indie publishing

Hugh Howey talks about DUST, WOOL, and Spectacular Self-Publishing Success

Hugh-Howey1I asked Hugh Howey, self-publishing pioneer and author of the bestselling dystopian trilogy that starts with WOOL, to join me for an interview.  The final book in his Silo Saga, DUST, was released just two weeks ago…completing the adventure for fans of this instant classic.  He spoke to me just before that release.

Patrice:  So you’ve gotten a million questions around the topic “how does it feel to be a big name author?”  But, practically speaking, how has it changed you as a writer… or has it… to know that your next book, DUST, has been preordered in the thousands–I’m guessing–and is being highly anticipated by fans?  Does that spur you on or keep you up at night?  And do you get better tables at restaurants?  Recognized on the street?  Hounded by book groupies?  Tell the truth!

Hugh:  Ha! Recognized on the street! I’m not one of those authors like Harlan Coben whose face takes up the entire back jacket of his hardbacks. Which is a good thing. For all of us.

I don’t think about the pressure of a vast audience. I write the stories I care about. If I was going to succumb to pressure, I would have written WOOL 6 and 7 and 8. Instead, I left my bestselling novel on an island and wrote something way off in left field. And then I did very little to promote this new work. I don’t put links at the end of my books to urge people to purchase the next one. I just convince myself that I’m still writing for an audience of none, enjoy what I’m doing, and publish as quietly as possible.

Patrice:  You’re a little bit controversial for your outspoken views about self-publishing.  Clearly, 99.9% of writers of any stripe will not reach the level of success you’ve had with WOOL.  Yet, you maintain that there is little downside to jumping in and publishing one’s own book.  Do you believe that everyone is better off doing that first?

Hugh:  Yes, and I’ve been very careful to distance my anecdotal and outlying success with the reasons I give for self-publishing. I made a conscious decision to self-publish my second novel, despite having a contract and offer from a small press. Before WOOL took off, I was posting on writing forums that we are better off owning our material for all of time, that these works will never go out of print, and that going directly to the reader is better than applying to editors and their slush pile shovelers. I was mocked for this philosophy. When I suggested that agents would one day approach self-published authors, I was told I was crazy. Maybe this is why I look up to Joe so much. He shows us every day that logic trumps experience. The people who tell you that they have twenty years of experience in this industry? Back away from them slowly. This business is changing too fast for any of us to pretend to be experts.

As for the 99.9% who won’t see my level of success, I would point out that 99.9% of those who submit material to the traditional machine will never see a similar level of success. It isn’t like our option is to self-publish OR see how well our novel does fronted out on an endcap in a bookstore. Our options are to self-publish OR spend a few years landing an agent, another year selling the book to a publisher, a year waiting for that book to come out, and then three months spine-out on dwindling bookshelves before you are out of print and nobody cares about you anymore. If you’re lucky. Most likely, you’ll never even get an agent. Because you aren’t Snooki.

Patrice:  You have a traditional print publishing deal with Simon & Schuster in the U.S. and Random House in the U.K., as well as publishing arrangements in twenty-something other countries for translated versions.  Yet you still publish your own ebooks and sell print copies to fans out of your house, at least for the U.S. editions.  Did that take some fancy contract drafting?  Or did you just say, “I want to keep doing what I’m already doing successfully” and they rolled over and said, “Okay, Hugh Howey, but only for you…” ?   

Hugh:  It takes a whole lot of not caring to get away with what I do. It takes that, and it takes an incredible and tolerant agent like Kristin Nelson. We’ve been in contract negotiations, and someone will put forward a clause that runs counter to my publishing philosophy, and we’ll both just say that it’s a deal-breaker. We’ve walked away from multiple seven-figure deals without breaking a sweat. It helps when you’re totally fine doing things your own way. I still self-publish everything I write from the get-go. If anyone wants to make an offer afterward, I’m always open. I love having those discussions. But as soon as the deal doesn’t make sense for the reader (like higher e-book prices, windowing, limiting the number of works I can publish), the deal is off. My attitude is that publishers need writers far more than writers need publishers. If we can work together, awesome. But the days of dictating unfair deals to us are dwindling, and fast.

My success has largely come from putting the reader first, and that’s what I demand from any publisher I work with. Simon & Schuster and Random House UK have both demonstrated to me over and over again that they care about the reader. S&S agreed to a simultaneous paperback and hardback release. Who does that? Random House UK did a paper-on-board hardback for under ten pounds. They’ve done some incredible giveaways, and they allowed readers in on the process with some awesome contests, all the sorts of things I think publishers should do more of. It’s why I love working with both of these houses. And I love that they tolerate me doing the things I enjoy doing.

