Show Me the Money–What’s the Skinny on Author Earnings?

Via Flickr Creative commons, courtesy of Tax Credits.

Via Flickr Creative commons, courtesy of Tax Credits.

My degree is in Political Science with an emphasis on Political Economy. To earn this degree, I had to study a lot of statistics *UGH* and to be blunt? I agree with Mark Twain, “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.” Surveys and statistics are a science: number of participants, number of questions, phrasing of the questions, nature of the sample group, geography, etc.

Yada, yada, yada.

But somewhere in the numbers is some truth, which is why I asked one of our WANA instructors, Jami Gold, to do this guest post for me (and yes, she will be presenting at WANACon).

Sure we love to write, but I assume all of us are asking the BIG questions: Is there MONEY in writing? How do we make a GOOD living as writers? Money seems to be the taboo and we don’t want to talk about it. Too gauche. But most of us would like to be paid for what we do, so time to dig into the uncomfortable stuff.

Image via Demi-Brooke Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Demi-Brooke Flickr Creative Commons

I’m going to add a caveat that will support what Jami is about to say. I want to approach this as respectfully as possible. But, if I hadn’t seen so much of these attitudes/behaviors, I wouldn’t bother mentioning them at all.

Many writers want to skip steps. It’s human nature to believe we are the exception. Been there, done that, myself. But? 99% of the time? We aren’t the exception at all. There are NO guarantees to any business, but there are some core principles that, when we ignore them? It’s a heck of a lot harder to succeed.

I travel to many, many conferences. I’ve written over 800 blogs and three books regarding blogging, social media, editing, covers, etc. and I’ve gotten to where I simply no longer argue. I’ve met writers who flat out refused to do social media, who refused to learn how to blog, who cut corners on cover design and interior design or who believed Aunt Lulu who taught English back in the 80s counted as an acceptable “editor.”

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Sally Jean

I’ve blogged since 2008 how important it is to have a platform, yet to this day, I get e-mails from writers who have a book coming out in a month and they want to know how to build a platform in time to promote *head desk*. I’ve argued with writers about using monikers, book spam, automation, outsourcing social media, force-adding people to Facebook groups, how hiring an SEO “gurus” will not improve sales, to keep writing and stop non-stop promoting ONE book, and on and on….and *sigh* on.

Every time I blog about three-act structure, POV or the importance of studying craft, there will always be commenters who point out exceptions and that they don’t want to be bound by “formulas.” I’ve painstakingly edited for writers who then turned around and ignored everything I recommended they change to improve the book (reader experience). Later, they had no idea why sales were dismal.

Hmmm, looks legit.

Hmmm, looks legit.

can tell you that the authors who treat writing as a business and who seek education and mentoring are making a heck of a lot more than $1000 a year. I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed many writers who were willing to do all it took to make a good living writing and boy they are. Hugh Howey, Teresa Ragan, H.P. Mallory, and Saffina Deforges (three of these four I know personally and all fabulous). I have many more examples but this post is long enough.

I mention these author examples because these folks didn’t begin with a long traditional backlist or NYT Best-Selling Author in front of their names. In fact, Saffina used WANA methods to skyrocket from the bottom of the pile to selling 40,000 books in one month alone. She and her writing partner broke numerous records with their work.

So, I hope you guys will see that all of these writers are doing the very things Jami is about to discuss. Due to the nature of my job and what I see daily, I feel this is a far more accurate analysis.

Going to let Jami take it from here….

Original image via Flickr Commons, courtesy of Casey Konstantin

Original image via Flickr Commons, courtesy of Casey Konstantin

The publishing world has been abuzz with the results of the 2014 Digital Book World (DBW) and Writer’s Digest Author Survey. Headlines scream “Most authors make less than $1000 a year.”  Numbers taken out of context claim that 80% of the 9000+ respondents earn $1000 or less.

Eh. Yes and no.

Yes, the DBW/Writer’s Digest survey polled 9,210 or so writers. However, don’t let that big number impress you so much that you assume this survey data is uber-accurate. More than 65% of those respondents are “aspiring” and haven’t published anything yet.

The DBW/Writer’s Digest Survey Results

According to The Guardian, the remaining respondents broke down to “18% self-published, 8% traditionally-published and 6% saying they were pursuing hybrid careers.” Okay, so that leaves around 3000 respondents who have been published in some way, shape, or form.

But wait, a full 20% of both the self-published and the traditionally published respondents said they’ve made $0. Ditto with 5% of the hybrid authors. And yes, that means literally zero dollars, as the next income band goes from $1 to $999.

I find that result odd. Does that mean zero income from book sales? Or zero income after expenses?

I don’t know, but it does make me suspect the question wording and/or the respondent base was a bit hinky. Maybe those authors are planning on self-publishing, or maybe they have a traditionally published book that hasn’t been released yet. Or maybe the DBW/Writer’s Digest respondent base doesn’t reflect professional published authors.

Many have criticized the survey because it was run by Writer’s Digest, who’s been known to recommend vanity publishers to those interested in self-publishing. If the respondents were from the vanity publishing arena, then yes, I could see their income being zero (or negative).

Brenda Hiatt’s Survey Results

Anyone who has studied the industry knows that one book alone isn’t going to cut it. Professional authors, those that treat their writing as a career, focus on building a backlist. If we have 3-6 books out, it doesn’t take much income from each to break $1000.

A look at Brenda Hiatt’s amazing site “Show Me the Money” lists the advance, royalty rates, and earn out for various romance and YA traditional publishers. The vast majority of earn out amounts on her site are over $1000, so even if an author publishes only one book a year, they’d still beat that DBW figure. And Brenda’s gathered data from almost 2700 traditionally published titles.

Now, that’s not to say her respondents are rolling in the dough. The average advance or earn out probably works out to around $10K, with some as low as $200.

My point is that I don’t quite trust DBW’s results. But I’m not going to pay nearly $300 for the full report to analyze how the heck they came up with their numbers. The results strike me as “link bait” in their attempt to sell copies of their report.

Beverley Kendall’s Survey Results

We all know some self-published books are crap. I’ve seen them. I’ve talked to their authors. And they plain don’t care. They’re in it for the quick buck, or they believe they’re geniuses who don’t need editing.

That’s why I was far more interested in the results of Beverley Kendall’s survey of self-published/hybrid authors. Some self-publishers obtain professional-level editing and covers, and that group should be more comparable to traditionally published authors. Beverley asked the questions that really matter rather than lumping all self-published authors together.

She analyzed results from her 822 self-published respondents, and 65% of her respondents had no previous traditional or epublishing deals to improve their name recognition. Keep that in mind for these results. (And I highly recommend checking out her 29 page, free report of her analysis at the link above. Fantastic information!)

