Hi, guys! Hope you all are doing great! Been working like a mad dog behind the scenes over here…a mad dog, I tell you! Which means I hope to have more announcements coming soon.

But today I am writing to let everyone know that the Kindle-All Stars’ Resistance Front is now available in Amazon’s Kindle Store…just in time for the holidays! Yeah!

I am really excited and honored to have a short story and an essay included in this project…alongside Harlan Ellison and Alan Dean Foster and a small army of forward-thinking, talented, incredibly hard-working indie writers.

So I hope you will check it out! For less than a dollar, you can pick up 32 short stories and a few essays, and help out a good cause: The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Makes for a great gift!


Apologies for the the radio silence. I am working on the eleventeenth rewrite of Lookaway Dogs — it’s almost done! — so I’ve been trying to keep my nose to the grindstone and away from the pretty lights of the Interwebs.

But I thought I’d pop in to let folks know that I’ve been interviewed by Tony Healey (aka @fringescientist). You can check it out here, along with interviews of the other Kindle All-Stars.

Besides putting together this awesome series of interviews, Tony is also a fellow contributor to the upcoming debut release of Kindle All-Stars: The Resistance Front, and the author of Frank.

Anyway, I hope you’ll check him out. I’ll be posting more this week, so I hope you will forgive my brevity. I have a paragraph that needs to be read for the 27th time, no joke! I might change a comma this time. Very tricky business.

In the meantime, I hope you all are well. And to all those NaNoWriMoers out there cranking away….You can do it!


Join the Resistance!

While I have been been working to finalize Lookaway Dogs for publication (among a million other things — 999,999 of them Toddler-related), the Kindle All-Stars Machine has been grinding tirelessly towards the launch of the first Kindle All-Stars anthology, Resistance Front. Not only am I honored to have a short story and an essay included in this project (squee!), but I am doubly honored to be working with such amazing, talented, and incredibly hard-working people…all of them volunteers.

I received the manuscript yesterday for proofreading, and it is awesome! Readers will definitely get their money’s worth: 32 stories for $.99. And all profits go to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. I am very excited…

…but I am trying to stay focused. I am doing my damnest to get Lookaway Dogs live by the end of the week. In the meantime, if you’re feening for some great fiction and want a sneak peek ahead of the crowd, I hope you will consider becoming an advance reader for Resistance Front. Any help will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance, guys! I hope this posting finds you well. Stayed tuned. The next couple of weeks should prove to be pretty busy around here…which reminds me…who’s doing NaNoWriMo this year?


How Can You Join The Resistance?

If you are interested in receiving an Advance Reader Copy of Resistance Front, please email Laurie Laliberte at KindleAllStars@gmail.com so she can put your email on file.

**Your email will NOT be shared. Furthermore, it will be used for this one purpose and discarded. You will NOT be flooded with spam.**

Here are the basics:

1.  When we are ready to share it (within the next 2 weeks), the ARC will be sent to you in .doc format.

2.  We’re asking you to read it and pre-write a review (more on that in a minute).

3.  On the day the book goes live on Amazon, we will send out emails, tweets (with the hashtag #ResistanceFront), and post to facebook to alert everyone involved. We would like you to purchase the book for 99 cents on Amazon and post your review.

If you’ve pre-written it, you’ll just need to copy and paste.

After Amazon’s fee, the remainder of your 99 cents goes directly to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The book should be live during the last week of November or the first week of December. When concrete dates are available, they will be posted here.

Then you’re done. Your purchase on Amazon is like any other ebook, in .mobi format, readable on any Kindle device.

If you have any questions not answered here, please direct them to Laurie at the email address above.


Some people in my life have expressed concern as to why it takes so long for me to get writerly things done…and why haven’t I painted the back porch yet? I’ve got two words for you, Fat Cat — er, I mean, peeps in general: the Toddler.

Now, I can’t blame everything on her — not anymore anyway — she knows what’s what — it’s just that between the two of us, we have an incredibly hectic schedule. Of course, everybody says that these days. So, with the Losing My Religion series behind us, I thought now would be a good time to show just how crazy-busy our schedule is.

Take the other day, for instance:

Since this Sunday’s Third Ninjas Omniscient writers’ meeting is to be hosted by the bad-ass Ninja S, who has a great fondness for fresh-pressed apple cider…and since Ninja S has an uncanny ability to describe wounds and gore with incredible realism (like she’s experienced it)…and since she is a bad ass, it seems only prudent that I arrive to said meeting with fresh-pressed apple cider (and an invisible saber-toothed tiger).

So the Toddler and I set out to Oak Glen, where apple-picking season is in full swing, signs are bragging on the fresh-out-of-the-fryer mini cider donuts (which are as good as they sound), and everyone’s running around in clothing that can only be described as “rustic.”

Since we are, as I’ve said, very busy people, we decided to go straight to Los Rios Ranchos, a working apple farm on Wildlands Conservancy preserve land, where they press their cider right on the premises.

