Sunday, December 23, 2012

Konrath's Resolutions For Writers

Every December I do a post about resolutions for writers, and every year I add more of them.

2006

Newbie Writer Resolutions
  • I will start/finish the damn book
  • I will always have at least three stories on submission, while working on a fourth
  • I will attend at least one writer's conference, and introduce myself to agents, editors, and other writers
  • I will subscribe to the magazines I submit to
  • I will join a critique group. If one doesn't exist, I will start one at the local bookstore or library
  • I will finish every story I start
  • I will listen to criticism
  • I will create/update my website
  • I will master the query process and search for an agent
  • I'll quit procrastinating in the form of research, outlines, synopses, taking classes, reading how-to books, talking about writing, and actually write something
  • I will refuse to get discouraged, because I know JA Konrath wrote 9 novels, received almost 500 rejections, and penned over 1 million words before he sold a thing--and I'm a lot more talented than that guy
Professional Writer Resolutions 
  • I will keep my website updated
  • I will keep up with my blog and social networks
  • I will schedule bookstore signings, and while at the bookstore I'll meet and greet the customers rather than sit dejected in the corner
  • I will send out a newsletter, emphasizing what I have to offer rather than what I have for sale, and I won't send out more than four a year
  • I will learn to speak in public, even if I think I already know how
  • I will make selling my books my responsibility, not my publisher's
  • I will stay in touch with my fans
  • I will contact local libraries, and tell them I'm available for speaking engagements
  • I will attend as many writing conferences as I can afford
  • I will spend a large portion of my advance on self-promotion
  • I will help out other writers
  • I will not get jealous, will never compare myself to my peers, and will cleanse my soul of envy
  • I will be accessible, amiable, and enthusiastic
  • I will do one thing every day to self-promote
  • I will always remember where I came from

2007

  • Keep an Open Mind. It's easier to defend your position than seriously consider new ways of thinking. But there is no innovation, no evolution, no "next big thing" unless someone thinks differently. Be that someone.
  • Look Inward. We tend to write for ourselves. But for some reason we don't market for ourselves. Figure out what sort of marketing works on you; that's the type of marketing you should be trying. You should always know why you're doing what you're doing, and what results are acceptable to you.
  • Find Your Own Way. Advice is cheap, and the Internet abounds with people telling you how to do things. Question everything. The only advice you should take is the advice that makes sense to you. And if it doesn't work, don't be afraid to ditch it.
  • Set Attainable Goals. Saying you'll find an agent, or sell 30,000 books, isn't attainable, because it involves things out of your control. Saying you'll query 50 agents next month, or do signings at 20 bookstores, is within your power and fully attainable.
  • Enjoy the Ride. John Lennon said that life is what happens while you're busy planning other things. Writing isn't about the destination; it's about the journey. If you aren't enjoying the process, why are you doing it?
  • Help Each Other. One hand should always be reaching up for your next goal. The other should be reaching down to help others get where you're at. We're all in the same boat. Start passing out oars.

2008


I Will Use Anger As Fuel


We all know that this is a hard business. Luck plays a huge part. Rejection is part of the job. Things happen beyond our control, and we can get screwed.


It's impossible not to dwell on it when we're wronged. But rather than vent or stew or rage against the world and everyone in it, we should use that anger and the energy it provides for productive things.


The next time you get bad news, resolve to use that pain to drive your work. Show fate that when it pushes you, you push right back. By writing. By querying. By marketing.



I Will Abandon My Comfort Zone


The only difference between routine and rut is spelling.


As a writer, you are part artist and part businessman.


Great artists take chances.


Successful businessmen take chances.


This means doing things you're afraid of, and things you hate, and things you've never tried before.


If, in 2008, you don't fail at something, you weren't trying hard enough.




I Will Feed My Addiction 

Life is busy. There are always things you can and should be doing, and your writing career often comes second.


So make it come first.


Right now, you're reading A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Not A Newbie's Guide to Leading a Content and Balanced Life.


You want to get published and stay published? That means making writing a priority. That means making sacrifices. A sacrifice involves choosing one thing over another.


If you can't devote the time, energy, and money it takes to pursue this career, go do something else.




I Will Never Be Satisfied 

Think the last resolution was extreme? This one really separates the die-hards from the hobbyists. 


While an overwhelming sense of peace and enlightenment sounds pretty nice, I wouldn't want to hire a bunch of Zen masters to build an addition on my house. 


Satisfaction and contentment are great for your personal life. In your professional life, once you start accepting the way things are, you stop trying.


No one is going to hand you anything in this business. You have to be smart, be good, work hard, and get lucky.


Every time you get published, you got lucky. Don't take it for granted.


When something bad happens, it should make you work harder. But when something good happens, you can't believe you earned it. Because it isn't true. You aren't entitled to this career. No one is.


Yes, you should celebrate successes. Sure, you should enjoy good things when they happen. Smile and laugh and feel warm and fuzzy whenever you finish a story or make a sale or reach a goal.


But remember that happiness isn't productive. Mankind's greatest accomplishments are all tales of struggle, hardship, sacrifice, work, and effort. You won't do any of those things if you're satisfied with the status quo. 


Who do you want on your team? The kid who plays for fun? Or the kid who plays to win?


If you want this to be your year, you know which kid you have to be.




2009


This year I'm only going to add one resolution to this growing list, but if you're writing for a living, or trying to write for a living, it's an important one.


I Won't Blame Anyone For Anything

It's tempting to look at the many problems that arise in this business and start pointing fingers. This is a slippery slope, and no good can come from it.


Do agents, editors, and publishers make mistakes? Of course.


You make mistakes too.


Hindsight is 20/20, so we can all look at things that didn't go our way and fantasize about how things should have gone. 


But blaming others, or yourself, is dwelling on the past. What's done is done, and being bitter isn't going to help your career.


So try to learn from misfortune, forgive yourself and others, and make 2009 a blameless year.




2010

I Will Be Wary

The medium in which stories are absorbed is changing in a big way, and it will continue to change. 2009 will go down in publishing history as Year Zero for the upcoming ebook revolution. Writers should explore this new territory, but we need to understand that Print is still King, and any goals and dreams a writer might have regarding publication should be focused on getting into print.


That's not to say that ebooks shouldn't be explored and experimented with. They should be, and in a serious way. Erights are a very long tail--one that can potentially continue long after our lifetimes.


Don't forsake print for ebooks without understanding what you're giving up, and don't give away your ebook rights to get a print deal.




I Will Be A Pioneer

Remember the old saying about how to recognize a pioneer? They're the one with the arrows in their backs and fronts.


I've tried to be forward-thinking in my career, rather than being content with my role as a cog in a broken machine. Your best chance for longevity is to question everything, test boundaries, experiment with new ideas, and be willing to change your mind and learn from your mistakes.


Your job is to survive, by any means necessary. So pull out the arrows and forge ahead. Discover the difference between determination and stupidity by being an example for one or the other or both.


Though this may seem at odds with the previous resolution about being wary, it's actually quite simpatico.


Q: What do you call a wary pioneer? A: Still alive.