Original image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of dfbphotos

Original image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of dfbphotos


How Off-Base Is the DBW Survey?

First thing I note (page 4), 48.05% earned over $10,000 in 2013. Even with no traditional publishing name recognition, 46.04% of self-published-only authors earned over $10K. Hmm, that’s quite different from the 5% for self-published-only authors earning those numbers in the DBW report.

The second thing I note (page 10) is that backlist really matters. While 80% of respondents with 1-3 books for sale make $10K or less, that figure drops quickly with additional books. About 50% of respondents make more than $10K when they have 4-7 self-published books available, and 20% make more than $50K. At 12-20 books available, over 50% of respondents are making 50K or more, and 30% are over $100K.

How Much Does Professionalism Matter?

Now let’s look at those numbers for professional, self-published authors—that is, those who use a professional editor and cover artist (page 13). Of those who didn’t use a professional editor (Beverley’s definition: “with a publishing background”), 40.23% earned more than $10K. In contrast, of those who did use a professional editor, 50.82% earned more than $10K.

Similarly, of those who didn’t use a professional cover artist (her definition: “graphic artist or professional designer”), 39.21% earned more than 10K. In contrast, of those who did use a professional cover artist, 52.55% earned more than $10K.

In short, professionalism matters. And the percentage differences between professional editing and professional cover design aren’t much, so they both seem to be important. However, a professional cover has a slight edge over editing if you’re dealing with limited funds.

Image via Bill_Owen Flickr Creative Commons

Image via Bill_Owen Flickr Creative Commons


Is Beverley Kendall’s Survey the Anomaly?

Brenda Hiatt’s “Show Me the Money” page surveys self-published authors too. For 2012, her respondents averaged 10 titles each (that backlist mentioned above) and averaged $137K. The median, which discounts outliers better, was still $51K.

Those figures match Beverley’s 2013 results for authors with similarly large backlists. So I think it’s safe to say that for those authors who approach self-publishing as a career (build a backlist, use professional editors and cover artists, etc.), making more than $1K a year is the norm.

All that said, it’s also important to keep an eye on craft and not just think about backlist. In Beverley Kendall’s report, almost 40% of authors with 60+ self-published releases(!) make less than $10K because they’re skipping professional editing or book covers in their single-minded focus on release numbers.

Lessons Learned: How to Maximize Chances for Success

Beverley Kendall’s report is a gold mine for those on either path. Her results show what works for maximizing income, but many of the tips are also no-cost ways we can reach more readers:

  • Write a series
  • Make a series-related short story, novella, or the first novel free
  • Include excerpts of other stories, especially at the back of the freebie
  • Price novel-length books in the $2.99-$4.99 sweet spot
  • Build a backlist of quality stories
  • Don’t expect success overnight—think in years

On Beverley’s Facebook page, she shared a few more survey tidbits. This one is very enlightening on what it takes to make more money:

“Of authors who earned over $50,000 in 2013

95.93% have 4 or more books up for sale
93.91 % have been self-publishing for more than 1 (one) year.”

Remember those years I mentioned? Time and backlist, everyone, time and backlist. *smile*

On this post and this post, Beverley illuminates the value of series and freebies:

  • For authors over $50K:
    • 96.93% of their bestselling books were part of a series
    • 68% offered one or more books in the series as a freebie
  • For authors over $500K:
    • 100% of their bestselling books were part of a series
    • 88.24% offered one or more books in the series as a freebie
  • For authors between $0-$10K:
    • 25.60% have not written a series
    • 32.53% offered one or more books in their series free
    • 41.87% do not offer a freebie from their series

However, not every author should offer a freebie. This is where a long-term strategy comes into play. We can lose money and potential readers if we don’t have other stories available, as shown by this post:

“After downloading and reading a free digital book by an author, 88.54% of readers have gone on to purchase other books by that author.”

Only a few of her insights on how to maximize our chances for success apply more to authors willing to invest or write to the market:

  • Use professional-level editing and book covers
    • Beverley notes one reason why those from a traditional publishing background make more money: “22.69% MORE authors who were originally traditionally published had their books edited by someone with a publishing background than authors who had never been published before.”
  • Choose the “right” category/genre (note: this often involves chasing trends(*), so your mileage may vary)
    • * New Adult Romance: 43.48% earned more than $50K
    • Mystery/Thriller: 30.77% earned more than $50K
    • * Erotic Romance: 28.57% earned more than 50K
    • SciFi/Fantasy: 19.15% earned more than $50K
    • Non-fiction: 10.34% earned more than $50K

Finally, after I pestered her for more insights, Beverley did another analysis for what the statistics would be when an author did everything “right.” Of the 121 respondents who:

  • Have been self-publishing for more than 1 year
  • Wrote a series
  • Put one or more of their books free
  • Have 4 or more self-published books available
  • Price their work between $2.99-$7.99
  • Acquire professional editing and book covers

The stats revealed that 81.82% earn over $10K and 57.04% earn more than $50K. Click through to this link to see the full breakdown.

Beverley’s report is invaluable for showing what works. Lumping all self-published authors together (the serious and the non-serious) dilutes the lessons we can learn from those doing it with a plan for success. As Beverley said in her follow-up post:

“So does it matter really if 80% of self-published authors don’t make more than $1000 in a year if you intend to emulate the 20% who are doing it right and making a very comfortable living doing it?”

And now I’m burnt on numbers for a while, but I hope this has been educational and enlightening. *reassembles brain*

****

THANK YOU, Jami!

COOL CONTEST. So, WANACon is this coming weekend. PajamaCon is FREE (Thursday Evening) and gives you a chance to make sure your computer is set up properly if you choose to join us for the conference. If not? Still a fun time and a chance to learn. SIGN UP for WANACon HERE. Also, AGENT PITCHES are available. You can SIGN UP HERE.

Since my goal is to see you guys succeed, I am offering three BIG prizes for WANACon Attendees. Grand Prize is The Book/Brand Combo. I will personally consult to either assist in plotting a new book or fixing one that doesn’t work. I will also consult you personally on your brand and give you a plan for SEO, content, everything. Book Prize is I work with you to plot or fix a book. Branding Prize is I personally consult you on your brand, teach you about SEO and lay out a plan.

EVERYONE who attends automatically gets ten entries. Encourage a friend to sign up and you earn 25 additional entries and the friend who signs up gets 15. Just make sure to tell us who referred you. WANA is committed to helping you realize your dream.

Author Jami Gold

Author Jami Gold

After discovering a chemical compound that makes chocolate even more awesome, Jami Gold moved to Arizona and decided to become a writer, where she could put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fortunately, her muse, an arrogant male who delights in making her sound as insane as possible, rewards her with unique and rich story ideas.

Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.