Patrice:  You’ve taken the unusual step of allowing others to write and charge for books set in your world, otherwise known as the “WOOLiverse.”  [Full disclosure:  I’m one of them.  I’ve published the four books in the Karma series, including The Sky Used to be Blue, Cleaning Up, Deep Justice, and Rising Up, as well as my newest Kindle Worlds short story, SILO SECRETS:  Daniel.]  Why are you doing this?  Aren’t there risks?   

Hugh:  It doesn’t occur to me not to allow this. Someone asked if they could write in my world. Who would I be to tell them no? I value freedom above all else. I value creativity, art, and artists. I can’t imagine telling someone that they aren’t allowed to write about my characters. All I feel is flattered and honored by the suggestion. And I can’t imagine asking someone to give away their hard work. I believe artists should get paid if at all possible. As foreign as my stance is to others, any other stance would be foreign to me.

Are there risks? I don’t see any. I have one more work coming out in this universe, and then I leave it to others. The greatest thing that has happened to me in the past few years has been the opportunity to connect directly with so many readers. The second-greatest thing has been seeing talented writers such as yourself connect with those same readers! Contrary to what many writers seem to think, we aren’t in competition with one another. We need each other. If someone can write in my world and entice readers away to their own works, I’ll cheer them on until I’m hoarse.

Patrice:  Amazon’s newly-launched Kindle Worlds programs makes formal the arrangement you’ve already had with some other writers to allow them to jump into the WOOLiverse and write “Silo stories.”  How do you see this as different from what is already happening, and what new opportunities do you think this program will bring to writers and fans?  

Hugh:  My hope is that Kindle Worlds will give these stories greater exposure. There is so much room for exploration in the Silo Saga. I can’t possibly cover it all. And fans have shown an incredible thirst for more adventures.

The most exciting prospect is that dabbling in a beloved world will turn readers into writers. There’s a misconception out there that fan fiction is lazy. The truth is that the world building is the easiest aspect of writing. The challenging bit is the plot, the dialog, the believable characters, the twists and turns and satisfying conclusion. If coming up with the world was the difficult part, it would be easy for anyone to write a story in the world we live in and know, or a story set in historical times. Fan fiction provides an opportunity for aspiring writers to discover their own talents and hopefully graduate to their own works. And the more people we have writing, the larger the pool of talent, the better this industry is for everyone.

Patrice:  Okay… advice to writers time.  What would you tell someone reading this who has an idea, or a book, and wants to get eyeballs on his or her words as quickly as possible.

Start with the first sentence. Make it so incredibly compelling that readers have to read the next sentence to see what happens next. Repeat until you reach the end of the story.

Possible first sentences:

Losing my virginity to a ninja was not what I had in mind on my eighteenth birthday.

I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to kill a man, and now I know.

If you are reading this, you have exactly three days left to live, and I am already dead.

Maybe those aren’t the best examples, but I put all of two minutes into coming up with them. I’m already thinking of the books I would write to go along with these openings. I think I could entice readers to stick with me for a page or two. If I can do that, I can give these lines away in a Tweet or a Facebook status and gain a reader. I could give the first pages or even an entire book away and trust that they’ll tell others or come back for more.

The misconception out there is that writing requires a mastery of language, but nothing could be further from the truth. We don’t need perfect prose to launch a writing career; we need entertaining storytelling. Story is king and prose is pawn. Knock readers’ socks off. Shock them. Wow them. Give away your work and wow them some more. Basically: Ninjas + Sex, and you can’t go wrong.

Patrice:  And what about that movie deal… are you and Ridley Scott buds now?  

Hugh:  I wish! Ridley enjoyed my work and is pretty sure that he can make a mediocre book into an amazing film. And I hope he’s right. I get asked all the time how much involvement I would have in the film, and the answer is that I don’t want any part of the project. I would just hamper the development. The producers were kind enough to fly me out to Hollywood to meet the screenwriter and go over some ideas, and that was more than I asked for. Nothing will change the book I wrote. That’s the part I can control. I’d rather stay out of the way and be surprised by what they come up with.

Patrice:  Now that all your wildest writing dreams have come true, what do you still wish for, Hugh?  

Hugh:  For Ridley Scott to be my bud, obviously. 

