The road to success is paved with books

Road KnowledgeEvery author wants to know how to make enough writing books to give up their day job.  I’m no different.  So, I’ve been tracking what works and what doesn’t.

First, let me assure you that the chances of you making it big with just one book is VERY slim.  Oh sure, some do, but some people also win the lottery.  If you wouldn’t bet your financial future on those kinds of odds, then you shouldn’t put it all on a single book.  There are just too many factors to the market for that to be a safe bet.

And if you research it, you will get information that runs the gamut.  Some say it’s all about many short stories.  Others say it’s about putting your book on every single twitter list and blog you can find.  There are places who recommend you do press releases, send books to your local library, and so much more.  I can’t tell you if those work for everyone.  I CAN tell you what is working for me.

I started off working full time at two jobs.  As one died down and fizzled out, I needed to increase my income.  Here I was, sitting on a back list that made jaws drop (which is how I’m pumping out so many books so fast, they’ve been written for a while).  So, before I dove in, I did my research. What sells, what doesn’t, and how do I make the most of my obscure status.

The first thing I saw was that romance is hot.  Hey, I had a cute and sweet romance novel.  Sure, it jerks out a few tears, but it’s definitely romance, and also romantic instead of just erotic.  I wasn’t ever expecting it to get a publishing deal, so I decided that One More Day would be my first foray into the world of self-publishing with Kindle.

It did well.  Now, it wasn’t a best seller, and it sure didn’t buy me a new car, but since I’d been researching, I was told to expect about $50 USD from my first book in the first month.  I made almost $250 without doing more than sending out a few tweets.  Hey, that means I don’t suck!  Ok, so it was time to learn from this.  I chose a series that is almost finished (Wolf of Oberhame) to check the fantasy market.  The plot line is relatively simple, the writing flows, there’s plenty of action, and it’s a bit more PG-13 to start.

08-05bUCzIBut when I tossed that out to the world, it fell into an echo chamber.  No one really cared.  I got a few reads from my previous fans, but that was about it.  The ratings were high, the page reads and sales weren’t.  Hmm.  Well, I owed it to my fans to finish the series, so I got to work on improving WWWK and send When We Were Dancing to the editor.  The corrections that came back meant a few months of work, but on February 12th, When We Were Dancing went live.  Sales skyrocketed.

Now, I cheated a bit.  I gave away When We Were Kings (book 1) during the initial release of book 2.  I offered preorder buyers a nice discount ($0.99 if bought before release, $2.99 after) and I paid a bit of money (less than $20 bucks) to get book 1 some attention on social media.  The result was dumbfounding.

My income during release weekend eclipsed that of both my previous books’ first month combined.  This was my third book, and second in the series.  My marketing was minimal, trusting my fans to honestly want to know how the story ends, and it seems to be working.  To me, this says, “Write the best books you can, and people will buy them, if you prove you can deliver.”

And now, I’m offering two more series.  The Eternal Combat Series follows a group of gamers as they deal with the unexpected repercussions of sexism in their hobby.  Rise of the Iliri is straight science fantasy about the rebellion of a subjugated species of humanoids.  VERY different books, both series are mostly done (editing and cover art are the holdups).  And I’m finishing the last of When We Were Crowned (because the changes my editor demanded means about 50,000 words need to be changed and re-written).

While I’m on this mad dash, I’m tracking numbers.  So far, the best advertising I can get is from Rochelle’s Reviews.  One one side they review romance and erotica novels.  On the other, they have just opened a branch of Science Fiction, Paranormal, and Fantasy.  Both offer readers a place to easily buy the books and to shop for more.  It’s like a portal to the riches of literature.

A measly splurge of $14.99 with Book Tweep hit a larger segment of the reading market than I expected.  I will most likely do this for the first month of each book’s release.  Studies show that buyers need to see something a few times before they trust it, and the daily tweets appear to be working.  It’s not enough to annoy my followers on twitter, but it does seem to bring sales.

But most of all, the best way to gain success seems to be just writing more books.  Each one advertises the rest.  That link on Amazon to my author page, where all my books are easily found is doing half my work for me.  And, of course, the links I place in each novel so my readers can find what they are looking for.

Next month, we’ll see if things are still looking up, but right now?  Yeah, I’ve already gone to part-time and am trying to decide what I need to make to quit altogether.  I have a good feeling that it’s really going to happen.  Hopefully, this time next year, I’ll be a full-time author, traveling on a road paved with all my books.

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