Find Jami at her blogTwitterFacebookPinterestLinkedIn, and Goodreads.

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  1. #1 by ashokbhatia on February 17, 2014 - 11:52 am

    Great insights here!

  2. #4 by Alice on February 17, 2014 - 11:53 am

    Wow, that is a lot of information. Thank you for sharing this. Writing and blogging means putting in the hours. I wish everyone understood that.

    • #5 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:20 pm

      LOL! Tell me about it. My brain hurt trying to make all of that make sense for the post. :)

  3. #6 by Gry Ranfelt on February 17, 2014 - 11:55 am

    But I don’t like writing in series :( My stories don’t come out that way.

    • #7 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 17, 2014 - 11:56 am

      The key is to KEEP writing. Write more than one book. Too many authors stop and just beat the heck out of promoting one work and there is no money in that and a lot of gray hair.

      • #8 by Gry Ranfelt on February 17, 2014 - 12:00 pm

        Oh, I can do that :) Though my current project is a bitchy one, doesn’t want to cooperate. Then again, aren’t they always like that at some point? :D

      • #9 by Gry Ranfelt on February 17, 2014 - 12:01 pm

        Btw Kristen, gotta say, I’ve spent this entire day fighting to write and after reading one post on your blog I feel encouraged and inspired. Thank you for existing and keeping the writing juices running ;)

      • #10 by Kylie Betzner on February 17, 2014 - 12:12 pm

        I found this advice to be the most helpful. I’ve been pushing it at a friend of mine who had a very successful publishing experience, but I’m concerned that if she doesn’t put something else out soon her sales could plateau at the very least. Both and sister and I have turned out 1-book ideas into 3-book ideas with possible companions esp. considering we may be pursuing the self-publishing route.

    • #11 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:18 pm

      Gry, there are a lot of different ways of doing series too. Series do NOT have to involve the same characters. They could be loosely connected by having the same setting, the same major theme, the secondary characters getting their own book, how different characters tackle a similar premise, etc.

      The series I’m working on is set in the same “paranormal” world but the characters change each time. I just saw another “series” this past weekend where the author had taken a novel and serialized it into 6 novella-length stories. She published each for $0.99 or the whole story together for $3.99. There’s no limit to the types of series we can offer. :)

      • #12 by Gry Ranfelt on February 17, 2014 - 12:32 pm

        Great suggestions :) No limits indeed. I actually started thinking if my new project might work better as a mini series (three SHORT books) because the world is pretty interesting, and I think it might.
        Particularly if there’s going to be some light-hearted spots in there. I think there’s more room for that in a trilogy.

  4. #14 by mrsprickett on February 17, 2014 - 11:59 am

    Great article! Thanks for sharing. I have already accepted my starving artist fate. “Sigh” O.k. I might be a bit dramatic, but that’s what makes me a great writer. Ha!

    • #15 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:21 pm

      Nah. I don’t see it that way. ;) If we’re professional about the craft and cover, we WILL eventually have a backlist, and those sales will start to add up.

  5. #16 by Jessica Knauss on February 17, 2014 - 11:59 am

    Thank you so much for adding some sanity to this discussion! These are the details casual writers should find out before they rush to publish and get disappointed.

    • #17 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:22 pm

      Exactly! We don’t want false expectations, but we also don’t want to miss the advice of HOW we can improve our chances. :)

  6. #18 by Tam Francis on February 17, 2014 - 12:01 pm

    Wonderful points. I love this breakdown and comparison. I always say: “What yardstick you’re using.” I want to use Beverley’s yardstick. Thank you Kristen and Jamie for this insight. I had no idea and although I use the bigger yardstick to measure success, it still looks so far away.

    • #19 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:23 pm

      I have a total girl-crush on Beverley for doing all this work. LOL! She’s my hero for bringing these lessons to the foreground.

  7. #20 by lmat2014 on February 17, 2014 - 12:01 pm

    Reblogged this on lmatblog Lynn Matheson Author and commented:
    Good information

  8. #21 by JM Randolph on February 17, 2014 - 12:07 pm

    This was a very enlightening post. Thanks to both of you for taking the time to really dig in to what those statistics in the surveys really mean.

    • #22 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:24 pm

      You’re welcome! Yes, there are so many lessons we can learn if we can see past the headlines. :)

  9. #23 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:10 pm

    Thanks for having me here, Kristen! :)

    You forgot to mention the BEST part about Thursday’s FREE PajamaCon — you’ll be presenting a free mini-workshop! ;)

    Everyone, Kristen will be presenting a mini-workshop of Branding for Writers at 6:30pm Eastern (New York) time this Thursday. Come to wanacon.com as early at 6pm Eastern on Thursday to connect with others (literally with your microphone and figuratively with socializing).

    Your prizes are awesome! Good luck to everyone!

    (*psst* And I’ll be presenting during WANACon on Twitter for Introverts. :) )

  10. #25 by Kylie Betzner on February 17, 2014 - 12:11 pm

    Kristen,

    This is, for me, the most helpful article this month. I’m getting ready to jump into the publishing sphere and was curious to know more updated sales predictions, especially with the changes in the market. A friend of mine is self-published and makes approx. 17k a year from one book and I was wondering how realistic that goal would be.

    Do you feel that fantasy is or isn’t a trendy genre right now? Just curious to know your thoughts. I write comedic fantasy primarily. Just trying to set some realistic expectations.

    • #26 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:31 pm

      Hi Kylie,

      Fantasy is a strong genre. Being genre rather than literary automatically means that fantasy tends to do better in ebook than print than overall averages would imply. Hugh Howey’s report on author earnings (http://authorearnings.com/the-report/) shouldn’t be used for forecasting sales trends, but it does have a clear breakdown of ebook vs. print sales at Amazon for genre.

      As far as I know, fantasy isn’t particularly trendy or not. It’s simply a solid, established genre. The last set of bullet points includes scifi/fantasy and says that 19.15% make more than $50K, so it’s certainly not as trendy as New Adult. :) But that also means your sales won’t go through an overdose dip either.

      I’d recommend downloading Beverley’s full report (http://theseasonforromance.com/wordpress/2014/01/the-self-publishing-survey-results-its-a-brave-new-world/) and see if you can pick up other fantasy-specific tidbits. :) Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions!

      • #27 by Kylie Betzner on February 18, 2014 - 4:18 pm

        Thank you very much. This is extremely helpful! Both my sister and I write in this genre, and we were wanting to know more updated stats. I will share this with her. Again, very helpful!