I Will Read Books

I'm surprised I haven't mentioned this in previous years. If you're a writer, you must be a reader. I don't care if you read on your Kindle, or on stone tablets. Reading, and giving the gift of reading to others, is essential. Period.




I Will Stop Worrying 

Worrying, along with envy, blame, guilt, and regret, is a useless emotion. It's also bad storytelling. Protagonists should be proactive, not reactive. They should forge ahead, not dwell on things beyond their control. Fretting, whining, complaining, and bemoaning the state of the industry isn't the way to get ahead.


You are the hero in the story of your life. Act like it.



2011

I Will Self-Publish

Just twelve short months ago, I made $1650 on Kindle in December, and was amazed I could pay my mortgage with ebook sales.

This December, I'll earn over $22,000.


The majority of this is on Kindle. But I'm also doing well self-pubbing in print through Amazon's Createspace program, and will earn $2700 this month on nine POD books. I'm also finally trying out B&N's PubIt program, which looks to be good for over $1k a month, and I'm doing okay on Smashwords, with Sony, Apple, and Kobo combining for another $1k.


This is nothing short of revolutionary.


The gatekeepers--agents who submit to editors who acquire books to publish and distribute to booksellers--are no longer needed to make a living as a fiction writer. For the first time in history, writers can reach readers without having to jump through hoops, get anointed, compromise integrity, or fit the cookie-cutter definition for What New York Wants.


I'm not saying you should give up on traditional publishing. But I am saying that there is ZERO downside to self-pubbing. At worst, you'll make a few bucks. At best, you'll make a fortune, and have agents and editors fighting over you.


But remember: even if you are being fought over, you still have a choice.


DO NOT take any deal that's less than what you believe you could earn in six years. If you're selling 1000 ebooks a month, that means $144,000 is the minimum advance you should be offered before you consider signing.


It blows my mind to think that way, let alone blog about it. I got a $34,000 advance for my first novel, and even less for my last few.


Currently, I have seven self-pubbed novels, each earning more than $24k a year. In six years, at the current rate, I'll earn more than one million bucks on those.


But I don't expect them to maintain their current sales.


I expect sales to go up.


Ebooks haven't saturated the market yet. But they will. And you need to be ready for it. Which leads me to...




I Won't Self-Publish Crap


Just because it's easier than ever before to reach an audience doesn't mean you should.


I can safely say that I'm either directly or indirectly responsible for thousands of writers trying out self-publishing. The majority of these writers aren't making the same amount of money that I am, and are scratching their heads, wondering what they're doing wrong.


Luck still plays a part in success. But so does professionalism.


Being a professional means you make sure you have a professional cover (http://www.extendedimagery.com), and you have been professionally formatted for ebooks (www.52novels.com) and for print books (http://yourepublished.blogspot.com.)


Being a professional means you're prolific, with many titles for sale, and that you diversify, exploiting all possible places to sell your work (Kindle, Createspace, Smashwords, iBooks, iTunes, Sony, Nook, Kobo, Borders, Android, and no doubt more to come.)


But most of all, being a professional means you won't inflict your shitty writing on the public.


Self-pubbing is not the kiddie pool, where you learn how to swim. You need to be an excellent swimmer before you jump in.


If your sales aren't where you'd like them to be, especially if you've done everything else I've mentioned, then it's time to take a cold, hard, critical look at the writing. Which segues into...



I'll Pay Attention to the Market


To say I'm excited about the ebook future is putting it mildly. But that doesn't mean I have carte blanche to write whatever the hell I want to, and then expect it to sell.


Yes, writers now have more freedom. Yes, we can now cater to niche tastes, and write novellas, and focus on more personal projects.


But if you want to make a living, you still have to understand your audience, and how to give them what they want.


Self-pubbing is not an excuse to be a self-indulgent egomaniac. On the contrary, it's a chance for you to learn what sells.


For the very first time, the writer can conduct their own real-world experiments. By trying different things, learning from mistakes, and constantly tweaking and improving, we have more power than ever before to find our readers.


A lot of folks know how much money I'm making. But how many know:


I've changed or tweaked cover art 45 times.

I've reformatted my books five times each.
I've changed product descriptions over 80 times.
I've changed prices on each book two or three times.

Unlike the traditional publishing world, where published books are static, self-publishing is dynamic. If something isn't selling as well as you'd like, you can change it. The work doesn't end when you upload your ebook to Kindle. The work is never-ending, and vigilance is mandatory.


Self-publishing is a wonderful opportunity to learn and to grow. This means you MUST try new things.


2011 is going to be a turbulent year for publishers and bookstores and editors and agents. Change is coming, and many of the stalwarts of the industry aren't going to be around for much longer.


But savvy writers will be safe from harm. In fact, they'll thrive like never before.


For the first time in the history of publishing, we have control. Embrace that control, and make 2011 your year.



2012



Hard to believe this will be my sixth year offering New Year's Resolutions to writers. Even harder to believe is how much the publishing industry has changed during that time.

When I first began this blog, it was about helping authors find an agent and a legacy publishing deal. And once they did, it was about working with your publisher to sell as many books as possible by understanding how to self-promote and market.


Now, writers are much better served learning how to upload their work to Kindle and write a product description than learning how to write a query letter or do a successful book signing.


So is there still anything left for me to say?


Yes. There's plenty.




I Will Experiment

Don't let fear prevent you from taking chances and trying new things. I'm talking to all of you who refuse to raise or lower your ebook prices. I'm talking to all of you who pass judgement without any experience to back up your position. I'm talking to all of you who insist that your way is the right way without ever having tried any other way--or in some cases, knowing nothing about the path you want to take (I'm looking right at you folks still chasing legacy deals.)


The goals you set should constantly be adapting and changing as more data comes in. But don't be a lump, expecting data to come to you by surfing the net, or reading this blog, or praying Santa Claus helps you out.


You need to be the one actively trying different things, taking different directions, and learning through trial and error.


In the past, there were a lot of gatekeepers who could hold you back.


Today the only one holding you back is you.




I Will Help Other Writers


If you learn something, share it. If you have some success, show others how to follow your lead. If you fail miserably, warn your peers.

Writing and publishing were once solitary, private matters, and everyone played their cards close to their chests. No one knew how much anyone else was earning, or how many books they sold, and this suited the publishers just fine. The dark ages are all about being kept in the dark.


Well, let there be light.


The more we share, and help one another, the more our collective base of knowledge can grow.


Self-publishing is an open source project. Add to the database.




I Will Control My Fear


There will always be doubt and uncertainty, because luck plays such a big role in success. I know there are writers who are doing everything right, who still haven't found readers.

But don't let fear own you.


It is easy to get frustrated.


It is easy to get envious of those doing better.


It is easy to dismiss the success or failures of others.


It is easy to worry about the future.


It is easy to ignore good advice. It's also easy to take bad advice.


It is easy to make snap judgments and quick dismissals.


It is easy to make predictions without evidence.


It is easy to give up.


BUT NOBODY EVER SAID SUCCESS IS EASY.


Yes, it is the greatest time ever to be a writer. But no one owes you a living, and no one promised that even if you write a great book and promote the hell out of it you'll get stinking rich.


