Thursday, September 01, 2011

How To Succeed

I get pummeled with email, often from people either thanking me or asking me things.

Here's a quick encapsulation of the questions I get, and how I'd reply if I had the time.

Q: What's the secret to selling a lot of ebooks?

Joe: There is no secret. Write good books, with good descriptions, good formatting, and good cover art, sell them cheap, and keep at it until you get lucky.

Q: I have an ebook, but it isn't selling well. What should I do to market it?

Joe: Write another ebook, and another, and keep at it until you get lucky.

Q: I've changed my cover art 56 times, but sales are still flat.

Joe: You need to keep writing until you get lucky.

Q: Joe, I've followed your blog, and you're the reason I decided to self-publish. How did you get so many sales?

Joe: I kept at it until I got lucky.

Q: Joe, you're a pioneer. A hero. A guru. You deserve all the success you've gotten. To what do you attribute your success?

Joe: I simply got lucky.

Q: You talk about luck a lot. How do I improve my chances at getting lucky?

Joe: Keep writing good books, with good descriptions, good formatting, and good cover art, and sell them cheap.

Q: Aren't talent and hard work more important than luck?

Joe: They can help you get lucky.

Q: I've done everything you say, but I'm still not selling. What's the problem?

Joe: You haven't gotten lucky yet.

Q: Isn't the self-pubbing road was paved with riches?

Joe: No one deserves to make money writing. The world doesn't owe you a living, and you aren't entitled to huge sales. You simply need to work at it, until you get lucky.

Q: How long does it take to get lucky?

Joe: It took me twenty years and over two million written words.

Q: What if I never get lucky?

Joe: Then you didn't try hard enough, or long enough. Or maybe your writing simply isn't good enough.

Not everyone can be a Major League Baseball player. It takes a combination of traits, including luck.

But everyone seems to think they can be an author, simply because they can string some words together.

Some poorly written ebooks will sell well, just like some poorly written legacy books sell well. But if you write shit, you're harming your chances at getting lucky.

I believe cream will rise to the top, and shit will sink. Ebooks are the perfect opportunity to test this theory, because there are no longer any barriers to entry. Prior to ebooks, legacy gatekeepers decided what got published, and even then many good books failed to find an audience because they never had the proper chance to.

Ebooks have an infinite shelf life, and ebooks stores have infinite shelf space. If your book is good, it has forever to be discovered.

Forever is a long time to find an audience.

Q: Can it really take forever to be successful?

Joe: I wrote the book ORIGIN in 1999. It's the book that landed me an agent. She tried mightily to sell it on three separate occasions, in 1999, 2005, and 2008, garnering more than fifty rejections by every major house in NY.

Right now, ORIGIN is ranked #274 in the Kindle store, and has received over one hundred 5 star reviews. I've sold tens of thousands of copies.

It took more than ten years for ORIGIN to find its audience. I'm going to write a sequel to it, because I get so much fan mail about that book.

You can quit if you want to. Or you can stick with it until you get lucky.

The are no easy answers. No quickie fixes. No direct paths to success.

No one is forcing you to do this. You have to love it, and to believe in yourself. Even when you fail.

Especially when you fail.

If you aren't failing, you aren't trying hard enough.

And if you aren't trying hard, it's going to take a lot longer to get lucky.

117 comments:

Donna K. Weaver said...

Hmmm ... so the key is perseverance and luck. Okay!

Mike said...

I enjoyed that - there is quite a bit of truth to that. I am spending a lot of time, not just writing, but building websites, shooting video, and combing the far reaches of Thailand for Buddhist amulets to sell with the same thing in mind... I want to get lucky too. Cheers to those who work their nubs numb until they get lucky.

Darlene Underdahl said...

Thanks for the early morning kick in the butt.

Americans are ingrained with "anyone can be president."

Rather than work hard, they look for the Short Cut, the Cheat Sheet, the Code Words and the Secret Handshake.

Even after this post, they'll still tell themselves you're holding out on the Cheat Sheet (grin).