  11. #28 by symplysilent on February 17, 2014 - 12:15 pm

    Jami and Kristen; So there is hope after all. It almost sounds like you are saying base my protagonist in the adult romance genre, in such a way that she can appear in many stories, both short and long. Are you saying to wait until I have multiple offerings? Thank you, Silent

    • #29 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:37 pm

      Hi Silent,

      Adult romance series usually don’t have the same hero/heroine pair as the main characters over multiple books. Usually, the series would involve “connected” stories. The secondary characters of book 1 might be the main characters of book 2, the main characters of book 2 might be members of the same club/office/etc. as the characters of book 1, the books might be set in the same setting (think “Fantasy Island” ;) ) or world.

      Check out Tessa Dare’s historical romance series for ideas of connected series. I was pretty sure she had a blog post somewhere on the different types of series, but my Google-foo failed me this morning. LOL!

      Let me know if you still have questions! :)

  12. #30 by symplysilent on February 17, 2014 - 12:16 pm

    Oh…and the professional editing and professional cover, too.

  13. #31 by Shelly T on February 17, 2014 - 12:21 pm

    Great article! Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

    • #32 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:37 pm

      You’re welcome! I hope it’s helpful for you. :)

  14. #33 by ontyrepassages on February 17, 2014 - 12:24 pm

    To Jami: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for showing us what’s valuable and taking the rest out with the trash.

    • #34 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:38 pm

      LOL! You’re quite welcome. :)

  15. #35 by rich mulholland on February 17, 2014 - 12:27 pm

    Thanks Kristen!! this is the third time I saw Hugh Howey mentioned in my reading, so I bought one of his books on Amazon!
    When the Universe shows me 3 or more times it is telling me, time to Act!!
    Rich Mulholland

    • #36 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:38 pm

      I have his books on my to-buy list too. First I need to get through some of my to-be-read pile though. LOL!

  16. #37 by marcia23 on February 17, 2014 - 12:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing all that information.

    • #38 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:52 pm

      You’re welcome! I hope it helps. :)

  17. #39 by David Erickson on February 17, 2014 - 12:47 pm

    This is one of the most useful blogs I’ve read in a while now. Thanks.

    • #40 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:52 pm

      Aww, thanks! I hope the information helps. :)

  18. #41 by literaryliason on February 17, 2014 - 12:48 pm

    Great insight and research as always :)

    • #42 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 12:53 pm

      Yeah, my brain definitely hurt trying to make sure I was presenting the information in a way that would make sense. LOL!

      • #43 by literaryliason on February 17, 2014 - 12:59 pm

        I think it did. If I had to sum it all up, I’d say effort pays off

  19. #45 by Tamara LeBlanc on February 17, 2014 - 12:52 pm

    My two FAVORITE bloggers on the same page!?!?! I’m THRILLED and as always, amazed by the great info I’m privy to when I link onto either of your pages.
    This is no exception. This entire post is chock full of wisdom.
    Thank you so much, both of you, for always offering relevant content writers can rely on to help them better their craft and learn more about the industry.
    Have a great day!
    Tamara

  20. #47 by tchistorygal on February 17, 2014 - 1:25 pm

    This is awesome advice and information. As a reader of two of your books, I vouch for the effectiveness of your advice. :) My first book is in the hands of an editor. I’m at the point now of learning marketing, writing a marketing plan, and finding the cover designer. I’m excited about writing the next book already. I’m in this for the long haul. :)

    • #48 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 2:10 pm

      And I think that’s the real message here: Be in this for the long haul as far as backlist and professionalism if you expect to turn it into a money-making career. :) Thanks for the comment!

  21. #50 by Rowena May OSullivan (@RowenaMayo) on February 17, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    I love reading your articles. Thank you so much. Awesome information and advice. I’ve published with a publisher but the sales have been so low I believe even if I sold the minimum amount it would be more than what I’ve made through the publisher. I’m thinking seriously of changing my focus and self-publishing and am learning via your posts.

    • #51 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 6:29 pm

      For me, a real eye-opener were the numbers reported on Brenda Hiatt’s page (http://brendahiatt.com/show-me-the-money/). It certainly seems like most of the smaller/epublishers simply can’t deliver sales, so we have to keep that in mind when deciding on the right path for our goals.

  22. #52 by Sarah Allen on February 17, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    Ahhhh this is amazing and makes me feel so happy :) Great advice.

  23. #54 by Crime writer on February 17, 2014 - 1:46 pm

    Another brilliant article Kristen, packed full of useful info and tips!

    • #55 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 2:12 pm

      I’m glad you found my guest post worthwhile. :) I hope it helps!

  24. #56 by Kerry Ascione on February 17, 2014 - 1:56 pm

    Hi Kristen, I take your advice, as well as a few other subject matter experts advice, very seriously. I’m trying to do all the right things, the right way, and I am not rushing to some fantasy finish line that I don’t deserve. I realize that any real success that I might achieve will take years in the making, and I don’t mind as long as I believe that time will come. Some of us do listen, learn and apply. Keep giving us great things to learn from.

    • #57 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 2:13 pm

      I hear you. I can be patient as long as I know my time will come. :)

  25. #58 by Denise D. Young on February 17, 2014 - 2:18 pm

    Great points, both Jami and Kristen! Perseverance and patience seem to be the most necessary ingredients in a writing career. I have made mistakes over the years. When I first tried blogging, I became overwhelmed and gave up for a while. This time, I’m in it for the long haul. I initially used a pen name because I was writing romance and everyone I knew who wrote romance seemed to use a pen name (*head desk*). Lesson learned on both fronts.

    Yes, I’ve made mistakes and missteps and lost my momentum on a few occasions, but I now feel blessed to part of online writing communities like WANA Tribe and the ROW80 writing challenge where everyone is so supportive. My main priority right now is to be the best writer I can be and write a story that wows readers. And that takes time.

    It takes years to build a writing career. Thanks for the great advice!

    • #59 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 2:23 pm

      Thanks, Denise! Yes, we’ll all make mistakes, but a supportive community to help us through the learning curve can make it better. :)

      • #60 by Denise D. Young on February 17, 2014 - 2:35 pm

        Kristen deserves some of the credit. She convinced me that my journey would be easier without a pen name, and I have to say that so far, I agree. I’m definitely enjoying the journey more now.

        Have a great week, Jami!

        • #61 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 2:56 pm

          Yay! I’m happy to hear that. :)

          And I hope you have a great week too!

  26. #62 by jcmckenzie2013 on February 17, 2014 - 2:18 pm

    I loved this post and shared it. Thank you for taking the time to read those tedious reports and break it down for the rest of us. :-)

    • #63 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 2:25 pm

      LOL! Would you believe that I *loved* going through Beverley’s report?

      I’m not a numbers person at all, but it’s just so rare to get hard data that we can actively learn from that my excitement carried me through all the “Ack! Math!” horror. :)

  27. #66 by Lynn Tyler on February 17, 2014 - 2:39 pm

    Thanks so much for this post! I’ve only been writing for a couple of years but am slowly building my backlist. Maybe sometime soon, I’ll move from the publishers to self-pubbing. It’s reassuring to know that when I do make the transition, I have a decent chance of making a living.