Not to get all Yoda here, but fear leads to doubt, and doubt will take you down the wrong path.


Controlling fear is easier than you might think. Just accept that failure is part of the process.


Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. All major success stories are filled with setbacks and mistakes and bad luck. But all successful people persevere.


We've all heard that luck favors those who are prepared. So be prepared, and stay prepared, for as long as it takes for success to find you.


Remember that. You don't find success. Success finds you.


This is especially important when you realize this truism:



What Goes Up Must Come Down


I've had a lot of writers email me that their sales are down. Mine are, too. Because ebooks are so new, no one knows what this means, and it is easy to let fear cause doubt.


Here's a mantra for you to help you get over it.


1. Ebooks are forever, and shelf space is infinite. Once you're published, you'll always be selling.


2. Ebooks are not a trend. They are the new, preferred way to read, and mankind will always have the need and desire to read.


3. Ebooks are global. Doing poorly in the USA? That's okay. There are plenty of other countries where you can make money.


4. Sales fluctuate. Always. And there is often no logical or discernible reason why. Riding high in April, shot down in May, that's life.


5. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You're a writer. You're in this until the day you die. As long as you continue to write good books, you'll find readers.


2012 is going to be a very interesting year. We'll see unknown writers get rich. We'll see big name writers leave their publishers. We'll see more and more people buy ereaders throughout the world. We'll see some companies go out of business. We'll see other companies start growing market share.


We're part of something big, and it's going to get even bigger. And while everything that goes up must come down, we've got a very long time before that happens with ebooks.


And when it does? That's okay. Formats and gadgets come and go.


But the world will always need storytellers.


Have a great 2012.



2013


I've lived long enough to see my advice become obsolete, and that gives me hope for the future.


Back when I began, this business was all about finding an agent, finding a publisher, then doing whatever you could to promote yourself.


This blog spoke at length about social media, and book tours, and partnering with your publisher.


Things have changed. 


I have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but I only use it occasionally  Facebook? Haven't been on there in eight months. I witnessed the rise and fall of MySpace. I've opted out of Google+ because I saw no benefits. LinkedIn? I can't even remember my password.


I'll never do another book tour. I doubt I'll ever do another official booksigning. I've stopped speaking in public, stopped attending events. Once it was important to meet fans and network with peers. Now I can do that just fine via email. 


Partnering with your publisher? Why would you do that, when they offer so little? 17.5% ebook royalties with them, vs. 70% on your own. 


I haven't blogged or Tweeted in months. I've been busy doing what writers should be doing: writing.


And guess what? My sales have remained constant. 


Many times this year, I took industry practices to task. I saw stupidity, or unfairness, and I did my best to discredit it. I fought, tooth and nail, for what I believed, and wasted untold hours arguing with pinheads.


Which brings me to my resolution for 2013.



Get Over Yourself


I have turned off Google Alerts, and don't Google my name or my pen names.


I don't go on message boards.


I don't read my book reviews.


I don't care what people are saying about me, good or bad, in blogs or on Twitter or in the media.


There will always be people who don't like you, and don't like your books.


Ignore them.


Trust me, it is liberating to be free of the opinions of strangers. We all need to focus on our writing. Because the millions of readers out there don't care about your blog. They aren't searching for you on Twitter and avoiding your books based on the comments of others. They aren't taking one star reviews seriously.


It's very easy to obsess in this business. But I haven't seen a single shred of evidence that obsession helps careers.


The thing that I have seen, over and over, is people finding success by writing good books.


I really think it is possible to make a very nice living by writing and not worrying about anything else.


We all want to believe we're doing something good for our careers, so we abuse social media, buy ads, rigorously defend our good name, cultivate media contacts, make appearances, and celebrate our own very minor celebrity.


Let it all go. Spend your time working on your books. That's the only thing that really matters, and the only thing you have control over.


I hope everyone reading this has a very successful 2013. Happy new year.

109 comments:

Rebecca Burke said...

Thanks for validating my choice not to get mired in social media. I still Tweet but mostly political stuff and humor, rarely about my books (it doesn't help anyway).

There is absolutely no subtle way to use social media to sell books. In fact, the more you learn about most writers, the more you know not to hit the Buy-button.

Great resolutions--blunt, spirited and most of all true. Thank you Joe!

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Joe. It's been a good year for authors, a great year for me and I look forward to 2013 being even better.

Rob

Cyn Bagley said...

Thanks Joe-- I need to put "don't read my reviews" on my resolution list. Plus "don't listen to politics" as my second.

Hope you have a Happy New Year--
The positives for me? Four novels self-published and several short story collections. It's been a productive year--

Cathryn Grant said...

You inspire the hello out of me.

My goal for 2012 was "3300 words a day, no excuses". I hit that about 50% of the time. My goal for 2013 is "act like a pro" which means writing fiction like it's my day job and not doing all that pointless stuff you mentioned. I'm the queen of obsession (I suppose most writers are since you have to be obsessive to be a fiction writer).

Happy 2013, Joe, and happy writing.

Mike Dennis said...

Great post, Joe, as usual. I always look forward to your resolutions.

However, I will continue to read my reviews, because i get so damn few of them. I have nine titles out currently and only one has as many as 29 reviews. After nearly three years of ass-busting work and promotion, I'm currently averaging a little over 2 sales per day, spread among all nine titles. And that's after around a dozen free periods with KDP Select.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's very difficult to find inspiration when you have to sweat out each individual sale, then read about someone who puts his first book out and six months later is selling 20,000 copies a month.

Adele Cosgrove-Bray said...

@ Mike: "After nearly three years of ass-busting work and promotion, I'm currently averaging a little over 2 sales per day..."

Maybe this demonstrates Joe's idea to set aside all that, and just get on with writing the next book? Mark Coker (Smashwords)wrote pretty much the same thing too.

Rosemary Crawford said...

Okay, I printed the whole thing. Now I am going to actually read it all. I have self-pubbed 4 books and have a very small fan club that keeps me inspired. Too shy for all the promotion stuff though, so I will leave that to my heirs. :)

Alan Tucker said...

Happy Holidays to one and all!

Thank you, Joe, for lots of things, but most of all your honesty and determination. Reading this post reminded me of many things I'd forgotten over the past few months.

Publishing is no less a lottery than it used to be before the Kindle and ebooks. The difference now is that many more of us have a chance to buy a ticket.

Jonas Saul said...

Thanks, Joe.

The path has been lit.

Have a good one.

Cheers,

Jonas

Adam Pepper said...

The new, stripped down Joe. Keep it simple in 2013.

J. Anne Huss said...

Joe - you have made, and continue to make, history. I wish you lifelong success in writing and publishing and anything else you want to do. :) Thanks for having this blog - I look forward to your posts, I really do. As soon as the grapevine starts whispering about a new blog post, I'm over here reading what you wrote. So, thank you. :)

Julie

Sarah Woodbury said...

I'm one of the writers who started indie publishing because of your blog. So thank you for that. I think your resolution to not read reviews and get off the promoting bandwagon is probably the best advice you can give to a writer, particularly a new one.

