“This has now become the best way in the history of mankind for a writer to earn money. It may be one of the greatest ways to ever make money, period.”
It is a great time to be a self-published writer. Joe Konrath, the author of the above quote, should know, he has made $100,000 in three weeks, a record for self-published writers.
The key to his success seems to be specific to the Amazon Kindle platform more than anything other thing he has done to promote his work over the years. And, surprisingly, social media has played little role in his success. He writes:
People aren’t buying me because I visited 1200 bookstores in my career. They aren’t buying me because I have a popular blog about publishing. They aren’t buying me because they love my old books.
I made $100,000 in three weeks from people who have no idea who I am. If they knew who I was, they would have bought those titles years ago. Because they’ve been available for years.
I know I have fans. I know I have some name recognition. But the sales they bring are paltry next to the marketing machine which is Amazon.
How do I know this for sure?
Because all of my other books were (until recently) on other platforms, where they did mediocre compared to bestselling authors.
James Patterson is selling well on Kindle, but he’s also selling well on Sony and Kobo and Apple and B&N. On Kindle, I’m outselling many Patterson titles. That isn’t the case anywhere else.
So it isn’t my name or my past that is responsible for this success. Nor is it any marketing efforts I’m doing now, because I’m not doing any. I haven’t visited my Facebook page in six months. I have a fan page but don’t know how to use it. I’ve never bought an online ad. I’ve got Twitter followers, but they’re writers, not fans.
Apparently, writers should not be less concerned about Twitter and Facebook presence — social media does not seem to be a sales driver — but more open to the idea of giving some of their work away on the Kindle, a strategy Konrath has pursued. If you can’t stomach the idea of giving work away, you could offer your ebooks for less than $9.95.
Konrath’s success suggests that self-publishing, for the most part, can make a writer more money than the traditional publishing option. Unlike traditional publishers, Amazon incurs virtually no cost in keeping your books “in print” or listed for sale on their servers. Nor is Amazon looking for the next James Patterson and therefore ignoring you and your books because they haven’t instantly made millions. These two factors create a situation where any author able to tell an exciting story can make money.
One more fact suggests that sales of self-published books will increase: Amazon’s Kindle is the biggest selling reader and by far the market leader, which means that more and more people will be reading on Kindles, increasing the potential audience.
And the best part of it is that writers are no longer at the mercy of editors and traditional publishers. Nor are they any longer at their whim — today it is the marketplace directly that decides the worth of a book.
What do you need to be successful as a self-published author? You need to be able to tell great stories. What makes a story great? To answer that question, you need to know your target audience because it is reader taste that today determines what makes a great story in the new publishing paradigm. How do you catch their attention? You need to offer some of your work free or nearly free. And you need to keep writing and publishing your work. Which means that you need to have patience, persevering in the face of adversity — Konrath’s success comes after two decades of rejections.