The (Twenty)Five-Year Self-Publishing Phenomenal Success Plan

PMF 9 14 13 RezEasy!  Here’s how you find overnight success as a self-publisher…

1.  Write the first three chapters of your brand new soon-to-be-bestselling legal thriller and send a query letter via FedEx to John Grisham’s agent.  Get a phone call back the next day.  Have a new agent in the office ask you to send along the entire manuscript.  Tell her you’ve only got three chapters.

2.  Tell a friend in Manhattan who tells a friend who’s a book agent who tells a friend who buys books for TV.  Have that person want your manuscript for a TV movie, meet with you in NYC, tell you as soon as you finish and get a publisher she’ll make the deal.  Have her mention a six-figure payday.

3.  Start thinking about your fabulous new life and what you’ll do with all that money.

4.  Go back and take a year to write the book, sending Grisham agent chapters along the way that she files and doesn’t look at.

5.  Finally send her entire book and start staring at the phone.

6.  Be on a cruise when a letter arrives from her.  Call and have your Dad (staying with the kids) read it.  Have it be crushingly dismissive.

7.  Be discouraged for a couple of years.  Have life intervene.

8.  Write a political thriller that you plot out with savvy writing group pals.  Finish in six months.  Send out query letters to agents.

9.  Have some ask for chapters, some ask for entire manuscript.  Have one call you and say she stayed up late reading it and loves it.

10. Be amazed and wait for a fantastic offer.

11. Have her call the next day and say her fellow agent asked her not to take it on because the bad guy is African-American.

12. Write a sample for another book for her.

13. Have her send that out to publishers, who either don’t get it or think it’s a joke.

14. Be discouraged for a couple of years.

15. Rework political thriller over and over.  Learn to write better.  Change the bad guy’s complexion.  Make the other candidate female.  Send it out sporadically.  Become really excellent at query letter writing.

16. Write a young people’s fantasy and lots of short stories.  Contemplate other plots.  Do freelance writing for magazines and eventually online.

17. When people ask you when your book will be published, shrug and smile.  When they suggest self-publishing, tell them it’s death to a “real” writer.  Stay discouraged.

18. Read about Amanda Hocking.  Read Joe Konrath.  Read David Gaughran.

19. Do one last pass through political thriller.  Get a professional to do the cover.  Pay someone to edit.  Hold your breath and…

20. Spend the long Fourth of July weekend in 2011 learning to format and upload the book, with the help of your mostly patient IT-wise husband who has a PC.  Argue about italics.  Stress out.  Get it up with KDP, finally.  Stay married.  Become an indie on Independence Day!

21. Sell a few books.  Tell friends.  Be thrilled at reviews from strangers.  Be happy to sell 35 books the first month, then 20, then 10, then…

22. Jump into KDP Select free days when that’s brand new, at the end of 2011.  Be amazed as the counter on the “sales” page clicks every few minutes.  Give away 8,500 on the first day.  Catapult to something like #120 on the paid bestseller list the next day, because giveaways count as sales, and be too green to look and get a screenshot.  Get on Movers and Shakers list twice, and miss it because you don’t know what that means.

23. Make $6,000 the last week of December, 2011, and prepare to be rich.

24. Watch as sales drop slowly from that date until the summer of 2012.  Goose book with occasional free days, with less and less effect.

25. Publish thriller in print in summer of 2012.  Sell few, but enjoy the beauty of holding the book in your hand.

26. Read a short story called WOOL around the same time.  Read the Omnibus.  Read First Shift when it comes out.  Notice that someone else is writing Silo stories for money in the spring of 2013.

27. Become fascinated with following a loose thread in the WOOL saga yourself.  Contemplate writing “fan fiction,” never having read or written fan fiction.  Email author Hugh Howey and tell him about your Silo story.

28. Have WOOLmeister Hugh Howey tell you he LOVES your story, and go ahead and publish the first segment of the Karma series.  Note that even 99¢ ebooks make money when you sell two thousand in your first month.

29. Write and publish the second, the third, and the fourth books in the series.  Make a reliable four figures a month.  Get nervous and balk at writing the fifth.  Worry that the ending won’t live up to your fans’ expectations.  Write it anyway.

30. Come up with more Silo stories than you have time to write.  Decide not to spend your whole life writing ebooks set in the WOOLiverse, tempting as it might be.  Start plotting a new sci-fi dystopian series of your own.