Also, to be able to come up with something to write tomorrow. And the next day. Because it still feels like magic and something I’m not capable of. I feel like I’m bumbling along and faking it most of the time. I hope I can keep faking it. Because it’s fun to look back at the things I write that feel a whole lot smarter than I know myself to be.

Patrice:  Many thanks to Hugh for answering my questions, and to Joe Konrath, whose invitation to guest bloggers inspired this post, which originally appeared on his website.  I’m watching the phenomenon that is WOOL continue to spread around the world, and I’m thrilled that I was invited to play in Hugh Howey’s universe. 

If you haven’t read them, grab WOOL and SHIFT and DUST and enjoy! And then if you crave more, check out my Karma series, set in the same entertainingly chilling future.

Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

 

 

Working on “Silo Secrets: Daniel” for Kindle Worlds!

I’m nearly done with a brand new and very short story (just over 5,000 words) set in the Silo, but having nothing to do with Karma!  I’m putting it up in Kindle Worlds, which is an intriguing new feature from Amazon allowing writers to publish stories based on well-known TV shows and best-selling books.

I plan to make Silo Secrets: Daniel available for sale sometime next week.  And here is the fabulous cover, designed by the talented cover artist (and author) Jason Gurley, of Greatfall fame:

Silo Secrets Daniel Cover

I’ll let you know when it goes live… I have to finish it first!  And if you can write a review, I would be very grateful.

Kindle Worlds is just getting started, but it is showing great promise and affording yet another opportunity for writers.  If you’re into Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars… well, let me go grab it from the Kindle Worlds site, so you can see exactly what the possibilities are for both readers and writers:

“Welcome to Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries; Valiant Entertainment for Archer & Armstrong, Bloodshot, Harbinger, Shadowman, and X-O Manowar; Hugh Howey’s Silo Saga; Barry Eisler’s John Rain novels; Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines series; and The Foreworld Saga by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Eric Bear, Joseph Brassey, Nicole Galland, and Cooper Moo. Licenses for more Worlds are on the way.”

And here’s the brand new page for the “Silo Saga” on Kindle Worlds.

I’m looking forward to dipping my toe into Kindle Worlds and seeing what happens.  Do check out all the other books there, including stories by Jason Gurley, Michael Bunker, David Adams, Fredric Shernoff, Nocomus Columbus, Will Swardstrom, and Thomas Robins.  Great stuff!

I appreciate all the folks who came by for the Summer Blog Hop.  Prize winners will be announced soon.

Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

 

 

Summer Splash Blog Hop happening now!

2013 Blog Hop Logo

Join us for a very cool Blog Hop featuring indie writers of all genres.  You can win serious prizes… including a brand new Kindle Fire 8.9 HD… and find some great new books by fabulous writers.  Here’s how it works:

First, post a comment here to get entered for my individual contest.  I’ll put all the names of those who comment in a hat and draw two out.  The best part is that you get to choose your prize!  Here are the possibilities:

1. A $15 Amazon gift certificate.

2. A signed print copy of RUNNING, my bestselling political thriller.

3. Electronic copies of all the bestselling Karma books based in Hugh Howey’s world of WOOL (there are four out so far, and I’ll gift you the fifth and final one when it’s released).

4. A kind but honest critique of the first fifteen pages of your work in progress.

Or… drumroll please

5. My personal custom help and advice in terms of getting your own indie ebook ready for publication.  I’ve got 18 ebooks out now, written by me and by others, so I’ve got a lot of experience!

You choose.  Two people will win.

But there are even bigger prizes to be won by clicking here for Summer Splash Blog Hop central.  (Detailed list of prizes at the end of this post.) And if you go to all the blogs listed, you have a pretty serious chance of winning something.

Jump in!  The water’s fine!

Don’t forget to leave a comment here to be entered in my contest.

While you’re here, consider picking up a copy of RUNNING, which was just named a “Best Book of the Month” by Amazon.

running_thumbnail-color

Action, suspense, romance, laughs, and just enough sex… a campaign you’ll never forget. The political thriller with heart.

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 opposition candidate Jerusha Hutchins, former stewardess and blonde beauty, who is the darling of the far-right Liberty Party. But with political wunderkind Zane Zarillo running her campaign, Catherine is bound to hold her lead.

Suddenly a medical emergency puts the President in the hospital and forces Catherine to act in his place… a perfect opportunity for her to show her Oval Office stuff. Just when her election looks like a sure thing, Catherine’s romantic fling from decades ago comes to light. Will the American public accept a woman with a past?