I've missed your blogging this year, but if it's not fun, and it takes time away from writing don't do it :)

Mike Dennis said...

Adele sez: "Maybe this demonstrates Joe's idea to set aside all that, and just get on with writing the next book? Mark Coker (Smashwords)wrote pretty much the same thing too."

I haven't been idle, Adele. I've published nine titles in three years, with two more in progress. But there does come a moment where I have to ask myself, is it really just a matter of shoveling more books out there? And if so, then what's the magic number? 12? 20? 100? At what point do I begin to see sales?

Mike Dennis said...

Adele sez: "Maybe this demonstrates Joe's idea to set aside all that, and just get on with writing the next book? Mark Coker (Smashwords)wrote pretty much the same thing too."

I haven't been idle, Adele. I've published nine titles in three years, with two more in progress. But there does come a moment where I have to ask myself, is it really just a matter of shoveling more books out there? And if so, then what's the magic number? 12? 20? 100? At what point do I begin to see sales?

Mike Dennis said...

Sorry for the double post. I had trouble with the "please prove you're not a robot" thingy.

Steven Hardesty said...

Thanks for your great advice! When I feel frustrated in my mission (to teach young people not to be as stupid as I was about going to war), I re-read your blogs and realize what we all have set out to do in e-publishing makes a long, long slog but it offers a far better chance to be heard by the people we want to hear us than any other means. I raise a glass of holiday cheer to you and say "Thank you" once more!

Jude Hardin said...

Let it all go. Spend your time working on your books. That's the only thing that really matters, and the only thing you have control over.

That's it, in a nutshell. Great post!

And as somewhat of an addendum:

Jude Hardin On Happiness

Barry Eisler said...

Hey man, the New York Times misquoted you on the front page today, just in time for this post! :D

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/technology/amazon-book-reviews-deleted-in-a-purge-aimed-at-manipulation.html?hp

Thanks for all I've learned from you, amigo. Happy new year, everyone, and looking forward to what's coming in 2013.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Great blog, Joe.

And congrats on finishing the third book in the Chandler series! :)

Kristi said...

I think the best marketing you can do is to:

1) Write for your audience. Not yourself.

2) Write a spread-worthy book; a book that people cannot wait to spread.

You can Facebook until you turn blue and it won't do a thing unless you've written something people want to share.

Who cares how well-written it is. It only matters that you're a great storyteller.

Merrill Heath said...

Thanks, Joe. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all.

J. R. Tomlin said...

Happy New Year, Joe. And a Guid Hogmanay.

KevinMc said...

A good post. And of course I agree. ;) Writing the next book is the ONLY reliable promotion a writer can perform for their career.

But I think there is something to be said for staying connected with a community of writers, too. Your blog, Joe, serves as an inspiration for many other writers. And you've commented in the past that you learn from the comments here as much as you teach others through your posts.

Blogging to other writers isn't likely to sell you many books. But we writers do need each other. We keep each other informed. We make friendships and become collaborators. We meet up at cons, and enjoy spending some time with faces that we only knew as screen names.

I don't blog, comment, or tweet to sell books, not really. I do it because I'm a social critter, and like talking with other writers about our craft.

And that, I think, still retains value.

Brian said...

The very same conclusion I came to near the beginning of December, for my own sanity and my own writing. 2013 will continue to be about writing the best books I can while ignoring just about everything else.

Arby Robbins said...

It's been a fun journey riding along with you, Joe, for the past six years. I've given up on Twitter, Facebook, and the other social media for promoting my books. I agree that it's a waste of time.

As you say, it's all about the writing, and now that I've written my eighth book in a different genre and published it under this new pen name, I feel that I'm on the right track.

There was a time--a very short period of time--when you could promote a book, price it at $0.99, and sell a ton of them if you got lucky, regardless of the quality of the writing. That time is gone. You need a well-written, well-edited, unputdownable book with a great cover. Once you've got that, you can publish it and just wait for readers to discover it, get excited about it, and spread the word.

Happy Holidays, Joe, and thanks for the resolutions!

Robert Burton Robinson - aka, Arby Robbins

Amanda Mongeon said...

Thanks for this update, Joe. Great advice. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. All the best for 2013. Happy writing.

J. R. Tomlin said...

I must say that I agree with KevinMc that I don't want to cut myself off from my fellow writers. That is why I post on certain forums or even post here. If it sells any books, they are strictly incidental. Being a writer is a solitary business at best. I don't want to make it even more so. Sure, you have to be sure that doesn't become procrastination, but there is a big world out there. Part of it is a community of writers that I like to think I am a part of.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Happy Christmas to you and yours.

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Joe,

I’d like to thank you for the advice you’ve offered for free over the past few years. Following your advice, my wife and I wrote our first novel and recently uploaded it to Amazon, B&N, Kobo and other sites. We expect it to be available at all of the sites in a week or so, since different sites have different load times.

I disagree on the need for social networking, at least for new authors. While I agree it’s not productive to obsess over your web presence, I think that the extreme of not participating at all is an error. The competition for reader’s attention is a key factor in an author’s success. Established authors may not need to court their fan base, but as a newer author, you have to get the word out that you exist. You just can’t “hope” that people will run across your book by random chance. A little networking can be helpful in promoting a new author and their work. Say half an hour of an eight hour work day.

The rest of the time should be devoted to writing.

Thanks again for your advice!

Lynda Hilburn said...

I love this. Couldn't have said it better.
Lynda Hilburn

Elisa Nuckle said...

Honestly, I like blogging and Twitter and Facebook, but most of it I end up obsessing over, and that's not good for my writing, especially when I fall behind in my goals. So I'm going to adopt your resolutions to an extent and shut out everything else and just write, write, write. Maybe I'll get closer to my dream a little faster that way. Who knows?

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

In the spirit of writing rather than networking, I'm not going to comment here.

Tracey said...

I plan on taking your advice and just concentrating on writing great books in 2013.

However I will be sad if you do decide to blog less (or even abandon this blog entirely!). I really look forward to your posts and thoughts on the industry & writing.

Merry Christmas :)

John Kaden said...

This blog has been a real gift, so I wanted to say thank you, not just to Joe, but also to all the regular commenters that share their thoughts. I always read the comments and learn so much from other people's experiences. This place has been a pick-me-up whenever I've felt down. I've bought several how-to ebooks on self-pubbing but none come close to the newbie's guide and the rest of the community here. I stopped procrastinating and just wrote the damn thing finally, and it feels great.

Michelle Tatam/Jessi Hammond said...

Thank you Joe. After years of 'It's good but we can't/won't publish it because...' and 'It's a waste of time,' (from the ex)and 'We love it, when is it being published?' from beta readers, your blog and others have helped me jump in to indie publishing and paddle. I have 4 novels and 11 short stories up now and have made 100 sales this year. Not much, but I'm patient. For someone who's legally blind and had to settle for office jobs all the time, doing something I love - and getting paid for it - is awesome. And by the time I'm old and decrepit and fully blind I'll be able to do a Barbara Cartland and have someone type for me as I dictate.
Seriously though, thank you. You and Dean and Kris gave me the push and the information I needed and I will be forever grateful.
Have a wonderful Christmas.
Michelle

Werner said...

