When would you give up?

#1
I mark my return to the forums after a couple of months with some anecdotes and a question I've been curious about for the past few days.

I released my first book on Amazon around 11 days ago and made 400 dollars. Depending on your parameters for success, this result can be anywhere from amazing to abysmal. I'm afraid I'm in the latter group. In my book, this is a failure.

So, I've been thinking. I'm someone who deeply enjoys writing, but who's also trying to make a career out of this. The people with a similar outlook and who don't just write as a hobby, at what point would decide this is more effort than it's worth and give up on trying to make writing profitable or even a career?

I'm not thinking of giving up just yet, mind you. My second book is almost complete and should be clocking in at 120k words, somewhere around that. Personally, I'd start to think of giving up after three or four books with subpar results.

Thoughts?

Re: When would you give up?

#2
So my friend sent me this a while back:
https://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/qm0hx2/the_reality_of_making_money_from_writing/

The gist is you'll have to write a lot and put out a lot of books. You need to find a mix of quality and quantity when it comes to writing, and it'll take years to get there. And I don't know about you but I don't see how 400 dollars in sales is a failure for a first book. That story will stay on sale as long as it's up on Amazon, so that means it has more potential to make more sales as you post more books. 

Re: When would you give up?

#3
i don't think there's a right answer, it all just depends
it's good to account for advice from your closest friends
should you stick it out, and give it everything you've got?
or should you accept you won't win every battle fought?

my advice is try not to focus just on 'success'
living your best life is what i'd say to do, i guess
make the most of every day, and love the work you do
only you decide how much your goals are worth to you

DrakanWine

Re: When would you give up?

#4

FGC_Checkmate Wrote: So my friend sent me this a while back:
https://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/qm0hx2/the_reality_of_making_money_from_writing/

The gist is you'll have to write a lot and put out a lot of books. You need to find a mix of quality and quantity when it comes to writing, and it'll take years to get there. And I don't know about you but I don't see how 400 dollars in sales is a failure for a first book. That story will stay on sale as long as it's up on Amazon, so that means it has more potential to make more sales as you post more books.
This post is literal gold.  OP is a toddler taking their first steps.  Good luck OP!

Re: When would you give up?

#5

tfisb Wrote:
FGC_Checkmate Wrote: So my friend sent me this a while back:
https://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/qm0hx2/the_reality_of_making_money_from_writing/

The gist is you'll have to write a lot and put out a lot of books. You need to find a mix of quality and quantity when it comes to writing, and it'll take years to get there. And I don't know about you but I don't see how 400 dollars in sales is a failure for a first book. That story will stay on sale as long as it's up on Amazon, so that means it has more potential to make more sales as you post more books.
This post is literal gold.  OP is a toddler taking their first steps.  Good luck OP!
OP made 400 dollars from their first book and their story has more followers than pages. I wouldn't call them a toddler taking baby steps. Seems like they have an idea of what they're doing. I think this is the wrong forum for them to be asking this question in. They should be asking about publishing on a site that has more professionals. Even though there are a fare share of people that can make a living off of RR, the forum isn't best suited that kind of question in my opinion. 

Re: When would you give up?

#10
First of all, I remember the thread where you posted and were super discouraged about even finishing the story / what to do about that. Congratulations on pushing through and doing something with what you have!

As someone who is also trying to make a career out of this, I would say temper your patience. See where more books in this series gets you because more people should discover it everyday as you post here on RR and also launch the subsequent books. If this one doesn't work out, see what you can do to apply everything that you've learned in an entirely new series. Keep writing and don't give up just yet.  DrakanWine

Re: When would you give up?

#12
You like writing lit rpg which is an hot genre right now, you can even test different lit rpgs ideas on royal road and see what gets tractions or not. I find that earning 400$ for a first book is a huge success, this book will stay your creation for your life time and 50 years beyond your death. It's a legacy that you leave behind for your children, you're creating something, you did something that you should be proud of and that your future children, if you have some, would be proud of as well.

In my opinion the size of a man's wealth doesn't correlate with his money but with his legacy.

I could write erotica/romance/litrpg but that's not the legacy that I want to leave or atleast for now.

Ask yourself if that's what you want to leave behind or if you'd rather do something else, if you'd rather do something else, go pursue that... 

Of course everybody needs to lives and earn money...

Some people sacrifice their writing passion to sell themselves in hotter genres, writing work they don't really feel about, to live off writing

Some people work a job they don't really like, to write what they love to write...

But a man's worth doesn't measure itself through his money or through his work/job
But to his legacy, what do you leave behind for your public? for your community? for your family?

You're not just your work or your book,  you're also a human being, a friend, a father, a brother, remember that if you feel diminished by your « Weak» achievements..

 Success is what you define for yourself.

Re: When would you give up?