“Rating: 5.5 out of 5 Stars – Top Pick.”
Underground Book Reviews

60,000+ copies downloaded so far.
71 Amazon reviews, 4.3 star rating.

And if that’s not enough, check out my four ebook shorts that make up the Karma series!  Just look at the post below this to find links.

Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

 

 

 

  Here are the details on the 2013 Summer Splash Blog Hop, brought to you by the writers of Indie Writers Unite.  Find all kinds of swag to be won as well as some amazing grand prizes (see below for grand prize information)

Each writer will be hosting his or her own giveaway on the individual blogs and offering unique prizes in addition to the grand prizes.  Click HERE to start hopping the author pages.

 

Want a teaser of some of the items up for grabs on the author pages? Click HERE

 

 As the for the grand prizes, there are 6.  What are they?

 

#1 Kindle Fire 8.9 HD

 

 

 

#2 $100 Amazon Gift Card

#3 $50 Amazon Gift Card

#4 15 paperbacks personally signed by our authors

#5 38 Ebooks gifted to you from our authors

#6 38 eBooks (yep, we’re doing this not once, but twice)!

HOW TO ENTER FOR GRAND PRIZES 1-3

TWEET USING THE HASHTAG  #splashwithus

It’s that simple. We’ll keep track of all the tweets and then draw for the grand-prize winners at the end of the hop. Winners will be announced on or before July 31st on this site. 

RULES: 
 
Tweets MUST include:

1. The hashtag #splashwithus (This is how we track them)
2. A link to the blog hop.

You may tweet as much as you like throughout the hop. 

More Tweets = More Chances to WIN!!!

***As a side note, our authors will be tweeting about the hop as well, but they are not eligible for any of the grand prizes.***

Here are some sample tweets you can cut/paste:

WIN a $300 Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards & more at the #bloghophttp://ow.ly/nfebP #giveaway #win #freekindle #splashwithus #amreading

WIN FREE SWAG at the author #bloghop http://ow.ly/nfeChprizes include a kindle fire! #freekindle #free #giveaway #win #splashwithus 

ENTER TO WIN A KINDLE FIRE at the author blog hophttp://ow.ly/nfeRZ #kindlefree #free #lovebooks #win #giveaway #splashwithus #win

WIN BIG at the author blog hop. More than 50 prizes including a kindle fire HD! http://ow.ly/nffyV #kindlefire #amwriting #splashwithus

HOW TO ENTER FOR GRAND PRIZES 4-6

To enter to win the free signed paperback books and the free books for your kindle, you MUST visit every single author blog hop page and enter whatever contest/giveaway they are running.  Once you’ve visited them all, send an email HERE, with the subject line: FREE BOOKS. 

***NOW GET HOPPING 
AMAZING AUTHOR GIVEAWAYS AWAIT YOU!!!***

Meet the WOOLwrights

Jason Gurley, author of Greatfall, has put together an interesting article on Medium.com about all the folks who write stories set in or around the WOOLiverse.  The piece includes commentary by Hugh Howey and a number of other writers, including me, about “fan fiction,” the future of this growing franchise and the new program by Amazon known as Kindle Worlds, which is expected to launch within a few weeks.  WOOL has been added as one of the properties in which others will officially be allowed to write and sell books, and those of us who have already been writing Silo stories — which have sold an incredible 30,000 copies combined as of last week — are watching this development with great anticipation.

I urge you to check the article out and let me know what you think about fan fiction as well as Amazon’s plans.

In the meantime… look for Karma #4, Rising Up, by this weekend.  w00t!  Or as we like to say, w00L!  If you haven’t read the first three in the series, here they are, in order:

Karma #1, The Sky Used to be Blue

Karma #2, Cleaning Up

Karma #3, Deep Justice

I’m out of the country for a good bit of July, so the fifth and final book in the Karma series, Last Walk, may not be released until later in the summer.  I’ll be watching to see how the Kindle Worlds announcement impacts the possibilities for that book and for the compilation of all the Karma stories into one big novel… whose title I keep messing with, but which I’m currently calling Karma, Complete.

Thanks, as usual, for reading, and if you want to hear FIRST about news on my books, please sign up to be notified here.  No spamming and no selling of your email!  And of course you can unsubscribe from the list at any time.

 

Sneak Preview Karma #4 – Rising Up

Rising Up - EBook Cover Art

“There will be in the next generation or so a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them but will rather enjoy it.”
Aldous Huxley

            1

I stand looking at the gore on my hands, the endless blood sliding out from the man that was Jeff pooling under my feet, dank, metallic, slippery. 