Kate Evangelista said...

Amen!

Annie Bellet said...

Great words of advice, thanks :) I always try to keep the long game perspective. Write, write, write some more. Keep going.

E.J. Copperman said...

I'd just like to be clear on this. Should I stop writing and not get lucky? Because getting lucky is one of my favorite things.

The Tattooed Writer said...

Just goes to show that with ebooks, as with everything else, there is hard work and luck involved....who'd have thought? Yet too many people think ebooks are a way to riches without putting in the work.

My Western "Ghost Dance" was originally published in 1997, and now it's doing well in Kindle, espec. in the UK. But the work was put in years ago, much like you "Origin", Joe.

Keep up the good work!

Smart Ass said...

Q: Aren't talent and hard work were important?

I think you mean "more important", not "were". ;)

Smart Ass observation for the day: no one's perfect and someone will always notice :D

MT Nickerson said...

And a theme emerges and I say, 'Oh damn!" If not for bad luck I would have no luck at all so... basically screwed :)

Lexi said...

Thanks, Joe, you made me laugh, more so because it's true.

Joe Barlow said...

Thanks for the frank reminder. Too many other books and websites promise untold riches for aspiring writers from the moment they finish their first short story. It's a good idea to remember that success is not a foregone conclusion. But, as Woody Allen once said "Success involves luck. But the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get."

J. R. McLemore said...

Joe, you should've titled this post something with LUCK in the name. :D

Rick Wilson said...

Here's to getting lucky (and writing a really good ebook).

Jarrett said...

Luck. It's the reason that I gave up on going the traditional route.

I went to my first writers' conference and everyone who'd been published traditionally was asked how they found an agent since that's the step that most of us at the conference still needed to take. Everyone that I heard answer the question said some variation of "Don't go by me. I got lucky."

It was very discouraging, at least to me, that so much of the traditional publishing world was reliant on luck. Lucky enough to find an agent who likes your work. That agent being lucky enough to find an editor that likes your book. That editor being lucky enough to sell it to the publishing house to take it on. Then, after all that luck, hoping you're lucky enough that your book will find an audience.

I decided that, even though I know ultimately there's an element of luck involved in all of this no matter how you publish, I'd rather control making my own luck. Because what a lot people call luck other call persistence.

Adam Pepper said...

Sure, Joe got "lucky." But he also worked his ass off to get to where he is today. Work your ass off until you get lucky. It's a pretty good approach for anything you do in life.

John Whelan-Curtin said...

Stupendous, inspiring, realistic and entertaining post. I like it.

TK Kenyon said...

You are awesome and I love your blog. Have a great day.

I would say that I'm off to write, but the kid still isn't back in school due to Hurricane Irene. We used up two "snow days" so far this year. OTOH, if he have a winter like last year, I won't have to worry about summer camp in 2012, because he won't get out of school until August!

TK Kenyon
Tweet me at @TKKenyon on Twitter for writing prompts and where to find free fiction on the web!

Jude Hardin said...

I currently have a novel on submission through my agent, and I'm currently working on a novella for a well-known television writer.

Joe was kind enough to introduce me to both these people.

I've been hanging around here driving him nuts with my comments for six years, so I guess you could say I'm lucky he didn't shoot me instead. :)

Thank you, Joe. Great post!

Glynn James said...

As well as the ebooks I sell I am considering adding a line of lucky charms on my website...

Brian said...

I would ad "be aware of when you are beginning to get lucky, and have a system in place beforehand to push the momentum and make sure it sticks".

I have known people who sold 300 books in a few days almost out of nowhere and then just sat back and expected it to go forever.

Stephanie Rabig said...

Thank you for this! Definitely bookmarking it for future "keep writing, stupid" inspiration. :)

Rebecca Nazar said...

Love, love, love this post.

Melissa Douthit said...

Thanks Joe! Good advice. I agree with you. I get a little annoyed too with new writers who release their novels for sale one day and expect to become rich the next. It doesn't happen that way. When it comes to success in this business, patience is a virtue.