    • #67 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 2:54 pm

      Exactly! There’s no guarantee for anything in publishing, but it’s good to know our chances and how we can best improve them. :)

  28. #68 by Dana Volney on February 17, 2014 - 3:16 pm

    Great post! Thanks for the break down…and hope! :)

    • #69 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 3:18 pm

      Thanks! Yes, it’s good to know there’s a path that gives us a better chance at reaching our goals. :)

  29. #70 by jmollytwilight on February 17, 2014 - 3:26 pm

    That was an excellent breakdown and highly encouraging. Thanks, Jami!

  30. #72 by jccassels on February 17, 2014 - 3:54 pm

    Thanks for the insights! It’s hard to keep your eye on the big picture when you’re building a back list.

    • #73 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 4:13 pm

      Yes, we have to focus on the day-to-day as well as the long term. It’s not easy. LOL!

  31. #74 by Claire Fogel on February 17, 2014 - 4:09 pm

    What a GREAT post! “Show Me the Money!” Excellent info on earnings, even if you hate-hate-hate statistics. This post confirmed all of my thoughts on professional editing and cover design. It may convince my husband too (he who has to approve the checks I write!).

    Many thanks — I love your blog!  Now I just need more guidance on SEO!  Please?

    Claire Fogel

    • #75 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 6:31 pm

      I look at the editing/cover requirements from a business perspective. If we want to succeed in making this a career, we might need to be willing to invest in start-up costs. :)

  32. #76 by Ruth Madison on February 17, 2014 - 4:34 pm

    I tend to think of how much I earn in terms of what I pay myself (as a self-publisher, there’s some set aside for expenses like cover image and editing as well as promotion). I wonder if people answered how much they made based on net or gross. If I stop and think about the gross amount, I’m actually doing pretty well!

    • #77 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 6:32 pm

      That’s a great question, Ruth. I don’t know, but Beverley is on Facebook and Twitter and would be able to tell you how she worded the question. If you find out, let me know! :)

  33. #78 by Raani York on February 17, 2014 - 4:37 pm

    Thanks a lot for the information. I knew I spend hours and hours on the computer… and a lot of people don’t understand that forming a network and platforms does use up tons of time.

    • #79 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 6:33 pm

      True! I can spend hours doing important things and yet feel like I got nothing “accomplished.” *head desk*

  34. #80 by M T McGuire on February 17, 2014 - 4:48 pm

    Great post. Thanks. I have been telling everyone I earn less than I pay to write, which is true. But I have only two books out – the first two in a Trilogy of four. Yeh, I know. The last book was so long I’ve had to cut it in half. And it’s humourous sci-fi so maybe I’ll get away with it.

    The point is, I have two more books coming out soon, June hopefully, so thinking it would take a few months, I made the first book in my series perma free. It actually went free in about 48 hours. A week ago today. Having only sold 10 copies of any of my books in electronic format since June last year, I’ve sold 7 copies of my second book – don’t laugh peps these are HUGE figures for me one book sale every day for a week. Wow. I haven’t promoted the free book, for the simple reason that I am waiting until I have a series of four. But… I’m beginning to see how I might gain a little more traction once I have a four book series out. And I’m also beginning to see how giving away the first book in a series might help.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • #81 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 6:35 pm

      LOL! I love the “trilogy of four”–I’m thinking Hitchhiker’s Guide for sure. :) Good luck!

      • #82 by M T McGuire on February 18, 2014 - 4:42 am

        Thanks. I’m having to do some serious rewriting at the moment.

        Cheers

        MTM

  35. #83 by jillelainehughes on February 17, 2014 - 4:57 pm

    Reblogged this on Jill Elaine Hughes and commented:
    Wanted to reblog this since it’s chock-full of info on the business end of writing. Thanks Kristen Lamb!

  36. #84 by authorleannedyck on February 17, 2014 - 5:29 pm

    So basically write a romance or thriller series and offer at least one book in that series for free. Got it. Thank you.

    • #85 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 6:39 pm

      LOL! Well, it all depends on our goals. Authors in other genres can succeed with these same lessons as well, although the percentages might be different. :)

  37. #86 by shannonlreagan on February 17, 2014 - 6:02 pm

    Wow! Everything you post tends to tell me I’m on the right track. I’m doing things right and I’m being patient enough. (Which is not easy!) I may publish my first novel in the next two months, but it really is when I have three or four books out that I will start seeing real results. Thank you! This is great.

    • #87 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 6:40 pm

      I’m right there with you in trying to be patient. LOL! I hope this was helpful. :) Good luck!

  38. #88 by napow27 on February 17, 2014 - 6:46 pm

    Reblogged this on napowblog and commented:
    Great read yet again from Kristen Lamb.

  39. #89 by Therin Knite on February 17, 2014 - 7:18 pm

    Thanks for all the information! Really sheds some light on how to work your way up. :)

    • #90 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 7:40 pm

      Exactly! We might not see success right away, but we can work our way there. :)

  40. #91 by lisawhitefern on February 17, 2014 - 8:03 pm

    There are people who believe their vanity published book means they are traditionally published and others have been told by the vanity presses that they are self published. Quite a few must have answered the survey and I guess it’s not surprising since Writer’s Digest have done a deal with Author Solutions.

    • #92 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 8:11 pm

      Very true! As these are all self-reported numbers, there’s a certain amount of leeway in any case. :)

  41. #93 by Sinistra Inksteyne on February 17, 2014 - 8:51 pm

    So I can stop looking for that garret to starve in, then? Thanks for crunching the numbers for us, Jami (and Beverley). It’s worth a mint to know what works and what just wastes time.

    • #94 by Jami Gold on February 17, 2014 - 8:53 pm

      LOL! I sure hope there’s no garret in either of our futures. :)

  42. #95 by jamieayres on February 17, 2014 - 10:33 pm

    Thanks for the helpful insights!! I’m with a small publisher and I always go back and forth between if I’m better off staying with them or doing it on my own . . . figured I’ll finish out my trilogy with them and then decide :-)

    • #96 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 1:30 am

      That’s probably a good plan unless your contract automatically returns your rights to your first book after a couple of years. That way you’d have a completed series all in one place. Good luck! :)

  43. #97 by donovanmneal on February 17, 2014 - 10:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Donovan and the act of musing and commented:
    An excellent piece on what it really takes if you want to be successful in the writing industry. Well thought our piece.

  44. #98 by Roe on February 18, 2014 - 12:03 am

    Reblogged this on Roe is Busy Writing and commented:
    If you want to learn about making money through writing, check out this post.

