Re: When would you give up?

#22

Ayer12 Wrote: 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?
I'm guessing the reason for so few sales is the fact Amazon doesn't recommend your book. Or at least I have never seen it on my recommendations list and I avidly read LIT RPG. I'm not sure how you would go about fixing that problem though. I imagine paying Amazon to advertise it is an option. God knows I've read some real shit books on amazon because they were front and center, making them seem like real gems.

Re: When would you give up?

#23

kieranpierce Wrote:
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.


I'm American and...feeling entitled to expensive vacations? What?

For most of the other Americans I know the idea of being able to take expensive vacations is so far flung it's actually laughable. I literally laughed when I saw that. I guess it's cuz I only talk to lower and middle class people but still...

Most of us (that I know/of) are too busy worrying we're gonna die if we get sick because our health care is an actual joke lol

To answer the OPs question, though. When would I give up? Never. And -certainly- not after making 400 in 11 days. I’d be like “fuck yeah, go me! I’ll do even better next time.”  

Re: When would you give up?

#25

FGC_Checkmate Wrote: 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.

Eh, there are a few cases. Pretty sure Shirtaloon is a millionaire because of HWFWM. I understand this drop in earnings is the norm, but after the first month or so. 11 days to see a decrease in income is a pretty early cliff.

FGC_Checkmate Wrote: 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.

I'm a student with a lot of free time right now, so you're correct to assume I've made money off my hobby. Nevertheless, this is a hobby I'm attempting to turn into a career. It isn't as if I made money by doing something for fun, but instead a shot at dipping my toes into the writing scene that did not go as well as I hoped, if that makes sense. 

FGC_Checkmate Wrote: 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.
I deeply apologize for having sounded like that. It was never my intention to disparage other works by other authors who haven't managed to do the same. I'm not trying to set a high standard of success based on my own beliefs and apply it to everyone else, far from it. Your work is a success as long as you're happy with it and it brings you joy. Sadly, I'm a rather complicated individual who's negative by nature. It means that my way of viewing my own achievements is skewed. I repeat that I never wanted to bring down other books and series. I will refrain from referring to my book as a failure in the future, because you're completely correct. I'm sorry.

Re: When would you give up?

#26








kieranpierce Wrote:
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.
That's true. Some cognitive distortion on my own part. I wouldn't need more than 1000 to 3000 dollars a month - frugally and comfortably as a single guy respectively - to live around here. Still, 400 dollars doesn't quite cut it, especially since my revenue is falling and I won't make this much money every month. 




kieranpierce Wrote: 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.
Yeah, Checkmate cleared my eyes a little bit. I will try to lower them and value this victory. From 5k a month I'll also lower the bar to 2k or so, since that's around what I need. At least it sounds a lot closer to being real. I wish I could be more grateful for the things I have achieved, honestly. It's a good trait to have.



As for the short stories, I'm not really good at writing books with such early ending points. I'm more of a big series type of guy, especially since I do a lot of showing and less telling. I need a lot of words to properly develop the plot and characters. though my book so far has been reasonably fast-paced. However, I'll try to think of some plotlines and see if I manage to do that. Thanks for the advice.

Re: When would you give up?

#28

L.J.Anders Wrote: 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.
Valuable advice from someone who's clearly experienced. Thank you for your input. Yes, I've heard that one's got to publish pretty often. I've heard figures as high as "at least 4 books a year" from successful writers. 20Booksto50k on facebook has some pretty cool advice as well. I suppose I just hoped for a better result from my first book, but clearly by expectations had been way up in the sky. I'll lower them.

Re: When would you give up?

#29

Ralen Wrote: This is your first book, so the fact that you made any money at all is a surprise. You also shouldn't be comparing yourself to people like Zogarth or Shirtaloon. Those are exceptions, not the norm of how things proceed.
Yeah, and never mind their income, have you seen how much and how consistently they write? I wouldn't be able to do what the big earners of RR do every week of every month for multiple years and still keep my sanity. 

Re: When would you give up?

#30

M.J. Wrote: I'm guessing the reason for so few sales is the fact Amazon doesn't recommend your book. Or at least I have never seen it on my recommendations list and I avidly read LIT RPG. I'm not sure how you would go about fixing that problem though. I imagine paying Amazon to advertise it is an option. God knows I've read some real shit books on amazon because they were front and center, making them seem like real gems.
Sadly, my book is not eligible for Amazon ads. Probably because of the VERY problematic childhood of my main character (In order for a book to be eligible, no children can be in any kind of harmful situation or near one, something like that). As such, that is unfortunately not an option.

Re: When would you give up?

#32

Ralen Wrote: This is your first book, so the fact that you made any money at all is a surprise. You also shouldn't be comparing yourself to people like Zogarth or Shirtaloon. Those are exceptions, not the norm of how things proceed.
LOL yeah, I've done that before and I stopped, but sometimes I still can't help it.

Re: When would you give up?

#33
If you enjoy it and want to write anyway, might as well put it out there. 

I think writing is one of those things that you can't bank on having a career. There are award winning writers who aren't career writers because they can only sell a thousand copies despite their Pulitzer (really). It's a crapshoot. 