Douglas Dorow said...

A couple of sayings come to mind,
"You can't win if you don't enter", so as Joe's said, work hard and keep trying,

and "the harder you work, the luckier you'll be",

I agree the formula is hard work, perseverance, with a dash of luck.

I'm working hard on getting improving my luck.

Chris said...

Thanks, Joe. Your words are always inspirational. It's like a friend of mine once said: you can work your ass off your whole life to realize your dreams or...what's the alternative?

The truth is, there is no viable alternative. We have nothing to lose by sticking to our dreams. The sooner we learn that, the better off we'll be. Thanks again!

CMSmith said...

That's exactly what I'm hoping for— to get lucky. Glad to see it's a legit approach.

KR Jacobsen said...

Sobering commentary and advice, but sage.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to locate my lost 18-leaf clover and my horseshoe.

D.J. Kirkby said...

This post made me laugh! *looks around for lucky charm to hold while writing*

Brendan P. Myers said...

I needed this at exactly this moment. Thanks.

Kelley said...

I should have your boot print etched in my jeans. Really. Every time I read this blog, it's like a welcomed kick in the pants. No nonsense advice is always appreciated.

Paul Skelding said...

Perseverance = luck over time. I think that this is the key to self publishing success. If you look at Amanda Hocking or John Locke it took them both quite awhile to breakthrough. And Merz just rocked the publishing world by signing to Simon and Schuster and retaining ALL of his ebook rights.

My blog.

Sean McCartney said...

Great post Joe. I wish I could write faster but I will always keep at it.

How do you decide what projects you do? and Do you keep several going at one time or one at a time?
Sean

Danny H said...

Great advice. Success truly is a marathon, not a sprint. Hopefully I can get my book published soon.

toblender.com/comic

Anonymous said...

"Ebooks have an infinite shelf life"

People don't tend to pay a lot for out of copyright books.

John Y. Jones said...

Note to self: get lucky.

Rich said...

Never believed in luck as a way to succeed. That says to me that any idiot can get a book to sell millions of copies just by mere chance. I think it's more about showing up enough times so beat down resistance. Its the 10K hours (or 3 million words in your case) idea.

"Cream will rise, shit will sink." A perfectly accurate description of what will happen. Those with talent & perseverance will succeed thanks to greater opportunity.

J.P. Hansen said...

This was a great and important post. I appreciate your honesty. Perseverance and persistence may be the most important factors in success in any field.

kathleenshoop said...

Much luck and hard work to us all!

evilphilip said...

I've made about $10k this year selling books on the Kindle and I don't have perseverance or luck.

I do have a clever title and good cover art. That must be it.

Joe Konrath said...

People don't tend to pay a lot for out of copyright books.

So many ways to bitchslap this comment...

1. People don't tend to pay a lot for my ebooks in the first place.

2. Ebooks are forever. But I'll have to settle for my lifetime plus 70 years to keep making royalties. Unless Mickey Mouse has his say...

3. I'll tell that to Lovecraft, Doyle, Austen, Twain, Dickens, Shakespeare, Kafka, Wilde, Poe, Joyce, Bronte, Tolstoy... blah blah blah.

Anonymous said...

Umm...doesn't this "you have to get lucky" comment sorta make hash of your posts that apparently say any author who doesn't e-publish is a jerk because e-publishing automatically means big money for the author? Just askin'...

Stephen Knight said...

Damn...I used up my luck quotient outdoing Austin Powers with Japanese twin girls at the Park Hyatt Tokyo in Shinjuku in 2006.

Now I'll never succeed!

Ann said...

I think of life in terms of math. That's why I love this post. While some people may see luck as some kind of magic, I see it as a probability of a certain event happening - in this case, making it big.

So what are the chances I can improve my probability of making it big? The more I write, the better I get, the better my chances are to make it big. The more stories I write, the more chances I get to have more readers, the better my chances are to make it big. I think your post demonstrated that quite nicely.

