self publishing

February Update – Nuzzling The Grindstone

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It’s been quiet around here lately what with me busy pressing my nose against the grindstone of my latest manuscript. I finished off the third draft a few days ago, and it’s a relief to put the most difficult draft behind me and give my face a brief rest. There’s nothing like seeing actual measurable progress on such a massive project.

I feel a little bad about neglecting my blog in the meantime, but I set myself the lofty goal of releasing four books this year, and I’m already a little behind schedule. I don’t want to post crap here just for the sake of it (he writes unironically in a post with zero substance), and I’m sure whoever reads my blog can survive with a little less of my rambling in their life. At least for a while anyway.

My plan now is to step away from my manuscript for a couple of weeks (I had hoped for longer, but deadlines) and work on something else for a while, then I’ll come back with a bit more perspective and finish the final draft. Which means hopefully by the end of March, I’ll have Solace Within, the shiny sequel to my first novel, sitting up there on Amazon’s kindle store for everyone far and wide to admire, or more accurately, quickly forget as it slides into the abyss to be buried under the never-ending cascade of paranormal romance. Still, getting a body of finished work out there is my sole focus this year. I can worry about sales later.

So that’s a quick update on my progress. Hopefully I’ll find time to post something interesting around here soon, but for the meantime, it’s back to nuzzling the grindstone.


Photo by Dave Ruark licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

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Writing Resolutions 2017 – Deciding What’s Important

I wasn’t going to make one of these posts as I find the idea of new year resolutions, while well meaning, inevitably hollow. They’re generally attacked with a level of effort that’s impossible to maintain and end up being forgotten about until the next year rolls around. However, I was reading J.A.Konrath’s blog post listing his past resolutions the other day and his 2013 resolution caught my attention.

The thing that I have seen, over and over, is people finding success by writing good books.

I really think it is possible to make a very nice living by writing and not worrying about anything else.

Now it may be that I’m just an introvert (like almost every writer ever) but I would much rather spend my time writing rather than marketing, networking, engaging on social media, or any of the other dreaded activities that writers are told are necessary for self publishing. So reading that little paragraph gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Something not unlike the burst of guilty pleasure that comes with profiteroles.

Could it really be possible to go against common belief, focusing almost solely on the actual writing aspect of being a writer, and yet still manage to make a decent living? Well, I don’t know if there’s a definitive answer to that as everyone’s experience is different, but Konrath has made a more than respectable living in the self-publishing business for years, and I would tend to listen to the words of experience over yet another person trading generic ‘How To Use Social Media To Sell Your Book’ guides for views and subscriptions.

I have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but I only use it occasionally  Facebook? Haven’t been on there in eight months. I witnessed the rise and fall of MySpace. I’ve opted out of Google+ because I saw no benefits. LinkedIn? I can’t even remember my password.

I’ll never do another book tour. I doubt I’ll ever do another official booksigning. I’ve stopped speaking in public, stopped attending events. Once it was important to meet fans and network with peers. Now I can do that just fine via email.

Partnering with your publisher? Why would you do that, when they offer so little? 17.5% ebook royalties with them, vs. 70% on your own.

I haven’t blogged or Tweeted in months. I’ve been busy doing what writers should be doing: writing.

And guess what? My sales have remained constant.

So if you’re looking to self publish but hate the thought of having to set aside precious writing time to learn how to be a salesman, then take heart. I’m still firmly in the belief that if you write well and put in the time, then good things will happen. There’s no guarantee that marketing and all that other fluff will help because there’s just too much luck involved. But writing consistently, improving your craft, and putting a library of your content out there for people to discover and read? That’s the thing that’s always going to keep you moving forward.

We all want to believe we’re doing something good for our careers, so we abuse social media, buy ads, rigorously defend our good name, cultivate media contacts, make appearances, and celebrate our own very minor celebrity.

Let it all go. Spend your time working on your books. That’s the only thing that really matters, and the only thing you have control over.

Happy New Year, and have a great year of writing.


Photo by jeff_golden licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Making Minimum Wage As A Self-Published Writer

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In my Monday morning procrastination, I decided to scribble some quick napkin maths to figure out how many books a writer would need to sell each year on Amazon to make minimum wage. (Quick warning if you’re looking to self-publish – the numbers aren’t encouraging).

Here’s a list of minimum wages sorted by country. In the UK where I live, it’s £7.20 an hour (that converts to ~$8.78 for those over in the colonies). Working a 40 hour week for 52 weeks a year, that gives you £14,976 (~$18,262).

Now, let’s say you sell ebooks at £1.99 each, the minimum required to reach the 70% royalty rate on Amazon. This means each sale nets you £1.39. To reach minimum wage with those figures you need to sell 10,774 copies per year. Not an impossible number, but realistically, how many people are going to risk £1.99 on an ebook by an unknown author?

So maybe you decide to sell at £0.99 to encourage more readers to your work. Well, Amazon drops the royalty rate to 35% at this point and things get seriously depressing. At £0.35 per sale, you would need to sell 42,799 copies a year just to keep a roof over your head. I can’t see any way that’s possible unless you’re already an established author, in which case you’re probably already doing fine.

I’ll be honest, sitting down and figuring out these numbers at the start of the work week wasn’t my smartest decision. There’s something to be said for doing what you love, but the figures bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘starving artist.’

If you can quit, quit. If you can’t quit, stop complaining – this is what you chose.

– J.A. Konrath

Well, that’s enough complaining. Back to writing.


Photo by Petras Gagilas licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.