Hi Joe,

Tons of great advice and ideas here. I’m letting know I’m flat out stealing what you wrote and then folding, spindling and mutilating it for my own ends…

BTW: A word of thanks for being both a great advocate and teacher for writer’s of all levels.

Merry Christmas and the Best New Year are to you and yours.

~Werner~

Darlene Underdahl said...

Thanks for identifying the unnecessary hoops.

Happy Holidays.

AC Adams said...

So true. I've had stories take off for no rhyme or reason. I've had things I planned to be big flop. So is it a business or just a lottery? lol But you're right. Not to worry and think twice about quitting your day job. Let them fire you so you can collect some money and then work your donkey off.

Mark Coker said...

Another great list. My fav: "Spend your time working on your books. That's the only thing that really matters" Amen.

Happy holidays, Joe!

Scott Daniel said...

Can't argue with a thing you've said here, Joe. I will say, selfishly, that I do miss your regular blog posts a great deal. I've always enjoyed your point of view and it was fun watching your career take off while you successfully stuck it to the Man.

Happy Holidays to you, sir.

I.J.Parker said...

Thank you, Joe. May you also have great holidays and a succesful new year.

I agree with all you've said above, but I like this blog. I've learned a lot here that I could not have found out any other way. I don't always agree with you, but those of us who come here are richer for the experience. I am particularly grateful for reassurances and encouragement. Leaving traditional publishing and a New York agent is scary work, and periodically doubts creep in. So don't desert the blog, please.

tess gerritsen said...

Joe, fascinating to see how your approach to the business has changed as your success has grown and matured. "Don't read your reviews" is darn good advice, even though I have a hard time sticking to it. "Get off the internet" is even harder to stick to, but just as important.

Along with the advice to "write, write, write," I'd add one more thing: "Remember to live." After my mom died last year, it hit me how little time we have in a lifetime. Yes, it's important to be productive, but it's also important to enjoy things while you still can. Most of my storytelling springs from things I've seen or done; it's important to take the time to have the experiences that shape you as both a writer and a human being.

Julie Kramer said...

Thanks, Joe. Best to you in 2013 in writing and in life.

Karen Woodward said...

Happy Holidays Joe! Best wishes in the New Year.

Even though this blog doesn't help your book sales I (selfishly) hope you keep it up. You've done a lot to help indie writers. Thanks. :-)

Suzanne Tyrpak said...

Thanks, Joe-- you're a champion for writers.

My resolution: Write, write, write. Read, read, read.

But I also love the advice from Tess: Live, live live!

Merry Christmas to all the wonderful people I've met on this journey.

Naja Tau said...

This is all very sensible and encouraging advice. I'll take it to heart. Merry Christmas!

Jill James said...

Don't Worry.
Be Writing.

Okay, probably not proper grammar but I'll know what it means.

Thanks, Joe.

Dalya Moon said...

Thank you for sharing! I spend too much time looking at Excel charts, but I'm trying to move my obsession to word count rather than rank or sales or any of those things I have no control over.
:-) Keep writing and may 2013 be the best yet!

Author Scott Nicholson said...

Joe, I think you are great and I am grateful for your inspiration in helping me and others get started in this new era.

However, I disagree with the premise that all one has to do is write. The moment you self-publish, your job moves from writing books to selling books.

Of course, what works for YOU works for you, and that is awesome. I don't read reviews or "ego search" for my name. But it is my business to know markets and reach new audiences. I spent most of this year running my business instead of "just writing."

By doing that, I was able to more than double my income as well as self-publish numerous foreign editions. If I had written, say, four more books instead of one book and one novella, my income might have increased 10 percent instead of doubling. For me, promoting and developing new markets was far more valuable than cranking out new books.

Of course, you've already laid your groundwork in the preceding decade. With an established audience, it perhaps makes more sense to "just write." But few will be in your shoes, prolific and with a giant backlist to start the digital era with. Any newer writers fixating on this advice to just write will be incredibly fortunate to get hit by lightning, and I suspect it will get harder and harder.

I marketed this year and have it as a significant part of my 2013 plan because after that, I should be able to write whatever I want whenever I want. Or not at all. That is more satisfying to me than "just writing." But all I can do is choose for me. I encourage everyone to choose what works for them.

Best of luck for a happy 2013!

James Scott Bell said...

"Spend your time working on your books." (emphasis mine)

I'm glad you put it that way, Joe. It's work. That includes both production and craft, ongoing. At least 80% of your time.

The new authors (and maybe all) need to do 20% business. That's not just marketing. It's thinking this through, putting in quality controls, because if you don't, you're throwing spaghetti on a wall.

Here is to more intentional and fully realized cuisine for more authors in 2013.

Steven W. said...

Well said Joe. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of us! May we have the success we deserve from what we put into it. :-)

Steven Wolff
amazon.com/author/stevenwolff

Linsey Lanier said...

I've been getting some very nice reviews lately, so I like reading them. :)

Wow, where did the time go? Not much obsolete in this post that I saw. (Well, except the blogging and traditional stuff.) But still a lot of inspiration.

And we all need to be reminded to just go write. So thanks.

I hope you never give up this blog, Joe. It's one of the ones I live for. :)

Anonymous said...

Maybe if you did more book signings you wouldn't have to resort to fake positive reviews to sell you crap.
It does kinda say a lot about you that your goal is to "remain constant" especially when that level is not all that high.

Joe Konrath said...

Thanks to all for the kind words, and happy holidays.

the New York Times misquoted you on the front page today

LMAO at that, Barry. If I cared, I'd force them to print a retraction. But I don't. Anyone can follow the link on that article to see what I said and what I meant.

My faith in journalism is on par with my faith in legacy publishing.

And congrats on finishing the third book in the Chandler series!

Congrats right back at you, Ann. We both know you do all the heavy lifting. I'm just along for the ride. :)

"Remember to live."

So true. Thanks for the reminder, Tess.

Stop to smell the roses, hug your kids everyday, try to make a difference in someone else's life.

Also, lots of sex, booze, drugs, friends, and entertainment. The winner is the one who had the most fun.

I disagree with the premise that all one has to do is write

And I agree with your disagreement, Scott. You're constantly experimenting, innovating, and adjusting, and it is paying off for you. I certainly wouldn't preach you do things differently.

But there is a difference between guys like me, you, Blake, and Barry, and a newbie author who writes 1 ebook then Tweets about it every eight minutes for three straight years.

Any professional writer should treat this as a business. That means learning how to maximize revenue. But it helps if, like us, you've got forty IPs to maximize.

There was a dude who did really well when the Kindle revolution began, selling ebooks for cheap. He sold a bunch because he had good covers. But then bad reviews--lots and lots--killed his momentum. He needed to spend more time on his prose and less on his marketing.

I say: Write a few dozen good books. You should learn to run your business as well, but the majority of your time should be new material, not fussing with promotion.

Unless you're Scott Nicholson, or Bob Mayer, or a handful of folks who just "get it."

you wouldn't have to resort to fake positive reviews

Bless the anonymous pinheads. I swear, if they didn't show up, I'd be tempted to trash myself anonymously just to liven things up.