Luck is not some magic pill one takes to get there, it's the little things they can do in life to improve their chances of getting there!

Nicolas McGregor said...

Interesting that you use "Origin" as your example of a novel of yours taking time to find an audience, Joe. That was the book that turned me on to your fiction, and remains my favourite - when it comes to your style of sci-fi horror, I have "target audience" written all over me.

It was only last year I came across "Origin". Since then I've recommended it to several friends, and bought most of your backlist on the strength of my enjoyment of "Origin".

Luck and perseverance might play a huge role in becoming a successful author, but I think good story-telling will always grow your original audience. A happy reader is a loyal reader, and word of mouth's a powerful thing.

It surprises me that no legacy publisher would think there'd be a market for your sci-fi horror when you consider the success of so many sci-fi horror movies: Aliens, Terminator, The Thing, to name a few.

I know film is a different media, but I've always believed that cinema informs written fiction, just as novels inform movies, and both share a similar demographic. Take the zombie craze - wildly popular concurrently in both film and books. I love Scott Sigler's technique of "cinematising" his novels - making a movie trailer, not to advertise a film of his novels, but to advertise his books.

Despite it being a slow-burn success, I do hope you're planning a sequel to "Origin". It's crying out for another story.

August V. Fahren said...

Did an "official" launch for my new book Thursday Thistle and I've climbed to #5,728, #1 in Fairy Tales, and #32 in Dark Fantasy.

Guess I must be getting lucky? My take: Offer something unique at a low price so people will take a chance.

Dustin Scott Wood said...

I said something similar to a friend the other. He asked me when I planned to send my first novel off to my editors and then asked if I was hopeful about money. I told him money money was important to me, but not the most important. The act of creation and sculpting worlds where the reader can happily get lost was thing I loved the most.

Joe, you are correct. I write. Will I ever make enough to quit the day job? I don't know. I hope so, but in my opinion, hope should be reserved for things out of our control. What is in my control is penning the best work I can, polishing it, having it edited well, getting good cover art, and proper formatting.

If my first novel, or second, or third never sell well, that's ok, not great, but ok. I'm in this because of a simple love of the act. A lack of sales won't stop me for that simple reason.

I will write and hopefully the the burning of the fat on this alter will make enough smoke that the reading public can one day no longer ignore me. If it doesn't, then ok - I've still got my work and my love for the written word. It isn't, for me, a resignation or comfort with economic failure so much as it is knowing that for my part, writing the stuff that I do is wonderful enough in itself for me.

Thank you for your investment in this blog.

E.C. Belikov said...

As a side note Joe, it just so happens that your advice also works for picking up women in a bar ;)

J. R. Tomlin said...

Best post you ever wrote, Joe. Thanks!

Joe Konrath said...

any author who doesn't e-publish is a jerk because e-publishing automatically means big money for the author?

First, tell me where I said authors are guaranteed big money by publishing.

Second, tell me where I called an author a jerk because they chose legacy publishing.

Don't put words in my mouth. It makes you look stupid.

I have said that taking a legacy deal is foolish, and those who oppose self-publishing are idiots.

I've also said that midlist authors are better off self-pubbing because they'll earn more money than they would in a legacy deal.

The only time it is smart to take a legacy deal is for big money, or if it coincides with your goals.

The only time I call people jerks is when they're anonymous jerks, or if they've been repeatedly rude.

I.J.Parker said...

And here's the moment of profound enlightenment. Write and publish. It's that simple!

I don't have to worry about all that promotion crap (reading John Locke at the moment), I just have to keep writing. I love writing. I can do that.

In the past, I used to run up against a wall when publishers didn't want to publish what I wrote or killed the books they did publish with indifference. No more! I write and I publish what I write electronically. And in time luck will follow.

This is worthy of being called a Zen moment. :)

David LeRoy said...

So much talk of getting lucky, I forgot that I was reading about self publsihing and starting thinking of other things. I do need to get lucky,,,,, but not in the kindle store. I will get lucky there in time.

