Monday, May 06, 2013

Blood Moon and Having Control


Joe sez: I asked my friend Alex Sokoloff for a guest blog about why she decided to self-publish her latest novel, Blood Moon, which is currently free on Kindle. My thoughts follow hers.

Here's Alex:

Alex: I’m Alexandra Sokoloff, former screenwriter, former traditionally-published midlist author, new e publishing convert.

Last summer I made the leap – I decided not to go for a traditional deal for my new thriller, Huntress Moon. I put it out as an e book instead.  

Much as Ann Voss Peterson wrote about here, and Rob Gregory Browne and Brett Battles wrote about here, I made more money in the first month of release, just on Amazon, than I'd ever made for a traditional advance. 

The book has just been nominated for a Thriller Award in the ITW's brand new Best E Book Original Novel category.

Joe asked me to blog for him about my e publishing experience, and my background and perspective is a little different from some of the other indie authors who have weighed in here, because I've also represented writers as a union activist, on the Board of Directors of the WGAw, the screenwriters union.

I hate to say it, but writers have a problem.  We hate business.  We have a further, worse problem. We have a collective suicidal fantasy that we don’t have to understand business because we’re creative.

I've made my living solely from my writing since I was twenty-five years old.  Making writing pay is not optional for me. That means, much as I hate it, paying attention to business is not optional, either.

I did eleven years as a professional screenwriter before I snapped and wrote my first novel. People thought I was insane to start writing books when I was making a good living as a screenwriter. That's everyone's dream anyway, right?  Add pension and health benefits and you’d have to be crazy to leave that for something that everyone says will never pay the bills.  But the thing is, I had gotten really active in the WGA, the screenwriters' union, which meant the business side of the business was in my face constantly, unignorable. I saw the film business model changing before my eyes, studios squeezing writers for more and more script drafts for less and less money, and as bad as I am at math, I could see that in a few years I wouldn't be able to sustain a living simply because of the work time added without compensation.  Add to this the fact that I’m a woman. In a good year women get a whopping 20% of the writing jobs in Hollywood.  I HAD to do something else.

So I wrote a book, and I sold it to a Big Six publisher, and then sold the next, and the advances were not enough to live on, but the foreign sales and some film options made it doable. Barely. In the meantime, though, I was learning the book business. And it wasn't looking good.

I was lucky, because early on Joe lectured me on bookstore co-op. And e books, too, back before ANYONE was talking about e books, but it was his rant on co-op that really got me thinking. I didn't particularly want to hear it, but you can't unhear something like that.  Co-op means that in publishing, the odds are stacked against everyone but the bestsellers.  The publishers pay bookstores for placement to improve on the success of their biggest cash cows, at the expense of all the rest of us. The chances of breaking out of that hierarchy are astronomical.  I was working my ass off at promotion, getting nominated for major mystery, thriller and horror awards, but I was quickly learning none of that meant anything to my publisher. By my fourth book I was done with being crippled by someone else’s mediocre expectations.  And by then, there was an option.  A scary option, but a real option.

I was slower than I wanted to be to self-publish because of just life - several devastating personal losses in the space of a year. It stopped my writing cold. It also took over a year to get my small backlist back - thank God I’m one of the ones who did. But during this really horrible time (the recession on top of everything else…) I finally started writing Huntress Moon, and I was studying e publishing.  What authors did and didn’t do. What Amazon and Barnes & Noble did or didn’t do. I read Joe’s blog. I read the Kindleboards. I watched friends like Joe, and Blake Crouch, Barry Eisler, CJ Lyons, Scott Nicholson, Ann Voss Peterson, Elle Lothlorien, Brett Battles, Rob Gregory Browne, JD Rhoades, LJ Sellers, Diane Chamberlain and Sarah Shaber.  I read the financial numbers they were so generous about sharing.   And I’d like to say something about that, right now. I constantly see and hear people criticize and disparage self-published authors for sharing sales numbers.  It’s bragging, it’s undignified, it’s not what REAL writers do.

Bullshit.  That is a massive lie deliberately perpetuated by corporations to keep writers happily slaving in the dark.  Happens just the same in Hollywood.  Don’t ever let the writers talk to each other, because then they’ll figure it out.

Writers talking openly about numbers should be the norm, not a radical political act.

But thank God I know a lot of radicals. Precisely because writers like Joe and the above shared their sales numbers, I knew e publishing for a living was not only doable, but a potentially far more lucrative option for me than traditional publishing.  So I studied, and I wrote, and I put up a non-fiction e workbook based on my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors blog, which taught me all the technical things I needed to know.  By the time Huntress Moon was done, I was already hearing things like “It’s too late.” “That e-publishing ship has sailed.” But that wasn’t what I was seeing, from people who were doing it right.  I took all I’d learned and put out the book as an e book original in July of last year.  And prayed.

In the first three months Huntress Moon was out, I made enough money on that ONE book, just on Amazon, just in e-format, to live comfortably for a year.  I got flooded with e mail from new readers who had never heard of me but who loved the book and were now buying all my others.  My Facebook subscribers jumped from 500 to 20,000 and kept growing - over 78,000 at this writing. 

That chunk of money and the steady income stream that followed has given me plenty of stress-free time to write the sequel and start the third book in the series. In the meantime, the royalties keep coming every month.  I know exactly what I’m making.  I know when I have to adjust, when I have to do a promo.  I know by when I have to make another lump sum to carry me through the next fiscal year. The clarity, compared to publisher royalty statements, is breathtaking.

And it’s not just financial. As I said, this month Huntress Moon was nominated for a Thriller Award. I am privileged to have the book recognized along with books by a star list of some of my favorite traditionally published authors.  ITW may be the first, but what do you want to bet that by two years from now every major genre award will have added a self-published category?

And yet I know far too many traditionally published authors, friends, who started out in publishing at the exact same time I did or sooner, who are struggling and sinking, and - even when traditional advances are being cut in half, and the big publishers are consolidating right and left - these writers will not grab for this obvious lifeline.  To them, I’d like to say here:

Did I do the right thing, self-publishing? I’ll paraphrase Ann Voss Peterson.  I only wish I had done it sooner.

I’m releasing the sequel to Huntress Moon this week: today through Thursday Blood Moon is free for Kindle.

You can also get Huntress Moon for just 99 cents, this week only. 

I hope you’ll give them a try!

Joe sez: First of all, everyone needs to pick up Huntress Moon for 99 cents, and Blood Moon for free. Do it now, I'll be here when you get back.

Got them? Good. You'll enjoy them. Alex is a great writer, and you can tell she worked in Hollywood because her books are, well, cinematic. She knows an incredible amount about plotting, characterization, and structure, and reading a Sokoloff book is not only entertaining, but a great way to learn how to improve your craft. In fact, you should also pick up her ebook Screenwriting Tricks For Authors. You'll learn a lot, and it's a steal at $2.99.

I was smiling reading Alex's blog post, not only because I'm thrilled for her success, but because it took me back to my early days as a writer and blogger.

Believe it or not, no writers spoke publicly about how much money they were making before I started doing so. And no writers ever talked about coop (which was publishing's dirty little secret) before I did.

I shared these things with writers for the very reason Alex states: writers talking to other writers should be the norm, not the exception.

Before writers began associating me with the self-publishing revolution, I was known as an innovator when it came to self-promotion. I learned how the publishing business worked, reverse-engineered it to find its strengths and weaknesses, and then figured out what writers could do to maximize their sales.

The sad fact was, compared to the power publishers had, writers had very little control over how well their books sold. I did my best to maximize the amount of control I had by:

1. Learning as much as I could. This was done by asking questions, talking to peers and publishing people, and speaking openly on this blog. By being frank, I encouraged frank discussions in my comments, and learned a lot from a lot of people (including those who stayed anonymous because they feared repercussions from their publishers).

2. Experimenting and refining my methods.

3. Working harder than any writer to self-promote, before or since. 

By doing this, I was able to eek out a living, keep my books in print, and develop a loyal fanbase. But I still had many novels that I couldn't sell, and my novels that were legacy published never caught fire and became bestsellers.

I didn't have enough control to do better. I was at the mercy of an archaic, inefficient, uncaring industry that refused to try and improve.

Consider these factors of publishing, and rate how important they are to you as a writer:
  1. Cover art
  2. Price
  3. Sales and free promotions
  4. Title
  5. Speed to publication
  6. Distribution
  7. Marketing and promotion
When I worked with legacy publishers, I had zero control over cover art. They chose it, with minimal input from me (that they ignored). Price was set by them. Sales promotions (if ever) were set by them. They made me change my titles. They took 12 to 18 months to publish after I finished the book. They controlled distribution (where the books were available) and coop (how it was displayed). And while I did marketing and promo on my own, I didn't have the deep pockets or reach that my publishers had.

Enter ebooks. Suddenly I had complete control over the above. And now I'm making $100,000 a month.

Coincidence? I don't think so. 

Taking control over your career is scary. It means taking risks. Failing often. Having no one but yourself to blame. Learning new skills. Branching out beyond your comfort zone. 

And there are no guarantees. Alex is smart and talented, but she took a huge risk by self-publishing. A guaranteed advance--even a small one--is hard to pass up in exchange for a spin at the wheel of fortune. Luck plays a large role in success, and not many writers get lucky.

But Alex has always been one to seek control. Her activism in the WGA on behalf of screenwriters was her way of fighting for more control. 


With self-publishing, she doesn't have to butt heads with studios, or with publishers. She can do things her way. In this case, launching a brand new title for free, which is something so gutsy I have yet to try it myself. Do you think any publisher would launch a book as a freebie? 

