Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Real Strength of Indie Authors

Back in the late '80s/early '90s, someone described actors (and I use the term loosely) like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal as sort of "in-between" action stars:  they were able to slake the public's thirst for more action movies by headlining films that debuted in between releases from major stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.  It was a tactic that served them well; Seagal, for instance, became a household name thanks to films like Hard to Kill and Marked for Death, the latter of which I rank as among his best work - despite the now-laughable trailer below.  (Hey, 20 years ago this was bad-ass.)

In essence, there was room for more movies with other action stars.  Someone just had to make them.

In a similar vein, there's room for books other than those published by the traditional establishment.  In fact, the public has proven to have a voracious appetite for the written word, and the mind-boggling success of so many self-published authors demonstrates that readers have been grossly underserved.  This, to a certain extent, has helped many indies achieve incredible success. (It also didn't hurt that they wrote great stories, too.)

The hunger of readers for good books really wasn't being satisfied by legacy publishers.  In fact, you might say they're still starving when you consider the fact that - from the standpoint of traditional publishing - it was generally considered highly productive if an author released one book per year. Their slothful practices, however, are a boon for indies and play right into what is probably our greatest strength: the ability to get our books written and released at a comparatively rapid-fire rate.

Consider, for example, the following:  between March and December 2013, I wrote and published 6 books.  Six!  That's 6 books during a 10-month period (which is nothing compared to a lot of other authors).  There's no way I could have done that with a legacy publisher - the lead times are just too great. However, I believe that being able to write and publish quickly allowed me to reach readers and swiftly grow an audience for my work.  It is this ability to be prolific - much more so than most writers at traditional publishers  - that really make indie authors a force to be reckoned with.

That said, self-published authors have to take advantage of this dynamic by writing constantly.  You can't get bogged down by things like how your latest release is doing, the fact that BookBub rejected you, etc. Sure, some indies will experience tremendous success with just a single novel (and sometimes right out the gate), but for most of us this is going to be a volume business. You're probably going to have to crank out a fair amount of product in order to obtain a modicum of success.  How much does that equate to?  Well, in a previous blog, I posted about making a living by selling 3 books per day, the gist of which is that if you can publish 20 books, with each of them selling roughly 3 copies per day at $2.99 each, you could earn $50,000 per year.  

Bearing that in mind, I'd argue that - if you're serious about wanting to be an author - publishing 20 books is a good goal to have.  Why 20?  Frankly speaking, one book simply isn't enough to hinge the concepts of success and failure on.  It's certainly not enough to hone your craft, develop your style, or mature as a writer.  I don't even think that 5 books would be enough, and I'm not certain that 10 would do the trick either.  In short, I believe that the magic number actually lies somewhere between 10 and 20, but I say shoot for the latter in order to be safe. (It also wouldn't hurt to have a business plan, which would include things like a release schedule and a marketing budget.)

Of course, I'm not saying you have to write all 20 books in a year, but I would suggest that you not quit, give up, lose faith, what have you, until you get book number 20 out there. At that juncture, hopefully you'll be seeing some form of income, but more importantly, you'll have made a serious effort in the field of writing (not that writing fewer books means you didn't try).

In short, the speed with which indie authors can get their material written and released is probably the best arrow in our respective quivers.  Try to fire early and often.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Book Release: Terminus (Fringe Worlds #1)

After a far-longer period than I ever anticipated, I am happy to finally be releasing a new book: Terminus (Fringe Worlds #1).  The description is as follows:

Master Sergeant Gant Maker was a highly-decorated and well-respected Marine - until his last mission left him as the sole survivor of an encounter with a vicious race called the Vacra. Served up as a scapegoat and drummed out of the military, he has since lived a life of seclusion with only an adopted alien as a companion. 

Now the Vacra have returned. As the only person to have ever faced them and survived, Maker is reinstated in the Corps and given the onerous task of finding this enemy on a world located at the edge of known space. Assisting him is an unlikely band of military rejects, including a blind sharpshooter, an unstable psychic, and a genetically-engineered killing machine who refuses to fight. 

Given that the Vacra have superior weapons and technology, Maker recognizes that his team is at a distinct disadvantage. But Marines are nothing if not resourceful, and Maker has an audacious plan that just may level the playing field – if it doesn’t get them all killed.

This is a novel that, in all honesty, had been eating away at my brain for a while, so the options were either to write it or go crazy.  (I'm sure my wife would say that the latter had already happened, so might as well do the former.)  Of course, that meant putting some other projects on hold, but now I can turn my full attention to them and focus on getting them finished - starting with the next Kid Sensation book.

As always, I feel blessed to have readers who are interested in my work, and I'm thankful for the support. Hopefully those who read it will enjoy this book.

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