What Does It Take to Become a Full-Time Indie Author?
A few months ago, I changed my Twitter bio from “indie fantasy/steampunk author” to “full-time indie fantasy/steampunk author.” Apparently a couple of people actually read that Twitter bio, because I’ve had questions about it.
–You really earn a living from your ebooks?
–How many books do you have to write to do that?
–Are you a bestseller?
–If not, how many do you have to sell?
–How do I sell that many books?
I’m going to try to answer some of those questions today, though before I get started, let me admit that I’m not really there yet, insofar as being confident that writing books is all I’ll ever need to do to pay the bills and eventually purchase a suitable super-villain lair.
I feel like I’m on the right path, but I currently rely heavily on Amazon for my income (sales in the Kindle Store make up about 85% of my earnings with Barnes & Noble accounting for 10% and Smashwords and partners making up the last 5%). If Amazon decided to cut its royalty rates tomorrow, giving indie authors 35% instead of 70% for instance, that would make a huge difference in my income. Or, if Amazon made a change in its algorithms to favor traditionally published authors over indies or some such, that could make a big difference too.
Because of that potential for volatility, and the fact that I’ve only been at this publishing thing for 18 months or so, I’m not going to make any claims that this is the definitive guide to quitting the day job and becoming a career writer. I’ll just share what I’ve been doing and what my grand plan is (yeah, I have a grand plan — what, you thought someone scoping out villain lairs wouldn’t?).
What I’ve done so far:
Write books, short stories, and novellas
Duh, I know, but it’s hard to get momentum going when you only have one or two books out. It usually takes more exposures to your work for readers to decide they’re fans. Also, when you’re working hard on promoting a book, you get more return on your effort if there’s a series people can go on to buy, rather than a single title.
In December of 2010, I started out with The Emperor’s Edge and, a month later, Encrypted, two loosely related fantasy novels I’d written but never shopped around to agents (word on the AgentQuery site was that nobody was particularly interested in secondary world fantasy).
Sales were slow at first (so you’re not alone if that sounds like you). I had some luck running an advertising campaign on Goodreads and giving away a free short story starring my Emperor’s Edge characters (though, at the time, I didn’t know how to get that free story into Amazon). What next? I wrote. A lot (by my standards anyway). I published the first Flash Gold adventure (a novella) that spring, the second EE book in June, another Flash Gold novella that summer, and the third EE book in November.
Read the rest here: http://www.lindsayburoker.com/ebook-writing/what-does-it-take-to-become-a-full-time-indie-author/