But that would be me being fake, which I don't do. I have the balls to sign my name to my words. Always.

Joe Konrath said...

But then bad reviews--lots and lots--killed his momentum.

I'd like to extrapolate.

Everyone gets bad reviews. Gatsby and Holden and Romeo and that simpleton Lenny who wants a bunny, all get 1 star ratings. If you write, there will be people who don't like it, and they'll be vocal about their dislike.

A few 1 stars don't matter. It's expected.

But if you're getting a lot of reviews, and they're all saying you can't write, either you are the victim of a trolling conspiracy aimed at destroying you, or perhaps you need to pay more attention to your prose.

If you're Patterson, Cornwell, Hamilton, a 2 star average won't hurt sales. But if you don't already have a fan base, it can hurt. Not because people are mindless sheep when it comes to blindly following reviews, but because a book with a lot of bad reviews is more likely to be sampled before buying. And if the sample is poor, there goes your sale.

The one thing I've taken away from ReviewGate is that reviews matter a whole lot less than I ever thought they did, especially when it comes to books, which aren't fungible.

If I'm looking for a weed wacker, or a toaster, or something I'll have for years and only need one of, I'll spend a lot of time reading customer reviews.

If I'm looking for a book, even if the star average is low, I'll download the free sample and decide for myself. Or, if it's cheap enough, I'll go ahead and buy it without sampling.

It makes sense to assume I'm not the only one who thinks this way. We can all point to books that aren't very good that sell well.

That said, if your books aren't good, you aren't helping your sales. And reviews can be an indicator that your book isn't good.

I don't read my reviews. But I do have my readers in mind when I'm writing. One of the reasons I write horror under a pen name is because I had a lot of fans who didn't like all the blood and violence in Rusty Nail. Since Rusty Nail, I've toned down the violence in my mysteries. I listened to my readers.

At the same time, I didn't give up writing violence. I just switched it to a more violence-friendly group: horror fans.

It's also worth noting that while I don't read my reviews, I do read my email, and get a lot of reader feedback that way. Only fools ignore direct feedback.

Pat Mullan said...

Joe, you are an inspiration - and a very funny man. Still think you have a future as a stand-up comic if you ever quit this writing gig.

Anyway, keep this blog going. And my best wishes to you and your family this Christmas - and may 2013 be the best year yet for you.

I know I won't see you at events any more - I don't attend many myself. But, hopefully, I'll walk into a pub one day - here or there - and you'll be sitting at the bar nursing a pint or two.

Warmest wishes for 2013!
Slan go foill, Pat.

J.R. Adams said...

Many thanks, Joe!

I've seen on my own how important it is to write down your goals for the next week, month or year. Makes you focused on priorities, obtaining results, and not on spending X hours doing this or that without obtaining anything palpable.

On a (completely un)related note, my NYPD crime novel starring Det. Sherlock Dougan, DEATH OF A GURU, is available for FREE on Amazon today. Please forgive the self-promo and check it out:

amzn.to/U7WWN3

Jude Hardin said...

But it helps if, like us, you've got forty IPs to maximize.

If you have forty self-published e-books priced at $2.99 each, you only need to sell three of each per day to make $87,600 a year. That's pretty amazing. And if your books are good, you're probably going to sell more than three a day.

Word of mouth is still what sells books, not commercials. So I think it's best to concentrate on writing and get as many titles up as possible, while maintaining a high level of quality. That will maximize your chances of success, IMO.

Since Rusty Nail, I've toned down the violence in my mysteries.

I've been thinking I might need to tone it down a notch as well. My newest, SNUFF TAG 9, is especially grisly, and I've been catching some flak over it in the form of one- and two-star reviews.

So, I might--

Nah. In the words of the immortal Buddy Rich: "Anyone have a request? Forget it. I don't do requests. It's my band, and I'll play what I want to play."

I write edgy, hardboiled crime fiction. If someone wants a cozy, they can go read about cats and cupcakes and crossword puzzles elsewhere. That's one of the great things about the mystery genre. There's something out there for everyone.

Mark Edward Hall said...

Scott Nicholson said, "I encourage everyone to choose what works for them."

Great advice, Scott. Congratulations on your success.

Stephen Goss said...

Joe - I wondered why you haven't blogged as much lately, and now I know.


You saved me a lot of time. THANK YOU! Someday, I hope to return the favor. If you find yourself researching a book and you want to talk with a patent-holding, science-informed, graduate-degreed, Bible-believing Engineer who sees in the Bible a reality much larger than the one we think we live in, contact me. I can drive up from Wheaton and we can talk over lunch. My treat.

Sklank Jenkins said...

Dear Guru,
Have a good and prosperous 2013.

SFO

Michael Ardenne said...

Thank you, Joe.

This blog has been a source of inspiration and motivation while I finish my first novel. To know that yes, it is possible to self publish and make a living has given me the courage to carry on and maintain a positive attitude.

Josephine Wade said...

Happy New Year Joe!
I haven't been around on the net much, but I wanted to check in and wish you much success and happiness in the new year.

Josie

Joel Arnold said...

Good advice. Have a great 2013, Joe!

Kiana Davenport said...

Thank you for everything, Joe. Wishing you and your family, a fantastic 2013.

A quote from the late, great Ray Bradbury:

"The aim of the writer is not to solve the world's problems, but to make people love life in all its countless, inexhaustible manifestations. To write is to celebrate!"

A Year of Celebration To You All!

planetkimsmith said...

Lovie!

Steve said...

Joe, good on you.

Turgay Birand said...

While reading your post, I just realized that I've been planning and planning to write a book on eBook entrepreneurism for a whole year. It's really amazing how time flies!

Now I'm dead set on starting to write it and getting it out there within 2013. Thanks for the inspiration!

Christopher Wills said...

Totally agree with 2013 resolutions, although I would like a few more reviews, good or bad especially on Amazon.com. :) Like a lot of others I would like you to keep up with the common sense blogging, even once a month would be good.

Hope you and all your readers have a good 2013.

evilphilip said...

"I have nine titles out currently and only one has as many as 29 reviews. After nearly three years of ass-busting work and promotion, I'm currently averaging a little over 2 sales per day, spread among all nine titles."

Mike, it only took me about two seconds to see that your books are too expensive.

Drop the $4.99 thing on the bulk of your books down to $2.99 and make at least one book $.99 to draw people in.

The covers on your newer books are nice, very professional. I do think you could probably spend a little time on the titles. Make your titles POP a bit more with the same cover art and change your price and you will probably start to have a lot more success.

Anonymous said...

I've never read your resolutions before and it is quite amazing to see how your effort went from:

- Coaching people how to get published with a legacy publisher.

to

- Offering hesitant advice about employing ebooks as a profitable avenue, with legacy publishers still being the goal.

to

- Focusing on experimenting with ebooks and offering lots of advice on how to do so through using a mixture of newer and older traditional methods like using social media actively and attending conferences regularly.

to

- Pretty much throwing all previous advice out the window and suggesting writers spend the majority of their time concentrating on writing.

