Friday, August 02, 2013

Guest Post by Alan Tucker

Joe sez: I'm going to be taking a blogging break during August, but I've got twelve guest posts scheduled this month, so they'll appear as slotted.

Today it's Alan Tucker...

How to Become a Successful Writer

I know what you're thinking.

*groan* Here's another post about some guy who followed Joe's advice, wrote some books and made it big *yawn* If all that stuff really worked, I'd be rolling in dough by now.

Nope. Not what this post is about. Oh, and if you're the one wondering where you left your keys, check the bookshelf by the front door. That's usually where mine end up.

No, I haven't followed all of Joe's advice (some, not all) and no, I haven't made enough money writing to pay my mortgage or quit my day job. Most days I can buy myself a decent lunch. Yet, I consider myself a successful writer.

Huh? What turnip truck did this guy fall off of? I want to do more than buy myself lunch, thank you very much!

Yeah, I get that. I'd love to bathe in a tub full of hundred dollar bills (Joe, don't tell me you haven't done that). But, here's the thing: writing isn't about the money. Joe's told us all countless times about the struggles he went through to get where he is — all with no guarantee of success ahead of time. Don't you think he would have done something different, something easier, if it was all just about making a buck?

I've run my own graphic design business since 2001. By 2009, things had tightened up. Between a poor economy and the fact that everyone who owned a computer thought they could create their own logos and marketing materials, I found myself that summer with a lot of extra time when my kids went to California to visit their mom. I had studied English in college (mostly for lack of anything else to focus on) and I'd written on and off since I was a boy, but I'd rarely finished any of the projects I'd started. My younger daughter was fourteen at the time and I mused, wouldn't it be fun to write a fantasy story about some kids her age for her to read when she got back from her trip?

It's funny sometimes how our lives can turn on a simple thought.

I had a first draft finished around October. It took longer than expected, but I hadn't completed a piece this long before, clocking in at around 90,000 words. My daughter's reaction after reading it?

"It's really good, Dad," delivered in that teenage, noncommittal monotone that those of you with kids will know perfectly well.

With that less-than-resounding vote of confidence, that winter I embarked on researching the publishing industry. The term "Young Adult Literature" was becoming a popular buzzword and visions of Harry Potter and Twilight danced in my head. I spent many hours on the Internet, reading submission guidelines, reviewing agent bios, and learning about query letters and how to write them. I wrote and rewrote my letter, sending it to a dozen or more agents, all of whom sent me rejections or never bothered replying at all.

During my explorations, I discovered Joe's blog, among others, which offered a different perspective: self-publishing. The idea intrigued me and, combined with the knowledge that even if I found an agent that day, it would likely be two years or more before my book ever saw the inside of a Barnes & Noble, I decided to blaze my own trail.

I reworked my first draft, trimming around 10,000 words, with the help of some great critique groups and creative writing books, before contacting an old high school friend, who edited professionally, to have a look. By the end of April, 2010, my book was available on Smashwords and I had actual paper copies in my trembling hands courtesy of Lightning Source.

In many senses of the word, I considered what I had accomplished to that point a success. I've seen it quoted that eighty percent of Americans feel they have a novel within them. How many actually sit down and write it? Many more now than just a few years ago I'm sure, but the number is still relatively small. To those of you reading this post who have typed "The End" on your first, or hundredth project, congratulations! I say that with complete sincerity. You've done something a huge number of people think they can do, but few ever accomplish.

Yeah, yeah, okay, but I want more.

In December of 2010, I attended an annual book fair, held locally to benefit the English Department of our small university. Earlier in the year, I edited, laid out, and had printed a memoir for an elderly client and she told me about the event. I apprehensively took a seat behind a table near the back and set out a few copies of my book for passersby to fondle. There were fifteen to twenty local authors there, and I felt like the nerdy kid in school crashing the party of the popular crowd.

The woman I'd worked for had her books proudly on display, so I went over to give her a copy of my book as a thank you for telling me about the fair. We chatted briefly and I went back to my seat. I visited with a few of the other authors around me, discovering they were quite amiable folks, even after they discovered I'd self published my book. A while later, a woman I recognized as the author seated next to my client appeared at my table.