Apple Orchard at Los Rios Rancho ~ Oak Glen, California ~ October 13, 2011

Naturally, before we went to collect our cider, the Toddler reminded me that we had to inspect the duck pond for…you know, ducks. (Terrible weather, huh? 😉 )

Duck Pond at Oak Glen Preserve ~ Wildlands Conservancy ~ October 13, 2011

We heard more ducks than we saw — a lot of suspicious quacking and rustling in the cattails — probably, ya know, National Geographic activity — but a few coots showboated around for us. The Toddler decided to focus her bird-watching on Common Birds of the Reeds, but personally, I think she was just working on her pose.

After the duck pond, it was off to the petting zoo to ogle the goats, and then to the main store where they sell apple cider and…honey sticks.

Everybody loves honey sticks!

Being on a tight schedule, we loaded up our goodies and headed for the grocery store…and wouldn’t you know it? I spotted a deer from the road, so I had to pull over and take a pic. Can you see him?

Do you see it? Look slightly left of center. (Still waiting for telescopic lens app for iPhone - erm, never mind.)

The deer-spotting incident set us back 4.32 minutes in our schedule, so we really had to pour on the steam and crank up the car to 50 mph to make up for lost time. I think, however, the free T-shirt begifted us by the über-friendly staff at the Yucaipa Fresh & Easy was worth the rush. They cram them into these cool giant coasters. I don’t even want to open it, it’s so cool. 🙂

Yes, I know...photo-bombed by my own dog.

By the by, the “L” on the bottom is for Lovely. Yes, I wear size Lovely. Now you know. 🙂

Yum! Don't worry...Ninja S gets her own. :)

So now you know why things move at the speed of snail around here. Murphy knows I try my best, but a lady’s gotta do what a lady’s gotta do. And if that means rushing home with the Toddler to drink ourselves sick on apple nectar and watch Kipper, whaddaya gonna do?

We loves Fall!


IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Writerly things occur every day between the hours of 3:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. at our house…which is to say that we are mere days away from launching Lookaway Dogs…which is to say…well, yay!


"Sunrise Kaho'olawe Hawaii" by Jason Ornellas via Flickr.com ~ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

"Sunrise Kaho'olawe Hawaii" by Jason Ornellas via Flickr.com ~ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

I started writing this series as a way to explain my change in direction as an author. The indie movement has been a complete game changer for me. Besides the instant gratification of self-publishing and a fair shot at making an income from my stories, for the first time ever, as far as my writing career goes, I know exactly what to do. I got this. I don’t know if my efforts will yield newsworthy results, but it doesn’t matter. For the first time ever, I feel like I’m down on the field with other like-minded, like-crazed writers doing what I’m wired to do…and I’m happy.

But it took me an insanely long time to write this series, and here’s why: I am basically regurgitating and repackaging what I’ve been reading for the past several months — which is a ton of information to cram into a few articles — and I am painfully aware that it’s all been/being said over and over, and that things are changing as I write this.

Just in the duration of writing this series, Amazon opened up their French Kindle store, released their new ereader, the Kindle Fire, and signed a four-book deal with Traci Hohenstein (an indie author with only one book out so far).  (Many thanks to David Gaughran and his always timely blog). Also, yesterday Amazon announced their new Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Imprint, 47North.

It’s impossible to write anything on this industry without it immediately becoming obsolete, but that’s okay. I didn’t set out to write some sort of definitive primer, just an elaborate explanation of where I’m going and why…and for the folks who are interested in joining me, the equivalent of a map drawn on a napkin. The resources out there for indie writers are tremendous, and I hope, if anything, this series has served as a helpful point-in-the-right-direction for any writer thinking about taking the plunge. (And continuing in that spirit, I’m putting together a page of resources that I’ll post soon.)

But as I’ve been writing this article series and preparing for my own imminent publication, I’ve noticed something. Maybe I’ve just been reading too much, but it seems a lot of folks involved in indie publishing are starting to couch their discussion in more cautionary tones. Perhaps a big part of it is simply because so many people who spoke so definitely on the subject are now publicly eating their words, and nobody wants their suddenly silly-sounding quote pulled up from the ether and retweeted.

Anyway, I realized that for those who have not been following epublishing headlines, a quick foray into the wilds of Google on account of my humble articles might lead folks into seemingly perilous waters, fraught with doomsayers crying over bubbles yet to burst and the self-cannabalizing race to the bottom, and even some already established indie writers intimating that if you’ve missed the first two waves of digital publishing, you better catch the Holiday 2011 wave…cuz it’s the last one.

Smell familiar? That’s right. You’ve been paying attention. That subtle reek is called fear.

Maybe it’s because things have been going so swimmingly. Though I’ve only been awake to indie digital publishing since March, I’ve enjoyed a spring and summer of seemingly daily stars-in-my-eyes headlines. My guess is that as things start to settle into business-as-usual, people get a little panicky. Where’s today’s overnight millionaire announcement? I bought a ticket, you know.

There is, of course, the long tail of indie writers who aren’t making it like they hoped. They’re disappointed, it’s understandable. But for those who haven’t yet “made it,” it’s not like this is a one-time shot. Forget the fat lady. It isn’t up to her. It ain’t over until you give up. Time to write another book.