What can you do to help your chances?

I will tell you one bit of marketing advice that is commonly put out for self published authors though: Advertising becomes cost effective once you have three books in a series. If you're confident in your work and you've gone ahead and published that much, buy adds. It will pay for itself. 

Engage with the community the best you can. Make a goodreads. Make a twitter. If you have something you haven't self pubbed, then subtmit to agents. Submit short stories to magazines. 

It's a grind. 

Re: When would you give up?

#34


When sun fades and sky breaks,
After wind dies and water's drought,


Until the stars drop upon our graves,
And the last song ends to silence,


Only then, will I tell no more tales,


When moon falls and mountains shatter,
After earth crumbles and fire's vanish,


Until all cities lay rejected ruins
And the final story is told to no one,


Only then, will I put my pen down.


When planets rebel and oceans dry, 
After light fails and shadow’s graying,


Until wilderness devours every culture,
And each word is wholly forgotten,


Only then, will I fail to craft... a story

*Finished it

Re: When would you give up?

#36
Until I have at least twenty failed books published, I still believe I can make it. A first book is never going to be enough to live off. Not for indies writing on RR. (I'm a book-writer, not an endless-serial writer, so those like HWFWM or Randidly are irrelevant to my success.) Once I've got twenty books out, I'll re-evaluate whether it's worth continuing or if I'd be better off chasing trends than doing my own thing. :-3

Re: When would you give up?

#37

Asviloka Wrote: Until I have at least twenty failed books published, I still believe I can make it. A first book is never going to be enough to live off. Not for indies writing on RR. (I'm a book-writer, not an endless-serial writer, so those like HWFWM or Randidly are irrelevant to my success.) Once I've got twenty books out, I'll re-evaluate whether it's worth continuing or if I'd be better off chasing trends than doing my own thing. :-3
Twenty books is a high bar. I'm glad you can keep your motivation for that long. It's good to see you around again, Asviloka.

Re: When would you give up?

#38

Asviloka Wrote: Until I have at least twenty failed books published, I still believe I can make it. A first book is never going to be enough to live off. Not for indies writing on RR. (I'm a book-writer, not an endless-serial writer, so those like HWFWM or Randidly are irrelevant to my success.) Once I've got twenty books out, I'll re-evaluate whether it's worth continuing or if I'd be better off chasing trends than doing my own thing. :-3
That's one insane motivation. I guess, I'll give up only if Real Life becomes too overwhelming to maintain.

Re: When would you give up?

#39



KittraMcBriar Wrote: I'm American and...feeling entitled to expensive vacations? What?

For most of the other Americans I know the idea of being able to take expensive vacations is so far flung it's actually laughable. I literally laughed when I saw that. I guess it's cuz I only talk to lower and middle class people but still...
I think that you're coming at this with a bad tone for no good reason?

Thanks for dismissing my observations of out-of-touch mindsets, emphasizing how you laughed at--not the mindset--but my observation of the mindset, and lastly excluding me from my own socioeconomic status. Ugh, I feel like I should defend my points but it would take this thread really off topic because none of that stuff matters to the question at hand. 

I don't know what other people think of this thread, when one American says that there's a cultural problem of consumerism and livable wages *might* be overstated and then another American comes in saying how tough people have it here.... 

(Also, none of this is to say that I want to invalidate anyone's struggles because there really are some parts in the United States that have dried-up economically. That's a real issue, but it isn't a counterpoint to the culture of consumerism and the importance of living within your means.)

We literally have politicians thinking that a college education is a right--a more extreme example of entitlement than the one I just gave--so I don't know what to say.... Watch the news at some point? Maybe consider laughing at them instead of me?  The vacations thing was one example--replace that with new clothes or eating out at restaurants too often, or what have you that isn't actually a basic necessity.

The point was some people do not understand how to live frugally and think more money is "required" to live than actually is.... If Ayer12 is not from the United States but was going off some dollar amounts that Americans cite at face value, it can get whacky really fast depending on who's the person behind the numbers, add in regional factors like big city vs. small town (that's why I used low cost of living as the benchmark because you can write and self-publish from anywhere.), and then compound all that with the fact that some people might actually be looking for replacement incomes rather than livable incomes.

Like, I just wanted to express that holding up whatever American incomes as the definition of success was a counterintuitive and unproductive benchmark. It seemed like they found that helpful.... That's why I bothered trying to type something on the forums--to try being helpful--not to be laughed at. 

Yeah, so I don't know. I wrote way more than intended. Sorry to everyone else who is using this thread productively. :(

Re: When would you give up?

#40

Ayer12 Wrote: Thoughts?
I don't write to make money. There is no giving up. Writing is art. It's like painting, or sculpting, or woodcraft. Every time I write something, I try to improve what I've done before. I try to do something I've never tried before. I'm always reaching to attain greater heights and to entertain myself. If others are entertained, then my mission is complete. Some money would be nice too, but that's ancillary to the act of creation for me.

If you want to make money, get into a service business in a populated area. You'll make a killing.