She smiled and said, "I picked up the copy of your book you gave to Marion [my client] and after starting it, I couldn't put it down, so I decided I'd better come over and buy a copy."

Stunned, I signed a copy and handed it to her. Hopefully I spelled my name right!

Two years and three books later, she once more left me at a loss for words. We were at the fair again and I went to her table to give her a copy of my newest book. Her eyes grew big and she thanked me before introducing me to the person seated next to her who edited a local independent newspaper. "This is Alan Tucker," she said. "Probably the best juvenile fantasy writer around."

I know there are countless other writers in the genre whose craft is far superior to mine. I did, however, believe her remark to be sincere. And I treasure it. This is a woman who earns a living as an author herself and also worked as a school librarian for many years. I shook hands and fumbled through a "thanks" and "pleased to meet you" before returning to my seat to greet fair attendees, many of whom remembered me and my books from previous years and were excited for more.

If that doesn't constitute success, I really don't know what does.

The title of this post promised a "How To", so here goes:

1) Write your book. Write it all the way through until you type "The End".

2) Edit it. Do it yourself, then pass it along to someone who actually makes money for this sort of thing.

3) Publish it. Get yourself as professional looking a cover as you can and do the things Joe and so many others have explained on this blog.

4) Repeat.

Will this lead to financial success? Maybe. Maybe not. Will this lead to becoming a successful writer? I believe so. There are literally billions of people in this world. Every one of us has an audience out there somewhere. You will never know how large or small that audience is if your work is locked up in a drawer or on a disk drive in your computer.

I'll leave you with a few quotes (unedited) I've received from reviewers on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I don't know any of these people, but their words, and others like them, inspire me every day.

oh my gods it was awsome!!!!! I couln't put it down. By the time i was done it was 1:00 in the morning:)! I reccomend this book for all ages"

this is an awesome book very descriptive definitely recommened even if it has a few confusing words"

"Love this whole series!!!so much!!!!!
So thrilling and mysterious. Even thought it rocks, the first book deserves 5000000000000000000 stars!"


I want to thank Joe, not only for this opportunity, but for alerting us to Tess's campaign. My grandmother is currently losing more of herself and her memories every day. I can't even imagine the torment and fear she experiences during her more lucid moments when she realizes what is happening to her. I pray that my small donation, and the hundreds of others, will lead to a cure for this terrible condition and others like it.

As a thank you to you, dear reader, for making it this far, I offer my latest book, Knot in Time, to you for free on Kindle August 2 and 3. My first book, A Measure of Disorder, is always free at most major e-tailers. Amazon  |  Barnes&Noble

If you'd like to find out more about me or my work, please visit my website, or contact me on Twitter or Facebook.

Joe sez: I've always believed there is a difference between being an author and being a writer.

Authors do interviews and sign books and answer fan mail and go to conferences and give blurbs and generally do all the stuff other than writing.

Writers write.

It's heady to have people gush over your work, and be on the radio, and have a one hour signing line. It's the part we all dream of when pursuing this career. 

I'd never begrudge anyone that goal, and it does feel good.

But as a guy who has achieved a bit of fame (or notoriety), I can say that I'd much rather be a writer than an author. Author stuff takes away from writing time. Author stuff also can become tedious after the hundredth or thousandth time.

So I'm just throwing out this bit of cautionary advice: don't get into this business to be an author. Praise is like candy. We love it, but it isn't good for us. And fame is exhausting. I no longer appear in public, or do interviews, and I've never regretted that decision. It was fun for a few years, but it just isn't worth the time and energy. And it certainly isn't worth trading 70% ebook royalties for 17.5%.

Again, every writer has their own path to follow, their own goals to chase. No matter which route you choose, this is a tough business. Make informed decisions. Know what you want to get out of this career. And every time something good happens, it is a reason to celebrate.

Don't do it for the money. Do it for the love of writing. Do it because you want to share your words with the world.

But never forget the money part. It's funny how priorities can change when you've been doing this for a few years. Be prepared for that.


Unknown said...