By the way, you’re going to see this over and over again in your research of indie publishing (look at me, I’ve already signed you up and packed your lunch), so I’m just going to get it out of the way and say it: This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. If you’re in it, you’re in it for the long haul, so bring food (hence, the lunch I packed for you).

Anyhoo, maybe the doomsayers are simply afraid of sending other writers down the rabbit trail and unwittingly to their own demise, and so offer a sort of caveat, some moral disclaimer fastspeak to blame-proof themselves just in case others follow their lead and fail. PROCEED WITH CAUTION. THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES. THESE RESULTS ARE NOT TYPICAL. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

Not me. I say, go for it. Only go for it in only the most epic way, pour-your-heart-in-it way. Don’t worry about typical results. You’re not shooting for typical results, are you? I’m not. If I’m going to fail, it’s going to be spectacular and involve skidding and sparks and an explosion or two, dammit!

The future is what you imagine it to be.

If you see a future rosy and brimming full of new readers from all over the world hungry for great stories every single day unto infinity, guess what? Your energy and enthusiasm and optimism and hopes and dreams are going to propel you through the work that must be done, and those readers will find you. This is how I imagine my future. (Hello, India, Germany, France, Spain, and China! As soon as I find good translators, you and I are going to become lovely friends…and we’re going to have a great time together.)

Fear is a big waste of time.

If you’re too busy worrying about the economy to paint your future optimistic, you’re going to act out of fear, clinging to your soul-sucking job and fretting about layoffs instead of busting your ass on your novel. Tell you what, if you get up one extra hour early and write, your whole day will be happier. People will notice. Will it save you from being laid off? Possibly. All other things being equal, would you want to keep a happy employee on board or a sour-faced employee? And I know you don’t care about keeping that crappy job, but you must…if only to spur you out of bed in the wee hours to pursue your dream. Regardless of whether you can afford to one day soon tell your boss to take this job and shove it, at least each day, before you have done anything else, you will have given over time and effort to your dream…and to me, that’s the only way to live.


"Thumbs Up" by yngasctmagfi ~ deviantART.com ~ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

A Level Playing Field

Really pay attention to this: You are competing on the same level playing field as most other authors right now.

This bears repeating.

You are competing on the same level playing field as most other authors right now.

This may change in the future. Who’s to say? But right now we all have the superpowers, and it’s on.

Think about it. You are not shut of any resources any other author has access to. You can produce a professional quality ebook using free software. You can build your audience using free platforms. And you get the same 24 hours a day that every other writer gets…including Mr. James Patterson.

You have everything you need to be successful at this writing gig.

But, you protest, you have small children, a long commute, church obligations —

You are a free-thinking, free-willed individual.

Let your kids watch “Aristocats” for the fourth time that day and write. Take public transportation or carry a digital recorder on your commute…but write. Take 15 minutes of “prayer” time to sit alone in the pews and get in a couple hundred words of your vampire chick-lit story. Trust me, God wants you to write.

If you are truly a writer, you will choose to write.

But what about Luck, you want to know?

Well, yes, there’s luck. Look at Konrath, that lucky bastard. Money just raining down on his blessed little head. Has nothing to do with the hundreds of bookstores he personally visited for his traditionally published books, or the thousands of books he’s signed and mailed off, or the thousands of handshakes, exchanges, and chats he’s had with readers…not to mention the impressive number of books he’s written. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with the tremendous resource he has provided to writers for free, with honesty, generosity, and passion, through his incredible blog, “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.” Some blokes just have all the luck.

Riiight. Here’s the truth. Lady Luck is not some fairy-dusted fickle goddess one must attract through shiny baubles and pretty poetry. Oh, no. Luck resides within, like a thorn jammed right beneath your unworthy little hide…and she’s no lady. She’s the voice that tells you the truth…that you’re not working hard enough, you’re not working fast enough, you’re not working smart enough. She’s the foot in your ass, and she takes her offerings in blood, sweat, and tears…but she pays in spades.

So make your own damn luck.

But you worry it’s too technical for you, it’s too complicated, it’s too hard.

If it’s not fun, don’t do it.

I get that self-publishing is not for everyone. If it’s not for you, why do it? And I mean that. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself down a path that’s not right for you, and nobody will judge you for not doing it or sticking to your guns on the Traditional Publishing Dream.

But if you really want a piece of the digital publishing pie, best to quit your whining and suck it up. Hire out what you don’t want to do. Just figure it out. And don’t forget to…

…Love Thy Work.

For someone like me who is eager to cut to the chase, this new industry is a godsend, truly. Trust me, I have no antagonistic feelings towards the traditional publishing world. In fact, I don’t feel I have turned my back on it. I’m just pursuing a new option, one that really fancies my tickle.  😉

I’ve been running on a nervous energy of possibilities these past few months, my fingers drumming, pressed up against the thundering pulse of the indie movement…no, dug in deep, tangled in the tendons. Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic, but I dream in feeds, no lie. I can hardly express how much fun this all is for me. I feel more creative than I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m smiling all the time. I feel like I know something HUGE nobody else knows amongst the 3D people in my life.