What have I done?

 “Karma.”  I hear my name called as if from another country. 

 “Karma.”  It comes again, faint but louder.  Rick is sitting up on the cot, his pillow on the floor, his body sucking in great draughts of breath while the tendons in his neck stand out.  He is trembling.

Mars races into our sleeping area from the server room.  He flips a switch and throws blinding whiteness across the body, the grue, the killer standing there with her arms covered with blood.

That would be me.

I am the killer. 

2

Mars wants to get out of here right away.  He is pacing the floor, eager to leave this thirty-fifth level hell immediately.

 Rick and I say we need to talk while we have privacy.  We need to come up with a plan, agree on a story, and figure out what to say when we emerge.

 So we’re talking.  But we’re talking fast.

“I’ll turn myself in,” I say.  “To Sheriff Aponte.”

“No,” Rick says.  “They’ll put you out to Clean.” 

He reaches across the small table in the sleeping area we carved out for ourselves.  His arm touches mine.  I am still getting used to his new way of caring.

 I look at him, in part because I am amazed at his kindness and concern.  But in part because I don’t want to look at the large sheet-covered mass on the floor.  The sheet is stained with blood and already stinks of death. 

 Mars stops his pacing.  “Dad.  We have to get the body—Jeff—taken care of.  At least put him in a bag.  It will take both of us.”

 Rick nods and stands up.  He is stronger now, but his arm is still weak. 

 “I’ll help,” I say.

“We can handle it,” Mars says, heading off to the storage room where I assume there are extra body bags. 

“I killed the man.  I’ll help take care of his body.”  I look at the sheet.  The lump that used to be Jeff.

 

Rising Up will be available through KDP Select by July 1.  Please sign up here if you want to be the first to know about new titles! 

RISING UP coming right up!

I’m excited to announce that Karma #4, RISING UP, is going to be available for purchase by July 1 (and maybe even earlier).  I just wrote “The End” on the draft, and now I do some rewriting and then send it out for formatting.  Watch this space next week for a sneak preview!

And here is the cover… ta da!

Rising Up - EBook Cover Art

Third Part of Karma Series – DEEP JUSTICE – out now!

Deep Justice - EBook Cover Art

I’m thrilled to announce that Deep Justice, #3 in the Karma series, is available as of last night.  And it’s flying up the charts already, joining my first Silo story The Sky Used to be Blue, and my second, Cleaning Up.  Be prepared… this one has a lot of action.  We see a side of Karma never encountered before.

It is an amazing time to be a writer!  If anyone reading this is thinking about writing, DO IT.  It’s never been easier and more accessible to the average (poor) person.  I’ll be adding another blog post about self-publishing soon.  Watch this space.

And as to the Karma series… there are two more parts to come!  If you’d like to be notified the minute they are released (or even before) please give me your email address here, and I’ll let you know.  No worries that I will abuse your trust.

Thanks to all who are following this series.  I continue to be humbled by the enthusiastic response to my stories, and always grateful to Hugh Howey and his WOOL books.

2,000 Ebooks Sold in the First Month!

Here’s a thank you to all of you who read “The Sky Used to be Blue”! I made a video for you, kazoo and all.  And if you wonder what I’m talking about when I mention that the picture behind me is backward (and it’s not), that’s because a friend flipped the vid for me!  So now the cover makes sense, but I don’t.  Oh well!

However, it was a very good hair day, so…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXkrtRPpujw

Thanks for buying, thanks for reading, thanks for telling your friends, and thanks for reviewing!

 

 

Self-Publishing? Step on the GAASS!

If you want to write, you should write the stories that are in your heart. Follow your bliss, tell your truths… yadda yadda. But if you want to make a living at writing, there are some techniques that will increase your chances of making an early profit, thus putting you in a position to follow your bliss and write the stories that are in your heart.

Herewith, Patrice’s advice on how to make money–as of the indie ebook world in the spring of 2013:

The writer, getting ready to step on the GAASS.

The writer, getting ready to step on the GAASS.

Write GENRE
Write AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Write AS FAST AS POSSIBLE
Write SHORT
Write SERIES

Personally, I have many different interests, and I’m currently concocting ebooks in lots of different genres, including science fiction/fantasy, political thrillers, chick lit, cozy mysteries, and funky short stories. So I don’t mind concentrating on what works best, i.e., gets me more readers, first.