#13

FGC_Checkmate Wrote: So my friend sent me this a while back:
https://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/qm0hx2/the_reality_of_making_money_from_writing/

The gist is you'll have to write a lot and put out a lot of books. You need to find a mix of quality and quantity when it comes to writing, and it'll take years to get there. And I don't know about you but I don't see how 400 dollars in sales is a failure for a first book. That story will stay on sale as long as it's up on Amazon, so that means it has more potential to make more sales as you post more books.

Thank you for the reddit thread! I've kinda been trying to do that to the best of my ability, but writing does take time. For now, I'm at a solid 3k - 5k words a day while I still can.
As for why it's a failure, it's because my revenue has already started to decrease. By the end of this week, I should be making 10 - 20 dollars a day. After some time, less than 10 dollars a day. Basically, it's very far away from the median american worker monthly income. I'm not american, but since that is my market, it's what I base myself on. Of course, this is about my parameters. I'm not trying to convince you it's objectively a failure or anything like that. It was just disheartening to me, especially when compared to more successful launches by other authors.

Re: When would you give up?

#14

eric_river Wrote:
i don't think there's a right answer, it all just depends
it's good to account for advice from your closest friends
should you stick it out, and give it everything you've got?
or should you accept you won't win every battle fought?

my advice is try not to focus just on 'success'
living your best life is what i'd say to do, i guess
make the most of every day, and love the work you do
only you decide how much your goals are worth to you

DrakanWine
It's good to see you've stuck with your sung style of writing, eric. Thank you for the encouragement and advice.

Re: When would you give up?

#15

kieranpierce Wrote: First of all, I remember the thread where you posted and were super discouraged about even finishing the story / what to do about that. Congratulations on pushing through and doing something with what you have!

As someone who is also trying to make a career out of this, I would say temper your patience. See where more books in this series gets you because more people should discover it everyday as you post here on RR and also launch the subsequent books. If this one doesn't work out, see what you can do to apply everything that you've learned in an entirely new series. Keep writing and don't give up just yet.  DrakanWine
Thank you! Yeah, I managed to get through that slump. And hey, it earned me 400 dollars after all. I think I'm going to do what you said, I just worry that my motivation will decrease over time after successive failures. Just the way I'm built.

Re: When would you give up?

#16

Jayrayme6 Wrote: You like writing lit rpg which is an hot genre right now, you can even test different lit rpgs ideas on royal road and see what gets tractions or not. I find that earning 400$ for a first book is a huge success, this book will stay your creation for your life time and 50 years beyond your death. It's a legacy that you leave behind for your children, you're creating something, you did something that you should be proud of and that your future children, if you have some, would be proud of as well.

In my opinion the size of a man's wealth doesn't correlate with his money but with his legacy.

I could write erotica/romance/litrpg but that's not the legacy that I want to leave or atleast for now.

Ask yourself if that's what you want to leave behind or if you'd rather do something else, if you'd rather do something else, go pursue that... 

Of course everybody needs to lives and earn money...

Some people sacrifice their writing passion to sell themselves in hotter genres, writing work they don't really feel about, to live off writing

Some people work a job they don't really like, to write what they love to write...

But a man's worth doesn't measure itself through his money or through his work/job
But to his legacy, what do you leave behind for your public? for your community? for your family?

You're not just your work or your book,  you're also a human being, a friend, a father, a brother, remember that if you feel diminished by your « Weak» achievements..

 Success is what you define for yourself.
Wise words, in my opinion. Thank you for them.

Re: When would you give up?

#18

Ayer12 Wrote:
FGC_Checkmate Wrote: So my friend sent me this a while back:
https://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/qm0hx2/the_reality_of_making_money_from_writing/

The gist is you'll have to write a lot and put out a lot of books. You need to find a mix of quality and quantity when it comes to writing, and it'll take years to get there. And I don't know about you but I don't see how 400 dollars in sales is a failure for a first book. That story will stay on sale as long as it's up on Amazon, so that means it has more potential to make more sales as you post more books.

Thank you for the reddit thread! I've kinda been trying to do that to the best of my ability, but writing does take time. For now, I'm at a solid 3k - 5k words a day while I still can.
As for why it's a failure, it's because my revenue has already started to decrease. By the end of this week, I should be making 10 - 20 dollars a day. After some time, less than 10 dollars a day. Basically, it's very far away from the median american worker monthly income. I'm not american, but since that is my market, it's what I base myself on. Of course, this is about my parameters. I'm not trying to convince you it's objectively a failure or anything like that. It was just disheartening to me, especially when compared to more successful launches by other authors.
1.) That's how sales work for the vast majority of things. Movies, games, collectibles. The people that are interested in it buy it early on then the sales start to trickle down. Granted, there are plenty of exceptions but a decline in sales is far from the norm. I can't think of anyone or any company that can just release one book/game/movie/etc and live off of it.

