From Russell Blake.
I get a lot of emails from authors who are just starting out, or who are on the road but frustrated at the level of success they’ve seen thus far. I wish I had more time to correspond with everyone, but the truth is I’m usually slammed with writing/publishing related tasks, and don’t have a lot of opportunity to do more than offer a brief sentence or two.
But the last few missives I received got me thinking about what I wish someone had explained to me before I started self-publishing in June, 2011. So here’s my top 10 list, such as it is:
1) There are lots of talented writers out there. Lots. And it seems like everyone’s now got a book, or books, on Amazon. Being good isn’t enough to guarantee you anything but satisfaction for a job well done. It should, but it doesn’t. Don’t take it personally.
2) There are lots of crap writers out there. Lots. And while many sink to the bottom of the swamp with nary a whimper, some sell well, and some even become bestsellers. This is because the world’s unfair and, depending upon the genre, oftentimes readers don’t care much whether they suck or not, as long as the story entertains or reaffirms some conviction or bias the readers have. These authors succeed in spite of their abilities, rather than because of them. Don’t take it personally.
3) The internet is filled with gurus who know nothing. It’s hard to turn around without bumping into a writing or self-publishing expert. Most of them are completely full of shit, and don’t sell many books – but that doesn’t stop them from trying to get you to part with your money to hear them tell you what you need to do to sell well. Whenever you hear advice, consider the source. If it’s a million selling author, that means more than from someone whose work ranks slightly lower on Amazon than the collected love poems of Adolf Hitler in original German. Seems like everybody but me is selling seminars, courses, or how to books that promise much and deliver nothing. Must be a good business there, but I prefer labeling my fiction as such and putting in a car chase or gunfight rather than trying to trick the dim or desperate out of a few bucks.
4) You need to be able to put out books at a decent clip. Sure, you might hit huge off one, but probably not. You’ll be building your readership the hard way, which means one reader at a time, and the more quality books you have on your virtual bookshelf the more likely one will catch someone’s eye. This doesn’t appeal to a lot of authors’ wish that they could write a book every year or two and have a nice living. Sorry. I have yet to see that happen. But it’s a seductive siren song, so lots of newbies listen to it like it’s still a viable way to go. In self-publishing, not so much.
More at “10 Things I Wish I’d Been Told”.
I know, I know. Stop making blog posts, John, and finish CURSE.