I think about "why I write" a lot lately. Alan, thanks for your words of wisdom.

J.R. Pearse Nelson said...

Thanks for this post, Alan. Gotta represent for those of us making (er…not quite) "lunch money." I took the route of sustainable and interesting career first and then gave in to the passion for words. I don't need money from writing, but hey, of course it would be nice to earn a living at something I already find so gratifying. Best of luck to all of those writers out there chasing the dream!

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

Interesting post, Alan. Validation is always welcome and appreciated, but it is, indeed, extremely satisfying to write those two words that complete a work in progress.

Alan Tucker said...

Thank you for the comments, ladies!

Cordelia, I hope that message comes through in the post. I certainly enjoy the praise when it comes, but if we're not gaining pleasure from the craft itself then we're in the wrong business.

And speaking of business, in regards to Joe's addendum, the money is definitely not forgotten. Just yesterday I updated the cover of my first book, A Measure of Disorder, in hopes of revitalizing downloads for it. You can stop by my blog for a quick history on the faux pas I've made with covers along the way.

w. adam mandelbaum said...

You can't pay bills with praise. It is easy to dilute the definition of success to dignify a paucity of result with a feel good word. I have been legacy published by the (then)big six (Psychic Battlefield, St. Martins 2000)had my book signings, my media appearances, my lower range mid five figure advance, and my fifteen minutes of fame. The part that made me feel like a writer that might one day be successful? The advance. Well, that didn't happen again. Is that success? I published an HP Lovecraft pastiche for $5.00 in a small ezine. Got praise from an editor of another ezine who thought the story was true. Was that successful? I don't think so, except for the $5.00. I have published and have been paid for a significant amount of articles, stories, etc. Was that successful writing? Not to me, it was just leaving tracks along the way.I have just entered self publishing, and am making cab fare. Is that successful? Not by my definition. It is a beginning. Just got a nice paying ghosting gig. Is that success? It is only a track left along the way, 'cause I still have to do law and stock investing to make a living.If we are honest, most of us want to be self supporting writers. To do so, would be an unqualified success. But to stroke our own egos by determining that a knitting needle result is equivalent to a ballistic missile? That ain't gonna hit the target. It will reduce the microscopic chance you have to be a full time earning writer. There is honor in making the attempt, no doubt, but the attempt is not victory, and to call it such, IMHO deserves a pollice verso.

D. Robert Pease said...

I believe we absolutely need to define what it means to be a success. And we need to have milestones along the way. When I'm honest with myself, the thing that would define success to me would be paying the bills with my writing. BUT, that doesn't mean there can't be successes along the way too. Definitely kind words, and encouragement can be a great boost. Without it, most of us probably would just give up. I write for kids, and LOVE to have some ten-year-old say "This book is AWESOME!" That can carry me for weeks. I see w. adam's point that maybe we are being a bit false to ourselves calling the milestones success, but what difference does it make if we continue to do what we love?

Alan Tucker said...


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I understand where you're coming from and figured my post might generate this type of discussion. We all, of course, have bills to pay. My writing does not pay them at this point in my career, so, by your standards, I should not consider myself a success. Does that mean that I am a failure as a writer?

I believe there are degrees of success. If my rubric doesn't match up to yours, I can respect that. But I think it's a mistake to count success solely in dollars and cents. Many trad published writers still have day jobs, as you did, and do. I would hope that you take pride in what you've accomplished thus far. Regardless of whether your writing fully supports you, you have achieved something many followers of this blog have dreamed of with your book deal. Why wouldn't that constitute success?

Hollis Shiloh said...

Also keep in mind the definition of success has a lot to do with where you start from.

I started self-publishing this year in early January. I was making literally no income before that. A few days ago, Amazon paid a couple of hundred dollars into my account. As they've done for the last few months.

That, to me, is a huge success. Making some money every month doing something I love is a huge success to me. :)

Jude Hardin said...

"The best thing we have as writers is, I think, is the adulation of fans. It's the best payback we can get."
--NYT bestseller Andrew Gross, from an interview published yesterday (8/1/2013).