GENRE – Romance, chick lit, sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, are the easiest sells. I think that’s the current order of popularity. Not that you can’t write the great American literary novel. But perhaps try something hotter first.

AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE – This means that if you have a book out that hits big, and you have nothing to sell other than that, you waste a golden opportunity to convert readers to fans. They read the one, think it’s great, and have nothing else to buy… and nothing else to hook them in to you as an author. When you get the next book out a year later, they have moved on to other authors, and have bought their entire oeuvres. That could have been you! (Trad publishers, take note–one book every year or two is not making it any more for readers.) Of course you have to start with your first book. Just keep writing. Don’t wait to see if self-publishing is for you. It won’t be for you if you only write one book. I made that mistake. I had a phenomenal selling streak with my political thriller RUNNING in the hot days around Christmas of 2011 (eons ago in self-pub time). For about a minute I made $6,000 a week. Which slowly simmered down into the summer of 2012, when I made FAR less. I still don’t have a book to follow that one up in the political thriller genre. Which brings me to my next point:

AS FAST AS POSSIBLE – You have a busy life, I know. A day job, a spouse, a house, kids, the dog, friends, TV shows (you’re still watching TV?? You’re a writer. Writing is the new TV. Get away from the screen… unless you’re typing on it.) But write anyway. You may have heard of Hugh Howey, of WOOL fame. He wrote during his lunch breaks while working as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. He scribbled in longhand part of one of his books while sitting in the audience at a book awards presentation… while they were up there congratulating last year’s bestsellers, he was at a table writing the next one. P.S. He made more than a million dollars last year on self-published ebooks alone. And then sold print rights for mid-six figures, and sold the book in 24 countries, and sold film rights and comic book rights and… yeah, don’t get jealous, just write your own book. Books!

SHORT – I have my newest short story out now, 8,500 words, and it’s selling for 99¢. That one short story is going to make me $700 this month. That’s at the 35% royalty rate. Multiply that by several shorts, and you get… more money. Short is fast, short is easy, and readers LOVE short. They can read it on their lunch hour. It’s ideal for iPhones and iPads. Now that the price point for indie ebooks is rising to $2.99 or $4.99, not as many full-length novels are selling for 99¢. Plus, even full-length is dropping in length from 80,000- 100,000 being typical for a print novel (and longer for fantasy and sci-fi titles) to 50,000 – 80,000 being considered a reasonable length. Joe Konrath calls anything over 30,000 a novel now, and anything over 15,000 a short novel. Barry Eisler sells 35,000 words as a novel…. You can now write THREE books with the words that it used to take to make ONE. Faster, shorter, more money for you. They still have to have a satisfying story arc, a beginning, middle and end. Just make the bits move faster.

SERIES – This is pretty obvious from all the millions of Book 1, Book 2, Book 37 titles you see out there. One set of co-writers is publishing “Around the World in 80 Men,” and they’re up to Books 21-25 (Puerto Rico, Nevada, Tahiti, Spain, Holland, FYI). They sell each ebook for 99¢ and collections of of five for $3.99. They’re going for, obviously, 80 of these. This sweet young waitress becomes a high-priced international hooker. (I suspect there is sex involved.) They’ve simplified the process for themselves–no not the sex process!–of preparing the books by using the same cover in different colors. I think these writers are going to make a mint. You don’t need that many fans if they all buy 80 of your books, or 16 compilations of 5 books each. And these writers are putting them out there FAST! I just read the first chapter of the first one, which is currently free, which is another wise move when you have a lot of books out… we could add FREE to the GAASS acronym, but then it would be GAASSF, and what does that mean? The first chapter showed this to be a fun, light read. About a sweet young thing who decides to travel the world and have sex for money. How much you want to bet she pulls a Pretty Woman and falls in love with Mr. #80?

So there you have it. The latest best advice on how to maximize your earning potential as an indie ebook writer. All so that you can make a few bucks and then write that esoteric masterpiece on ancient phlebotomy techniques among the Incans. Which, who knows, could turn out to be your biggest seller!

Because I believe in giving back, I am going to start critiquing (for free) your work. I’m a good writer–I’ve been writing novels for 20 years. I have an English degree (and a law degree and a grad degree in vocal performance, but I’m not sure they will help you much) and I’ve worked as a freelance writer as well as an editor. I’m the CEO of my own publishing company, and my ebooks are on the charts.

After each post I’ll pick one commenter and critique up to 10 pages or 2,500 words.