31. Concoct your recipe for keeping on keeping on, and plan to find that amazing writing-for-a-living success in… about four more years, after doing a lot more of this:

Write for joy.

Write for yourself.

Write for fun.

Write quickly.

Write a lot.

Write short.

Write and publish and forget about it.

Write as though you are already the successful author you will be.

Remember that success is not about the money. 

It’s about the amazement of taking what’s in your wild and unpredictable imagination and sharing it with others.  

It’s about living in a time when we can get our words out to the entire world for virtually nothing. 

It’s about the joy of creating something that never existed before.

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Works in Progress

“I Dream of PIA” (for The Robot Chronicles anthology, available July 25, 2014)

3149/ 3000 words. 100% done!

"Sand Song” (a novella set in Hugh Howey’s SANDbox)

8,627 / 10000 words. 87% done!

"The Terminal” (a dark futuristic short)

2383 / 2000 words. 100% done!

“ROCKS 1” (the first episode in a dystopian series)

5675 / 10000 words. 57% done!

“Salt & Pepper Mystery #1” (Book one of a cozy mystery series)

22379 / 40000 words. 56% done!

Like Running

My Books

Karma of the Silo: the Collection (Karma Omnibus)
Karma lives in the Silo, deep underground. She lives with a man whom she barely knows and with a name she doesn’t remember choosing. When visions come to her about another husband, another way of life, and another world, Karma struggles to discover what came before.

Cleaning Up: a Silo story (Karma)
Five years have passed since the airlock slammed shut on the 4,000 souls condemned to live in the Silo. Karma can remember now that there was a time before--before she was locked into this cylindrical tomb under the earth. But all she can see of the outside are dead hills and the dark clouds swirling through what remains of a toxic world.

The Sky Used to be Blue: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma lives in a Silo deep beneath the earth. She isn't sure of much else… only that the wallscreen shows an outside view that is barren and swirling with toxic clouds. Most of the other residents seem content. Except for the ones who jump to their deaths from the hundred-level spiral staircase. And the ones who are pushed.

Last Walk: a Silo story
The kids are fighting in the Silo—gangs engage in battles between the Up Top and the Down Deep, with the Mids caught in between. There are too many young people without work. They ink themselves with primitive face tats and guard their territory against incursions from below or above.

Deep Justice: a Silo story (Karma)
Karma has endured twenty-five years underneath the earth. Her path in life—a path she never bargained for—has included marriage to a man she never chose, whose powerful position forces her to hide her memories of the time before.


Rising Up: a Silo story (Karma)
After a hellish three months locked in the private inner sanctum of IT, Karma and her family emerge, bloodied and forever changed. Rick is a man who is no longer in control. Mars has become the power in the Silo.



Silo Saga: SILO SECRETS: Daniel
Daniel is sixteen now, and he can count up to one hundred. He can go all by himself up and down the two levels of the Silo between his home and his job. Daniel knows he's not as smart as some people. But his mother told him he was smart enough to help her, so it must be true. He always believes his mother. His mother is a doctor.

Running
THE NEXT PRESIDENT IS GOING TO BE A WOMAN... Catherine Young, Vice President and newly-anointed Democratic nominee, is surging in the polls. The race is on against GOP candidate Jerusha Hutchins, folksy charmer and blonde beauty, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party.

Till Death Do Us Part: a short story
Join Harold and Rosemary as they bring together their family and friends for a night of celebration before a long-planned trip... and see just how this journey ends. Mix a little Dorothy Parker and a little Shirley Jackson, add a twist of David Sedaris and a pinch of O.Henry, and out comes a satirical romp. "Till Death Do Us Part" is a 3,000 word short story. This is a sophisticated take on the way people fool themselves. More New Yorker magazine than Asimov.

The Terminal
To be published next week!





Looking for Lance
A pinch of Dorothy Parker and a twist of O.Henry go into the mix to make this Fitzgerald short a bracing sip of satire. There is a free sample of RUNNING, her best-selling Kindle political thriller, at the end of this story.

Jungle Moon
Another quirky short story from Patrice Fitzgerald about love and the ways people connect. When Felicia gets a special birthday request from her husband Herman, she can't believe what he's asking her to do. Will she say yes? This 3,000 word short story explores the nature of a happy marriage, compromise, and passion. A four-chapter sample of Fitzgerald's best-selling political thriller, RUNNING, is also included.

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