Do compliments pay the bills? No. But they make the journey sweeter, and sometimes they're all we have to help us carry on.

And I call that success.

Alan Tucker said...

Hollis - Congrats to you! What genre are you writing?

Jude - Thanks for stopping by and that's a great quote, synchronicity that it was posted yesterday!

A.R. Wise said...

I know it might be shocking to some, but lots of people don't define success by how much money they make. Imagine how goofy it would be if a friend of yours told you that they just finished their first marathon, and you immediately ask, "How much money did you make?"

For a lot of writers, success comes from within, and that's not just liberal self-help nonsense. Some goals and achievements don't require a monetary validation.

w. adam mandelbaum said...

the marathon winner won--that is the only definition of success in that field. not money, but winning is objective proof of success. what concerns me are phrases like "success is a journey, not a destination." bullshit. If I represent someone on a case, I either win or lose or settle the thing. the result is what matters to the client. When I buy a stock, I either profit or a I lose within certain parameters I set. If your definition of writing success is to feel warm and fuzzy from some praise, what happens when someone says your work stinks? Are you then a failure? If it gets measured in dollars you avoid that seesaw. You made $10 or $10,000.00 regardless of anybody's review. It's objective. I understand that we write for more than money, I have a regular column on a well traveled James Bond related site that I don't make money from. I do it for fun. Is that success? No, it's recreational. Or if I want to play Buddha, and find a middle ground in this debate (which has excellent points on both sides of it) I could suggest that we forget about success/failure, and view our efforts as elevations above a zero base line. The line represents no sales, nobody even downloading the stuff for free. Anything better than that, is objective evidence that we have done better than nothing. Which is better than nothing. The danger for a writer who seeks to traverse the very narrow bridge from monetary zero to monetary hero, is to weaken his resolve by resolving that weak pecuniary results are a definition of success.

Jude Hardin said...

If your definition of writing success is to feel warm and fuzzy from some praise, what happens when someone says your work stinks? Are you then a failure?

No, it means the person who said it is an idiot.

If you're getting praise from all sides (other writers, agents, professional book reviewers, fans), then a few dissenters aren't going to move the needle.

I like to quote James Patterson in cases like this: "Thousands of people hate my books. But millions of people love them."

Money gets spent. Throughout history, many, many, many artists and writers and musicians have died broke. Does that mean they were failures?

It really boils down to how you live, and your attitude toward your work and your relationships. In the long run, money means nothing.

A.R. Wise said...

A marathon runner doesn't have to WIN the race. Just finishing was their goal. There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make money writing, and I'm not bashing anyone if that's their goal. It was mine as well, and I'm the type of personality that (sadly) equates money with success for myself. However, I cringe whenever I see anyone attacking someone else because they find joy and fulfillment in the pursuit of a favored hobby. There are a lot of writers that don't need to see money coming in to feel a sense of fulfillment from finishing a novel or even a short story. Just the act of writing and completing something is good enough. If they make $100 a month of the stories, that's awesome for them, and they're happy with it. The last thing they need is to have someone telling them they're a failure because they didn't achieve a living wage off their books. I find that sort of judgmental talk rather offensive and distasteful.

Merrill Heath said...

We all have our own measure of success with our writing. My dream is for my writing to someday provide me with enough financial security that I can retire from my day job and write full-time. But that's my dream.

My measure of success is that I make enough from my writing to make it worth my time. If I make enough to pay for a nice vacation to Europe, then it's worth my time. If I make enough to buy a new car and not have payments for 6 years, then it's worth my time. If I make enough to remodel my home or buy a house on the lake, then it's worth my time. If I simply make enough to pay off my current mortgage and live debt free, then it's worth my time. I don't have to make a million dollars to feel successful, although I wouldn't mind if I did.

But those are just the tangible results that make up success. I think profiting off a shrewd stock investment is different than writing. Winning or losing a case is not the same as writing a novel. Success in writing CAN be subjective. If I enjoy the process of writing and I'm happy with the end result, that's success for me because it was worth my time, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

As Adam said, what happens when someone says your work stinks? Undoubtedly someone will no matter what you write. If you measure success by reviews and opinions of others you're in for a tough go of it.