As a young(er) author with one ebook published, your advice is very inspirational and I will continue to visit your site as I grow my second career as a writer.

Christine said...

Thank you so much for writing this New Year post.

I've lurked (mostly) on here for over eighteen months. Since late April 2012 I've published three contemporary romance novels of a series and one paranormal novella.
Book one of the contemporary series went perma-free across all distributors in October 2012 and the 'Zon eventually price matched it.

Within two weeks I had over 100 five* reviews on iTunes on book one and was alerted to that fact by readers emailing me for book three on their iPads. Book one has been as high as no2 in over thirty countries and is still in the top 50 in the USA and is feeding readers to books two and three. As of today I've over 250 five* reviews on book one in iTunes USA and have no idea who the readers are. Sales of books two and three are rocking and garnering reviews and I've done no promotion whatsoever for iTunes. My readers have found me and speak to me directly via email and messages on facebook and twitter. And I respond to each and every one - they're a gift and I treat them like gold dust.

My Amazon sales are pretty steady but iTunes are creaming them and paying me higher royalties at 70% across all countries. I do tweet a couple of times a day, mostly for other authors. And on facebook I talk primarily to my readers who hold competitions amongst themselves about who would play the hero in my books. I don't need to plug my work because my readers are doing the heavy lifting for me. It's taken me eight months to reach this point and I've discovered that the less self promotion I do the better I sell.

Ruth Cardello invited me to join thirty three authors in a twelve days of Christmas authors give back promotion earlier this month which brought me to the attention of her fans and they've been amazing. And Jillian Dodd, a YA author invited me to participate in her 99authors 99books at 99cents promotion on the 21st, which was supported by KDP and rocked book two up the charts on Kindle and sales were in triple figures.

What I'm seeing are self published authors joining together to work collectively to make their books visible to the reader, particularly on Amazon. From the beginning I've refused to be exclusive to Kindle and join Select - in spite of the carrots they constantly dangle in front of new writers.

My focus is purely on the reader - she's at the front and centre of everything I do. I work a twelve hour day every day to make sure quality is tight and that includes editing/copy editing/formatting and covers. Before a book is launched I've read it on four different Ereaders to ensure the reader experience is the best it can be. What my readers want they get and it's working. Most of them do not have a clue I've self published and other authors ask me who my publisher is. Me, myself and I.

I'd never have set foot on this journey if it wasn't for this blog. I've watched, listened and learned and done exactly what Joe and Barry and the awesome James Scott Bell have said, 'Write the next book and the one after that and if you're audience is out there they will find you.'

Can't wait to see what 2013 will bring. This is just the beginning. Have a wonderful New Year, Joe, and thank you.

Martina at Adventures in YA Publishing said...

I love this best: "Spend your time working on your books. That's the only thing that really matters, and the only thing you have control over."

Writing a compelling book is still our first and most important job as writers.

Happy New Year!

Jennifer Lynn Alvarez said...

Great post as usual! Things haven't changed as much yet for childrens book writers. I may write a post about it for my blog. Our young readers aren't online like the teens and adults. More and more kids own ereaders, but most kids don't have their own purchasing power. I think childrens book authors still benefit quite a bit from legacy publishing. Jennifer

Anonymous said...

J.A. Konrath's advice seems pretty good, though I have one quibble.

I think a writer should at least pay some attention to reviews.

Granted, there are wrong headed reviews. But critical feedback can be useful.

A reviewer might say, for example, that the cover art of the book is awesome. Thus, the author might then consider hiring the same artist for the next book.

Mean Teacher said...

Just write? What do Joe, Barry Eisler, Blake Crouch, Ann Voss Peterson and Scott Nicholson all have in common? Legacy publishing backgrounds and existing fanbases, that's what.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Mean Teacher wrote: What do Joe, Barry Eisler, Blake Crouch, Ann Voss Peterson and Scott Nicholson all have in common? Legacy publishing backgrounds and existing fanbases, that's what.

I'm inclined to agree that those of us who have been traditionally published have an advantage to some degree. But I don't believe that advantage has much to do with a fan base—at least not in my case.

Here are the advantages I've discovered:

1. The experience of working with top-notch editors who have helped me see a manuscript with fresh eyes and understand what is needed to make it publishable. (Results may vary with other authors/editors.)

2. The friendship of a community of authors built during those traditionally published years who are willing to help generate word of mouth (and no, I don't mean reviews) when a book is released and/or serve as beta readers for manuscripts and cover copy.

3. A collection of blurbs and media reviews that can be used on my Amazon pages.

4. And most importantly: CONFIDENCE. Confidence in my ability to write publishable books.

While it's true that I sold some books before diving into indie publishing and managed to develop a small fan base, that does not explain over 100,000 people snatching up my books in the last six months, the majority of them in the first two or three.

What that came down to was this:

1. Promoting Trial Junkies through Amazon KDP Select with a very successful giveaway.
2. Having a good title and a good cover.
3. Offering readers a book that competes favorably with whatever traditional publishers have to offer, at a price that doesn't make readers choke.

So, yes, there are advantages to being traditionally published, but I don't think a fan base has anything to do with it.

Steve Vernon said...

Great entry, Joe. Your words are always worth listening to.

Katherine Owen said...

TRUE!

There will always be people who don't like you, and don't like your books.

Ignore them.

Trust me, it is liberating to be free of the opinions of strangers. We all need to focus on our writing. Because the millions of readers out there don't care about your blog. They aren't searching for you on Twitter and avoiding your books based on the comments of others. They aren't taking one star reviews seriously.

It's very easy to obsess in this business. But I haven't seen a single shred of evidence that obsession helps careers.


You're the best! Thanks for being generous with your time to write such an inspirational post for all of us. I self-published because of your encouragement. I recently had an epiphany that I needed to just focus on the writing and the book would be done when it was done. No longer held to deadline to get in on the Christmas rush, I liberated myself. Whew! I'm glad that's over.

My New Year's resolution is to write more and just say "no" to all things that interfere with my writing time. I guess I'll begin with social media...

Happy New Year, Joe! Everyone...

David LeRoy said...

I really like 2013 posting, and it is very interesting to read from 2006 and see the progression. It is actually inspiring. Thank you for continuing this practice. This journey of writing, and self publishing is not easy. I was inspired by this blog to go down this road, and I am inspired again by this blog to get my head straight about the journey. Thank you, and the best to you and your family in 2013.

LK Watts said...

FANTASTIC post, how inspiring. Happy New Year Joe.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Belonging to all the social media sites does lift your name up on the search engine list though. :)

Pogue said...

I'll add my thanks and a Happy New Year.
I realized as I read your resolution that I'll benefit from your less frequent blogging as I will have one fewer distraction from writing.
But I have learned a ton from you and Eisler, so thanks for that.
Joe

Troy Worman said...

Excellent list. Thank you!

Shawneda Marks said...

If at first you don't become a household name, book club sensation, eBook celebrity, NY Times/Amazon/USA Today bestseller, or Oprah 2.0 or 3.5 book club pick...Write. Edit. Rewrite. Edit. Relax. Publish. Again.

If at second you don't...you get the picture...