  45. #99 by Roe on February 18, 2014 - 12:04 am

    Very informative, we writers have so much to learn.

    • #100 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 10:37 am

      We *do* have a lot to learn, but luckily the writing community is great about sharing! :)

  46. #101 by saralitchfield on February 18, 2014 - 12:06 am

    Aaah this is brilliant… I feel like I’m really on a mission and kicking into gear with Project Get Published at the moment and that everyone I follow in the WANAworld is sending out messages that are on my side and geared to motivate me…. And how EPIC would winning the WANACon grand prize be?!?!?! I couldn’t find your email Kristen (do you hide it because of the pesky people asking questions you’ve answered time and again in your blog?!) but there’s an editing rates & services query in your facebook msgs and I know you must be swampmonstered until well after WANACon but just hoping it finds you at some point. LOVE

    • #102 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 1:33 am

      LOL! Yes, the grand prize IS epic. :) (Especially because I don’t think Kristen does freelance editing anymore–so this is an extra-special opportunity!)

      Good luck with your “Project Get Published”! :)

      • #103 by saralitchfield on February 18, 2014 - 1:37 pm

        Ah good to know! Thanks Jami! And thanks for the luck :) I wrote a pitch for ABNA last night, but want to pick people’s brains about what they think of the comp at WANACon…

  47. #104 by daphodill on February 18, 2014 - 6:44 am

    Reblogged this on Daphodill's Garden and commented:
    Very inightful.

  48. #105 by Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie on February 18, 2014 - 8:28 am

    Reblogged this on Julie Valerie and commented:
    I’ve never “reblogged” a blog post before so I thought I’d try. I found this article insightful because it debunked recently reported statistics while also summarizing an action plan for success.

  49. #106 by Glynis Jolly on February 18, 2014 - 8:43 am

    Jami, although at this point I’m really not thinking about the money, I do want my book to be read once it’s completed. In order for this to happen, I’m well aware that I need to be ‘out there’ to draw people’s attention. I’ve been blogging for years and have peeked in on my social media accounts about 2 times each week. The one thing I lack is platform. Mostly this is due to the fact that I don’t understand the term. Have I all ready started developing one? Do I need a web site that isn’t a blog? I’m at a loss here.

    • #107 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 10:55 am

      Hi Glynis,

      A platform is simply a catch-all term for the tools we have for reaching out to potential readers: a blog, social media, etc. So yes, you’ve already started developing your platform.

      The only question is whether you’re developing that platform in the most effective way. I don’t know the answer for that, but read Kristen’s blog, attend WANACon if you can–and Thursday night’s free PajamaCon will feature Kristen’s mini-workshop on Branding for Authors, so you can attend that no matter what. :)

      See if you can pick up additional tips for how you can make that platform you’ve planted grow into something even more useful for your goals. :)

  50. #108 by Chrystina Trulove-Reyes on February 18, 2014 - 11:51 am

    Reblogged this on Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse and commented:
    This is absolutely fascinating if you are wanting to write seriously!

  51. #109 by cealarenne on February 18, 2014 - 1:36 pm

    I’m afaid I think I’ve come to this discussion a little late. As a self published author, I see this advice in various forums and blogs, but I was very interested in the statistics. I have one book out that’s doing very well, getting good reviews, and thought I couldn’t make a series out of it, however, it was one of my readers who suggested a sequel to the book. It’s a great premise and means I could continue with the same theme in a series. This advice just clarifies the future for me, so thank you! I’m now a new deciple of your blog.

    • #110 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 4:10 pm

      It’s so nice to have statistics to analyze, isn’t it? :) I’m glad my guest post here was helpful for you!

  52. #111 by Charlotte Gerber, Mystery Author on February 18, 2014 - 3:21 pm

    Reblogged this on Charlotte Gerber.

  53. #112 by bpeschel on February 18, 2014 - 3:21 pm

    I was wondering if you were looking at Howey’s report; that seems to be stirring up a storm lately.

    If you do, take a look at another author who analyzed the top 100 books in each of the genres. What he found in the mystery/thriller area raises some interesting questions:

    http://www.edwardwrobertson.com/2014/02/self-publishings-share-of-kindle-market.html

    • #113 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 9:11 pm

      Interesting! Thanks for sharing!

      Honestly, I think a lot of the storm about Howey’s report is related to the attempt to extrapolate one day’s sales over a whole year. This inflates expectations for those books on sales days, etc. Unfortunately, that questionable statistical analysis has overtaken the discussion from what we can learn from the numbers about ebook sales vs. print sales.

  54. #114 by A.n.k.H. on February 18, 2014 - 3:46 pm

    I’m SO excited for WANACon! (I’m one of the moderators for it, Anjel K. Harrison). I don’t know if this counts towards your little cool contest, but I mentioned about WANACon 2014 (and tweeted it many times) on my latest blog post: http://ankhprophecy.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/wanacon-2014-moderator-and-other-things/ So there you go. :)

    Insofar as being a hybrid/traditional/self-publisher, all this information between you Kristen and Jami (and some I’ve read from Chuck Wendig) is EXTREMELY helpful to myself. I am writing my first novel (fingers crossed to be done by the middle of this year), but I’m like a deer in headlights with the idea of whether or not to try for an agent and getting it done the trad-way (which a lot of people are saying is the best for fresh authors to do, so to actually garner media/bookstore attention and critical reviews for their first break through), or doing it self-pub (which is harder to do and get a name for, on many accounts). From what I’m seeing I ‘believe’ that to some degree hybridization as an author-publisher is the best means, but we should try out self-pubbing first (for example, testing the waters with a novella or anthology of short stories). My major worry as a newbie writer is money issues and making sure to get a profit after the editing process (which I know will take quite a bit of money for professional editing, which seems a MUST if you’re serious about your craft.) So, in that regard, is agenting and traditional-pubbing the major first step? Or…should I aim to collect short stories or do a few novellas self-pubbing first? (This also goes hand-in-hand with the frequented idea that you have a better chance garnering agent attention if you actually do some PRing, media ‘humping’ (as I call it), and getting short / flash-fiction bought and published through online magazines yourself beforehand.)

    • #115 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 18, 2014 - 4:18 pm

      A lot of it has to do with your personality. Save the money. There are editors who are reasonable. CreateSpace can be a good enough cover for a short work and there are great cover designers who aren’t THAT expansive. THIS is what WANACon is about. Informing you so you guys can make the best BUSINESS decisions.

      • #116 by A.n.k.H. on February 18, 2014 - 4:48 pm

        Well I believe I have a suitable personality to be a hybrid. :) And yes, saving the money would be the best means. I’ve heard of CreateSpace, and I’m unsure about cover designers. It might be best to consult with them? I do my own drawings and can do designing (was an art minor). Or is it best for both shorter work and longer to get an actual cover designer?