The best part is I’m not worried about the results so much as I’m worried about the work; the edits, the cover, the copy, the extra material, the formatting…all the wonderful new things now under my control. And I love it. I had no idea how much fun this could be. I have direction with my work. I’m figuring out production details of future e-releases. I’m writing today’s stories and worried about the ones waiting to be written. I’ve never felt so much freedom in my life…and I haven’t even gone live yet! Digital Publishing has taken the long treacherous road between writer and reader and shortened it to a clickable link. I can reach out and touch readers all over the world. I truly feel all powerful.

So this article series — hell, this blog! — is dedicated to anyone who’s got a dream. You really are all powerful, and your own limitations are yourself. You and each of you know exactly what you need to be doing, so get off your ass, quit reading this blog (after you’re done, of course — and thanks for reading! Come back tomorrow!), and take a step down the road to your own bliss. If you do this, you cannot fail. Listen to Uncle Ben: “With great power comes great responsibility.”


So go, take the plunge. Do your honest best…and then try harder. And good luck. I wish you the very best good fortune and fair weather. Come back and let me know how you’re doing, give an interview, share war stories, offer tips and shortcuts, any happy reason to cheer you on and talk you up…and I will do my best likewise. Wish me luck! 🙂

Here I go-o-o-o!


Coming Soon:

Art and Cover Design by Jon McConnell ~ http://jonmcconnell.blogspot.com/


Photo Credit: ktoine ~ Flickr.com ~ Creative Commons

Even with the indie revolution firing cannonballs at the floundering megaship of traditional publishing and raking in the doubloons, writers are afraid to jump ship…even unpublished writers who have nothing to lose. Why is this?

Blind faith.

It’s understandable why so many writers still believe in traditional publishers. After all, they’re the ones who brought us all of our favorite books growing up. It’s the paradigm we know and are familiar with. It’s our childhood. It’s been this way all our lives. And you know how people just love change.

Digital books are still very new. No one’s yet grown up on them. That, of course, is changing as I write this. One day, my daughter will find an iPad 5 in her childhood belongings and say, “Aww, remember this old thing? I read such-and-such on this! I wonder if it’s still on here….” The artifacts will change, but stories will always be stories.

Clearly, there are a lot of factors that go into a book’s success, only half of which is writing it. Many important decisions have to be made in order to produce the book before it can be deemed fit for public consumption, from editing, copyediting, and formatting, to cover design, jacket copy, and distribution. Traditional publishing houses have been handling these decisions all along with beautiful results. They built the foundation upon which we stand — they have been in the business of making and selling books for decades — some publishing houses for over a century! — and for that, we are grateful.

So what makes me think an indie writer can do better for themselves than a publisher?

Because traditional publishing houses are in the business of making and selling books, those paper-and-ink artifacts that require manufacturing, warehousing, shipping, and for the estimated 40% of books returned unsold by stores, pulping. But more importantly, they are in business primarily to make money for their shareholders, not necessarily further an individual author’s career and financial well-being (ie., YOU). It’s extremely important for authors to remember that.

Indie writers are not in the business of selling books. They are in the business of writing and selling primarily ebooks, stories packaged and formatted into electronic files under their own unique brand. Most importantly, they work only for themselves; every decision is based on how they can benefit their own bottom line, their own career, and, of course, their readers.

Even though digital publishing is still in its infancy, it’s gonna grow up to be the biggest kid on the block. By now, everyone knows it…including publishers. Still don’t believe me? Check out any of the Kindle Bestsellers’ Lists and count up how many indie titles are up there.

So why are people so scared? I think it’s because they still equate indie publishing to being a substandard sort of DIY approach to traditional publishing, but indie and traditional are in truth two entirely different animals. And who’s to say who knows best in these wild and woolly times? But one thing I know for sure, indie writers are laying down the foundations of digital publishing now, and there might be no better time than now to jump in and take a chance on  yourself and be a part of the shaping of this new and exciting industry. (Dang, I feel like I should be passing out brochures and finger foods here. Scone?)

If you’re still in doubt, here’s the question you need to ask yourself: Do traditional publishers really know what’s best for your book?

Let’s take a look:

1. Editing and Proofing:

Traditional?  Once your book is sold, you work closely with your editor to make your manuscript the best it can be. But the truth is, if you’ve been fortunate enough to attract an agent/editor’s attention and gotten the thing sold, you’ve probably already invested hundreds of hours vetting it with beta readers, and revising and spit-polishing the thing into a gleaming supernova. Even so, once within the stables of a traditional publisher, you still must work with an editor until your manuscript is deemed “accepted.” Then you get another portion of your advance payment. (The rest is usually released upon publication, typically months down the road.)

Indie?  The work’s the same. You’re still going to spend hundreds of hours vetting your novel with beta readers, revising and spit-polishing the thing into a gleaming supernova. Only once you’re done, you get to choose the editor you want to work with — and there are hundreds of experienced and talented freelance editors out there — and make the final decisions on any changes.