I don’t have many commenters yet, so your odds are excellent! A comment gets you one chance, a tweet of this post another. Linking to it on your site or FB page gets you another. Subscribing, friending me on FB or following me on Twitter gets you another. Increase your odds by doing as much as you can. And if you become a regular around here I’ll probably just pick you eventually anyway. If I read your pages I plan to be honest, so be ready for that.

So let me know in the comments what you are doing to promote this worthy, pithy, and free advice for fellow authors, and I will put your name in the hat for a personal critique by ME.

Thanks for reading!

Now go out there, fellow writer, and step on the GAASS. Or, GAASSF. Or maybe GAFASS… which sounds really bad.

Can You Make Money Self-Publishing?

Why yes! It takes hard work and it doesn’t happen instantly, but you sure can make significant money by self-publishing. And often far more than you can make after getting a deal with a traditional publisher.

Here’s the list, with numbers, updated from the last time that I identified authors selling over 50,000 self-published titles. This comes from a blog titled “Self-Publishing Success Stories,” and all credit goes to that blogger… who mysteriously has no name… and who did the original work of compiling it via a thread over at the Kindleboards.

The asterisk indicates that the writer has also been published traditionally. There are no doubt even more names that should be on this list. If you know of one, please drop me a line and I’ll add it.

All hail these successful self-published authors!