        As with all businesses, especially for a newbie, it’s very complex and seemingly difficult to decipher at times, (i.e. never took a business course in my life and starting to wonder if that would help.)

        • #117 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 9:35 pm

          Hi Anjel,

          With an art background, you might be able to do some cover work on your own.

          You’d want to study the covers of your genre and analyze what makes them look professional or unprofessional, what style of cover art looks good for your genre (some genres use drawing style, some computer style, some photo style). For example, this post: http://diymfa.com/community/amateurs-guide-professional-book-package-part-three

          Being part of WANA and the writing community would allow you to run cover drafts by others and get feedback too. :)

          You could always start with trying it out on a shorter work and see if your attempt “measures up” before going for it on a full novel.

  55. #118 by glenperk on February 18, 2014 - 5:23 pm

    This information doesn’t come as a surprise to me. I know many self pubbed authors, or want to self pub, but they refuse to listen. No, I don’t need a professional editor. No, I can do the cover art. Blah, blah, blah.

    • #119 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 9:40 pm

      Sad but true. My post over at my blog on Thursday will probably be a rant about poor editing–not that it would do any good. LOL!

      • #120 by glenperk on February 18, 2014 - 9:45 pm

        It’ll make you feel better, Jami. :)

        • #121 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 9:48 pm

          LOL! Maybe.

          I actually had about 1000 words of it ready to go last night and then closed the wrong window and lost it all. (I’ve had very little sleep as we’re getting ready for WANACon. *sigh*) So I’d have to rant all over again to recreate it. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. :D

          • #122 by glenperk on February 18, 2014 - 9:50 pm

            Your rant will be more (or less) focused the second time around. :)

      • #124 by Jennifer Rose on February 20, 2014 - 1:58 pm

        If you need an example of poor editing, check out “The Sorcerer’s Ring” series by Morgan Rice. REALLY fun books to read, but I had to stop reading because of misuse of things like there/they’re/their and an actual “______ said.” in one spot!!

  56. #126 by Stephanie Scott on February 18, 2014 - 5:43 pm

    This statement at the end really resonated for me: “So does it matter really if 80% of self-published authors don’t make more than $1000 in a year if you intend to emulate the 20% who are doing it right and making a very comfortable living doing it?”

    An agent at the first conference I attended said something similar; to not be scared off by query statistics. The fact we were sitting there, having paid money for a conference already put us ahead of the game. We weren’t actually competing with the 15,000 queries (or however many the agency received in a year) but a much smaller percentage; the ones who followed agency submission guidelines, queried the right agent for the right genre and followed directions.

    • #127 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 9:42 pm

      Great point! Yes, the vast majority don’t “do things right,” which is why I asked Beverley to run that last analysis, so we could see what our realistic chances were for that “real” competition. Those numbers still didn’t contain a guarantee, but they were certainly more encouraging. :)

  57. #128 by Elise de Sallier on February 18, 2014 - 7:25 pm

    Thanks so much for another terrific article. I’ve shared the link with The Writer’s Coffee Shop Authors, Indie Author Critiques, Fan Fiction Authors Published, and Author to Author Cross Promo groups.

    I found this article very encouraging as, partly by accident and partly by design, I am on my way to ticking most of the ‘boxes’. My first book (a Regency) was published mid Dec and has done much better than I expected spending over two months in the Amazon Top 100 for its genre. The sequel comes out in May and the first book in a series I’m writing will be released in August. I’ve gone with an independent publisher (TWCS), and have learned more in the last year about every form of editing than I ever wanted to know! It’s been incredibly worthwhile, though, as I didn’t have the money for ‘up front’ editing. It’s a slow process being published through a PH – one book a year, two if you’re very lucky – so I’m hoping to self publish a novella series in between my longer, PH stories to build my brand a little more quickly. Also, I don’t have the option to lower the price or offer the PH stories for free, whereas I can do that with the first in the series I’m self publishing.

    Would you recommend waiting until you have two or three stories in a series published before dropping the price on the first story?

    One thing I’ve noticed quite a few authors doing is jumping from genre to genre, and while I can certainly understand the temptation, from a business POV, it seems to make sense to build a brand in one area before diversifying.

    Thanks again for sharing such valuable information.

    Elise

    • #129 by Jami Gold on February 18, 2014 - 9:45 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing my guest post! :)

      LOL! Yes, “ticking the boxes.” That’s a great way to put it. :)

      I don’t have experience as far as whether it would be best to offer the first book at a low price initially or to drop the price later, so I’m afraid I can’t help you with that. The good thing about self-publishing is that we can experiment with just about everything. :) Good luck!

  58. #130 by Bobby Hall on February 18, 2014 - 9:07 pm

    Ms. Lamb, once again I eat and chew, yes, at least eight times, each and every word you dish out. I remember in the 2000’s, the Lexus automobile company was enjoying top draw in the luxury car market. However, there were other comparable automobiles that were equal and/or superior in overall performance or return on investment. Yet, because Lexus then had an automobile marketing program second to none they were considered the car to be seen in. No-one questioned it. The commercials said it, therefore it was true.

    I, for one, will do any and everything you and my editor, Mrs. Janet Green, tell me to do. I hope one day to be one of the names on your list of authors who listened and won. Thanks again for a blog that not only inspires, but also kicks our butts.

    • #131 by Jami Gold on February 19, 2014 - 11:13 am

      LOL! Er, I guess I’m glad my guest post inspired such butt kicking? :)

      Good for you at moving forward and good luck!

  59. #132 by Linda Sharon Connelly on February 19, 2014 - 9:03 am

    Thanks for this, as I recently decided to become a freelancer and am feeling overwhelmed by how much to learn. This was helpful insight!

    • #133 by Jami Gold on February 19, 2014 - 11:14 am

      Yes, it is overwhelming, but hopefully this post helps bring a little clarity. :) Good luck!

  60. #134 by drewdog2060drewdog2060 on February 19, 2014 - 11:09 am

    I published my first book on Amazon in 2012, however it was only in December 2013 that my first payment arrived. Although only a small amount it was worth the wait! I believe that my blog has been helpful in bringing my writing to the attention of a wider audence. Thanks for this very interesting post, Kevin

    • #135 by Jami Gold on February 19, 2014 - 9:16 pm

      Yes, when we self-publish, we have to get our name out there somehow. Blogging is one way to do that. :)

  61. #136 by L. Palmer on February 19, 2014 - 6:08 pm

    This is really great information. A lot of blogs I read from aspiring authors feel like they’ve given up on actually making a living off their creativity. It’s information like this that can be applied in a practical, business manner that will help a living actually be made. It takes a lot of strategy, patience, and hard work.