I hope it works for Alex. I suspect it will. And I respect the courage it took to try it, and all the courage it took to get to the point where she's able to try it.

For the first time ever, the artist has control. Now the question is: what are you going to do with that control? 

171 comments:

Phillip Thomas Duck said...

Another excellent post. I've followed Alex over at Murderati, and benefited (as Joe said) from her Screenwriting Tips book. My own writing has improved because of her story structure advice. Wish her continued success!

Nick Stephenson said...

Great post, to both of you. Alexandra - if you're reading, how important would you say your backlist (I see 19 books up on Amazon as I write this) is in promoting your new work? I'd be interested to know your thoughts on promotion now you're doing all the heavy listing yourself - 78k facebook followers certainly can't hurt either!

Jude Hardin said...

I'm planning to release my first self-published novel early this summer. I too wish I had done it sooner. It's nice to have control over everything, and it's nice to have an agent who has already gotten the ball rolling on exploiting the sub rights.

Congrats on the new release, Alex! I'm looking forward to reading it.

And as you know, Joe, I've been following the blog since the beginning. Still enjoying it, still learning.

Jack Badelaire said...

Great post - I just bought all three recommended books. Every time people try to pooh-pooh self-publishing by claiming the success stories are the "one percenters", here we have another author who was stuck with limited financial success and a lot of frustration, who is now making a solid living self-publishing.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

First, thanks so much for having me here, Joe. You are THE MOST generous writer I know about pimping - I mean, promoting - and actually uplifting other authors. No one who knows you could begrudge your success.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hey Philip - great to see you here, and thanks for the wishes! I'm always so glad to hear the writing books work.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hey Nick, I am reading and will try to keep up with the questions!

Yours is a good one about backlist. It's very hard to say. My backlist was very small, 4 books, and they are supernatural thrillers while the Huntress series is crime thrillers, with a hint of maybe something bigger. The Huntress books are FAR more successful than my supernatural thrillers, but I do make a nice ancillary income from them. Joe is always saying this here, but it's the multiple income streams that add up to a real living in this business.

I think it helps that I've been traditionally published because I have some great reviews and award wins and noms. But the distribution I get from e books, and really I mean Amazon, is clearly FAR more than I ever got from being traditionally published. Amazon gives indie authors free co-op. It's that simple, and that effective.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Um, wait, 19 books? I must have an evil twin who writes faster than I do. No, actually, you're also seeing anthologies and my non-fiction workbooks, and some foreign editions.

Merrill Heath said...

Nice post, Alexandra. Thanks for sharing. I just downloaded both books to my Kindle and look forward to reading them.

It's always fun to hear from authors who are having success self-publishing. Best of luck to you.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hey Jude, thanks! I think you MEN are more about the control than I am. I'd much rather have someone else take care of most of this stuff, but if they're not going to, I want to be able to do it. What I DON'T want is to be hampered by anyone else's poor performance.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hi Jack - thanks so much for trying the books! I think making success about the one-percenters is ridiculous and deceptive. Very few people will ever win the lottery, whether it's publishing or the actual lottery. But I've always figured out how to make a good living at writing and that is ABSOLUTELY possible to do with e publishing.

Darlene Underdahl said...

Well, Alexandra, you have one more fan:)

www.VermillionRoadPress.com

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Merrill, thanks so much for trying the books! It IS fun to hear about self-publishing success. Especially when contrasted to traditional publishing horror stories. Choice is everything, and now we have it.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Darlene, that's the loveliest thing to hear! Thank you!

deedetarsio said...

Congratulations, Alexandra, (and thanks for the post, Joe)! I’m publishing my sixth novel next month, and I have learned so much from you all--mostly, (to try) not to fear change! Changing covers, pricing, categories, trying different promotions, and having better “plans” for each new book . . . My goal over the past 2-1/2 years has totally shifted from yearning to be traditionally published, to finding the Indie joy! (I no longer stutter and give long-winded explanations of what kind of writer I am, as if I were in some sub-species mutant category!) Thank you, Alexandra and Joe!

Anonymous said...

Downloaded Blood. Read the first page, then immediately bought Huntress. And I'm not even a fan of thrillers.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Dee, I'm so glad it's working for you, too. Change is the scariest thing, isn't it? I don't even TRY not to fear it. But I've learned to live with it.... ;)

Suzy said...

Great guest post.

There's a twitter contest going on now, where you can vote for your favorites in all kinds of insane categories. I voted for a few and then DM'd them to tell them I did.

One guy wrote back and said, "Thanks but I prefer to remain humble, not promote myself at all."

And I thought, "Fool."

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Anonymous, I don't know who you are (sorry...) but I love you.

What an endorsement, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Alex! I'm a big fan of yours and happy to hear of all your success. One thought, though: what did your agent think of your move into indie publishing? Doesn't s/he stand to lose out on a lot of money with you going this route? Was there support there or is s/he so tied into the traditional model and relationships that it effected your relationship there? I'm trad published and that's my main concern now.

A.C. James said...

The more I read your blog the more I'm convinced to stop querying agents and jump on the indie bandwagon. It's not that I'm not patient but I wonder what it can do for me. I've always been a self-starter. Your blog has been giving me confidence to dip my toes in the waters of indie publishing.

Bev Katz Rosenbaum said...

Hi, Alexandra. Love your work. (Yours, too, Joe!) I'm a trad-pubbed (Berkley/Penguin) author planning to begin indie publishing this Fall. It's terrifying (muy bad--in the past, I've tried to avoid learning about tech and biz stuff) but exciting! It's so great when authors like you and Joe share what you've learned. Thanks to both of you (and all the others who've contributed to this blog). We e-pub newbies really appreciate it.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"Writers talking openly about numbers should be the norm, not a radical political act."

And this is but one reason I love Alex so much. :)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Suzy, I know what you mean and I know what he means, too. I'm very uncomfortable with self-promotion and I am even more uncomfortable with a lot of OTHER authors' self-promotion.

My only way of doing it is to make sure I'm offering real content for at least SOMEONE any time I promote. Another thing I learned from Joe...

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Anonymous (2), that's a good question. My fantastic agent was the one who first encouraged me to self-publish my Screenwriting Tricks workbooks, and we have an ongoing dialogue about the e publishing. I still have traditional contracts, and he knows that when it makes sense to do a traditional deal, we would do that together.

This is an uncomfortable new world as the business model changes, though, you're right. I've been to two conferences in the last two months and have seen some pretty heated exchanges on panels. The fights are becoming more open and more frequent.

Lee Lofland said...

Alex, I think you've convinced me. Sure, I've heard the success stories (Joe, CJ, and Barry) and they've tempted me. Now, though, I believe I'm ready to take the plunge. If I only knew where to begin. So I'm sure I'll be bugging you for pointers!

First, though, I suppose I should strap myself to the chair and finish polishing up this book.

Great article, by the way.

Michele Drier said...

Alex, I've been a fan since we were on a panel together at Left Coast Crime in 2012! And I've followed Joe's blog for longer than that. Great thoughts on self-pubbing and went with this for the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles.
It's all about control and transparency and it's all good!

Alan Tucker said...

Even though the message remains essentially the same, it's always a breath of fresh air to hear these stories!

My books have struggled to gain traction, but I continue to write and experiment. I've considered having "It's a marathon, not a sprint," tattooed in reverse on my forehead so I can see it in the mirror every morning when I get up, but the photoshop work it would require to clean up my author photos doesn't seem worth it … yet!

Downloading your books and best of luck to you Alexandra!

Anonymous said...

I'm anonymous because I don't particularly feel like putting my real name or pen names on display right now. But just want to add that I was struggling for YEARS to be traditionally published. I got so many rejections and was treated like less than garbage by agents and editors...
In 2011 I started self-pubbing my unpublished novels and then writing new stuff for new ebook market.
Last year I made well over a million dollars via e-publishing.
That just about says it for me. I wouldn't have even started probably, without reading this blog.

I hope more writers see the light...

Sebastian Daniels said...

That is an awesome post. It is nice to hear about the successes other writers are having through e-publishing. I like the idea that we have control over our careers when it comes to self-publishing. Yes luck is still involved with gaining readers, but it is nice to know that how our books are designed are up to us and that we receive the majority of the royalties.

Thanks.

Clare O'Donohue said...

I'm a traditionally published mid-list author about to make the leap to self-publishing/ hybrid... whatever it's called. I'm tired of being seated at the kid's table while the grownups (publisher, marketing folks) make decisions that affect my career and finances. Articles like this not only give me courage - they get me excited about the next step!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

A.C. James, the MOST important thing is to keep writing books. That way you have all kinds of options. Put one out on traditional submission. If it doesn't go, tweak it with great comments from trusted readers, and e publish that while you put the next one on traditional submission. Experiment. Try all avenues.

But what makes a living in writing is LOTS of product. Books or scripts, you have to have lots of stories out there. One doesn't really mean a thing.

Adam Pepper said...

I've learned a ton from Alex's blog. She really breaks down story in both cinematic and scientific fashion. Every writer should check out her Screenwriting Tricks book. You won't be sorry.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Bev, thank you, and congratulations on the scary decision!

It's less scary if you've done your homework. And everything you really need to know is on this very blog, if you go through the archives. You can get it other places, but I haven't learned one thing elsewhere that isn't already here.

Great luck with it!!

Jillian Kent said...

You have guts, Alex. Congratulations! I just got all three of the books listed and look forward to reading them. I'm one of those writers who have been studying the craft for a zillion years, finally got the traditional publishing contract and the third book in my series came out in January. And now there are decisions to be made. What do you recommend for those of us who are just getting our feet wet and don't have the kind of experience that you and Joe and others have? Another fiction line just closed within the inspy market. It's not pretty.