But success in writing can and should be measured by more than the bottom line of a cash flow statement.

Mark Edward Hall said...

I never wrote for the money and that is the truth. I do it because telling stories gives me pleasure. The money is nice, but when I hear from readers who say my words made them cry or laugh or think about something they might never have otherwise thought about, well, for me that's the real payoff.

My journey will be laid out here on this blog on August 6th, and for those of you who read about it, you'll find that money is definitely a consideration. It is in any writer's life. But for me the need to create art is paramount. I may not always succeed in creating art, but I always try.

Kriley said...

"We all have our own measure of success with our writing."

That sums it up perfectly. Finishing my first book was a success. Finishing my second was another. I sold 5 books last month and 3 so far this month so my writing is not a financial success but I have a total of 7 positive reviews and zero negative. As long as more people like my books than dislike them, I consider myself successful.

Alan Tucker said...

Let's be clear on a couple of things.

First, nothing is universally liked. Not even ice cream. (And you can quote me on that) Everyone gets negative reviews at some point in their careers. Reviews, positive or negative are only someone's opinion. So, I suppose, if you want to look at it on an individual basis, a positive review is a success with that particular person, and a negative one is a failure.

Second, I don't think you can discount the idea of levels or types of success so easily. Adam, it's clear that monetary, or physically measurable things are how you prefer to define success. Maybe you'd prefer the term "satisfaction" for some of the other things mentioned here so far like the sense of accomplishment when finishing a WIP, or the pleasure of garnering a positive review. But I still think success is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

A.R. Wise mentioned a marathoner who wins a race. What of the runner who enters and doesn't finish, but ran farther than they ever had before? Are they still a failure because they didn't finish? Or didn't win?

It's an interesting thing to examine I think, determining what we each deem success to be.

w. adam mandelbaum said...

a.r. wise seems to be doing quite well monetarily, looking at amazon rankings. to me at least, that is proof of writing success.nobody can take that away from you, it is independent of subjective definitions. congrats!!!

Alan Tucker said...

Mark - Looking forward to your post! Best of luck with your journey. :-)

Anonymous said...

Alan - Thanks for your thoughts. Regarding the discussion of "success", my personal experience is that having a big money goal can crush creativity. It might be an ok thing to think about when editing/packaging/polishing, but it sure is hard to do the initial creative part with dollar signs dancing in your head.

J.R. Pearse Nelson said...

When thinking about different definitions of success you probably want to consider that we all have different circumstances. It is IMPOSSIBLE to define success, just like it's impossible to define happiness.

My job pays more than a living wage, with great benefits and retirement contributions, plus vacation time that I use to write. I have a high bar set in terms of replacing my income with writing income. I'm also risk-averse, and it would take a LOT of $ in the bank for me to walk away from the security of my job.

With the pressure of $ off, I have plenty of time to be a productive writer. If it pays off down the road in enough income to allow me to spend more time at it, that'll be great. But lots of writers keep a job for a long time alongside their writing career. That's fine with me. I'm a hard worker.

Anonymous said...

The marathon analogy is a great one. I ran one about 15 years ago to raise money for charity. We met with world-class marathoners and they had one message: Success is finishing and not getting injured. I did that and raised money in process. There is no empirical definition of success.

Chuckles Austen said...

"It's really good, Dad," delivered in that teenage, noncommittal monotone that those of you with kids will know perfectly well.

Oh, do I know it well!

Thanks for an encouraging and inspiring post, Alan. And best of luck with your writing. Typing 'The End' is a monumental success in my eyes.

And to w. adam m.:

You can't pay bills with praise. It is easy to dilute the definition of success to dignify a paucity of result with a feel good word.

Kinda harsh, don't you think? Here, for me, are the facts.

No, you can't pay bills with praise. But like J. R. Pearse Nelson I pay my bills with a good paying day job. I don't need to pay the bills with my writing. I'd LIKE to, but I don't. Yet.

But in my mind I'm still a massive success. (Feel free to insert commentary about the delusional state of my mind). And I believe J. R., and Joe, and Jude, and J Fields, and AlanTucker, are by any measure, successful.