    • #137 by Jami Gold on February 19, 2014 - 9:18 pm

      “It takes a lot of strategy, patience, and hard work.” That’s a great way to put it. I hope this is helpful information so people can strategize. :)

  62. #138 by lje1 on February 19, 2014 - 7:05 pm

    Reblogged this on Laurie J. Edwards ~ Author, Artist, Dreamer… and commented:
    A different take on the recent question of what authors make…

  63. #139 by Julie Glover on February 19, 2014 - 10:18 pm

    Forget all the posts I’ve read from major news carriers on this topic. Jami pared it down beautifully and accurately. Thank you so, so much! Such helpful information.

    I am bookmarking and sharing this post.

    • #140 by Jami Gold on February 19, 2014 - 10:33 pm

      Aww, thanks Julie! I’m happy to help. :)

  64. #141 by S. Winchester on February 19, 2014 - 11:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Black Ophelia and commented:
    worth the read. Writing is a business so make sure you know what you’re getting into. Research is important, friends!

  65. #142 by drewdog2060drewdog2060 on February 20, 2014 - 1:40 am

    Reblogged this on newauthoronline and commented:
    A great post. Maths has never been my strong point, however the article contains some interesting statistics regarding how authors can best promote their work. My brain felt rather like mush having analysed all those stats but useful none the less!

  66. #143 by Steve Spillman on February 20, 2014 - 6:56 am

    Jami and Kristen,
    Thanks for this. As a publisher, I’ve discovered one incontrovertible truth – nobody is happy if we’re not selling books. I know selling books is a business; I wish I could convince more of my authors. I will pass this on to every author who will listen.
    Thanks again

    • #144 by Jami Gold on February 20, 2014 - 2:43 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for sharing the other side! Yes, publishing is a business, and while authors without business sense aren’t doomed, they need to listen to as much business-minded advice as possible to fill in those blanks. :)

  67. #145 by Jennifer Rose on February 20, 2014 - 2:00 pm

    Thank you for this solid, factual information! I am working on developing a business plan and this will help immensely! Thanks!

    • #146 by Jami Gold on February 20, 2014 - 2:43 pm

      That’s great to hear! Good luck putting together your plan. :)

  68. #147 by Alice Orr on February 21, 2014 - 8:39 pm

    Thank you so much Kristen for posting this incredibly valuable piece. I’ve been reading surveys till I’m afraid my eyes and my brain may be permanently crossed. This is just what I needed to straighten me out. Especially the summaries along the way of the points we should particularly remember and important links to access. I read it all and even took notes. As I said invaluable.

    • #148 by Jami Gold on February 21, 2014 - 10:10 pm

      Hi Alice, I’m glad you found my guest post helpful! Believe me, I understand about eyes crossing. :) That’s how I felt when putting this together. LOL!

  69. #149 by terencekuch on February 24, 2014 - 3:59 pm

    A little off this specific topic, but I do have a question that could make for another post: After reading Writer Beware and similar sites, I’m scared of even approaching a promo firm for my books. You know that indie publishers do very little promotion, and so it’s up to the author. Well, in most fields there are professionals that know how to do things – no one builds his own home unless he’s a pro – so I don’t think I could do promotion, and just want to pay a reputable firm to do it for me, because they know to get results (I hope!). I have two indie-published novels on which I’m earning a dribble of royalties, and two e-book collections of my short stories, from a different indie publisher, will be out in March and April. But I would like to do more promo than the publisher will do. Where could I look not to get taken?

    Thanks! terencekuch /a/t/ gmail.com

    • #150 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 24, 2014 - 4:02 pm

      Promo is a time and money suck and I think there are better uses for time and cash (my POV). These days most ads are invisible and promotion is viewed negatively. It’s why I recommend creating that author platform and blogging. Blogging is a passive way to sell. Blog about things that interest others and blog off your author site. Then, in the sidebar, there are your books for purchase.

    • #151 by Jami Gold on February 24, 2014 - 4:08 pm

      Ditto to what Kristen says about traditional thoughts of promotion (i.e. the things a public relations firm would do: press releases, book tours, advertising etc.) being mostly worthless. We need word of mouth for our book, and traditional p.r. stuff doesn’t drive that.

      A few (rare) places might offer a decent return on investment for advertisements, but that’s going to be so genre dependent that no p.r. firm would be qualified to know those locations unless they specialize in your genre.

      Instead, you need a platform to gather fans who will spread that word for you.

      • #152 by terencekuch on February 24, 2014 - 7:43 pm

        Thanks for your comments. I do have a blog to which I post a new piece of ‘microfiction’ every day – it’s had 23,000+ page views so far, and each post includes a notice of one of my published books, the link to my Amazon author page, and a jpg of one of the covers. However, my sales are pretty dismal (in spite of a very good review for my first book by Kirkus). – – – But I won’t hire one of those agencies, now.

  70. #153 by Julie Musil (@juliemusil) on March 31, 2014 - 5:15 pm

    Time and backlist. It’s excellent advice that I keep hearing again and again. Thanks for the great analysis!

    • #154 by Jami Gold on March 31, 2014 - 5:35 pm

      Yes, if we’re not expecting instant success, we’re also more likely to not be so disappointed that we quit. That’s one sure way to not succeed. :) Thanks for the comment!

  71. #155 by Larissa Redeker on April 2, 2014 - 9:45 pm

    Good information here. And in the tips on how to reach more readers are amazing. I have a serie, and one thing that I wonder all the time is: great drawings about the book can bring readers too? I’m an artist, more than a writer, and I love to draw. My book will have illustrations, and often I make some drawings of the chars, and places.

    • #156 by Jami Gold on April 8, 2014 - 11:01 pm

      Hi Larissa, That’s an interesting question and one I haven’t seen people talk about very much. Some genres (or more accurately, categories) like Children’s or Middle Grade typically include illustrations (especially at the chapter heads), but others don’t include drawings at all.

      However, I know many fantasy or sci-fi series include illustrations, maps, etc. in the bonus materials on their website. So I don’t know that drawings will BRING readers, but they can certainly make current readers more involved in the stories, potentially leading to a stronger affinity for the books. :)

      • #157 by larissaredeker on April 28, 2014 - 1:38 pm

        I’m working in a fantasy/sci-fi book with illustrations. One thing that I want to see if it works is to put illustrations in websites or other publishing ways that aren’t from inside the book. Drawings that show what you can read in the book, or previous versions of the cover. Or the same that’s made for movies: the concept book.

        I like to discover new ways to make things, and with the books isn’t different :)

        I know that some readers don’t like to see drawings of the chars, but I’m that type that love to see how the author created the chars, how they look through the vision of it’s creator :)

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