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Tag: National Novel Writing Month

How to Make Big Money in Self-Publishing

NaNoWriMo Update

I’m still plugging away with my scaled-back version of National Novel Writing Month. So far, I have been able to keep my goal of 500 words per day (with one exception, which was more of a math error). Big thanks to the Willamette Writers writing cohort for keeping me on task. Just cleared 50,000 words on my latest MS.

Sour Grapes for Breakfast

One of the things I like about NaNoWriMo is that it gives me an excuse not to work on sales and marketing my existing titles Jackrabbit, Powwows, and Fester. I may be no great shakes as a writer, but my writing’s positively stunning compared to my salesmanship and marketing skills. I just don’t like it. Yet, I want people to read what I’ve written, of course. I’m not really looking to make a ton of money here, I’d be happy to break even on my out-of-pocket costs for the editor, the cover artist, and other fixed expenses.

So I have succumbed, at what I hope is a tolerable level, to the self-publishing industry’s legion of people, businesses and services who will make your book a “best seller” for the right price. Being naturally suspicious and tight-fisted, I always do a little research before shelling out any money. Scammers abound, and I’ve always know that the quickest way to make big money is to sell other people “secrets” of how to make big money. I recently read an article about a woman who charges $1,111 per hour to “channel” “Jesus” to Hollywood celebs and other rich idjits. If I only had a smidge less morality, I’d be on that action like Paula Deen on a plate of deep-fried Twinkies.

So I always look a little askance at the myriad of opportunities for self-published authors to make a bundle by forking over some program or another. At the same time, I’m completely cognizant of the fact that I need help marketing and selling, so I’m just going to have to suck it hope and hope for the best.

Recently, this has taken the form of paid advertising, which is pretty much a given for any self-published author. I’m a kinda techie guy – or at least I used to be – but the online advertising systems used by the likes of Facebook or Amazon are really complex and not at all intuitive. Early attempts at advertising on these platforms had been unsuccessful, so I started hunting around for some reasonably-priced advice.

In the course of my searches, I stumbled upon a plan that is so simple in its efficacy and audacity that I have to tip my hat to the author. There was a teaser article about this person’s formula for advertising success. The piece of advice given in the article was to essentially ignore the Average Cost of Sale (ACoS) metric on the Amazon Advertising dashboard. I could do this easily, as my ACoS figures are downright depressing. This guy seemed to be on the right track; the hook was set.

Of course, he had plenty more useful advice to offer, and was, in fact, going to write a whole book about his Amazon advertising secrets. The book was still in the process of being written, but if anybody wanted to get in at the ground floor, he had established a Kickstarter campaign. Out of morbid curiosity, I checked out the Kickstarter page and was amazed to see that of his $5,000 goal, he had raised a whopping $16,547!

I was awestruck. He had already cleared five figures and he hadn’t even written the book! I did a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, and came up with the number 3,100. Based on the price point of similar book of his, and the typical 80/20 ratio of paperback to eBook sales, along with Amazon’s cut – his Kickstarter campaign had raised the equivalent of the sales of 3,100 copies of his book, which, I hasten to repeat, hasn’t even been written yet. Of course, he’s going to have to come through on the promises he made to the Kickstarter funders, and that’s not peanuts. Still, he’s basically got the equivalent of 3,100 copies of the unwritten book out the door. Sure, that’s chickenfeed to a lot of authors – but not me. I’d be over the moon to sell 3,100 copies of a book.

Truly, this guy has it dialed in when it comes to selling self-published books about self-publishing. And as sour-grapesy as this post sounds, I will buy a copy of the book when it’s finally released, just out of respect for this guy’s sales acumen.

Makes me think I should go into writing books about self-publishing. However, on the whole, I think I’d rather just be a spiritual adviser to the rich and unfulfilled. I will call myself “Brother Mysterioso,” and charge rich idjits $1,112 an hour to channel the spirit of Rip Taylor.


The Write Month to Increase Word Count

In general, I’m not a huge fan of November. The last vestiges of summer are long gone, the tress are bare and here in Portland we can look forward to another eighteen months or so of continuous rain and gloom. (But on the bright side, it’s still better than Buffalo!) Also, there’s the downside of the Holiday Spirit being rammed down our throats like the force-feeding of a paté goose . Bah, humbug.

When I got the opportunity to join a Willamette Writers writing Cohort, I decided to take advantage of it and signed on. In a previous post, I mentioned that I had stumbled on a story that would be an excellent framework for a sequel to Fester, and had be vacillating on whether or not to pursue that, or continue on with a new novel MS with which I had been struggling. I decided to eat my vegetables before going after dessert, and that I would finish the current MS before starting on the Fester sequel. The Cohort seemed like a good way to provide the new story with some momentum.

The Cohort meets several times a week for support and “write-ins.” At the first check-in meeting, I felt a bit intimidated. A lot of the Willamette Writers seem a lot more put together and organized than I am. A couple had whiteboards with outlines of works in progress, plot points, notes etc. (I typically don’t write that way: I just kinda wind up the characters and see what they do, then write it down.) There was also talk of a writing tool called Scrivener which seemed interesting, but since I have an actual legit copy of MS Word, I figured I’d just stick with that.

Immediately on the heels of the Scrivener discussion, a couple of folks started talking about what sounded like “Nano Rhyme-O,” which I figured was some sort of lightweight writing app for poets. Actually, it was shorthand for National Novel Writing Month; i.e. NaNoWriMo, which happens every November.

NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging people to write. The primary goal is to write a 50,000-word novel (or the equivalent beginning of a novel) during the course of November. You “win” NanNoWriMo by reaching this goal; it’s on the honor system – the primary reward is the satisfaction of cranking out a lot of words in a short amount of time. I think you may also get a pumpkin sticker.

To achieve 50,000 words in a 30-day period requires writing an average of 1,667 words per day – no mean feat, especially for someone who is A) employed full-time, and B) fundamentally lazy, like me. I decided to shoot for a more reasonable goal of 500 words a day, which I could pull off in a reasonably focused hour of writing. Unfortunately, I blew that goal on the second day of the month, due to a math error (I prematurely carried the 1). Nonetheless, I’m plugging away and getting the word count up. I’d actually like to be done with the current project this time next year, and take an honest whack at the 2022 NaNoWriMo with the Fester sequel. Ersten dingen zuerst, as the Germans say. So pleases excuse me, I have some storytelling to do.