2. Format:

Traditional?  Your publisher decides the best format, paperback or hardback, to manufacture.

Indie?  Digital publishing is instant…and free. You also happen to know that your target audience likes larger font and enjoys dragons drawn in the margins. You can do that. You want to make your work available in paperback or hardback? You can do that easily for a few hundred dollars or less with POD publishing, and you don’t have to worry about warehousing or shipping.

3. Print Run:

Traditional?  Somebody in sales is talking to someone in marketing, and someone else is mixing it all together to somehow scry out your future sales (assuming a 30-40% return rate) and basically setting a limit to the number of your books they will sell.

Indie?  Ebooks are limitless and available for order 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (assuming servers are well-protected from the forecasted zombie apocalypse), for all practical purposes into perpetuity.

4. Distribution:

Traditional?  It is up to your agent to solicit or entertain offers from foreign publishers and work out all the legal mumbo jumbo that goes along with this. It takes a while. It also takes a while (and many percentage cuts) before a check comes your way.

Indie?  But you know your story would appeal especially to German readers. You don’t need to wait for anyone’s permission or approval. You can make it be so on your own. Do your research and invest in a good translator. Don’t have room for that in the budget? Get creative. We are living in an age where out-of-the-box thinking is not only revered by the masses, but essential to survival.

5. Launch Day:

Traditional?  You may or may not get a launch party hosted by your publisher, but you most certainly will get about 30 days to see how your book is going to fare. If it doesn’t perform well in this 30-day time frame, it doesn’t bode well for its longevity on the market.

Indie?  You can throw your own launch party if you like…you can even attend in your jammies from the comfort of your own home. But whatever you decide, it doesn’t matter. In fact, some folks quietly slip their book online and promote it later when they have time. There’s no expiration date, and you can promote it as long and as often as you’d like. But keep in mind — and you’re going to see this on every indie writer site you come across — there’s no better promotion than the next release. As a writer, your time is almost always better spent writing new stories.

6. How Much Money Did We Make?

Traditional?  In addition to an advance, authors typically receive 8-15% royalty on trade paperbacks sold. Authors receive two royalty statements a year, and so it’s difficult to say exactly how a book is doing on any given day. And check out Simon & Schuster’s weighty royalty statements.

Indie?  There’s no advance money, but authors can earn up to 70% royalty on the sales of their digital titles, 30% for the lower price range. And compare the above with the instant! reporting available from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing or Barnes & Noble’s PubIt! sites, not to mention payment of royalties in about 60 days via check or EFT.

7. What’s Next?

Traditional?  It depends on your contract, but really, your publisher decides this based on what they feel they can sell.

Indie?  It’s up to you. You can do whatever you want. You can write short story series, illustrated screenplays, or goth children’s books. Whatever makes you rub your hands in glee and lean forward over your keyboard. Because you know down here on the ground floor, in the shoving and pushing that goes on in Twitterverse, you will find your own.

 ~ In Conclusion ~

Jesus, the guy who works in sales and marketing, does not love you. He is there to further the goals of the company he works for. He can only follow the directives of his superiors. The numbers will be the numbers, and even Jesus can’t change those for you.

At the end of the day, the only person you can count on to work the hardest with your best interests in mind is yourself. Keep in mind, the work is the same. To be successful in any kind of publishing, you still need write with all your passion, edit with all your sensibilities, and reach out to readers with all your genuineness.

And, of course, you’ve gotta have faith in yourself.


Check back tomorrow for the final installation in this series: Losing My Religion, Part 5: You Are All Powerful.



Photo Credit: Zazzle.com

  ~ How Much Do Traditionally Published Authors Make? ~

In the 1989 release, “Beyond the Bestseller: A Literary Agent Takes You Inside the Book Business,” literary agent Richard Curtis writes in the chapter entitled, “P&L”:

“Others among us may realize that publishing is a tough, unpredictable, and treacherous business, and perhaps the people who play for such high stakes deserve a handsome profit for the risks they take and the capital they invest (though it must be said in all fairness that 15 or 20 percent is not exactly a windfall profit). I don’t know the answer. But I can safely say that the profit-and-loss worksheets of most authors I know are a lot more depressing than anything I’ve seen from publishers.”


Fast-forward 20 years later, and you’ll find that things haven’t changed much on this front. On the popular collaborative blog Genreality, New York Times Bestselling Author Lynn Viehl shares in detail the stats of “Twilight Fall,” the sixth book in her popular Darkyn series, to show just how much a bestselling author makes these days:

“After expenses and everyone else was paid, I netted about $26K of my $50K advance for this book, which is believe it or not very good — most authors are lucky if they can make 10% profit on any book. This should also shut up everyone who says all bestselling authors make millions — most of us don’t.”

Ms. Viehl posted a follow-up seven months later when she received her next royalty statement:

“My income per book always reminds me of how tough it is to make a living at this gig, especially for writers who only produce one book per year. If I did the same, and my one book performed as well as TF, and my family of four were solely dependent on my income, my net would be only around $2500.00 over the income level considered to be the U.S. poverty threshhold (based on 2008 figures.) Yep, we’d almost qualify for foodstamps.”