Free Dictionary online:

suc·cess (sek-ses)
1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted.

Everyone wants to write a book. Everyone. I've WRITTEN one. Five, actually. That puts me in a select group, and makes me successful.

I've sold copies of my book, and it adds to my income. Again, a smaller group, and a marginal addition to my success. But success.

There is no dilution of the definition of the term, here. Success is defined by the goals I set, and the accomplishment of those goals. You goals are loftier, but that doesn't make me, or Alan, unsuccessful.

I have accomplished more than I expected (I sincerely never expected to sell a single copy).

With that success, I now have new, higher goals that I intend to achieve. Check with me, and Alan, in a year or so to see if I continue to be a 'success'.

Mark Edward Hall said...

Thanks, Alan. I enjoyed your post very much.

w. adam mandelbaum said...

c. austen But in my mind I'm still a massive success. (Feel free to insert commentary about the delusional state of my mind).
You're working as an animator in L.A. hey--in my mind you are a massive success too. Cool job!

Alan Tucker said...

Thanks to Charles (Chuckles), Mark, and others for your kind words!

And Adam, I appreciate the fact that we can respectfully agree to disagree and thank you for your contributions to the discussion here.

Bill Pressey said...

As the husband of a successful indie writer I have a very unique perspective on what drives such a person.

My wife never, ever spoke or thought about money. She enjoyed writing, not the idea of being an 'author'. She knew from the start that 99% of writers don't earn enough to pay the bills, but it didn't discourage her one iota.

Not just in writing but in life, those are the people who find success - and usually the money follows as an afterthought.

In my day job I come across many self made millionaires - mostly small businessmen and women - none of which entertained the thought of becoming filthy rich at the start, but they eventually did.

99.9% of people simply won't work that hard, for that long - even if you COULD guarantee them success at the end of the road. Those that persevere deserve to have their wildest dreams come true.

And I must say; it's more fun watching someone you love achieve her wildest dreams than doing so yourself! (I got goosebumps typing this, seriously)

Elise Stokes said...

Excellent post, Alan, and I wholeheartedly agree. Just yesterday, a young reader shared her analysis of Book 3 via FB messages, piecing clues together about the mystery revolving around Emery after rereading scenes several times. She also had strong opinions of who Cassidy should end up with. I can't express how honored I am that she cared enough about the story to put that much thought into it. I tell you, that was fuel! As are the reviews I've received for Book 3 in which the young reviewer states they had docked me a star merely because Cassidy didn't end up with the boy they wanted. It's awesome! Seriously had me smiling from ear-to-ear. They care, they really care. ;)

Jude Hardin said...

Just spent 18.6 copies of
COLT at the grocery store.

Which means I get to eat for a few more days, which means I get to write for a few more days.


Unknown said...

Great post, Alan. I'm glad you made the choice to become a writer. I hope your books sell well enough you can quit your day job.

Alan Tucker said...

Bill - Love the goosebumps! I'm sure she'll continue to give you many more :-)

Elise - That's awesome! Knowing that you've written something that's affected someone like that is a terrific feeling.

Jude - LOL! Books as currency. Maybe we should bring the barter system back? ;-)

Dana - Thank you so much! I hope so too!

L. J. Breedlove said...

Money is not WHY I write. I write because I have stories to tell and I'm driven to write them. Money is an ingredient along with a computer and time that allows e to write. The more money I make the more time I have to write. But I would write even if I didn't make money (and I'm not yet making enough to cover my Starbucks bill.)

But success is a tricky word. There is the implication that when you reach tat pinnacle you will be able to quit and rest upon your laurels. But I can't conceive of a time when I would say, there, I've reached my goals, and ave succeeded. Time to stop writing and move on. That's been my viewpoint with other things, but not writing.

Writing rewards me whether I sell a thing, or even if no ne reads it. I've written stories since I was 5. I plan to still be writing when I'm a 105. Success is an invalid measuring tool for what you're you're passionate about. (Maybe it's the difference between scoring with someone you lust after, and a lifelong marriage...)

Chuckles Austen said...