Thanks for posting this, Joe. Thanks again for sharing, Alex.

Jill

Sarra Cannon said...

Excited to see Alex here on the blog! She's taught me more about writing than anyone, and if you head to Amazon to pick up her thrillers, you should DEFINITELY pick up her book on Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. AMAZING and a must-have. Alex, I'm so happy self-publishing is going well for you!!

Sarra Cannon

Stephen Parrish said...

Alex: I just downloaded the one and bought the other. Thanks very much for your generosity.

Joe: I've read every word of this blog since 2006. I disagreed with something you said once, but I can't remember what it was. Thanks for shedding so much light on the darkness.

Dante D'Anthony said...

Great article.

Fantasy Digest said...

Great to see another writer trying the self-pub route and succeeding so brilliantly.

Congratz, Alex. And thanks to Joe for featuring another great post. :)

Gary Ponzo said...

Alexandra, great to see your books flourish. I'm curious, at what point in sales would you consider acquiring and agent for film/TV rights? 100,000? 200,000? I've had people in the industry suggest this option and was wondering if an Indie should even consider such a thing.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Ann, but you know you REALLY love me for my dancing.
So, so great to see you this weekend. XX

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Lee Lofland, you can bug me for pointers all you like. You know I owe you for life for the Writers Police Academy. Without which Huntress Moon and Blood Moon would not exist.

Well, maybe they'd exist but the forensics would be laughable... ;)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Michele, everyone keeps saying it's about control. Maybe I'm just too Californian to be comfortable with that, but I think of it more as getting actual reward for your effort. I realized not just from my own traditional career but from watching people like Joe that it DOESN'T MATTER how hard you work in the traditional publishing world. It's only about how much your publisher decides to promote you.

Whereas with indie publishing, if you're willing to do the work you WILL get rewarded.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Alan, that's absolutely right, it's a marathon, not a sprint. It's numbers of titles that are what pay off. Keep at it! Good luck!

Diana Baron said...

Thanks for these posts! Over the last year, this blog motivated me to finish my first book. I self-published it ten days ago and still can't believe it's real.

Thanks to this blog, I discovered the "What to Read After 50 Shades of Grey" Facebook page. Summer posted my book on Friday and sales are taking off.

I haven't done any other promo because I studied Joe's blog and I want to publish more books before I hit promo hard.

Thanks so much Joe! I doubt I would be published right now if this blog didn't exist.

Diana Baron
Author of Training Temptation

Anonymous said...

Hello Alex,
These two books, BLOOD MOON and HUNTRESS MOON, are at present available in one format , e-book. Will you be making them available in softcover too (via CreateSpace, or whatever)? Was it a conscious decision to do only e-book on these titles, and why?
Have downloaded, looking forward to reading!
Thank you, and great to read you sounding so well!
Andre

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Sebastian, it's a great time to be an author. I'm glad you see the inspiration in it! Good luck!!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Clare, you should be excited! It's great to do both. Anything that works is good. I'm thrilled to have so many choices.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Adam, thanks so much for the endorsement! I never in my life intended to teach writing but if I can do it in a way that works for so many people, clearly it's meant to be.

Jeffrey Marks said...

The screenwriter's tips book is great -- it helped me get through a tough patch on my latest work in progress.

Glad to hear this story!

billie hinton said...

A, so glad to see you here. And really thrilled that your books are doing so well. I'm inspired!

My e-books have had good spells and slow spells - am trying to figure out how to notch things up some but meanwhile, as you and others have said, it's all about keeping on and bringing new titles to the shelf.

It's so nice of Joe, and you, and all the folks who have shared so much information. It's invaluable.

Can't wait to read Blood Moon!

Elisabeth Lohninger said...

Hi Alex and Joe
Thank you for yet another very informative and encouraging post! The coop thing sounds like something I'm very familiar with from the music business side.
I appreciate how encouraging you both are in going the self pub way, without sugarcoating the amount of work it takes to do it well.
I got the books and am excited to read them soon!
Much success to both of you!

Polly Iyer said...

Good for you, Alexandra. I've read Huntress Moon and just downloaded Blood Moon. After two years with an agent who couldn't sell my work, I chose to self-publish those books with KDP. I now have five, soon to be six books and one under a pen name, along with two others from an ebook publisher. With an advertising background, I did my own covers and formatting. There was a learning curve, but I'm too much of a control freak to give up creating the covers because they're so much fun. I hired an editor, which is essential for anyone taking that route. I hope to join ITW this year. There's still a separation with authors who've been traditionally published and those of us who are fully self-published. Maybe that will change. Best of luck with your series.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Jillian, thanks so much for giving the books a try! All these downloads really make a difference for a book launch, I appreciate every single one.

First, congratulations on the traditional contract, that's great for you! You learn a lot from that process. I'd like to answer your question about recommendations, but it's such a huge topic for the Comments section! I blogged about my e publishing process for Book 1, Huntress Moon, and I'm going to be doing the same thing for this round on Blood Moon starting tomorrow, if you want to drop by and ask some specific questions: http://www.screenwritingtricks.com

Anonymous said...

My apologies for posting anonymously -- once I have distanced myself from traditional publishing, I might have the gumption to post under my real name. (And I hope that Joe understands this as well -- not all of us are trolls.)

Like you, Alexandra, my agent also encouraged me to self-publish. If my agent hadn't been so supportive and encouraging -- if she really didn't believe that I could be successful at it -- I doubt I would have mustered the courage to DYI. I've got a great start -- great editor, great cover designer, and I even splurged on website design because it's a longterm investment, and I ... am lazy. :)

Congrats. And damn you, Joe, for recommending all of these fine eBooks. My Kindle is practically belching, it's so full!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

As I'm working my way through the comments, I just had to break and say that Blood Moon is already #78 free in the whole Kindle Store!

#1 in Hard Boiled Mysteries, #5 in Mysteries, #4 in Horror.

Thanks a million to everyone who has downloaded and shared, it makes all the difference.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Sarra, always great to see you, and thanks so much for the recommendation! You were one of the early bold ones, and I'm so glad it's working for you, too. XX

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Stephen, thanks for the downloads! They're essential for a launch, so you're really helping.

Dante, thank you!

Fantasy, it's great to hear all the stories, isn't it?

Steven Ramirez said...

Fantastic post, Alex! Just picked up these two novels.

Mary Stella said...

Huntress Moon was so great that I didn't want to wait for a special price on Blood Moon. Bought it and am loving it.

I'd say that even if you weren't my friend, Alex.

So happy for your success in indie publishing!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

I guess I should repeat questions before I answer them, since I'm so far behind, now...

Gary Ponzo said: " I'm curious, at what point in sales would you consider acquiring an agent for film/TV rights? 100,000? 200,000? I've had people in the industry suggest this option and was wondering if an Indie should even consider such a thing."

Well, I'm sure either one of those numbers would pique an agent's interest, but I think the bigger issue is that if you want a film/TV agent you need to be doing your homework continuously. Most authors I know know less than zero about the movie business and get really excited about option offers from "production companies" that will never get close to making a movie.

People could start by searching for and reading about HOW other authors have gotten their film/TV agents and subsequent options/sales/made movies, what players were involved, how long it took - and you'll get an idea of what agents are looking for and how the process of book to agent to deal to film works.

A short answer for a complicated questions, but at least it's a start!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Jeffrey Marks, I'm always glad to hear you say the book helped! My pleasure.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hey Billie! Can't wait to have you read.

You do have your book listed as "Metaphysical" - don't you?

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Thanks for the encouraging post! Going to buy/download the books right now...

I'm having a blast releasing a series of sci-fi shorts that will eventually be one "big" book--and my profits are doubling every month.

It's a VERY important point you make about sharing earnings info. If you make too much, it's bragging... if you make too little, it's not impressive. Either way, you are shamed into shutting up. Much the way employees are urged never to share salary info... lest they find out how underpaid they are as compared to colleagues or the boss, and ORGANIZE. We can't have the peons knowing how it works, now can we?

Yes... we can.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hi Diana - as you obviously know, reading this blog is a great way to learn how to do promo right. Good luck with the book!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hi Andre! - thanks for downloading the books!

You asked: "These two books, BLOOD MOON and HUNTRESS MOON, are at present available in one format , e-book. Will you be making them available in softcover too (via CreateSpace, or whatever)? Was it a conscious decision to do only e-book on these titles, and why?"

Yes, it's mostly been a conscious decision not to do a print book, simply because I had a million other things I needed to be doing, and I know from other friends who self publish that you mainly don't make much on print copies, and it's a big upfront cost. I've been doing fine on just e versions. But now that I'm less stretched by personal things I've hired an assistant to get both books up on Createspace. They'll be out in a couple of months.

billie hinton said...

Of the novels for adult readers (as opposed to the children's books I have out) two are listed as literary and suspense. One of those is quite quite dark and it has done the best overall.

The third one is a bit of a wild card. It does have metaphysical elements but also has a CIA character and suspense elements too. I don't think I've ever quite nailed the cover with it - just changed it again.

Right now I'm finishing up a fourth novel and am then strongly considering an offshoot series to the Claire Quartet that will cross boldly into thriller/crime territory. The seeds are there and the psychological stuff is there. And I know the characters so well it would be an easy way to test the water. :)

All my characters tend to be connected in various ways - there are cameos in almost all of them - so my hope would be that readers would cross over even if some of the series veer across genre lines.

Right now I feel like an octopus with tentacles on 8 different keyboards. I have GOT to get myself down to working on just one book at a time so I can get one regularly out the door instead of logjam central.

