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Can You Really Make a Living as a Self-Published Author?

I’m asking myself this question right now so I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned because the answer isn’t easy. It depends. Here are the variables as I see it:

How Much You Write
You have to build up a body of work before you become known. You are not going to cash in on the very first book you publish because you are sending your baby out into a sea of thousands of other books that already have a following. The more you publish, the higher the likelihood that your work will reach a wider audience so you’ve got to write and publish a lot.

How Much You’re Willing to Work at It
Anyone can write a book and publish it these days. Even with self-publishing becoming more of a quality endeavor, many people still think a self-published book is not as good as a book published by say, Random House. You absolutely MUST publish a book that is on par with a book like The Fault in Our Stars or Gone Girl as far as quality goes.  That means you’ve got to work at the craft of writing to create the best book you possibly can. You must align yourself with professionals who are dedicated to that end as well (like editors and book cover designers). The competition is getting fierce.

How Much You Put Yourself Out There
You must talk about, Tweet about, Facebook about, and email about your book as much as possible because NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT IT but you’ve got to do it in a way that’s not “in your face” or “too cheesy.” You must present yourself as a “brand” that people who don’t know you would be willing to get to know. If you think for one minute that you just write your book, publish it, and you’re done…then forget it. You will not be able to make any money at it.

Taking all of these variable into consideration, earning enough money to pay your mortage (if you have one), feed your family, and live your life is still tough especially if you’re starting out. It doesn’t happen right away because no one knows about you. Most of your time and energy is spend getting known when you should be writing. It takes tenacity, perserverance, and consistency.

The Hugh Howey scenario is one in a milion: you write a book, self-publish it, market it, and thousands of people buy it and tell everyone about it. For most of us, it takes writing and publishing several dozen books before we crack into the coveted “Amazon Top 100 Best Sellers,” and those authors don’t ever come close to the New York Times Best Sellers.

I may sound like I’m trying to convince you not to pursue self-publishing because you are likely not going to earn enough to do it full time, and that’s mostly true. I’m actually presenting the reality for those of you (like me) who have your head in the clouds. We will still write, reach for our dreams but we’ll do it without rose-colored glasses on seeing the landscape for what it is and doing what we do because we love it not because we think we’ll make it to the big time.

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6 Things I Hate About Writing

Hate is such a strong word but it’s necessary when I tell you that I want pull out all my teeth and hair sometimes when I write. I get so sick of battling the muse that I want to tell her to hit the road and leave me alone!

And now without further ado, here are six things I hate about writing: Continue reading

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A Scene I Wish I Didn’t Have to Cut

“Kill your babies.”

It’s good editing advice but you have to make sure you’re killing babies that don’t keep your story moving forward. Not only is it hard to cut scenes that you just love but it’s also tough to know when and why to cut them.

Below is a scene I wrote for my debut novel, Burnt Edges, that I thought was really good but in the end I cut it out. Why did I not include it? Well, there were a few of reasons: Continue reading

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How I Fit Writing Novels Into My Crazy Life

It’s called juggling, and I don’t always do it that well. My husband would agree with that statement.

Besides learning the technical skill, there’s an art to juggling. You have to know which ball happens to be the most important at the moment so you don’t drop it. Then you’ve got to keep your eyes on all the other balls in the air. It’s not easy.

My “day job” keeps the bills paid and the children fed but it often gets in the way of my author job. My kids are involved in sports and they have active social lives that includes me driving them all over the place, which takes me away from writing. There’s my husband too, who I also want to spend time with. Then there’s the “running our home” thing that includes making sure there is food in the refrigerator and preparing the food to be eaten. I also try to take care of myself by practicing yoga. With all of that, there is very little time to write.

I could easily say, “I just don’t have time!” But I don’t. Here is what I do: Continue reading