2.) Did you quit your job to write full time? And did it take you months to push out this book? If so, then yeah I can see why it's a failure in your eyes. But if you did this in your free time, in between your shifts at your job or your days off, you essentially made money off your hobby/pastime. There are plenty of people who spend their down time playing video games or watching TV that see zero return for what they do for fun.
3.) 400 USD is roughly above min. wage per week in the US. How long did it take you to write that book? Overall, you might have made less than a typical entry-level worker but that's pretty good for a first book where most authors will be grateful enough to make a single sale.
4.) In a way, by saying you're a failure, you're inadvertently calling everyone else with less traction than you a failure. I've posted over 100k words on here and other sites and I can't even get my follower count in the triple digits for both of my fictions combined, and I've spent plenty of money on commissioning art for my series. If you can get 400 followers and make 400 in sales on your debut, then that objectively means that both of my works are failures, right? Along with other low-follow stories.

Now, I don't want you to think I'm accusing you of saying this. I totally get your frustration. It's inevitable for all writers to want to achieve/envy the success that others have. But realistically, hitting it big on a first story is like winning a lottery. Not impossible, but definitely not something you'd plan a career around on happening. And if you managed to sell 400 USD worth of copies, part of me feels like you knew what you were getting into and that the chances of making money were slim. Pretty sure everyone else who has posted here would be more than happy to make that off their writing (I know I would be). But these kinds of threads set an impossibly high standard for a lot of new authors struggling to get readers. 

Re: When would you give up?

#19

Ayer12 Wrote: I'm not american, but since that is my market, it's what I base myself on.
Woah hold up--that's illogical. If you want to do this full-time, you base it on the cost of living wherever you are--what income do you actually need to do it as a full-time gig in your area. That makes it easier or harder for some. 


For Americans, I would also say that the number is way overstated as well--you only need probably 40-45k over here, and that's before taxes and subtracting the 5-10k for the self-employment overhead like health insurance and what not. (I don't actually know how much that costs, I threw out an estimate.) Obviously that's a modest living, but if you live in an area with a low cost of living, shop for food on sale, have good thrift stores in the area, don't go on vacations, and just generally make good financial decisions, it is enough to get by AND put away some into savings.

A lot of Americans will overstate how much income they need to make a living because they don't know how to live cheaply and feel entitled to expensive privileges like vacations and what not. Also, there's the aspect of how much of a pay cut you are willing to take.... Someone making 100k figures at the day job might not be willing to take the pay cut down to 40k, but again, that's another factor of a very personal situation to take it into account.

It is also important to remember that many "full-time" professional writers did not do it by themselves. So many full-time writers have super supportive husbands or wives that enable their hobby, bringing in the majority of the income and providing health insurance through their employers. A huge pay cut does not look so bad if the household already brings in enough to live on.

FGC_Checkmate Wrote: There are plenty of people who spend their down time playing video games or watching TV that see zero return for what they do for fun.

Or have expensive hobbies where they shell out tons of money on their boat or their camper or their new photography gear.... Writing is literally the coolest hobby because you can put as little or as much money into it as you want and potentially see money out of it if that's important to you.

I would emphasize lowering your standards, but not because other people are struggling so much worse. I mean, yeah, obviously there's TONS of writers on here who are struggling to get an audience and would love the successes that you've had (because you have had a lot of victories!). It is totally okay to have standards--just make them realistic given the market and your individual situation in life.

Whoever said RR is a testing grounds.... I would like to latch onto that point. Your market is RIGHT HERE. RR is a big place for the litRPG readers. Honestly, if I were you, I would launch a bunch of stories up to 30-50k words and see which ones take off here, and focus on expanding those into large, expansive series. If none of them start gathering traction, have an early ending point for the story and regroup. Read HereBeTreasure's posts wherever you see them, because he has amazing advice to writing to market.
 
This amazing site and community is honestly such a huge advantage over writers whose genre and target audience is separate from RR.

Re: When would you give up?

#20
Okay, it's time for real talk.

You know, most self-published writers don't even make that much money. In fact, many of them don't even make it even close to $100 dollars. If you are planning to make money on self-publishing, you aren't going to be able to make a living off of a first novel and likely not with a second. There is no making $1000 dollars every week.

Self-publishing is a long-term game.

I've had way too many people ask me about how much money a writer can make by self-publishing because I'm a writer. They are looking for quick cash or they want to make a living because they don't want an hourly job. And I always tell them the same thing. You won't make that much money. You'll be better off just finding a regular job and work on your writing.

That is the reality. It's not one that I feel is talked about or really accepted. Because being a novelist is romanticized and everyone wants to be hopeful and focus on success stories and how you can get movie deals and Netflix shows. Certainly, there is a chance. But that chance is comparable to winning the lottery. It's rare. It's very rare luck. Don't focus on being lucky.

The more successful self-published writers don't just write one book, they usually write multiple books and release as often as they can. More than once a year for some. You have to be a prolific writer. The sheer volume of books that get published through self-publishing each day will bury a writer. You have to be not only above the slush pile, good a marketing your novel, but also keep writing and releasing.