Anonymous said...

I went to your website and I have to say: stunning, sexy, and cool.

The website isn't bad either. ;)

Jude Hardin said...

Most authors I know know less than zero about the movie business

This could be your next nonfiction project. I would certainly buy it. :)

When my debut thriller POCKET-47 received a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, I was suddenly bombarded with emails from Hollywood production companies. One of them was from Emily Aaronson at Kopelson Entertainment (PLATOON, THE FUGITIVE, SE7EN), another from Joel A. Morgen at Dream Merchant 21 Entertainment (Randy Jackson's production company), and several others with impressive resumes, so they were legit companies with seemingly strong interest. Nothing ever came of it, but it did help me land the literary agent I have now (thanks again for the referral, Joe!), so sometimes good things happen in a roundabout way.

Anyway, I would be very interested in a nonfiction book about the movie biz, Alex. Or if there's one already out there that you would recommend, that would be great too.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Elisabeth, the music industry is good training for self-publishing, I think! And of course you understand immediately how much work we're talking about.

Thanks for checking out the books, and good luck to you, too!

Anonymous said...

I wish there was at least one post here on Joe's blog where Jude doesn't chime in and talk about himself in the comments section.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Polly, thanks! You have been BUSY, good for you! I suppose there still is a bit of a line between all-indie authors and the authors who have done both, but I'm quite sure that will change in the next couple of years. Just the fact that ITW has added an E Book Original category blurs the line even more.

Joe Konrath said...

I wish there was at least one post here on Joe's blog where Jude doesn't chime in and talk about himself in the comments section.

I wish all of the anonymous comments on this blog were helpful. Some are. But some are cowards who snipe.

Guess which one you are? ;)

Anonymous said...


I'm a different Anonymous than the one at 10:34 PM.

"Jude Hardin said...
Anyway, I would be very interested in a nonfiction book about the movie biz, Alex. Or if there's one already out there that you would recommend, that would be great too."

Me too. :)

Carrie said...

This is a great blog! What I've been learning from Alex and many other authors' experience with book publishing is the reason I've delayed putting one of my books out there. In recent months, I've changed my entire view of publishing, but in a good way. I'm so thankful for authors who've taken the time to share advice and troubles they've experienced with me. Thanks for this blog! :)

Anonymous said...

please please, can you and Barry Eisler do a post about Rachelle gardner's defense of the non compete clause? please?
http://www.rachellegardner.com/2013/05/will-my-publisher-let-me-self-publish-too/

Jude Hardin said...

I wish there was at least one post here on Joe's blog where Jude doesn't chime in and talk about himself in the comments section.

You should see my comments on Laura Lippman's Facebook posts. ;)

Anonymous said...

I hope Alex returns soon, maybe next month, to let us all know how her strategy of releasing her ebook for free worked - if the sales picked up after the free promotion. Great idea and I'm curious to see what success it brings.

Frank Sergeant said...

> Anonymous Anonymous said...

> I wish there was at least one post here on Joe's blog where Jude doesn't chime in and talk about himself in the comments section.

I rather wish anonymous posters signed their names. Then again, not everyone gets what he wants.

Frank

Hope Welsh said...

Great article, as always!

And for those that think they have to have legacy published books out to make any money with self-pubbed books--you don't.

For those of us without the legacy background and awards, it's still possible to sell enough that the small advances NY offers most just doesn't compare.

It just takes a lot of determination and a lot of promotion. Most books just won't sell themselves, as these fine authors have shown.

The best book won't sell if no one knows it's there.

Amanda Hocking, Kimberly Knight, Teresa Mummert and several others were just 'writers' that went out and wrote a book and learned to promote it as well.

If you really WANT NY, if you're selling on Amazon, they will come and look for you--as happened for Teresa and Amanda.

For myself, when I'm promoting, I easily make over 1k a month -- not going to get rich, but as I'm retired and disabled--it's free money for me and I'm tickled to death with it.

Just a side-note though--you really do have to KEEP PROMOTING to keep selling.

A backlist also helps quite a bit.

I downloaded the novels, can't wait to read them.

Frank Sergeant said...

> Anonymous Anonymous said...

> I wish there was at least one post here on Joe's blog where Jude doesn't chime in

I spoke too soon and too abruptly. I don't really care much if someone wants to post anonymously. I can understand there can be good reasons for it at times. Of course, I tend to discount such posts somewhat, as the poster doesn't have a reputational constraint.

No, what I really wanted to say was Thank You! to Alexandra Sokoloff for sharing her experiences that led to self publishing, and to Joe for inviting her (and for inviting other guests also). She covered a lot of ground in a single post, which gets me back to Anonymous's comment about Jude. Jude has also covered a lot of ground, but over a much longer time frame. I have found it interesting to see how his thinking has changed over the many months as he, too, has come around to self publishing. I think that is a road many of us have been traveling.

Frank

Anonymous said...



Blood Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers) [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33 Free in Kindle Store
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks ... > Hard-Boiled
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks ... > Occult

Huntress Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers) [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > ... > Hard-Boiled
#3 in Books > ... > Hard-Boiled
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks ... > Occult

Screenwriting Tricks For Authors (and Screenwriters!) [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,723 Paid in Kindle Store
#1 in Books > ... > Performing Arts
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > ... > Authorship
#2 in Books > ... > Authorship

Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II [Kindle Edition]
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,790 Paid in Kindle Store
#15 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > ... > Creativity
#26 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > ... > Writing Skills
#74 in Books > ... > Creativity

Anonymous said...


Alexandra Sokoloff
Amazon Author Rank
#11 in Kindle eBooks > ... > Horror
#50 in Kindle eBooks > ... > Mystery
#62 in Books > ... > Mystery

adan said...

enjoyed reading alexandra's progression history, and liked joe's comment:

"Alex is a great writer, and you can tell she worked in Hollywood because her books are, well, cinematic. She knows an incredible amount about plotting, characterization, and structure, and reading a Sokoloff book is not only entertaining, but a great way to learn how to improve your craft."

thanks so much ;-)

Carey Conley said...

Alex, congrats on your well-deserved success. You have a TREMENDOUS advantage in that you could write your own screenplays if/when your books become movies.

Anonymous said...

Some of us post anonymously because we are afraid our Facebook/Twitter families will be rocked if it's discovered we made $21k this month from ebook sales.

In particular; many of my readers are struggling financially, and I am fearful of backlash (and less buying of my books) if my income is made public, especially if its perceived to be done so in a braggadocius manner.

Sad to say, but these days in America success if often punished by many in the form of bad reviews and vitriol.

Yes....they can.

Anonymous said...

(From Anonymous 5:43 yesterday)

Regarding self-promotion: THIS is precisely the area that I approach with greatest dread. I work in marketing (and PR), and I know how to sell someone else ... but it's really difficult to sell yourself, for a number of reasons. But it all boils down to this: I'm a pretty modest person. As much as I believe in my work, I'd rather someone else pimp it for me. That's why I initially thought that trad route was for me.

A published author once told me that to be successful, you have to be a "shameless self-promoter." Not too sure about that "shameless" part. I don't want to get on people's nerves. If Alexandra or Joe could weigh in on how to promote tastefully -- without getting in other people's faces -- that would be most excellent.

Anonymous said...


"Anonymous said...
(From Anonymous 5:43 yesterday)
A published author once told me that to be successful, you have to be a "shameless self-promoter." "


I learned from a very famous, very talented, and very rich trad author once that:

If people like you, you can do no wrong in their eyes.

If people hate you, they'll find every little excuse to criticize you.

It's a popularity contest, just like in high school.

This is true after high school too, in everything.

Joe Konrath said...

I know from other friends who self publish that you mainly don't make much on print copies, and it's a big upfront cost.

I make over $20k a year on my Createspace books. It is a very small upfront cost, and a worthwhile investment.

Joe Konrath said...

please please, can you and Barry Eisler do a post about Rachelle gardner's defense of the non compete clause?

Barry emailed me that the other day, and we had a good laugh over it.

No, I'm not bothering with a post, because I can accurately sum up her position in two words: Vichy France.

D. C. Chester said...

Alex, as we hear more success stories from self-publishers I wonder about marketing.

Dean Wesley Smith advises ignoring marketing, just write another great book.

Joe details promotions, price adjustments and such.

Do you have any tricks for getting a novel noticed in a sea of titles?

BTW, thank you for the free promotion for Blood Moon.

I read Screenwriting Tricks for Authors in 2011. (Actually paid for it, too. It's great.)

Dan

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

"Jude Hardin said...
Anyway, I would be very interested in a nonfiction book about the movie biz, Alex. Or if there's one already out there that you would recommend, that would be great too."

I don't know of any book about the process of optioning/selling a book to film. It WOULD be useful but I don't have time to write it! My nonfiction was a total accident. I really meant it, though - the best way to figure out how to do it is to hear from other authors who are doing it NOW. Exact same principle of learning from indie authors who post on Joe's blog. If Joe wants to host a bunch of authors who have optioned/sold to film and /been produced, I could wrangle some and we could do it on both our blogs.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Carrie, you're very right to study up on promotion before you launch in. Don't delay too long, because the fear is never going to go away... but knowing what you're doing going in is vital.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Some great advice from Hope, there - I couldn't agree more! Thanks for trying out the books.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Frank and Adan - I'm so glad the post was helpful! You really can't hear enough of these stories, I think...

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Carey Conley writes: "Alex, congrats on your well-deserved success. You have a TREMENDOUS advantage in that you could write your own screenplays if/when your books become movies."