At least until you can quit your "day job." Once you've mastered the new budget and are writing full time. WRITE MORE!

Happy storytelling!

Jacqueline Howett said...

All the very best to you Joe, in 2013!

J.T. Carroll said...

What a relief to know that stopping use of social media didn't impact your sales. I have not been terribly active and have not seen any positive results from my website, blogging, or tweeting. Since I have a full-time day job and write in the evenings and on weekends, this frees me to concentrate on getting that next book done! I'm sure others will disagree, but knowing that you have been more successful than many, I'm happy to take your advice!

mott342 said...

This a fabulous mini writing course. I just read from 2007 to present, and loved the evolution. Beautiful.

Here's to success for all us Indies in 2013!

RaShelle Workman said...

Great resolutions. It was cool to read your goals in 2007 and how they've changed/updated over the years. Here's to an amazing 2013.

Eileen Deerdock said...

The old adage, "the teacher appears when the student is ready" certainly applies to me. I have just read your full post and the illuminating comments that followed.
I've been stuck at the crossroads of legacy publishing (ebooks agented or made available by the original publisher who wouldn't release the rights). I have been published under two pseudonyms. Like the proverbial horse that can be led to water...I have tasted social media and am allergic to it.

I do want to blog about issues I believe in like mental health, aging boomers, etc. I want to write a new novel.

But guilt, for not doing what I SHOULD be doing to promote my books, strikes and eventually I freeze into writing next to nothing. No thing, more accurately. The pressure of earning enough to pay my rent, etc. freezes rather than frees me.
So I grow excited about an idea for a novel, but put it on "tomorrow" or "as soon as time and energy" converge. You know the rest.

I've lost faith and thus courage. Even before the world of Indie Publishing, ebooks, social media.

The force of your words--that echo what I so want to believe-- bring me solace and courage, Joe.

Thanks for being "the teacher." Thank myself for seemingly "be ready."

And thanks to everyone else who commented.

Btw, Joe, I receive posts the antiquated method--email at AOL of all places. I thought I'd been receiving your posts that way, (when you were posting regularly), but just in case that isn't so, my personal email address is Deerdock@aol.com.

Happy and Healthy 2013 to all!

crissilangwell.com said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing all of this! I feel like I came upon a treasure trove of hope as I read through your past years' resolutions, and where you are now, and all the benefits there are to self-publishing. I'm gearing up to self-publish my very first novel, and have probably questioned myself countless times whether I am doing the right thing by totally bypassing the pain of attempting to go through a traditional publisher. Voices like yours only cement my confidence that I really am doing the right thing. But just in case I waver again, I am bookmarking this post to look at for both reference and motivation. Congratulations on your success, and thanks for helping us little people out who are just beginning in this crazy world of book writing. Cheers!

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Angela Drake said...

Although we've not spoken in over 8 years - wow, that workshop in Peoria was a long time ago - I still appreciate your candor and your talent.

I primarily use social media for contacts for my freelance. It isn't as important for the novels.. of which I've let slide.

But that is changing. I find as I HAVE to spend more time on the craft, I have less time for the other.

Creative Blessings
Kelly Henkins
(formerly Peoria now hiding in the Ozarks)
aka Angela Drake

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I may not agree with everything you say/advise, but I respect you. As far as your resolutions for 2013 - I could not agree more. Just. Write. Is my motto.
Here's to a new and improved 2013.

sashagirl said...

Joe,
I read your blog last year and I listened. Then I acted. For the first time in 40 years I self-published my 16th and 17th novels and was astounded to see that my 16th novel alone DINOSAUR LAKE outsold all of my other 15 traditionally (small-press) published novels COMBINED by triple. I'm amazed and grateful. For the first time in 20 years I'm making good money (good to me anyway). Now I'm doing what you said...self-publishing every book I can get my rights back to. In the next three years I'll slowly get all those other 15 back and do the same. THANK YOU SO MUCH JOE! I can't say it enough. Warmly, author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

James N Cook said...

I followed your advice, and now, I'm a successful writer earning a living doing what I love. What's the secret?

Write a good book.

That's it, and that's all.

Thanks Joe! You rock!

James N Cook said...

In 2012 I finally realized my dream of becoming a writer as a full time job, and I have your advice to thank for it.

Want to know the secret?

Write a good book.

That't it, and that's all.

Thanks Joe! You Rock!

Frank Anthony Polito said...

Very inspiring! Thanks for saying this, and I agree with you 100%. I recently the advice of some agent somewhere: "a writer MUST have a website/blog...and keep it updated." I'm a writer. I write BOOKS. How am I supposed to do this if I'm spending all my writing time writing blog posts? Happy 2013!

B.D. Knight said...

There's a lot of good advice here. But read some of the earlier advice before you read his latest and you stop tweeting and using Facebook and writing your blog. He encouraged it in the past and now is at a point he doesn't have to worry about it. Most of us need to spend a certain amount of time promoting ourselves.

I see some who say they will stop doing those things. I hope that's only the successful ones. Don't take advice out of context and he also says earlier to listen to advice and then follow what works for you.

Nely said...

Happy 2013 Joe! I really treasure your advice. Thank you!!

Regibald Inkling said...

Joe, excellent piece for 2013. My only question is can an unknown write a masterful book but receive no recognition for not having a name even with self-publishing? For the beginning author, shall he do more than just write his book? I suppose I just asked two questions.

Regardless, I appreciate your advice, and I agree, the most important thing for a writer to do is to write.

I have more.
Regibald Inkling
http://regibaldinkling.blogspot.com

R.L. Vogeler said...

I'm new to your blog (and to you as well) but I have been reading it here and there and love it. This was a great post and I hope to have my own success in 2013. Thanks for all your encouraging words.

Notti Thistledore said...

Wonderful post, Joe. You've inspired me to take control of my own writing career, rather than leaving it up to others who are merely doing a job and who don't necessarily have the same passion for my work.

Liz Alexander said...

I can't tell you what a relief it is to see a professional author downplaying social media!

I'm not the biggest fan of it all. I'm on Google Plus because I have real-life friends there. I'm on Facebook because everyone else is...but I rarely ever post. And Twitter? I can never remember what was on Twitter. It's all so distracting and unnerving!

I gave up forum 'discussions' [i. e., arguments] because I realized I was wasting all my words, energy, and time on stupidity that could be better spent on my fiction, or my blog.

I think there's a great deal of pressure out there for the up-and-comings to use social media to the point of distraction...but I don't think I can do it. I'd rather just write my books and stories, and see what happens without all that stuff.

Maddy said...

A long journey. As you say, a marathon.

nizam said...

Nice post and helpful for the writers.

nizam

English Teacher X said...

Joe, any comment on Amazon's recent removal of its tags system and some algorhythmic ranking changes which are by many accounts hurting (or even completely halting) sales for independent authors?

Diane Hernandez said...

Amen! I love your advice! Just a question for you or any of the other wonderful writers on this blog post. What are your feelings about Smashwords versus Amazon sales? I felt certain that Amazon would be my vehicle but turns out I've had more sales on Smashwords? I agree that they have upped the ante but it still appears Amazon is king?
Thoughts?