Stephen T. Harper said...

Okay, Joe, you've made your point. But what's the "secret" secret to success?

Karen Woodward said...

Great post! And very encouraging. Just what I needed.

David A. Todd said...

To be successful in legacy publishing, you have to write well and be lucky. To be successful in eSP you have to write well and be lucky. At least in eSP we can better our odds of being lucky by repetition, and once lucky we get a much larger percentage.

Therefore, to increase my odds, I'm going to see if I can paste in the URLs of my two e-offerings, at this page on my website:

http://davidatodd.com/available-books/

Ruby Barnes said...

Coming through loud and clear. Write, write, write and wear your lucky pants.
I always get lucky when I wear mine!

Michael E. Walston said...

Thanks for the reminder, Joe.

If you don't bet, as the saying goes, you can't win...

C.J. Archer said...

Dang, I thought the secret was to sacrifice small furry creatures to the Gods of Amazon. Oh well, looks like my kitty's safe for a while longer.

Todd Trumpet said...

Joe:

Read your post. Loved it. One question:

Does writing success depend at all on luck?

Just curious,

Todd
"THE TELLING OF MY MARCHING BAND STORY"
www.ToddTrumpet.com

Todd Trumpet said...

That's what I get for being a smartass, my link didn't work above.

Well, since the theme of today's post is (secondarily) "perseverance"...

Todd
"THE TELLING OF MY MARCHING BAND STORY"
www.ToddTrumpet.com

Gretchen Galway said...

Somehow you manage to be likable even when you're telling me to work harder.

Maybe I'm in the minority :-P

Scott Nicholson said...

yeah I used to hate it when you said "It's all luck."

I didn't have luck, so I couldn't believe that. Then I got lucky, after 15 years, and understood I got lucky.

I wish I was a genius, or superhumanly skilled or talented, (which, of course, are different forms of luck), but I just plodded along until...I got lucky.

But without the work, you don't get lucky.

Anna Murray said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-2Z1lP8fR0

It's hard to detect good luck - it looks so much like something you've earned. ~Frank A. Clark

I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. ~Thomas Jefferson

Luck has a peculiar habit of favoring those who don't depend on it. ~Author Unknown

Tracy Johnson said...

It's true. I was an actor and we knew we had to pay dues and hope to get a break. No one ever asked another actor how he found success - HE GOT LUCKY. Authors seem to have entitlement stamped on their foreheads now.

katy leen said...

First off, thanks Joe. I just got my first book up at Amazon and worked with your ebook designers--amazing work by awesome people.

Now a question: What are your thoughts about the Amazon Associates program?

Love to hear from you but welcome thoughts from anyone on the thread as well. Not sure if the program is limited to placing a widget on my author site for my book or promoting Amazon products in general.

bettye griffin said...

Marvelous post, just marvelous. Both humorous and insightful.

Thanks for the chuckles.

Anonymous said...

That is so funny. I'll be happy all week. Best blog of your career, Konrath. You can stop now. What else is there to say?

jseliger.com said...

You've told us about your print designer, ebook designer, and cover art designer on the right. Who's your general editor? Your copy editor?

wannabuy said...

This is why there will be no 'race to the bottom.' Too many will give up. Although perhaps that is a few less than should. ;)

I've also said that midlist authors are better off self-pubbing because they'll earn more money than they would in a legacy deal.
And this is why I love this post. It will create more 'mid-list' authors. Authors who will publish and find their niche; hopefully making a decent living doing something they love.

I read mostly mid-list.

I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. ~Thomas Jefferson
And Fortune favors the bold. ;)

Neil

Amanda_Corlies said...

I keep this quote, or rather one very similar from an earlier blog of yours, posted over my computer on my desk:

"No one deserves to make money writing. The world doesn't owe you a living, and you aren't entitled to huge sales. You simply need to work at it, until you get lucky."

It makes me smile and remember to keep going until I get lucky. Thanks Joseph! :D

Pepper Phillips said...

Wear my lucky pants?