Thank you, Carey! But actually, it is NEVER an advantage for an author to ask to write their own screenplay. Ever. EVER. Hollywood HATES writers being in control of anything, and it could easily kill a deal, even though I have a track record. My film agents know to float the idea delicately IF it seems appropriate, but I would bow out in a NY second at any time. It's just not worth it to ask. Writing the book is the real pleasure. As far as I'm concerned the film is an ad for the book. Don't get me wrong - I love film with an undying passion, and great movies do get made, but it's a miracle every single time.

The good news is - and authors don't know this - MANY more books get optioned and sold to the movies than scripts. And while I'm on the soapbox - authors should NEVER try to write the screenplay before a book is sold. Absolute and total waste of time and energy.

Matt J said...

Just downloaded Blood Moon and Huntress Moon. Good stuff so far! I also ready a hilarious article about an Author's escapade into the world of self-publishing (translate ebook publishing) and how frustrated she is and how much she hates it. 7 weeks and no bestseller list yet! Waaahhhh!!! Here's the link for a chuckle (she's actually pretty funny):

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/03/the_future_is_no_fun_self_publishing_is_the_worst/

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be anonymous, but I'm embarrassed. I will, however, share some numbers.

I've got three self-pubbed books out on Createspace and KDP. First release was in 2011.

...and I have no readers, no fanbase. I get 2-5 sales per month between the three books, and even less with the paper books (I'm lucky if I get one per month). One book's Amazon rating is 3.7 stars, another is 1.5 (an adult book accidentally categorized as a children's book, and I got slammed), another is 4.5.

I've experimented with ebook pricing from .99 to 3.99. Two of my three cover arts are good quality (one was designed professionally). I've been online since the 90's, and have a moderate fanbase between my many online ventures.

I have two more books coming out within the next few months - one traditionally-pubbed, and another self-pubbed. Not sure on the trad book, but I have low expectations for the self-pubbed book.

I'm just here as a counterpoint to Alexandra and others who state incredible sales - I'm doing pretty bad.

I could have horrible design taste. I could be a terrible writer. I'm not asking anyone to grade me, but just to inject my opinion into a conversation that I don't think reflects reality:

Unless you have compelling sales, don't expect financial fireworks with self-publishing. Be in it for the long haul, and make sure writing is something you can enjoy for its own sake. Keep writing, keep trying, but also keep your day job.

Jude Hardin said...

If Joe wants to host a bunch of authors who have optioned/sold to film and /been produced, I could wrangle some and we could do it on both our blogs.

That would be fabulous!

Jonn October said...

It's a tough call. I would still say that legacy publishing is king, or perhaps, if you will, the British Empire of publishing. There's still a heavily codified set of hoops to jump through. But cash is cash and at some point I hope to enjoy it. I have to build my persona as a complete pen name for fiction, which I suppose makes it a bit harder. I've had some success in mainstream but nothing to write home about. Just enough to tell me I'm worthy!

David L. Shutter said...

"If Joe wants to host a bunch of authors who have optioned/sold to film and /been produced, I could wrangle some and we could do it on both our blogs."

Would also love it! And someone get Blake to spill his guts on how his FOX deal came about. There's more than a few top sellers with readership and not everyone automatically gets major TV/Film deals.

Gardner = Vichy France...lol.

Ripley King said...

@Anon 11 am

You are so right about these numbers not reflecting the truth for the bulk of us. Between two giveaways I might have seeded the readership with with 600 units. Oh, I signed up to as many free newsletter listing as I could, paid for two and got nothing for my troubles, not even a refund. The luck of the draw.

And the readership here doesn't care about anyone beneath them, as you have rightfully sensed, and tried to voice so nicely.

Do you think Joe or his friends would even think to read one of our books? Not a snowball's chance in Hell! We're not worthy. I had a reader here like a sample, but then didn't buy the whole book, based on the fact my sales stats hadn't changed at Amazon, a week before, and two weeks after. But they liked the sample. The sample was good.

And if they did buy our books, and we were good, would they promote us with a few choice words? Me, based on all I've read and seen here, rather doubt it. They care only for their books. Writer's facts of life number one. Other writers don't care one slim squat about your books. Get used to it.

I know I don't suck, my covers are great, I'm formatting correctly, and doing what I can on a very slim budget. It will take time and money, more books published, and that's all there is to it. I got to work my ass off to get anywhere.

I don't come here to pucker up. Sometimes I agree with what's being said, and sometimes I want to vomit over the asskissing. Sometimes I add my two cents worth. Most of the time I don't care.

As for this blog reflecting reality, Joe tells it like it is. The amount of work you put in, helps build the luck you get back. People who can, pay to be included. This is a business, and you must treat it as such. First, write a great book. Then think business. End of story.

No, Joe will never help us little people out, not without us making our bones first. No Joe reading the likes of us, no Joe spreading the word. We haven't vetted ourselves in his eyes, and he doesn't see the hypocrisy in this.

As for the bulk of us helping each other grow, helping each other market ourselves, much like Joe does with his previously pro-published authors turned indie friends, well for six months I tried to get something going like that, authors helping authors, and failed to draw more than one person's interest. I couldn't get two people interested to save my soul. But, I tried. What people do, and what they say, are usually two different things.

I don't begrudge their success, not at all.

The truth is the truth as I see it, even when it's written between the lines.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Joe said. "I make over $20k a year on my Createspace books. It is a very small upfront cost, and a worthwhile investment."

I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. I think that the Createspace upfront cost is large for a LOT of people. Not for Joe, obviously, and not for me, but it's about $700 and that's considerable for someone who is not making money at e books, yet. And Joe, $20k a year is really a fraction of what you make from e books - you need to look at that fraction at smaller gross numbers, and it becomes much less urgent to get into the POD business. That's what I hear from other people, anyway.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Um, I'm not sure how many Anonymouses are posting up there, the three in the row posts, but it all kind of the same topic.

I think most of us can't bear blatant self promotion. Nobody likes a person who can only talk about him or herself. The only thing that makes the self-promotion less uncomfortable for me is to provide some service along with it. And to be nice whenever possible.

Some people are always going to be jealous - no, that's wrong. We are ALL always going to be jealous, sometimes. But you can work on that feeling in yourself - someone else's success does NOT mean your failure!! - and you can minimize that feeling in others by being - compassionate, I think I mean.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Matt, I'm so glad you're enjoying the books! Thank you!

And thanks for posting that link. I think I need to clarify again, now that people (including an Anonymous) are posting about bad numbers, dismal sales.

Most people who write will NEVER make a living at writing. No matter if it's traditional publishing, e publishing, screenwriting, poetry - whatever. MOST people. It's a hard, grueling, heartbreaking business. If you don't HAVE to do it, don't do it! Really!! Write on the side for fun and do something else that will make you happy.

I got that advice from every pro writer I ever talked to when I was a new writer. And in my head, I just said - "Fuck you, don't tell me what to do or the odds. You're not talking about ME. I'm going to do it."

Writers are crazy. If you think you're going to make a living, you're crazy. I just think of that as so much of a given, I forget to say it.

But you know, some of us do it anyway.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexandra Sokoloff said...

DC Chester, thanks for reading! You asked:

"Alex, as we hear more success stories from self-publishers I wonder about marketing.

Dean Wesley Smith advises ignoring marketing, just write another great book.

Joe details promotions, price adjustments and such.

Do you have any tricks for getting a novel noticed in a sea of titles?"

I think to some extent you can play Amazon roulette and sell a book that ordinarily wouldn't get noticed. But the only thing that really sells books is writing other books. You have to balance the two. When I sold my first novel and went to my first writing conference, I was meeting authors who had written dozens of books. Some of my author friends have written over 100 books. I understood instantly that my one book, even with two major award nominations, meant absolutely nothing. It is BOOKS that sell books. Multiple. Constant.

Promotion is just as cumulative.

That is a very short answer to a very complicated question, but I am going to post more detailed analysis on my blog: http://www.screenwritingtricks.com

Joe Konrath said...

No, Joe will never help us little people out, not without us making our bones first. No Joe reading the likes of us, no Joe spreading the word. We haven't vetted ourselves in his eyes, and he doesn't see the hypocrisy in this.

Do you know who helped me out when I was getting started?

Not a single person.

I didn't have a blog to read that taught newbies about this biz, so I had to write one myself.

I didn't have people to show me what to do, so I had to learn it all on my own.

I've literally lost count of all the writers I've helped. I get thanked so often I can't answer all of my email.

But forging a path that others can and have followed apparently isn't enough. I also have to help each individual newbie that asks?

If you've bought and read all of my ebooks, I humbly thank you. But even if you've done that, how can you honestly believe I'm obliged to read yours and help you promote it?

I've known Alex ten years. We've gotten drunk together. We've fought in the same trenches, hung out in so many hotel bars that I've forgotten more than I remember, and she's a friend.

But beyond that, she's guest blogging here because she has something insightful to share.

What is your insight, Ripley? That this business isn't fair? That it's hard to build a fanbase? That no one cares?

You know I drove to 42 states and signed books in 1200+ bookstores, right? And you know I did that without any bigshot authors helping me?

Do you have any idea how hard that was? And do you think anyone cared?

You don't need anyone's help to succeed, Ripley. You can do it all on your own. You just have to keep at it until the world can't ignore you any more.

Don't expect help. Don't expect to get lucky. All you can expect is years of busting your ass for no money, your only reward being the joy you get from putting words on a page.

This is a mean, thankless, soul crushing business, and the only person you can rely on is yourself.

Joe Konrath said...

you need to look at that fraction at smaller gross numbers, and it becomes much less urgent to get into the POD business

But there was a time when I was making smaller numbers.

