I waded knee deep into this novel I’m trying to write. The longer it went on the more frustrated I became. Not from any real problem, or even “writer’s block”, whatever that is. I started goofing off when I should have been writing. I started looking at publishers and agents. You know? Counting my chickens.
It turns out that is counterproductive. Who would have guessed? I was also looking around for stuff similar to what I was writing. A kind of plagiarism self check. It turns out some of what I wanted to read costs real money! But wait, there’s more. Some doesn’t. FREEEEEEE!
You know what I did? I got me some of that free stuff. Then I looked around and bought some of the bargain bin stuff. Then I started reading it. Plagiarism check complete, and I was on solid ground. I also stumbled upon something. Stay with me.
I have gone through life just like millions of others. A trend here or there and I’m okay with it. Sometimes I was a late bloomer (getting rid of the home phone and just having my iPhone). Other times I was a not blooming at all (parachute pants, break dancing, Blue-Ray). At this moment I am starting to see something different.
All of those books I read that were free, and the bargains at two bucks or less, weren’t books. They were digital. Ebooks. I read them on my Surface RT, or my Mac. It turns out I’m not onto anything. I had a Kindle Fire when they first came out. It took a dump and no longer functions. I had bought several titles for it. The fact is I haven’t bought a hold-in-your-hand-paper-and-coffee-stained book in over a year. At the time I thought I was hot on the trail of something. It turns out that herd of animals was plentiful and being slaughtered like the day is long.
I wrote all of that to get to this. Numerous people are making money by writing fiction (or nonfiction) every single day. Some I have heard of and I bought (McCann, Frazier, McCarthy, Giardina), others I have never heard of but still bought them (Nassise, S.A. Hunt). Another author, Johnny B. Truant (if that’s your real name) wrote Fat Vampire. I bought all of them. You should too. Hilarious. E-Readers, Kindle Fires, iPads, Nooks, and even my badass little Surface RT, have changed how we consume literature. And that is what we do, consume it. Sometimes it nourishes us, other times…Well I like nachos covered in Velveeta and canned chili (don’t act like you have no idea what I’m saying).
I then went around the internet and found out something about these “unknowns” I read. Turns out some of them have a following. Turns out some of them have written several books, which is what we will call them because that is what they are. Turns out some of these people crank out one or two a month. That Nassise guy? A whole series based on the Templar Knights being a modern day supernatural tac-team defending the unknowing against the unknown. Truant writes about a guy who was turned into a vampire, on accident, and he can never lose weight. Suck on that Stephanie Meyers and her A&F models that somehow are supposed to instill fear or lust. Some of what I read was crap, but I only paid .99% of a dollar for it. Whoever wrote it got to keep what? Thirty five cents, maybe. No harm no foul. I can delete the crap and not feel bad.
I read a Stephen King book, once, and I liked it. I read another one and I just didn’t give a damn. They both took up a chunk of space, and were around ten dollars each. I threw away twenty dollars. Threw it directly into the trash can. Why? Because I only read a book once, even if I like it. It’s not the Bible or Q’ran, I don’t study them for life advice. I read (consume) and then move on to the next tenderloin or hotdog.
I’m a late bloomer. Here is some proof:
This man is a sage. He has been published by the people we would like to publish our stuff. He hates them. With a passion. He hates them because they are ignorant. He goes on record saying you can make money by self publishing. B.S. you say? He provides proof. Hugh Howey.
He self published one of the books I bought, Wool, a few years ago. Not vanity publishing. He didn’t pay a dime. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). He just formatted it and loaded it up. I’m simplifying of course, he most likely worked his ass off marketing it. It paid off though, because he’s rich. Or what I consider rich. He turned down one of the publishing houses I salivate over and kept all his rights when they came to him. They paid him six figures for printing rights only. Ridley Scott and Fox are making it into a movie.
While the Konrath’s and Howey’s make a million or more a year, that’s an anomaly. Sure. But what about making a living? Or maybe you’re like me and submitted to literary magazines back in college for beer money. I paid a dollar for one of those books written by somebody I don’t know. I went back to give it a decent review. Over a hundred people had reviewed it. He had written other stuff as well, and their were many reviews on that as well. I’m not Sherlock Holmes or anything (although I was a cop), but I think that guy made a few hundred dollars off of each one. In just a month.
I told my son about this new schooling I got. He did some research as well because this involved money and how to obtain it. Still twelve, still selfish. He found this: Throwaway Writer Method
So yes. We can all make money writing. Maybe. Some points made across the board by different people were similar.
1. You cannot sacrifice quality. If you are going to do it treat it like a real job. Better yet, treat it like you are an actual writer. You know? Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer, that Fifty Shades lady.
2. Work. Write, edit, revise. Then market. Most of the people I looked at have at the very least a blog. Some of them have a full-on look at me I used to be an IT geek website. The Fat Vampire guy does podcasting, along with his friends who also self-publish. Hey! I’ve got a blog. Can I join?
3. Now this last one is tricky, especially for me. I lack some of the confidence needed to actually get the publishing part done. Maybe it’s because I was indoctrinated by lit professors who only knew one kind of book? Get some stuff out there. Make sure it is decent, maybe even great, but get it out there. When you do that, do it again. And again. And yet again. Do it enough that you start to get a rhythm, just like a job. If it sucks somebody will let you know (assholes have a way of finding us all). If it doesn’t suck and is actually okay, good, pretty good, or “hey, can we make this a movie? My people will call your people,” somebody will let you know. You may find the asshole who hated it beat the person that loved it to review/comment/troll paradise. So what do you do? You write another one. Market it, along with the other stuff. Soon you could find yourself pulling in a whopping 3,000 a month. Or you could have people scrambling to have Jared Leto play the main character, and oh my God! Who is going to write the screenplay?
I’m going to try a modest experiment and publish two short stories. Just two. I’ll sell them for the rock bottom 99 cents on KDP (Amazon). You do the same. Comment on what you wrote, and what the title is so I can find it. I’ll buy something, because it’s only 99 cents and that ain’t shit. See how that works?