I think I'd get luckier if I didn't wear any pants at all.

LOL

Marilyn Peake said...

Wonderful advice!

jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack D. Albrecht Jr. said...

Luck... Yep, can't wait for that to come!

Another great post Joe

Yaten512 said...

People don't tend to pay a lot for out of copyright books.
People pay enough. The fact that a book, even a public domain one, is sold by the author, or the author's heirs will continue to count and affect people's choices forever. Even now every ebook on ebook bestseller lists can be found on piracy sites. They will continue to appear there. People already make the choice to buy from the author rather than get one free. When the magic date of ebook going out of copyright passes, do you imagine so much will change? Would you not prefer to buy Hamlet directly from Shakespeare's heirs' place, even today, if they were nice people? Even if copyright was today reduced to 5 years after ebook release, I don't expect it would influence sales much. Certainly less than author's attitude towards his readers would influence them.

Christopher Wills said...

Completely agree with you and most of the comments. We live in a society where too many people think they are owed a living for doing nothing.

I have always believed in the trinity of talent, luck and hard work. How do you get lucky? You work hard. How do you get talent? You work hard. As you so rightly say, it's that simple.

Stephen Leather said...

Isn't it strange how in life the luckiest people are more often than not the ones who work the hardest! Except for the lottery, of course..... You are so right. Work hard, do good work, and eventually you'll make it.... That applies to pretty much everything in life. Except for the lottery, of course....

Nancy Beck said...

Love to hear from you but welcome thoughts from anyone on the thread as well. Not sure if the program is limited to placing a widget on my author site for my book or promoting Amazon products in general.

@katy leen - I'm part of Amazon Associates, on my blog. AFAIK, you can put whatever Amazon offers on your blog/website/whatever.

I have several widgets on my blog: One for my own books, one for books for writers, and one for general fantasy books for readers; I also refer to books or whatever in my blog posts on occasion, and I do the link thing there, too.

It's convenient to do on a Blogger blog; the Amazon linking mechanism is to your right as you write a post.

Have I made any money off it? No, but I really don't care at this point; I've been doing it for years now, so it's just a ritual now. :-)

Ten Cent Wings

Nancy Beck said...

Wow - I sure like the word "now".

Need more caffeine.

TheSanPintoTimes said...

Okay...luck.....thanks

Walter Knight said...

Those who work hard have more luck.

S. V. Rowle said...

I'm sure people don't want to hear about luck being a big factor. It is true that good storytelling has a ton to do with it. But as anyone who has raised a good idea in a classroom and watched as five minutes later someone else parrots your idea and gets all of the credit for it knows, life isn't always fair.

I'm going to focus on finishing my series (or at least getting to book 4 of 5) before I start to market the hell out of it.

Christopher Bunn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
katy leen said...

@Nancy Beck

Thanks for the info, Nancy:)

puravida said...

Thank you for your honest advice. For me, it was luck. Now I get to field many emails, one of which asked me to go to a touist town, find an undescribed trinket, and mail it to him in Dubai.

Is this what 15 minutes of fame looks like? I really thought it would include drinks with one of the Kardashians.

Happier Than A Billionaire

eviljwinter said...

So, this luck you speak of. Can I get it on Amazon, or do you suggest I wait for a promising eBay auction to get it?

(What's scary is there's probably someone emailing Joe those very words right now, and unlike me, he's not kidding.)

Lester D. Crawford said...

There is no right way to write a book; therefore, every way is wrong.

The solution: get lucky.

I am loading the dice with hard work.

Terrance Foxxe said...

Luck my fuzzy little ass.

I got to tell the world I exist. No, wait, first I clean up any stray typos (done! I hope), format my files for all readers, get myself up everywhere (done and done), do a little bit with three covers, and Alice! XXX just needs a new cover, because Kitt done cleaned my clock with her cover.

I need to get my third book revamped and on, which will probably be in the next two weeks, and then I get to scream to the world I exist for the next year or more. That's my idea of luck. That and I need my next two books done and out. Plus, more books done.