Setting up a POD is a sunk cost. Once its paid for, it continues to earn money, forever. That may not be a lot of money at first. But giving readers one more format to discover you in is worth the investment, IMHO.

Right now both Blood Moon and Huntress Moon are doing well. You'd be selling some paper copies, if you had them available. Enough to justify their set-up costs? Maybe not, at first.

But forever is a long time to get your investment back. :)

Frank Sergeant said...

> I make over $20k a year on my Createspace books. It is a very small upfront cost, and a worthwhile investment.

I can confirm the middle part of that statement from our own (Nepo Press's) experiences. We did a proof of concept CreateSpace book for a friend/client and the out-of-pocket total expense was $10.07. It was that expensive because I ordered *two* proof copies (one to give him and one to keep for ourselves).

Of course, if he proceeds with the book, there will be additional proof copies needed as we adjust the margins and possibly change the font.


Frank

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Joe, the Createspace books will be out within two months, OKAY? I said I was doing it!! I just sold a house, can't I have a month off??? Two weeks???

Joe Konrath said...

Joe, the Createspace books will be out within two months, OKAY? I said I was doing it!! I just sold a house, can't I have a month off??? Two weeks???

You have three days. :P

D. C. Chester said...

"No, Joe will never help us little people out, not without us making our bones first. No Joe reading the likes of us, no Joe spreading the word. We haven't vetted ourselves in his eyes, and he doesn't see the hypocrisy in this."

Wow.

Joe, thanks for everything you've taught me.

Dan

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Ripley said, "No, Joe will never help us little people out, not without us making our bones first. No Joe reading the likes of us, no Joe spreading the word. We haven't vetted ourselves in his eyes, and he doesn't see the hypocrisy in this."

I've been trying to figure out how to answer this attack calmly.

The fact is, you DO have to make your bones first. Whatever that means.

I have found bestselling authors incredibly generous and helpful. I can't believe how many people that I KNOW have no time to read my books have done it anyway, and supported me in ways that - especially coming from the cage fighting of screenwriting as I do - have knocked me out with their advice and willingness to open doors.

I've also found that ALWAYS - my greatest advances in the business come right after my greatest volunteerism. Serving on the Writers Guild Board of Directors, establishing a message board for screenwriters to communicate with each other during the writers' strike, launching my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors blog... the more I GIVE, the more I GET.

Yes, I'm from California and I believe in karma. Sue me. In my experience, it works.

Ripley, you say:

"Sometimes I want to vomit over the asskissing."

Really. I happen to think Joe has a very nice ass, especially when he drags it onto the dance floor, but that's not the point. I make it a point to thank him OFTEN for what he's done for other authors because I have worked in various aspects of this business long enough to know a revolutionary when I see one. There is no way to calculate the money and creative freedom Joe has racked up for OTHER authors. No. Way. He has disagreed with me on this point often, but his success has NOTHING to do with luck. It has to do with cosmic payback. He has earned every penny of what he gets from his own generosity and insight.

If you want to see the world as out to get you, you can. It's a choice. You can make a different choice RIGHT NOW. I hope you do.

The Universe wants you to have more than you can dream for yourself.

Matt Billock said...

Excellent post. I wonder, though, how much having that somewhat established fan base (as small as it may be) from the traditional-publishing experience has helped out. I'm an unknown in the writing world - if I did everything right, how likely would I be to win the lottery in this manner? That, for me, is the biggest barrier to self publishing (which I believe you addressed in your final paragraph).

And regarding the taboo against numbers, that has always driven me mad. It is so obviously a ploy by capital owners to keep underpaid employees artificially happy that I'm surprised it doesn't elicit more negative reactions. Sites like glassdoor.com are excellent for dispelling these myths in the professional world, but I wonder if a similar model would work for creative endeavors.

Anonymous said...

(From Anonymous 5:43 yesterday, 5-6-13)

Alex + Joe:

Thanks for your respective replies.

Well, Alex, specifically. How do you feel about self-published writers sponsoring the same sort of contests that traditionally published writers do, e.g., an Amazon gift card? Speaking as a reader, there have been times when I've been on the fence about purchasing a book, and the notion that I might perhaps win a GC wooed me over.

I want to take a fun approach to winning hearts and minds -- like you said, to give readers something back in return.

Signed,

The Anonymous Who Fears Shameless Self-Promotion

Anonymous said...

"No, Joe will never help us little people out, not without us making our bones first. No Joe reading the likes of us, no Joe spreading the word. We haven't vetted ourselves in his eyes, and he doesn't see the hypocrisy in this"

Riply, you sound frustrated and that's okay because this can be a very frustrating business, even for those who are perceived as successful. Keep at it, things will get better over time--and also appreciate that except in very rare cases, time is exactly what is needed.

As for Joe, he was the first "legit" person to read my book (my first book) back when I was an absolute nobody; he and Carolyn Hart. He didn't know me. He just responded to an email request, and even gave me a suggestion on how to improve a chapter.. The blurb was a nice one which I still use to this day. Following that, other things came--reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus, etc. It's a building process.

Now I make a full-time living from writing. I'm not special, I just work hard and keep at it every single day. Luckily there were people like Joe along the way to make things easier.

RJ

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Matt Billock, of course, everything you've ever done in your life helps when you launch a book!

But I am FLOORED by the power of Amazon to promote a new e book There is no way my traditional publisher had anywhere near that reach. You, personally, have to study it and understand how it works, but that Amazon push is available to any author who self-publishes.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Dear The Anonymous Who Fears Shameless Self-Promotion:

I think giveaways are GREAT!! Whatever entices YOU to buy a book is what you should use to entice people to buy YOUR book, right?

And for you and everyone here - I highly recommend joining RWA (Romance Writers of America) and your local chapter of RWA. It doesn't matter if you write romance or not - RWA will teach you how to connect with readers, and that is essential for your career and also for your own happiness. There is nothing better than that symbiotic relationship.

Katya Starkey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katya Starkey said...

"This is a mean, thankless, soul crushing business, and the only person you can rely on is yourself."

I'm going to blow up this entire reply of yours to poster size and Ima stick it on my wall for every time I complain about readers not buying my 1 book, and when I get jealous of other indie author's successes.

I will suffer for my art and write and publish books for the rest of my life, even if it means never becoming a bestseller.

Anonymous said...

(From Anonymous 5:43 yesterday, 5-6-13)

Alex,

I am indeed a card-carrying member of RWA, and I do write romance (in case that wasn't obvious -- and I think that it probably is). I work in marketing myself, and I've seen what works -- and what doesn't. Swag almost *always* works, as long as it's nice swag and it appeals to the target demographic.

I'll tell you one thing ... nothing beats a good Sephora gift card contest. :)

(For Joe's edification: Sephora is a brick-and-mortar/virtual makeup and girlie goop Mecca.)

Ciao and thanks,

She who will always feel slightly shameful about self-promotion

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

"This is a mean, thankless, soul crushing business, and the only person you can rely on is yourself."

Katya, Joe says that but he knows nothing. NOTHING. The publishing business is the warmest, fuzziest, most entirely orgasmic treat if you're coming from the movie business.

It's just not true. Editors are lovely compared to producers, and authors help other authors all the time. Screenwriters... not so very much. But sometimes.

Keep the faith, there are LOTS of good people.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Anonymous, why do I have this feeling we've gotten drunk together?

But - I do think romance writers SLIGHTLY overdo the swag. There is a happy medium...

Ripley King said...

Yes, I know your story. You have every right to be indignant over what I said. Yes, you have helped me. And yes, you have every right to showcase any beer buddy or friend you want. It is your blog.

And who wouldn't be frustrated to do everything right again and again, and get nowhere.

I have yet to buy even one book you wrote. I'm not saying that to be mean. They're not my type of read. No kidding. And that's okay. I can be my own person, too. Oh sure, some will find offense in what I just said, and that's too bad.

When I said what I said to Anon 11 am, I meant every word.

"Writer's facts of life number one. Other writers don't care one slim squat about your books. Get used to it.

I got to work my ass off to get anywhere.

I don't come here to pucker up. Sometimes I agree with what's being said, and sometimes I want to vomit over the asskissing. Sometimes I add my two cents worth. Most of the time I don't care.

As for this blog reflecting reality, Joe tells it like it is. The amount of work you put in, helps build the luck you get back. People who can, pay to be included. This is a business, and you must treat it as such. First, write a great book. Then think business. End of story.

No, Joe will never help us little people out, not without us making our bones first. No Joe reading the likes of us, no Joe spreading the word. We haven't vetted ourselves in his eyes, and he doesn't see the hypocrisy in this.



I didn't imply you should. It was a statement of fact. I aimed that statement of fact at Anon 11 am. Might as well get used to the truth now. And yes, there is hypocrisy in never displaying more in your showcases than your good, good friends or business partners. Time and time again you tell us to buy, go ahead, you'll wait. Yet once or twice a year you and your friends can't take the time to discover someone, anyone, just one new writer?

I don't think I'm alone in in thinking this, and I'm right in thinking this.

When you started out you would have killed for even one chance to be discovered. Just one person to notice anything you did. Just one good word.

Back then you wouldn't have resented someone out there always telling you to buy, buy, buy? Go ahead, they'll wait.

"Don't expect help. Don't expect to get lucky. All you can expect is years of busting your ass for no money, your only reward being the joy you get from putting words on a page.

This is a mean, thankless, soul crushing business, and the only person you can rely on is yourself."

I think I said that in not so many words. But, you really want to know the insight I've gained and want to share?

"This is a mean, thankless, soul crushing business, and the only person you can rely on is yourself."

