For most of my life, I knew I was going to be a writer.
But I didn't know my fifteen-year-old son wanted to be a writer. Not until I saw him working on a story. It wasn't for school. He was writing it just because he felt like it. And he didn't even tell me about it.
Naturally, I asked to read it, and it made me laugh out loud. It needed some work, so I gave him some tips, and when he incorporated those I thought it was actually good enough to be published.
So I did a rewrite, fleshing out the story, adding some jokes, ramping up the suspense.
The result is the first part of a YA serial novel called GRANDMA?
It's Talon's story, characters, and scenes, embellished by Dad.
And it's now available for 99 cents on Amazon.
It was fun writing about zombies, and fun writing with my son. We're hoping to release a new section every few weeks, until it is novel-length.
It also has an afterword by thrilleromedy bestseller Jeff Strand.
When Talon hit the Save and Publish button on KDP, a big smile on his face, I thought about how extraordinary the publishing world has become.
I got my first rejection letter at 18, and wound up garnering more than 500 of them, trying to break into this industry.
Newbie writers, who never worked in the legacy world, have no idea how good they have it right now. It took me a decade of trying to impress the gatekeepers before I got a break. Those were hard, depressing, years where I busted my ass. And then once I finally got published, I spent eight more hard, depressing years busting my ass. I've signed books at over 1200 bookstores in 43 states. I've been to dozens of writing conventions, conferences, and book fairs. When this blog began, I was known as the king of self-promotion, and I spent more of my work week marketing than writing, all while trying to make ends meet with the little amount of money I was making.
In eight years, I made about $350,000 writing. That's about $40k a year, and I spent a lot of that on travelling.
Since 2009, I've made $1.6 million by self-publishing. Not only has it been gratifying, but it's been a lot more fun, and a lot less work, than my legacy years.
Talon makes $40 a week, picking up dog poop. He turns 16 in October, and is looking to buy a car with the money he's been saving for years, and he has talked often about supplementing his allowance with a fast food job in order to get gas money.
If GRANDMA? sells as well as my other short stories, it should make between $2k and $6k a year. But we anticipate there being five parts, all 99 cents, and then that'll be a book we'll sell for $3.99.
I've never done YA before, and I've never done a serial novel released in installments before, and I don't know if the zombie genre still has juice in it, so I don't know how well GRANDMA? will do. But if the series does modest business, Talon has a shot of making more than $40 a week. With a little luck, he could make a few hundred a week. At 15 years old.
Now he obviously has an advantage having me as a father and a co-writer. But if Amazon and Kindle didn't exist, I wouldn't be able to offer him that advantage.
It truly is the best time in history to be a writer. The are no longer any boundaries. You can work with whomever you want to, at your own speed, get paid monthly, write about anything you want, do very little marketing, and still reach readers.
During September, I'll also be releasing nine Jack Daniels tie-in stories, written by writers who followed my franchise guidelines. By 2014 I hope to have several new Jack Daniels novels, written by other writers, self-pubbed and earning.
As writers, we can do whatever we want to. We're only limited by our imaginations.
What an amazing, incredible time to be alive. How lucky we all are.