teach me how to write a novel that will sellsellSELL!! I see people who've published half a dozen fiction books but also have a dozen or more How-To-Make-Money-Writing books. Seriously, what??

    I see people writing books based on the idea that every writer must outline to be successful. Or that you'll sink into obscurity if you don't have an awesome book trailer [eyeroll] for every book you publish. Or that you have to fully develop your characters before you write word one of the story. (That last one was published many years ago; it's not just the indie newbies who think their way is the only way.)

    It's completely ridiculous. Folks who haven't been around long enough to see the natural ebb and flow of the publishing and book sales business cycle have no business charging money for their supposed expertise. I don't care how much money they made on that one book two years ago.

    And even if they have a method, or a combination of methods, that works just awesome for them, that doesn't mean it'll work for everyone. I'm a pantser; the one time I tried outlining a novel, I killed it dead. But other people work best with outlines. That's cool; different writers are different.

    And the people who write books on how to game the system in a way that can get you kicked off your vendor sites are absolute menaces. :/ Even if they don't get caught and made an example of, the vendors -- especially Amazon -- are constantly looking for ways to plug those holes, and they change their systems accordingly. If you're making all your money based on the sales gushing through that hole, especially if you're successful enough at it that you're making your rent and your car payment and buying your groceries with that money, you're just setting yourself up to be homeless, walking and hungry after that hole gets plugged. [sigh]


    1. I see people going the guru track on youtube and facebook too. Meh.

    2. Yes to all of the above. I'm just sad seeing people be taken advantage of, but so many people want the magic formula. *smh*