Just spent 18.6 copies of
COLT at the grocery store.

Which means I get to eat for a few more days, which means I get to write for a few more days.



You're working as an animator in L.A. hey--in my mind you are a massive success too. Cool job!

Thanks! But you're a lawyer which means you worked a lot harder than me to get where you are.

Sheff said...

Alan - I'm struck by how similar your story is to mine. I too am an artist and designer. I was teaching up until 2011 when I got laid off. The idea of trying to rebuild a freelance career at that time was daunting and it still is. I had an itch to do something else, so I wrote my first novel. I had a technical writer friend from high school do my editing. I designed my own cover and released it on Amazon last month. I haven't garnered too many digital sales yet, but my wife and biggest cheerleader has been selling them like hotcakes at her office. And it's incredibly satisfying. Big painting commissions/design jobs are few and far between, but book sales happen pretty easily. The other day, I had a big nasty burrito with some of the money my wife collected and it was one of the best tasting burritos I ever had.

Lisa Jey Davis said...

Great post Alan! Very encouraging! Thanks!

David L. Shutter said...


The cover for your release looked really good. Have you considered doing freelance covers? Pretty big market for it now. Lots of competition that's been driving prices down but the really talented people can still charge a premium. If you're a real illustrator and not just a stock-manip guy (no offense to anyone) you can definitely garner some interest. Just a thought.

Sheff said...


I've thought about it. I would be open to doing it, but so far no one I know has approached me for a cover.

If you(or anyone else) are interested in my work, check my art site

I'm going to have some availability opening up shortly.

Lesley said...

Hey Alan, thanks for your post. I very much enjoyed the quotations!

I have successfully raised two daughters and a third is ending her teen years, could totally relate to the tone and even visualised the "look".

Definition of success...they are still alive and so am I (LOL).

I love to write but to dedicate the necessary time to make it a career I need to see there is a reasonable probability that effort = financial sustainability.

Alan Tucker said...

Sheff - Congrats on your book and I agree with David, your artwork looks stunning! I've never had a talent for drawing/painting people and I envy your skill :-) I wish you all the best in either endeavor - writing or art! Enjoy those burritos!

Lesley - Thank you so much and I agree, raising daughters without loss of life or limb is a great success! My youngest will be a Senior in high school this year and I shudder at the thought!

David L. Shutter said...

"I've thought about it. I would be open to doing it, but so far no one I know has approached me for a cover."


Put together a portfolio, maybe do some pre-mades as samples and post a thread on Kindleboards announcing your availability.

Like I said, LOTS of freelancers are chasing indies now and avg. prices have gone down from when I started following the indieverse. If you advertised $150-300 for a basic stock with manip and fonts (common not that long ago) you would hear crickets now. BTW, I'm what some would call a "cover junkie".

But I think you're definitely good enough to get some extra business.

And indie-vet Alan agrees ;)

Sheff said...

Thanks for that suggestion.

I will give that a shot. I had some pre-mades for a venture that didn't go forward. I could just touch them up and I'd be ready to go.

Gotta finish up some other freelance work this week, but I could have something put together pretty quickly.

LynNerdKelley said...

What an inspiring post, Alan!

I decided to look into self-pubbing after reading that famous conversation between Joe and Barry! I'm so glad I read that and chose the self-pub route!

Elyse Salpeter said...

What a great post. I consider the moment that you got your first book purchase to be the moment you became a successful author. We may not make the millions out there, but honestly, to be able to finish writing a book? Amazing accomplishment.

Mario Jannatpour said...

Great post! Thank you. I love your four points--good advice.

I just finished writing my second book recently, when I wrote "The End" it was very satisfying.

Good luck to you!

Unknown said...

Great post, Alan! Each one of us has our definition of success. I'm glad you are achieving yours. I hope your success continues.

Jill James said...

Thank you Alan and Joe. I so needed this post right now. You hit the nail on the head. Fortunately, the nail was in my head. LOL I've been so busy trying to be an author I forgot to be a writer. Right now I feel unsuccessful and I didn't know why. Now I do. I promised myself that my next book would be out this past spring and it is still not done. I'm not being successful doing this writing thing and all the sales in the world wouldn't change that. So I will write until the story is done, pull the nail out of my head, give myself a pat on the head, and move forward. Thanks, guys!