It doesn't have to be this way. Does it.

Jude Hardin said...

Yet once or twice a year you and your friends can't take the time to discover someone, anyone, just one new writer?

To reiterate what Alex, and so many other authors through the years have said, Joe has helped more new writers than anyone on the planet. Long before I ever got a book deal, and long before self-publishing was a viable option for any of us, Joe came by my blog and critiqued a WIP chapter I'd posted. He probably doesn't remember it, but I do. It was the kind of thing published authors just didn't do. But he did it--for me and for countless other newbies.

At the time, I knew that he would eventually be overwhelmed by requests for help, and it wasn't long before that happened. Yet he continues to share his wisdom freely here, and all anyone has to do is listen.

Listen.

Anonymous said...

(From Anonymous 5:43 yesterday, 5-6-13)

Hell, Alex,

I think we actually *do* know each other.

I used to live in Berkeley. Well, on the cusp of Oakland, if you want to get technical about it. I wrote for a magazine based out of the Bay Area.

Your name and face were ridiculously familiar, and I think I've almost connected the last dot...

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Anonymous.. Berkeley? Cusp of Oakland? We've slept together, clearly. I don't mind that you don't remember. "Forget it, it's Berkeley, cusp of Oakland..."

Joe Konrath said...

Yet once or twice a year you and your friends can't take the time to discover someone, anyone, just one new writer?

You said this after stating you've never bought one of my books, and then you accuse me of hypocrisy.

I don't consider it my duty to help the world. But I do use this blog to share information so writers can help themselves.

Back then you wouldn't have resented someone out there always telling you to buy, buy, buy?

No. I've never envied anyone. Never resented anything or anyone. Those are poisonous, worthless emotions.

I don't believe in karma like Alex does. But I do think you can get what you give, provided you're smart about who you give to. There is often a fine line between being helpful, and being used.

I wrote nine novels and a million words before I made a dime. I didn't resent my lack of success. But I don't have any sympathy for writers who haven't found success yet. Why should I?

Writers don't need sympathy. They need to learn the business, improve their craft, and write books that readers want to read.

If you're looking for help, look in the mirror. That's where I found my help.

Joe Konrath said...

The publishing business is the warmest, fuzziest, most entirely orgasmic treat if you're coming from the movie business.

I don't doubt it.

The limited exposure of had to Hollywood has underwhelmed me. I don't want to work in that system in any capacity.

If someone wants to throw money at one of my IPs to make a picture, I'll take it. But the limit of my involvement will be cashing the check.

If I ever had the bug to make a movie, I'd make my own damn movie. I'm not going to work in any system ever again where someone else controls my happiness.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Doesn't matter that you don't believe in karma, Joe. You're the living proof. (Hah..)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Joe said "The limited exposure of had to Hollywood has underwhelmed me. I don't want to work in that system in any capacity..."

Well, don't rule out TV, please, pretty please!!! You, Blake, Barry, Ann, working on a show??? I'm thinking Deadwood, Mad Men, The Wire... TV is where it's at, and writers have ALL the power!

Joe Konrath said...

Well, don't rule out TV, please, pretty please!!!

Collaborating is fun.

Working for someone else isn't fun.

When you own your own network and give me a blank check and full creative control to make my own show, I'll consider it. Until then I'll stick to novels. No deadlines, no stress, no worries, no trying to make the money people happy.

As for karma, I'm proof that sometimes people get lucky. But I don't deserve success. I just happened to be the right person in the right place at the right time.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Joe said "As for karma, I'm proof that sometimes people get lucky. But I don't deserve success. I just happened to be the right person in the right place at the right time".

LOL, as usual. You just keep telling yourself that.

But you're right that almost always even cable TV, the ultimate writers' medium, is not going to give you creative control. But things slip through the cracks. Come on, The Wire? Deadwood?

No, sorry, I'm tired. Who needs the stress?

Anonymous said...


"Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Most people who write will NEVER make a living at writing. No matter if it's traditional publishing, e publishing, screenwriting, poetry - whatever.
...
I got that advice from every pro writer I ever talked to when I was a new writer. And in my head, I just said - "Fuck you, don't tell me what to do or the odds. You're not talking about ME. I'm going to do it." "

Your coolness factor just went up 100 fold.

Stunning, sexy, talented, and very very cool.

;)

Jude Hardin said...

If you're looking for help, look in the mirror. That's where I found my help.

And yet no man is an island...

We all need help from time to time. Surely someone gave you a boost at some time in your career, Joe.

I recently spent over an hour responding to a young college student who asked for advice on a novel she'd started. Did I help her? I would like to think so, but it's really going to be up to her as to whether my time was well spent or not. I can't write her book for her, and I can't make it sell a bunch of copies once it's finished.

So that's what we're talking about, Ripley. Nobody can wave a magic wand and make your books a success. I wish! We all just have to keep at it until we get lucky, and keeping at it includes listening to people (like Joe and Alex) who know what they're talking about.

http://judehardinbooks.com/

Anonymous said...

If ya wanna get rich, do what rich people do.

Clearly becoming one of Joe's beer drinking buddies is the way to get a promo. ;)

Joe Konrath said...

Clearly becoming one of Joe's beer drinking buddies is the way to get a promo. ;)

Can't hurt. :)

Jude Hardin said...

Clearly becoming one of Joe's beer drinking buddies is the way to get a promo.

The first time I read that, I thought it said PORNO.

Maybe it depends on how much beer is involved...

http://judehardinbooks.com/

Anonymous said...


If you're not doing well, do what Joe Konrath does--collaborate with another author on a new book.

A lot of writers think they can guage their own skill level, but frankly that is rarely true. Working with another author will help one of you get better (haha only one cuz the worse author prolly won't improve the better author).

There's a female author who posted here a while ago who writes a free short story every wek on her blog. I can't remember her name or the blog, but she rocks, I think I read on her blog that she has a BA in English. This girl has talent and then some. Working with her would prolly help anyone here, even Joe Konrath--no joke, she's that good.

;)

Attorney Today said...

I picked up Screenwriting Tricks For Authors, and it's excellent.

Pepper Phillips said...

Nobody can wave a magic wand and make your books a success.---

Joe gave everyone a clue several months ago and I followed his advice.

I had two free days left on Select, so informed ebookblaster of my free days and managed to give away over 7k copies. I had twelve reviews before, and twenty-two nice reviews afterwards, plus some sales and borrows.

Then last month I purchased a Bookbub ad, and the extra nice reviews helped. Five free days starting on a Monday. On that day I gave away over 37k copies. At nine pm, I was #1 on the FREE list and stayed there for 24 hours. A complete day! By the end of the free days, I never dropped lower than #13, giving away over 69k copies.

I now have over a hundred reviews, and sales and borrows are still going on.

Joe IS your 'magic wand' listen to him.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

"Clearly becoming one of Joe's beer drinking buddies is the way to get a promo. ;) "

I can't speak for other businesses, but in the arts, friends hire friends. Friends work with friends. OF COURSE they do. Wouldn't you? The lesson is, you need friends. And not just for work, either. It's not a conspiracy, it's life.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks, Attorney Today! Glad it works for you!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Well, thanks, Anonymous! Are you available as a publicist? ;)

Joshua Simcox said...

Thanks for the freebie, Alex. If I read "Blood Moon" before "Huntress Moon" will I be hopelessly lost? (If I like what I read, I'll promise to stop being a cheap bastard and shell out .99 for the first one.)

BTW, found "The Harrowing" at my local library and am really digging it. One of the true benefits of Joe's blog is that, once Joe goes into pimp mode, I often discover cool writers I wouldn't likely have found on my own.

- Joshua

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hi Joshua - I'm so glad you're liking The Harrowing! Thanks for giving everything a try.

I honestly think you would rather read Huntress Moon first. You can sample it and see what you think. But it won't be the same to read it if you've read ahead to Blood Moon.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

That's fantastic, Pepper, congratulations!

Jude Hardin said...

Alex, I'm wondering how you got all those Facebook followers. Is that something you actively pursued, or did it just happen?

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Patrice wrote: "We can't have the peons knowing how it works, now can we?

Yes... we can."

Yes, we can!! And we MUST.

A.R. Wise said...

Thought I'd throw in my two cents here. I was riding high as my book, 314, was the #1 Free Occult/Horror book on Amazon and then Alexandra's book came and knocked me off my pedestal! Now she's my nemesis for all eternity! Nah, just kidding. Congrats on the awesome response to the book, and I wish you all the success in the world! I get a big goofy grin on my face every time I see a self-pubbed author kicking ass!

The reason I wanted to comment here was because I saw some startlingly negative comments about self publishing, and have been seeing other similar statements on other sites (salon.com for instance). I guess it shouldn't surprise me, but it still upsets me that people are starting to look at self publishing as a gold mine that's just waiting to be tapped. People seem to think that they can write a quick book, throw together a cover, and suddenly start making buttloads of cash. I get more than simply frustrated by that idea, I despise it. People complain about having an ad or two that didn't net sales? Are you kidding? When I started out, I contacted well over 500 sites in an attempt to get honest book reviews, and the vast majority turned me down. I made a trailer for my first book, and it flopped terribly. I paid for ads, and when I saw no result from one I would mark it down and move on to the next. Some writers get lucky and start making money right off the bat, but if you're the type that relies on luck then this isn't the business for you. However, if you're the type of writer who does it because they can't imagine NOT being a writer, then there's never been a better time to actualize your dream!

Write a great book, and then treat this like it's the job you've always wanted. Work your butt off, and don't whine when one or two ads don't generate the sales you've been dreaming of. Move on and keep trying. While marketing one book, write another - and then start the whole process over. Who knows which book will strike a chord in the marketplace? The best strategy is to write great books - simple as that.