Kannan said...

Joe, this is another great post from you! Thanks! I agree with every word of yours.

" Write good books, with good descriptions, good formatting, and good cover art, sell them cheap, and keep at it until you get lucky.

".. cream will rise to the top, and shit will sink. "

"...If your book is good, it has forever to be discovered."

Very well said indeed....Thanks!

Joab said...

Konrath, you are a god. I am going to read this once a week, just so I don't forget it.

Also, I am going to make a clay idol out of your image and put you on the mantle, together with my ancestors and Mickey Mouse.

Joe Clifford Faust said...

Best. Post. Ever.

Suz Korb said...

I just cried reading this, because it's true that you just have to keep writing, and writing well. Practice.

So does the fact that I cried mean I'm not thick-skinned enough to be a writer? Probably. Crap.

Sorry, but I have been working really hard at my writing and I do know that book sales aren't going to make me feel any different about my books. In other words, I don't need acceptance from the public, or criticism to know how hard I'm working. To know how much I'm killing my migraine head because I'm a writer!

JAClement said...

Another fab post! I love reading this blog because so much of it seems to be down-to-earth common-sense, which makes it all seem much more achievable.

Er.... for the record, I think I just got lucky in the UK last week as my fantasy ebook has leapt up to #134 in the UK Kindle store (though not in the American one).... Now all I have to do is not let the luck get away...no stress there then!

So my plan is to get a move on with the editing of Books 2 and 3 and the first paperback copy in time to start writing 4 in November - and figure out how the hell you get lucky in the US!

I figure this is my pension plan as by the time I'm that old I'll have written enough books to be making a living, hopefully - but y'know, if retirement came early I wouldn't be in the least bit upset...my dayjob gets RIGHT in the way of my writing!

JAC
On Dark Shores: The Lady

Deborah June Goemans said...

An inspirational post! Thanks and congratulations on achieving your dream. I'm okay with the hard work part, now I could use some luck. http://deborahgoemans.blogspot.com/2011/01/feet-sole-journey.html

Rai Aren said...

I'm merrily in the process of getting lucky... ;)

...and enjoying every minute of it!

Cheers,

Rai

Michael Scott Miller, author said...

Thanks, Joe. In some crazy way, this is actually kind of inspirational.

Anonymous said...

Joseph, Thanks for writing, I like your blog very much.
I'm wondering if you feel that children's fiction can go the same way re e-publishing - the biggest consideration being that they dont have the same spending freedom on the net.
Can you suggest any further reading? Or perhaps organise a guest blog?
Thanks again
Tanya

Lola Swain said...

Thank you for this :)

Robin Sullivan said...

Joe, you know that we disagree about "luck". IF you have a quality product than perseverance will make it eventually succeed. Put in your terms....Keep putting it out there until you get lucky. We are really saying the same things with differnt words.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Abigail Tarttelin said...

This was such a funny and awesome blog article. I'm published and finding it hard to get my head around writing another book while doing all the work that pays my rent (hint: getting published hasnt helped much with that yet). Thanks very much for making me smile today and get on with writing! Abby :)

Dan said...

As I wander lonely round the cloud I'm amazed at just how many readers and comments all these various blogs on ebooks and ebook authors get. It gives an indication of just how big the market for ebooks is.

Lisa Grace said...

2 million words later--You are so lucky!--and still you keep at it.
Wishing you the best of your continued luck.

I know you won't mind,(because you don't care and you shouldn't, of course), but I have to link your words of wisdom to a new writers site I just joined.

I'm getting lucky myself. An option for a movie contract, and now publishing houses contacting me instead of the other way around.

Amy Goldman Koss said...

Thanks! That was adorable! (I'm lucky i found it!)

Jimmy Aldridge. said...

Just wanted to thank you Joe for being an inspiration to me. I came across your blog by chance earlier this year and though it took quite a while, I have read most of your postings. Your insight in to writing, publishing and eBooks has been incredibly valuable to me and now I find myself really looking forward to your next post. I took your advice and finally published my first eBook -
A Collection of Short Stories - written by robots; by James Aldridge.