Fortunately for Ms. Viehl (and her loyal fans!), she is not a one-book-a-year author. Having written 47 novels in 6 genres (since 1998), I think it’s safe to say she is one of the most prolific professional writers working today. With each new release, she reinforces her existing audience and attracts new readers…which makes me wonder if her numbers would be as high as they are if she had only produced half the work (which would still leave her firmly in the “Incredibly Prolific Writer” category). Just goes to show how much hard work goes into making a living on the back of this beast we call Publishing…or is it the other way around? (The publisher’s portions of sales was over $450,000, and Viehl guestimates they netted about $250,000.)


Still not convinced I’m not just being a party pooper? Science fiction writer Tobias Buckell has surveyed and collected novel advance data from 108 science fiction and fantasy authors. Survey says! “The median advance for a first novel is $5,000.”

I remember the look on my husband’s face when I told him this. It wasn’t one of optimism. It was more a look of impending doom. I think he was boggled that I knew this and still persisted in pursuing this writing scheme. Fair enough. But what else could I do but keep barking up the only tree in the park?


 ~The New Rich~

But everything changed back in late 2007, when Amazon introduced the Kindle and Kindle Direct Publishing. (Thank you, Mr. Bezos!) In just a few short years, e-reader ownership has exploded through the roof and into the stratosphere, and the publishing industry as we know it has been turned on its head. Indie writers have been mining gold, and the Interwebz are buzzing almost daily over Cinderella stories. People just love to see people get rich. I’m no different.

And what’s just fantastically, awesomely great about the indie writer community (actually, the whole writing community at large) is how willing everyone is to help each other out, including sharing sales and income stats.

Check it out.


Since going the self-publishing route, J.A. Konrath, bestselling author of the Jacqueline “Jack” Daniels mystery series, and the man behind the hugely popular blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, has graduated to an upper echelon of tax bracket to make all envy.

In his enlightening blog post, “Time Investment,” Konrath reported an income of $2,295 from Kindle sales alone in January 2010. Twelve months later, his income for January 2011 (just that month) was about $42,000 (including sales from Createspace, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble). This equates to a 2,000% increase in his income in just one year. He says it took him four and a half years to earn $42,000 from “Rusty Nail,” published by Hyperion.


Michael R. Hicks, author of the science fiction series, “In Her Name,” writes in the introduction of his indie publishing guide, “The Path to Self-Publishing Success”:

“In February, I made over $500 from Kindle sales (prior to that, I made an average of around $300 a month). In March, that grew to $2,500. April: $7,000. Then in May, we’re talking real money: $15,500, and in June, my royalties were almost $29,000.

“For July, as I’m writing this…well, for July I’m looking at making at least $30,000, with my last six-week royalty report showing $44,000. Over a thousand bucks a day. And that’s just from the Kindle store, not including anything else.”


According to a Washington Post article on the “e-book gold rush,” romance author Nyree Belleville, who writes under the pseudonyms Bella Andre and Lucy Kevin, never earned more than $21,000 for any of her 12 books published by her traditional publisher. Indeed, Belleview had been dropped by her publisher in late 2010. So she started self-publishing her novels. How is she doing? Belleview’s first quarter earnings for 2011, a little more than a year after she started self-publishing? $116,264. Not too shabbeh.

The killer quote in the article was by Belleville herself: “Isn’t this awesome?!

Heck yeah! I don’t even know Ms. Belleville, but I’m happy for her. I love to see people succeed wildly, and I hope her success continues to grow.

~So You Want to Be a Billionaire?~

Yeah, me too, so freaking bad. But is everybody going to have these kinds of results? No. Of course not. (Dammit!) According to Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, an ebook publishing and distribution platform, Smashwords has less than 50 authors making more than $50,000 a year, and a lot more more who don’t sell a single title (Source: Washington Post).

So what’s the real dealio? Is self-publishing gonna make me rich or what?

There’s no guarantees in life — (dammit again!) — but the way I see it, you can’t lose by trying. The start-up costs are minimal…chump change compared to other businesses I’ve been involved in. If you somehow gum things up — you know, start flame wars on reader forums, don’t bother properly editing and formatting your ebook, or have covers that epitomize pure ugliness — or simply can’t get your “brand” to catch on, you can always start over under another name. (Of course, if you’re arguing with readers over reviews and TPing their forums, then maybe you’d be better off pursuing forestry.)

In the meantime, there’s nothing holding you back from pursuing traditional publishing at the same time. Though I didn’t exactly paint a picture of rosy contentment for writers traditionally published, I am not shut of traditional publishing. They’ve still got resources, connections, and distribution outlets self-publishers can still only dream about. Right now, the only way to get your book into a big box store is through a traditional publisher. It may not be the only game in town anymore, but it’s still a viable option. Lots of indie writers vet their manuscripts on the traditional side to see if they can get a worthwhile deal before they release it themselves.