Anyhow, I know that Joe's blog gets a lot of attention from aspiring authors, and I wanted to make sure to add in my success story to the bevy of voices that drown out the negativity. Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a full time writer. Now, thanks to the self publishing revolution, I can proudly claim that title. YOU can too, but never underestimate the amount of work it requires, and never rely on someone else to give you a boost. You are your own business, and it's no one else's job but your own to become a success.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

"I'm wondering how you got all those Facebook followers. Is that something you actively pursued, or did it just happen?"

Jude, my FB numbers jumped radically after Huntress Moon came out, and then I decided to learn to love it (I hadn't been much of a fan of it, really). So yeah, I spent some dedicated time for weeks, posting something every day to see what worked. And I DON'T mean promotion. Nothing's more boring than hearing about an author talk about their books all the time. I think of it as an open improv mike. I'll be off the wall, I am rabidly political and I definitely am not quiet about my issues and petitions, and I get a huge response from posting pix of clothes I lust after. Go figure.

All of that snowballed. I am shocked at how many people lurk on my FB page.

Jason said...

Alexandra, I'm really enjoying Huntress Moon right now. Pretty brilliant to give away the second one for free, and make the first one a no-brainer purchase at 99 cents.

Jude, you are a master of the FB quip. Your sense of humor is very much in tune with mine...sorry if I don't give you credit when I re-use something you've posted LOL.

Anyway, keep that stuff up. You do a good job of mashing the nonsense with the book stuff on FB.

Evangeline English said...

Thanks, Joe! Your blog gives hope! Alexandra, my husband is also thinking of putting his second book in the series for free. Wish us luck.

Anonymous said...


Useless advice: Work hard and you'll maket it.

Sometimes people work hard and they don't make it.

This is the problem with "cherry picking" an example. Sure, many people work hard and succeed, and it is nice to hear about their success stories. But what about the failure stories? You don't hear too much about them because it isn't exciting and fun to read about them.

I am the same Anonymous who debated Joe Konrath about going out of your way to create unneccessary competition.

Just recently in a different blog entry, Barry Eisler wrote that very few people succeed in the traditional publishing lottery and the self-publishing lottery.

I am glad that 2 posters hear stepped forward and gave examples of the other side of the lottery. Not everyone succeeds.

I don't think they were "whining" or that they were putting out "negativity", they were legitimately giving an account of their personal experiences. I think both of them said they were working hard. Where does anybody come off implying that that they weren't working hard?

I don't agree with Joe Konrath about everything he says, but I agree with a few things he says.

I also thank Joe Konrath for making this blog and for putting out free advice even though I don't agree with all of it.

Joe gave the best advice: look in the mirror for help.

But Joe also gave the honest truth as he knows it: writing is a "mean, thankless, soul crushing business, and the only person you can rely on is yourself" and you "have to get lucky."

I'm glad both sides of the fence were told. The blog's name is "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing" and the readers deserved both sides.

Thank you to all the honest people, to those who found success and to those who are still trying.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

(From Anonymous 5:43 on 5-6-13)

RE: "But what about the failure stories? You don't hear too much about them because it isn't exciting and fun to read about them."

Dear Anonymous: I see your point. However, the definition of "failure" is arbitrary. For some writers, not making it big enough to quit their day jobs is failure; for others (like me), not making enough to pay my cell phone bill each month is failure! :)

"Failure" could mean failing to reach a board audience ... but it could also mean failing to reach a small but loyal following of readers who connect with your art. Even if that number is negligible.

"Failure" is all relative to your POV.

Personally, I don't want to be able to make enough money as an indie writer to do it full time; I love my job, and I wouldn't resign for all of the money in the world. I'm driven by philanthropic causes, and that's what makes me feel as though I make a profound difference. Writing makes me feel as though I can share something outside of that, something far more personal, with those with whom I *can* connect.

Joseph said...

The way I figure it you can work hard and fail to meet your goals. In fact that is likely.

But if you don't give it a go you'll never know and that will eat at you. Not trying is way worse than failing.

Eric Christopherson said...

I get a huge response from posting pix of clothes I lust after.

Clearly the missing piece to your puzzle, Jude.

Joseph said...

"Barry emailed me that the other day, and we had a good laugh over it.

No, I'm not bothering with a post, because I can accurately sum up her position in two words: Vichy France."

I was thinking Quisling, but maybe that's a bit too obscure.

Jude Hardin said...

Clearly the missing piece to your puzzle, Jude.

No, that's not it. I think I need to chime in and talk about myself more often.

A.R. Wise said...

@Anonymous 5:51

I see your point, and I guess there is value to the flip side of the coin, where a person's story of failure is a warning to others. You're absolutely right about that.

However, in my experience, I've encountered scores of people who thrive on such stories, and use them to explain why they're never going to try something. These are the same people at the office that get mired in negativity - the same people that never have a nice thing to say about anyone else's success - the same people that want nothing more than to gossip about the shortcomings of others. In my experience, the people that I find the most inspiring are the ones that avoid such crowds, and choose to be positive. Perhaps that's a Pollyannish way of going through life, but I've also found (with startling regularity) that the people who get the angriest with that way of thinking are also the ones that gather in the corner and talk bad about other people.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm not trying to lump you into that category. You're correct in saying that no one has the right to accuse anyone that doesn't succeed at being an SP author of not working hard enough. Plenty of people work their butts off and just don't succeed. Sometimes it's because they never got lucky, and sometimes it's because they're a lousy writer and they haven't realized it yet. Truthfully, most of my ire comes from an article that appeared on salon.com recently which tore apart the SP industry because the writer on the site didn't become famous after writing one book and doing next to nothing to promote it.

I do, however, vehemently disagree with the line being thrown around here that writing is a "mean, thankless, soul-crushing business..." I, for one, have found it to be a life-fulfilling, dream-achieving, daily-delight of a business. Perhaps if I were forced to deal with corporate interests and lawyer-speak, then I'd be singing a different tune. But I'm an SP author, and life is grand. It is true, however, that the only person you can rely on is yourself, but perhaps I used to work in a whole different corporate environment than anyone else here, because that's the exact same way it was in the "real" world - at least during my time climbing the corporate ladder.

So again, please don't look at this as an attack of a response. It's not meant that way. Like I've often said, internet debates would all be so much more pleasant if we were sitting at a bar sharing a beer (A Left Hand Brewery Milk Stout for me, thanks), while saying the exact same things. Then you could see that I'm responding with a smile on my face.

@Anonymous 6:34 Well said! Success and failure are set by the individual. What is a failure in one person's mind is a success in another's. We should never forget that. Thanks for the reminder!

buy rs gold said...

Another excellent post.planning to release my first self-published novel early this summecheapest runescape gold

Jude Hardin said...

Just shot you an email, Joe. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Jason, thanks, I'm so glad you're enjoying the book!

Yes, I thought I'd better make the first a no-brainer purchase, since I really want people to read the first in the series first! It's my first series, so brand new territory for me.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

AR Wise - I completely agree , it's NOT a thankless, mean, soul-crushing business. There is incredible joy in it. Great friends. Fantastic fulfillment.

But it is HARD. It is grueling. And it is uncertain in a way that keeps people perpetually anxious. MOST people are not cut out for it full time.

And you're right - being positive is key. To everything, really.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Anonymous, I don't think that anyone was implying that the people who have posted here about the opposite side of the coin, the NON success stories, are not working hard.

My own impression of those people (and I may be wrong!) is that they are very, very new to publishing and to self-publishing, and they're expecting way too much given their level of experience. I worked for 11 years as a professional screenwriter before I sold my first novel. I don't even REMEMBER how hard it was at first because it was so long ago. If I'd known how long it would take me to achieve any level of competence I would never have started.

It doesn't happen overnight. It rarely happens within ten years. If you're not in it for the long haul, you probably don't have much of a future in it.

Stephen Goss said...

I agree that successful writers publishing their numbers is a good thing. And I hope they keep it up!

speakhappiness said...

A decade ago, a friend was telling me about a group of writers I was about to meet for the first time. He added little nicknames to each of them so I could keep them straight, and one was Alex "fight-The-Man" Sokoloff. Good to see that's as true today as it was then.

Alex was not only one of the amazing women of the WGA who inspired me to self-publish my book, but also I owe her my whole life. No lie.

Alex started the message board where I met my husband. Not sure there is any way to ever repay someone for that, but if there is, I will try.

Thank you, Alex. You simply rock!

Charles Harvey said...

THIS BLOG in general and this blog story is very encouraging. But does this success carry over into all genres? Obviously no poetry book is going to achieve these kinds of numbers. Or could they? What about "literary" fiction? We all don't write the same kinds of books.

Unk said...

As yet another screenwriter becoming fed up with the Hollywood System (if you can actually call it that), I just wanted to thank BOTH of you for the blog post.

Good stuff...

Another piece of the puzzle is always good to find.

I pimped your book on Twitter (not that it needed it), Alex.

And Joe? I've learned so much from your site, I feel like I owe you a few grand.

Easily.

But maybe we can get drunk together one day.

I'll buy.

Thanks again, you two.

Unk

Thom said...

Alex:

First, thanks for your service at WGA. As a member, I know how serving for the Guild can take it out of you.

Also, continued success with your novel writing career. I look forward to reading your book.

Finally, I know what you mean about women in Hollywood. In my 12 years working as a TV writer on multiple shows, I worked with exactly FOUR women writers. With two daughters of my own heading towards careers in writing, that number shocks me.

All the best.