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/80776

and even started my own blog -

http://ebookwritermagnet.blogspot.com/

It has all been a fascinating process to go through. I agree with you on hard work and luck. I am a firm believer in hard work - even though you may be working a tough job, have a hectic home life, and might not have much free time to write or promote your work, if you want to succeed at anything you really have to find the time and make the effort. Right now I have a Mom with Alzheimer's to deal with, a chaotic job, I coach football and there is a major wildfire trying to burn down the city I live in (Austin), but I still try to find the time to work at this - with my hard work and some luck I will succeed. Thanks again Joe for the excellent work - you are an inspiration to all of us who want to find success.

Amy Kinzer said...

Ain't that the truth!

Jon Olson said...

Joe,

Probably you're aware of this, but take a look at Kiana Davenport's blog -- a despicable power play a Big 6 publisher. Love to have your thoughts.

Jon Olson
The Petoskey Stone
The Ride Home

Karen Woodward said...

I just read the post Jon was talking about, here's the URL:

http://kianadavenportdialogues.blogspot.com/

Chilling story. A big 6 publisher took $20,000 and a book it took Kiana five years to write and left her with nothing. That was the cost of her experiment in self publishing.

Barb Caffrey said...

Your advice sounds a great deal like the recent book ADAPT by Tim Harford (who writes "The Undercover Economist"). I agree with it. Prepare, perform, and persist -- that's the key, because none of us can choose whether or not today's a lucky day. We can only choose whether or not we're prepared for it to be on the off chance it is.

Thank you for your most informative blog -- not just this post, but all of them. I found your blog today as it looks like I'll be self-publishing my urban fantasy novel at some point early in 2012, once I understand what I'm doing. (Novel is complete. Has been for over eight years. Co-written with my husband, who's been dead for seven. I have continued to write and will never stop writing even though the process is far different with my husband dead; I will never stop and never give up.)

Thank you for all you do.

Ellie Stevenson said...

This is such a great post! Two often we forget that you don't get to be CEO (or president) of a company overnight. Equally, developing a career as a writer takes time. And the surest way to fail is to give up...

‘You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.’ Octavia E. Butler, American Novelist, 1947-2006

‘The most interesting thing about a postage stamp is the persistence with which it sticks to its job.’ Napoleon Hill, American Writer, 1883-1970

Meb Bryant said...

I'm looking at my white, house bunny thinking about how much luck there must be in her sweet little feet!

Just kidding!

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horror books said...

That's the most honest explanation of ebook success so far, which is probably also the closest to the truth.

LK Watts said...

Great post Joe. You'll get better at your craft so long as you keep writing. And you never know your next book might be the success you dream of.

adan said...

i can identify with this, thanks!

hard work and talent (whatever of it there is) preps a person for the lucky break, otherwise luck just slides by

and the new technological reach is a ground leveler

glad i found your site, thanks again ;-)


adan

Kathleen Valentine said...

I started publishing in 2006 after writing for 20 years and trying to get published through conventional means. I wrote blogged, I promoted, I joined online forums, I marketed like crazy, I wrote 14 books and my sales were pitiful.

In September 2011 I got lucky and sold 1000 books. In October I got luckier and sold 3,000. December was my luckiest month and I sold 8,400. So far January looks like my luckiest month yet with 7,000 so far and 2 weeks to go.

It's all about writing good books and luck.

PramodPai said...

Awesome,so luck is everything.I used to think quality and hard work is all that mattered.Thanks for clearing my thoughts.

PramodPai said...

Awesome,so luck is everything.I used to think quality and hard work is all that mattered.Thanks for clearing my thoughts.

Joe Konrath said...

Apparently you missed the very first thing I said: Write good books, with good descriptions, good formatting, and good cover art, sell them cheap.

Yes, luck matters. But it's harder to get lucky without talent and hard work.