As this is my personal journal of my author’s walk, I want to be honest with you. Since I went back to working the full-time day job, sales dropped as fast as my promotions stopped. That told me a few things. First, this isn’t a part-time gig even though for now, I lack the ability to make it anything else. Second, I will never earn anything even close to commiserate to the minimum wage for the labor of love that indie writing is. Third, I am hooked like a heroin addict and if this was a gambling addiction, the farm would have been long lost.
I have seriously investigated free promotions and social media platforms. They are worth it and if I stay with them, I can see the impact. It isn’t enough to get me what I want, however (the end of the day job life rather than gas money). So, sorry if you were hoping I knew the road to instant success. (I don’t think that really exists. There’s always a back story.)
If the truth is that most self-published authors never make but less than $200 on their books total, and if I have in the last two years made a few hundred on my books altogether, then I have done as much as most. I have also learned a lot. Is there a magic formula for success? If there is, I haven’t hit upon it yet. (See my previous statements about getting rich quick ideas for clarification.)
What’s my goal? What would I consider a true success story? Clearing $500 a month on my books would be it, I’d say. Would I love more? Sure. Is it unrealistic? I don’t think so. If it never happens, will I be upset? No, I will only wonder what else I should have done. Don’t worry, I won’t quit on you. I love to write. It’s an addiction for which I seek no rehabilitation, much like my reading habit.
I have quite a few books published, so given the size of my bookshelf, I could eventually crack the code and manage to make enough to fully fund my Roth Ira especially if writing in series is the winning strategy (which I managed to do by accident and all the experts agree is the way to go when writing fiction.) I was only going to write one book. The problem was the length of that story.
$500 a month would be a good side hustle. That would be a level of success worth shooting for. If I could multiply that figure by 5. I might be able to eke out a living as a writer. That might be far more difficult to pull off. The ball would have to start seriously rolling to manage it. That means paid advertising.
How long will any of that take? I don’t honestly know. I’ve spent two years working through the trenches knee-deep in it for 6 months straight before I had to climb back into the corporate American rat race again. As a teacher, summers and holidays are my writer life best friends. My full-time writer’s life is still out there, waiting for me to finally put all the pieces together. So unless or until… I will report back to my Day Job bright and early every weekday morning and dream of being a full-time writer. (Or a lotto winner, same thing really, right?)
Hard Work, Not a Passive Income Stream!
What I can say for sure about indie writing is this, if I’m not 150% committed to my writing, publishing, and promoting, then the amount of time it will take to obtain success is astronomical even if I put in cash. Self-publishing is a business. Like any start-up business, blood, sweat, tears, and cold hard cash are necessary. Therein lies the rub.
How much money is enough for advertising? Where is the ‘too much’ mark? How do I know if an ad is good and should be scaled up? Where should the ad monies be spent? These things are all learnable. But the real question has always been: where does this startup money come from? With no guarantee on the return on investment, it’s difficult for an old country girl like me to part with the hard-earned cash from the day job.
My current working theory is this: I need to be advertising on social media and utilizing sites like Awesome Gang to get my book in the hands of readers. My lack of computer tech skills is legendary. My lack of funds is even more mythical. So… HMM?
I still intend to use Youtube as a cache for my video and audio content, but I just don’t see myself becoming a Youtube star when putting my face on my work is likely never happening. Tiktok is fun, but even that social media platform has moved toward pay-to-play and has the same face restrictions as Youtube for those of us who are camera shy.
Sadly, my stories are, at this stage, far more of an expensive hobby than a profitable business venture. I still see having a website as a push into the community, and I would highly recommend that anyone thinking of self-publishing needs to begin there. It might be expensive, but having my own platform seems very much like a key component to this game.
Having done it, I don’t think I will go back to Kindle Unlimited without a serious bankroll for advertising. Even then, it might be only for one story at a time. The platform is simply too saturated and organic traffic doesn’t really exist anymore. My books are on Kindle, but I’m opting out of page reads.
Publishing wide and advertising for my site makes far more sense to me. Draft 2 Digital is my go-to for publishing on sites like Apple, online libraries, etc. I’m publishing on Payhip, Ebooklingo, Gumroad, and Thirsty Author as well. Fictionate.me is super cool too! But the best deals will always be on OpheliaKee.com.
Shameless Self Promotion
Having published on Fictionate.me, I decided to try a few titles in Kindle Vella. Volume 1 of Apocalypse Averted is available on Fictionate.me. When Vella goes live, it will be there too. I have yet to learn how to supply links to Vella. I think at $.99 it will wind up being cheaper to read on Fictionate.me and also have the option of AI audio. I will likely make the same return on Vella, but it will probably cost the reader more and not have the option of AI audio. Amazon has a giant platform and a huge advertising reach. We shall see how it goes, but I would choose Fictionate.me over Vella.
Excerpts as Promised
Legend of the Woodsmen
1 The Woodsman
On a moonlit evening of a Summer Solstice, the mist from the Spirit Realm weaved its way between the trees of the ancient forest of Draoithe. A lone Woodsman walked among the silent timbers of a pristine realm exulting in being allowed to commune with nature there. His destination was an enchanted grove.
The Heart Grove was a place created to save the Lost Ones. Lovers found themselves there seeking balance. The legends drew them. The magic still worked and many found what they sought. Others weren’t ready and left the grove alone. The magic of the dream didn’t make mistakes and the gatekeeper ensured peace.
For the Woodsmen, it was more than a mere folk story. Finding a Woodwife meant a continuation of immortal life. Failing meant a man faded into the trees. The woman a Woodsman found was known as a Lost One in honor of those who’d been claimed by the Elders because they’d been truly lost. Zoren idly wondered if it wasn’t the Lords of the Forest who were the real Lost Ones. Either way, a Woodwife was the goal and he intended to accomplish it…
Life in the dream is fast coming to a close as school ramps back up again. I need to write so I am going to run away. If you read please be kind and leave those reviews. It means more to authors than you will ever know. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, I may be a tiger, but I’m real and I love to hear from you so drop me a line. Until then,