Many writers who still dream of the big book deal worry about the taint of self-publishing ruining their chances at any traditional deal. Well, fuggetaboudit! This is the new slush pile, baby, and writers are being summoned to the lofty heights of Fifth Avenue daily. Think of self-publishing as a chance to shine, a sexy portfolio of your best work (that happens to earn royalties). Surf the tsunami of crap and show them what you’ve got!

In conclusion, I’m going to state the obvious. And though it’s needless to say, I’m gonna say it anyway, in big honking letters:

Your biggest, most important investment will be the time and effort and passion spent writing your stories. That’s where the money is. That’s always where the money is.

So go, write, spin your special brand of gold. Your readers are waiting.


Photo Credit: Cesar Bojorquez aka tj scenes - flickr.com

~ How to Get to the Top of Mt. Olympus ~

Just like most other writers, having been raised on the romantic and mystical view of the publishing process, I have The Dream. There are many variations of The Dream, but it goes something like this:

In a fit of madness inspired by genius, the Writer goes on a three-day writing binge, sustained only by near-lethal amounts of caffeine, twenty packs of cigarettes, and vending machine sandwiches, downloading at mythic broadband width speeds from the Heavens Above, at the end of which said Writer collapses into a blissful sleep, unaware that the quiet manuscript sitting on the desk is about to change a generation…and bring said Writer immortality and outrageous fortune.

But during edits, the Writer loses faith in the manuscript. Thankfully, the Supportive Roommate (forever memorialized in the dedication and in subsequent interviews) rescues it from the round file and sends it to New York unbeknownst to its Creator.

Naturally, the manuscript is discovered in the slush pile of a Well Known Publisher by an up and coming Junior Editor. This event defines her unprecedented publishing career…along with the record-breaking preempt her publisher pays to secure publication rights after the Writer astutely hires Agent Barracuda who launches a bidding war.

After a stellar book launch that goes without a hitch, the Writer enjoys a noteworthy and praiseworthy career, lauded by legions of fans and critics alike, and immortalized on the silver screen and in a long-ass Wikipedia page.

It’s a nice dream, but it’s hardly illuminating in terms of the path one needs to take to achieve such literary celebration in the gleaming gardens of Mt. Olympus (aka the NYT Best Sellers List). I want to know what I need to do in order to get there. Really. What incense do I gotta burn, what animal do I need to sacrifice, what god should I worship in order to get my heinie a spot by the gently wafting fans and bowls of peeled grapes yon High?

Can someone give me some directions, please?

Perhaps it’s my age — I’m getting persnickety and alarmingly eccentric by the hour — but my old plan of building a writing career looks an awful lot like running around and asking for permission and acceptance and crossing my fingers and hoping for the best. In traditional markets, it’s a pretty long and convoluted path for a story to find the end-reader…not to mention it typically takes at least a month to hear back on short fiction submissions, and sometimes as long as six months or more! And the book publishers who do still even accept unsolicited manuscripts often cite long response times. And remember that even though you have a great story and even though an editor may love your story, whether or not you receive an acceptance for publication depends on whether your work suits the tastes of an already existing and cultivated audience of readers.

Anyway, I’m getting too old and impatient for that. I don’t want to hurry and wait, hurry and wait. I want to go, go, go already! This is real life. I have a family. I need to make the time I spend away from my family working on this dream benefit them now, not in some hazy future that will undoubtedly include college tuition payments.

I may not have publication credits to my name yet, but I’ve got *cough*-plus years invested into my writing career. I’ve got the manuscripts to prove it. I think I am a fair judge of my work. I can find and cultivate my own audience: people tend to find their own. I’m also a lifelong reader, and I think I can recognize crap when I step in it…or write it.

These may not sound like prestigious qualifications for a publisher, but they’re the ones I’ve got. And so I am proud to announce that I have formed a new publishing company and will be publishing my work through Seven Left Turns Publishing, Inc.

How’s that for some direction? 🙂

~ We’re Going to Vegas, Baby! ~

I haven’t given up on The Dream — I’ve just decided to let Mt. Olympus come to me. In the meantime, I’m going where there’s better odds, where I have a higher chance of seeing a return on my investment in the near and foreseeable future. I’m going to that Vegas in the Cloud, where the casinos of mass digital distributors like Amazon and BN spin their algorithms to the fickle tune of a global audience of millions of readers, all greedy-hungry for new content….and I’ve got what they want. Mwah-ha-ha-ha!

And just like the real Vegas, at the very least, I know where to find it. There are maps and brochures and rest stops along the way, created by the recent thousands who have traveled before me. It may not have the same perks as traditional publishing, but I’m practicing my trade. I’m a working writer. I’m practically guaranteed to end up with at least a free cup of coffee and a couple of new readers for my efforts.

And that sounds like a damn good way to begin an epic journey to me.



Tomorrow I ask, “Can You Really Afford to Take a Vow of Poverty?”


"The New Gold Rush" by Angela McConnell ~ Please share and link back! ~ This artwork is available under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license and was filmed before a live studio audience ~

~ I Was Raised Traditional Orthodox ~

As a teenager I fed voraciously on my monthly issue of Writer’s Digest, and I read to pieces my copy of Richard Curtis’s, “Beyond the Bestseller: A Literary Agent Takes You Inside the Book Business.”¹ Nerdy reading for a high school kid, I know, but I loved it, and I wanted to learn everything I could about the publishing business.

