Tag Archives: Amanda Hocking

The Long Run

You know what I like? Money.

Really I do. I think it’s likely that some of you do too. But it’s hard to come out and say it sometimes isn’t it? Because we want people to believe that our motives are pure, untarnished by such a vulgar thing as money.

So we beat around the bush. We say things like, “Money isn’t everything in life,” and “I would rather be happy than rich,” and while there isn’t anything wrong with these statements I think in some small way they’re really our way of saying, “I’m not rich, and so I’m going to justify my relative poverty through moral superiority.”

But let me tell you, I get kinda sick of shopping the discount bread rack at the grocery store, or doing the math in my head to see if I can afford to fill my gas tank all the way up. I’m not telling you this because I want you to feel sorry for me. I have a house, two cars, two televisions (that I’m currently trying to convince my wife we should really get rid of) and I eat well enough that I’ve started back into exercising to shed those extra pounds. I’m not hurting.

But I wouldn’t say no to more.

Which is why, when someone commented on this blog yesterday, asking how many self-published authors made a profit, it got me to thinking and thinking hard. Because while I can honestly say I write because I love it, and would continue to do it whether I got paid or not, you had better believe that one day, I’d like to make some money with this writing thing.

Here’s what I think about the prospects of making money as a self-published author: it can be done, but it won’t be fast (or easy).

I’ve been reading Bob Mayer’s blog on and off recently, and one of the things he loves to hate on is the fact that Amazon’s sales tracker lets self-published authors check their numbers in real time. In his eyes, this is symptomatic of a get-rich-quick, show-me-the-money-now kind of mentality that plagues the majority of the self-published authors out there in the world.

And while I mentioned yesterday, that I myself check my sales numbers far too often for Mr. Mayer’s taste, I agree with the general assertion he’s making about the industry.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Self-publishing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. I’ve been following several authors who have released self published books recently, hard working people who I admire as writers and who seem to be doing everything right.

But the numbers just aren’t there. The general pattern is: sales start pretty well at first, but as the author reaches the outer limits of his internet audience, those sales start to drop off pretty quickly. Because let’s be real, the odds of some stranger finding your work at random amidst the piles and piles of other self-published books out there and buying it are way lower than we’d like to think about.

Bummer right? Well, yes and no. Like I said, this isn’t a short term game. These lackluster numbers are coming from authors still working to establish a presence in this crazy world of digital publishing.  And that takes time. Amanda Hocking, the personified holy grail of self-publishing, wrote seventeen books before she started self-publishing them. That’s a lot of hours spent in front of a screen leading up to what seemed like an “overnight success.”

So here’s my advice to you authors hoping to someday may a profit. Don’t think about next week or next month, or even next year. Think about where you’ll be a decade from now. Are you willing to stick with it for that long? Are you willing to keep writing, and keep putting your work out there even when it seems like it’s going nowhere?

Because that’s what it’s going to take. I’m not saying you’ll get rich like Amanda Hocking, but if you stick with it for the long haul and give it your all, I believe it is possible to make this writing thing profitable. That’s my plan anyway, and I’m sticking with it.

A Room Full of Psychics and Nobody’s Rich

I don’t know. I just don’t know anymore.

All the noise, all the advice, all the bloggers hashing over whether print is dead, epub vs. traditional; the whole thing is just starting to sound like a cacophony of chaos.


Because nobody knows anything. I mean, of course people know things. I’m not saying we’re all a bunch of quaking airheads out here. But nobody can answer the BIG questions. Questions like, “How do I succeed?” and “Why do some books succeed, and some books of equal or better quality fail?” and “How do I stand out enough from all of the other authors who may very well be as good or better than I am?”

Everyone’s got an opinion. Everyone’s got their spin on the matter. But you know what? If they really knew they’d get out there and do it.

We’ve got a room full of psychics here and none of us has hit the lottery. And the guy that has hit the lottery? You can’t listen to him either. I mean look at this guy: he was living in a trailer park before he blew his child support payments on beer and the one ticket that changed everything.

Maybe I’m stretching that metaphor a little, but I guess what I’m trying to say is this.

There are no experts. Sure there are people out there who have good advice, even great advice. But nobody has the magic bullet. Nobody can tell you, “This. This is what works. Do this and you will succeed.”

Why? Because success isn’t a formula.

Well it is in a way, but it’s not a formula anyone wants to hear. The formula is, as far as I can tell, Hard Work + Luck = Success.

The first term is easy. Well okay, no it’s not easy. But it’s simple. There are plenty of people willing to get out there and do the work. But it’s the second one that’s so infuriatingly elusive. And it’s just as important.

We don’t like to think about luck. We like to believe that if we succeed it’s because we’ve done something right. We look to successful people for counsel and advice, and we follow their words as if they were gospel. On the other hand, we tend to look at a bum on the street and we think, “That guy is probably just lazy. If he got a job and stopped drinking he’d have a better life.”

We don’t like to believe that it’s possibly to succeed simply because you were in the right place at the right time. And we don’t like to think that we can work and work all our lives and not do anything “wrong” and still fail to find the success we’re chasing.

And please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying hard work isn’t important. It is possible to miss life’s opportunities because we were lazy or unprepared. We should always strive to learn and improve and be the best at whatever it is we want to do.

But sometimes it’s not enough.

We’re not all going to be the next Amanda Hocking (as she so humbly points out in this fantastic and eye-opening post.) We’re not all going to make it big.

It’s nobody’s fault. It’s not because we’re losers.

Losers are the ones who give up. Losers are the ones who say, “I could never write a book.” Losers are the ones who look at the Amanda Hockings of the world and think, “I could never be that successful.” Losers are the ones who look at the long odds and go home.

So don’t be a loser.

Because I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know anyone else that does either. But I have to believe that someone within this blog’s limited reach is going to hit it big one day. Somebody is going to turn out to be that person that everyone looks at and says, “That guy started out in some trailer park, but one bright day he went to buy beer with his child support payment and the rest is history.”

Maybe it’ll be you. Maybe it’ll be me.

To tell you the truth, I’m really kind of hoping that it’s me.