Friday, July 6, 2012

The Key to Success and Happiness in Writing

When I started my first romance novel, I was already counting the advance checks that I'd be getting.  I first queried to Dorchester about a year before that company completely changed.  Back then if they said yes to a book it was $3000 per book unless it sold really well and you started making beyond the advance.  I was a fast writer and I figured that I could put out three novels a year which would mean $9,000 at least until I could sign up with a better company like Avon Romance and start making even more.

If you've followed my blog then you know that it didn't happen.  I hit that brick wall that most new writers find, reality.  I spent almost a full year after that first rejection letter trying to find an agent, a publisher, anyone who would give it a chance.  I was writing my second book at the same time and despite the horrible series of punches to the gut that was the querying process I decided to put my second book through the same thing.  I had a little better luck but in the end nothing came of it.

I didn't exactly give up.  I was still writing down ideas.  I finished a third novel, started a forth.  I had some hopes and dreams but at that point I finally understood why so many writers just throw in the towel.  My new goal wasn't really to make money, it was to not quit trying.

When e-publishing came along I shook my head.  I wanted those gate keepers at the big industries to love my book and after seeing a few really bad e-books I didn't want to find myself lumped together with them.  It wasn't until some of the experienced authors began turning away from their publishers and turning to e-books that I gave it another look.  Just because the big-time guys weren't interested wasn't to say that others wouldn't like my books.

My first book didn't make much waves and I didn't do anything to promote it or myself.  Still the dozen sales that trickled in over the past two months felt good and they kept me going.  Then I released my second book just last week and much to my surprise I sold eighteen books in a week.  That isn't a lot of books and it doesn't make me a lot of money, maybe about $40 once everything is said and done.  I can't go quit my full-time job or anything.

But those sudden eighteen sales made me ecstatic.  After three years of rejection letters and disappointments I had started to feel like no one wanted to read what I wrote.  Then eighteen separate people decided to pay three dollars to give it a try.

So I finally do have some advice for all of those writers just starting to create their first book or those who've just opened their first rejection letter.  Ahem..."The key to being a successful and happy writer, is setting your expectations very low and working twice as hard to get there.  It can make $40 suddenly seem like a life-long dream realized."

That said I'm now trying to figure out what I did right so that next time I can do it even better.  I'd still love to make enough money off of writing that I could quit my day job.  Come on, I still have to dream big, don't I?


  1. As a person who has made a good living from writing, I have to encourage you to continue. However, my writing is far different from yours. While you write fiction, I write non-fiction about actual people who have devoted their lives and careers into turning raw resources into energy that improves the lives of Americans. As someone told me once, we're not in the energy business, we're in the "comfort" business by keeping people warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Keep writing!

    1. Steve-You are an inspiration. Anyone who can live off of their writing deserves a huge thumbs up!

  2. This writing business isn't easy, and it's difficult to know which path to follow sometimes because every writer's journey is different. I think the best advice is to work on a backlist - just keep writing, and along the way experiment. Keep learning, and you'll get there.

    Happy writing :)

  3. Thanks Shelley! That's one of my two big goals. I have two more books coming out this year which will help. The other is doing more networking. This kind of thing is much easier to do with friends who are going through the same thing! Thanks for stopping by!