So from a pretty early age, I knew about the consignment system, discounting, payment upon acceptance, the notoriously long and complicated journey author’s royalty checks must travel, payment escalators, the advantages of having an agent, and the like.

As you can probably imagine, I felt pretty entrenched and invested in the traditional publishing model. Hell, I didn’t even think of it as a model. It just was the only route to becoming a Successful Writer (ie., finding an audience and earning an income). I certainly didn’t want to deal with the stigma of self-publishing, driving around with a trunk full of books and pressing a business card into the hands of every person I came across.

After high school, I spent the next *mmph* years working on my craft and reading about query letters, novel proposals, and sales pitches. I also read a lot about author etiquette, how to appropriately approach agents and editors at conferences, how to respond to rejections, and how long one should wait before following up on a manuscript request. Folks in publishing were rock stars in their shining towers on Fifth Avenue, and agents stood at the door behind the velvet rope checking your name against some Cosmic List of Good Luck Shines Down Upon Them.

It never bothered me that this was the case. That was just how it was, and there was no point worrying about it. I just knew I needed to write a damn good story and play by the rules of the game. Hopefully, I’d sell a short story to a market notable enough that would get my foot in the door with a great agent, who would introduce my work to an enthusiastic editor of a publishing house willing to invest in me. What else could one do but keep writing and keep hoping? Sally forth! and Tally ho! and all that rot.


But then Amanda Hocking happened. A regular Josephine who writes great books managed to bypass the velvet ropes and long queues in Manhattan and climbed to the top of the heap by herself, without the benefit of a publisher, using only Twitter, duct tape, and two “AA” batteries. Rags to riches. It’s a great story. The best part is it’s true. (Except the bit about the duct tape and two “AA” batteries.)

But Hocking wasn’t the only one scaling the heights of the Kindle Top 100 Lists. Don’t believe me? Check out this spiffy table (created by Derek J. Canyon) of last December’s Kindle sales figures of 26 indie authors (compiled by Michael J. Sullivan).

Around this time, Irish writer David Gaughran was not only inspired to try out self-publishing for himself,² but he built a hugely popular platform for the indie movement in a very short amount of time, resulting in the successful launch of his popular ebook, “Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish and Why You Should.”b

In the Introduction, Gaughran writes of his own conversion to Self-Publishing:

“I have written a couple of books and several short stories. I spent 18 months sending queries to British and American agents, collecting more than 300 rejections before coming to my senses and taking back control of my life. I still remember the day: Sunday April 3, 2011. The day my life changed forever. The day I decided to become a publisher.

“I had been in bed with the flu all week and spent most of the time coming to terms with the changes in the publishing industry. Barry Eisler had just walked away from a $500,000 [advance] to go it alone, and self-publishing star Amanda Hocking had just signed a $2 million deal with a New York publishing house. To me, these two developments, while in direct opposition to each other, were proof of the bona fides of self-publishing.”

I will remember that week. It was like someone flipped on all the floodlights. Writers were blinking in the sudden illumination and hope, going, “Wait, what? Really? Really? And I can do this too?”

My own reaction was to read every single post on Hocking’s blog from Day 1. Then I followed the links to the successful self-published writers she had learned from and read those writers’ blogs. I became a regular attendee at the Church of Konrath and quickly converted to Self-Publishing. And believe me, I’m not the only one by a long shot. A quick Google search will reveal thousands and thousands of indie author blogs promoting self-published titles and sharing tips and insights from their own self-publishing experiences.

Yep. No doubt about it. We are witnessing a digital gold rush, a mass conversion of faith. It’s an exodus to the New Promised Land, a crowded, noisy, huge parade of writer-rock-star-hopefuls…and the best part? You’re invited.


But what about this New Promised Land? you want to know. What’s it like?

Well, walk with me a ways, and I’ll tell you all I know…tomorrow. 😉


¹ I don’t know how many times I’ve read “Beyond the Bestseller,” but it’s a lot…and I still love this book. It may be nonfiction, but Richard Curtis tells good stories — each chapter/essay is graced with fun anecdotes and mischievous humor — and he’s just a delight to read. He is on my list of Dream Agents. We would be great friends, Richard and I. Any agent willing to dress up like the Swami of New Deli with a kosher salami slice in his turban for a client is someone I would want representing me. 🙂

I should also note that Curtis is incredibly forward-thinking and has led the charge into the digital frontier. In 1999, Curtis started E-Reads™, “the oldest independent e-book publisher in the field and an innovative leader in the modern book industry.”

² David Gaughran has two enjoyable short story titles available on Amazon: “If You Go Into the Woods” (which also includes bonus story “The Reset Button”) and “Transfection.” His self-publishing guide, “Let’s Get Digital,” is also available as a free .pdf from Mr. Gaughran’s website. This is excellent reading for the writer considering joining the ranks of the Indie Parade.