1. Rachel Abbott
2. Susan Alison – “over 50k at the end of last month” (Feb 2012)
3. Dani Amore
4.*Bella Andre – more than 400,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
5. Melody Anne – over 150,000 (Feb 2012)
6. Daniel Arenson – The “Song of Dragons” series sold its 50,000th copy on March 2, 2012
7. Jake Barton- 83,712 books sold (March 2012)
8. Robert Bidinotto – 58,260 (Feb 2012)
9. *J Carson Black – more than 300,000 books sold (November 2011)
10.*Cheryl Bolen – 145,000 sold (March 2012)
11. Kathleen Brooks – 50,015 paid books with most coming from the last 2 months (March 2012)
12. Catherine Bybee – nearly 200,000 of the novel “Wife By Wednesday”
13. Sarra Cannon – 62,400 books as of March 17, 2012
14. Karen Cantwell – 86K as of March 2012
15. Ruth Cardello
16. Darcie Chan – more than 400,000 ebooks sold (Nov 2011)
17. Ann Charles
18. Mel Comley
19. Shelly Crane
20. Martin Crosbie – 66,716 books sold (March 2012)
21. *Blake Crouch – total unknown (“5,000 sales a month”)
22. Chris Culver – over 550,000 (Dec 2011)
23. David Dalglish – more than 175,000 (Feb 2012)
24. Susan Denning – “To date, I’ve sold over almost 60,000 Kindle copies”
25. Saffina Desforges – Sugar & Spice sold over 100,000 ebooks (Sept 2011)
26. Mainak Dhar – 85,600 (Jan 2012)
27. Sandra Edwards- about 90K (since July 2010) as of March 2012
28. *Ellen Fisher – over 100,000 as of Feb 2012
29. Penelope Fletcher – over 50,000 as of Feb 2012
30. Tina Folsom – over 300,000 books sold (October 2011)
31. *Marie Force – more than 200,000 sold in the last year (March 2012)
32. Melissa Foster – more than 150,000 in the last 9 months (Feb 2012)
33. *Barbara Freethy – 1.3 million self-published ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
34. Eliza Gayle – roughly 65,000 books in 2011
35. Jenny Gardiner – over 80,000 ebooks (Dec 2011)
36. Debora Geary – total unknown (1 of the top 10 Kindle Select authors for Jan 2012)
37. Abbi Glines
38. *Lee Goldberg
39. Joel Goldman
40. Allan Guthrie – over 63,000 as of March 2012
41. *Gemma Halliday – over 1 million self-published ebooks sold (March 2012)
42. Liliana Hart – over 80,000 as of Feb 2012
43. Michael Hicks – close to 100,000 as of March 2012
44. Amanda Hocking – 1,500,000 ebooks sold (December 2011)
45. Sibel Hodge – “in the last 6 months alone I’ve sold over 40,000 ebooks”
46. Debra Holland – over 50,000 books sold (March 2012)
47. Sheila Horgan – well over 80,000 as of Feb 2012
48. Hugh Howey- more than 100,000 sold (March 2012)
49. Delle Jacobs – total unknown
50. Nancy C. Johnson
51. Ty Johnston – over 60,000
52. Andrew E. Kaufman – 53,984 sold in 31 days (during the month of March 2012)
53. Selena Kitt – “With half a million ebooks sold in 2011 alone”
54. *J.A. Konrath – more than 500,000 ebooks sold (November 2011)
55. Eve Langlais – over 56,000
56. B.V. Larson – over 250,000 books sold (Dec 2011)
57. *Stephen Leather – “selling close to half a million eBooks over the past 12 months” (Nov 2011)
58. Jason Letts – almost 50,000 as of Feb 2012
59. Victorine Lieske – more than 100,000 books sold (May 2011)
60. John Locke- more than 1,100,000 eBooks sold in five months
61. Terri Giuliano Long – more than 80,000 ebooks sold (Jan 2012)
62. *Carol Davis Luce – 100,000 sold (January 2012)
63. *CJ Lyons – almost 500,000 ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
64. H.P. Mallory – more than 200,000 ebooks sold (July 2011)
65. C.S. Marks
66. M. R. Mathias – over 50,000 sold (June 2011)
67. *KC May
68. *Bob Mayer – 347 sold in Jan, 2011 to over 400,000 total sold by year’s end (Dec 2011)
69. David McAfee – 54-56K range as of March 2012
70. Stephanie McAfee – “the e-book sold 145,325 copies from January to August 2011”
71. Carolyn McCray – over 50K and on track to sell over 13,000 ebooks for the month of March 2012
72. Karen McQuestion – more than 70,000 sold (***September 2010***)
73. Courtney Milan
74. Addison Moore
75. David Morrell
76. Rick Murcer – in only four and a half months, 135,000 ebooks sold (as of August 2011)
77. Scott Nicholson
78. Anne Marie Novark – more than 70,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
79. Shayne Parkinson – over 50,000 as of Feb 2012
80. Aaron Patterson – total unknown
81. Aaron Pogue
82. Brian S. Pratt
83. *Michael Prescott – more than 800,000 self-published ebooks sold (Dec 2011)
84. Rose Pressey – over 54,000 since April 2011
85. T.R. Ragan – 239,592 books sold (March 2012)
86. J.R. Rain – more than 400,000 books sold (Sept 2011)
87. Terri Reid – more than 60,000 ebooks sold (August 2011)
88. Lexi Revellian – over 54,000 (March 2012)
89. Shadonna Richards – 51,790 ebooks as of March 2012
90. Imogen Rose
91. *Kristine Kathryn Rusch
92. Nick Russell – over 104,000 of Big Lake (March 2012)
93. Jonas Saul – over 50,000 ebooks sold
94. L.J. Sellers – total unknown
95. Amber Scott – total unknown
96. *Michele Scott (AK Alexander) – more than 100,000 books sold in two months
97. Tori Scott – 84,772 as of midnight 3/15/2012
98. Kathleen Shoop – over 50,000 books sold since May 2011 (as of Jan 2012)
99. Christopher Smith
100. *Dean Wesley Smith
101. Katie Stephens
102. Andy Straka – over 50,000 in the past 10 months
103. Michael J Sullivan – more than 90,000 sold before books retired and republished
104. Denise Grover Swank- “almost 60,000 books with my four books since last July (March 2012)”
105. Vicki Tyley – 100,000 (January 2012)
106. Louise Voss & Mark Edwards – 50,000 ebooks sold in the month of June (2011)
107. Heather Killough-Walden – over 500,000 books sold (Dec 2011)
108. Michael Wallace – 80,000 (Feb 2012)
109. Kerry Wilkinson – more than 250,000 books sold (Feb 2012)
110. Nicole Williams – near the 100,000 mark for her trilogy (Dec 2011)
111. Zoe Winters – more than 50,000 ebooks sold independently
112. Rachel Yu – more than 60,000 ebooks sold (Feb 2012)

That’s pretty amazing. We can figure that many of those books earned about $2 per sale (at a conservative price of $2.99 per book), so this 50K number means the authors above are looking at $100,000, at least. There would also be expenses involved in editing, cover art, formatting, etc., depending upon how much of that was paid for versus done by the author or by volunteers. Still, the profits are impressive by any measure.

Some of these authors have gone on to accept traditional deals with established publishers so that they can concentrate on the writing part. Famously, Amanda Hocking has a multi-million dollar deal for some of her books, but has also retained the right to continue self-publishing those books she prefers to.

All right, writers, are you suitably inspired?

Now, back to your keyboards!

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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!

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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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