Alan Tucker said...

Thank you Lyn, Elyse, and CR!

Mario - Congrats to you and thank you as well. May there be many more after your second :-)

Jill - You are very welcome and I'm so glad the words were of some help to you. Please remove the nail. I can't imagine that's very conducive to writing — or anything else for that matter! ;-) Go finish that book!

Colin M said...

Hi Alan,

Thanks for sharing your story. I love hearing of others successes. Anyone with reviews like that is going to do well. It may be a matter of time and more titles but I have no doubt that all your personal measures of success will continue to be met. I look forward to reading your books and watching you prosper. Thanks.

Unknown said...

A good post, Alan. :)

I picked up Measure of Disorder a few days ago, and I'll get around to reading it eventually.

I also appreciate the post from someone who's not raking it in. I've got two short stories out at the minute and I'm the kind who takes my time with writing. Barely any sales, which isn't surprising really, with short stories, but I've had good ratings. I'm trying to get at least a novelette out, but it's taking much longer than I thought it would. Being a perfectionist is sometimes quite troublesome. :)

Mean Teacher said...

I like the marathon analogy, but want to add to it. As someone who has run 9 marathons and ultras (races that are over 26.2 miles), I can say in my experience it's not just about finishing. Ok, maybe the first one is, but it's about getting better over time. Setting goals for one's self, putting in the time everyday to get there, and taking a long hard look when something needs to change. Pushing yourself harder than you think you can go. Realizing that pain is "weakness leaving the body".

I am attempting to apply the lessons I have learned from running to my writing. Is it easy? No. Fun? Not always. But I am doing it.

Best of luck, Alan! You've got a great attitude.

Anonymous said...

Alan - Your writing is good. How did you make 'A Measure Of Time" permanently free??

Alan Tucker said...

Colin - Thank you! I'm beginning to find my audience. My job now is to keep writing and improve my craft. More and better stories are the way forward.

David - I fall into that trap occasionally too. There has to come a time though when it's "good enough" to let the work try its wings out in the world. Even if it's with a critique group or beta readers. You might feel it needs more work, but if they think it's ready, it might be time to let it fly and move on to the next project. :-)

Mean Teacher - Congrats to you! Multiple defibrillators would have to be standing by for me to even attempt something like that! And I think the marathon analogy is particularly apt because Joe often talks about how this career path we've chosen is a marathon and not a sprint. If we can't commit to the long haul, then maybe it isn't for us. Thanks for your comment!

Anon @9:29 - Thank you! Kobo and Apple currently allow you price a work for free. For Barnes & Noble, I distributed through Smashwords (which also allows for free books). Once all these are in place, Amazon will price match your book to free with a little prodding. There's a link on your kindle book page called "Tell Us About a Lower Price". Click it and submit the link of your book on those sites where it is free. Eventually, their system will comply.

Sharon Ledwith said...

High fives for sharing your journey with us, Alan! Every author has his or her personal route and getting that first book written connects us all! Cheers!

McVickers said...

Hi, Alan. I normally hate reading YA fantasies. Many of them are barf worthy and terribly written, even the bestsellers from trad pubs. The only YA book I could even finish was the Hunger Games. But your book was awesome, man. Read the first few lines and was hooked. You had me at tentacles.

Lucy Carol said...

I self-published my first novel 4 days ago. All the social media that I SAID I wouldn't mind doing is already getting to me. Don't get me wrong, I think I'm doing fine on it. But this isn't in my heart! I miss writing! I belong in the writer's chair, not the marketer's chair.

I'm going to go start my next book, dammit. My new series needs a little sister.

Alan Tucker said...

Sharon - High five right back. You're one of the most supportive people I know in this crazy business!

McVickers - Thank you so much! That means a great deal to me. I'm glad you enjoyed it :-)

Lucy - Congrats to you! Finding a balance is the toughest part, I think. So many things tug and pull for your attention, it can be difficult to manage. Hang in there and write that next book!