If you're new to reading this log - it's this self-published fiction author's journey on the yellow brick road toward becoming a successful self-publisher (SELFPUBBER). I'm not the expert ... I'm the student, but I believe there is something to be learned by publishing the experiences of someone who is following the teachings and advise of the experts in the field, the successes, the legends and the giants in self-publishing.
Who are the sources? Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch are a dynamic married duo who are both successful authors of literally hundreds of books between them. They have also successfully operated their own brick-n-mortar publishing house. They both offer expert info, advice, instructions and suggestions on all things self-publishing - and they do it from both a TRADPUB and INDYPUB perspective.
Joe Konrath is one of the most successful self-published authors in the world. While this log is the musings of a newbie SELFPUBBER who has just set out on the trail into the lawless, golden valley of Self-Publishville, Joe was one of the founding rogues who forged the trail. Like DWS, JK is a no-nonsense guy when it comes to telling it like it is in the world of SELFPUB. Neither suffer fools, show quarter to lazy-asses or cower to the TRADPUB goons. I'd follow them both into battle and I fully intend on meeting them both at the top of the SELFPUB heap someday.
A new addition to the list is 'Passive Guy.' PG is an attorney who no longer practices law. While he obviously isn't offering legal advice, he does offer a sound, legal point-of-view to the crumbling world of TRADPUB and to the new, emerging world of SELFPUB.
That out of the way - as for me, for the last few weeks my writing has been sporadic. Like I've mentioned in my last few logs, my main focus is on establishing a process of consistency. That's not easy when it comes to things creative like writing, but it is possible. What you have to do is continually analyze your waking hours by looking for ways to consolidate trivialities, minimize distractions and expand and improve your most productive WOP hours. Yeah ... and if it only was that easy, but no one said becoming a successful self-published author was going to be easy. In fact, if it were easy then it wouldn't be worth much to attain.
The key concept for today is PATIENCE. My Dad used to say, "Patience is a virtue." It made me so impatient when he said that ... but the man was correct. The definition of virtue is "A quality considered morally good or desirable in a person." I would add that when it comes to becoming a successful SELFPUBBER, patience is one of the key benchmarks - those who have it and practice it are the ones that can grab the brass ring. Those who don't possess it will fail.
Upon what am I basing that assertion? Well, recently both Sensei Dean and a guest blogger for Joe Konrath, Stephen Leather, another very successful SELFPUBBER, both spoke about the 'Rule Of Ten Thousand,' which is basically the view that it takes ten thousand hours to acquire any skill. Master Leather broke it down this way:
"Let’s say you write for two hours a day. That means you hit the 10,000 hours after 5,000 days, which is what, thirteen years? And yes, that’s probably how long it has taken most writers to reach the stage where they get published. Writing for the most part is a craft. A skill that has to be learned. Very few writers published the traditional way see their first book in print. It’s often their fifth or sixth that is good enough to be published." (Read the article in its entirety here).
Now Stephen Leather is referring to getting published via TRADPUB here, but his real point has to do with becoming a successfully published writer whether via TRADPUB or SELFPUB.
After reading that, I'm sure there are a bunch of newbies who just either got a sick feeling in their stomach or want to punch someone in the mouth, but I'm here to state as a newbie that ... on average I think it's accurate! Yeah, there's always the outliers ... the lotto winners ... the overnight sensations, but as I've told dozens of fellow new SELFPUBBERS, to become successful in any endeavor first you must set goals and those goals must be within your power to achieve and those goals will take patience to achieve.
Show me a writer whose core goal is 'to sell as many books as J.K. Rowling' or as many eBooks as Amanda Hocking (on their first release) and I'll show you someone who in a few years will be telling their friends, "I wrote a book once but I gave it up ..." Unrealistic goals lead to unreasonable expectations ... which almost always leads to failure in any endeavor.
Goals should be attainable but just out of reach. Goals are concepts ... not dreams. Goals should never be set so low that you can attain them in one action and they should never be set so high that they can only be achieved by Almighty intervention. In order to achieve goals you need to set objectives. Objectives are smaller in scope, more defined, less comprehensive than goals. Once achieved, objectives bring you closer to your goals.
Think of objectives as rungs of a ladder. Your goal is what is at the top of the ladder - the reason why your climbing the ladder. So, getting back to the outliers - you should never set your goal to "win the lottery" or "to be the next J.K. Rowling" or the next Amanda Hocking or the next Joe Konrath, for that matter. That's what dreams are for!
This is where the virtue of patience comes in. I want to become a successful SELFPUBBER. As in all of my endeavors, I'm the type to want to first create a process. Not everyone's like me - my wife doesn't create processes, for instance, and she's highly-successful in her endeavors. She just jumps in. Fine, whatever ... I'm just telling you how I go about it. Here's my process:
My Goal: Becoming a successful SELFPUBBER.
Definition of Successful here:
1-Earning more money than I spend to SELFPUB 2-Earning a steady income
4-Earning the respect of my peers
5-Garnering the admiration of readers 6-Garnering critical acclaim
(Keep in mind, that is MY definition of success. Each individual has their own definition and as you can see from my list, success comes in levels.)
A.) Write and publish 3-4 novels per year.
B.) Continual Quality Improvement of:
i.) My writing craft
ii.) The editing of my novels
iii.) Cover Designs
C.) Expand and maintain my social networking channels.
D.) Continue to edify myself in all things associated with self-publishing.
I could add to those four and continue to break those macro objectives into even smaller tactical objectives but those four are the foundation of my SELFPUB process.
As for the Rule of Ten Thousand ... I understand it, I agree with it and I accept it ... and now I don't concern myself with it one bit! Keep in mind, all rules like that are created from backward-looking, in other words a rule like the RO10K was devised and proven after the fact - people had to accomplish it and end up successful to make it a rule ... understand?
My point: None of the people who have proven the RO10K had it on their minds before the fact. Even writers like DWS, Konrath and Leather all acknowledged that they had to 'go back and do the math' with their own writing careers AND THEN found the rule to be accurate.
So my advice to my brother and sista SELFPUBBERS, especially the newbies like me - set your goals, create your objectives, make writing consistently your core discipline, minimize your distractions and get to work ... write (more), write (better) write (now)!
(Please feel free to leave comments – your comments can be as helpful as anything I write for others. I hope this series turns out to be less my talking at you and more – a group of like-minded storytellers that self-publish or intend to. Peace & God Bless!)