In today’s post, I want to provide a different type of article - one aimed at helping those in my audience who are also authors & writers (or dream of becoming one!).
Robert J. Crane is a fantasy and fiction author. My wife absolutely loves his books! He is prolific, in every sense of the word, and one of the most successful self-published independent authors I know (easily making $300,000+ per year from book sales alone).
In this article, I want to share his 10 tips for succeeding in the self-publishing space. You can read his full, original article here titled: How To Make A Living As An Indie Author (however, it is 7500+ words long, and uses a fair amount of swear words).
If you would like to watch the video version of my synopsis, just click HERE or watch the video below.
Tip #1: Be Calculating
Before Robert was a full-time author, he worked in the financial services industry. During that time, he became very comfortable with tracking all sorts of numbers and carried this skill into his writing business.
He encourages new authors to track things like:
number of books sold
daily words written
monthly expenses and profit
Also, he says he achieved success because he made a plan and stuck to that plan no matter what. His plan was essentially:
Write a lot of books
Get those books in people’s hands (even for free)
Get the readers hooked so they want more
Make a profit.
In all, success in this industry will not happen by accident. It will be difficult, but it is absolutely possible.
Tip #2: Write Fast
The actual numbers on this advice vary depending on your skill and genre, but the heart of it rings true n matter what: You are capable of writing more and faster than you ever have before, and if you want to succeed, you will absolutely have to push yourself to find out what your limits truly are.
Successful authors = Prolific authors
It’s just that simple. Obviously, there is more that goes into this - but there is absolutely not less. More books leads to more readers which leads to more opportunities for success and connection and income.
Just put it this way. What if you knew all of your dreams were only 1,000,000 words away? How fast would you write to make them come true!
Tip #3: Learn Business
Robert goes into a lot of detail about what has worked for him, but for my summary, I will provide you with the two books he highly recommends every writer must read:
Writing is as much business as it is art. We need to internalize this truth if our books and stories are going to have the kind of impact we know they are possible of achieving!
Tip #4: Learn Your Craft
No one is going to buy a bad book just because its available. No one is going to support your dream if you don’t write with and strive for excellence.
How you improve your craft looks differently depending on your genre and style, but the point is to not let your craft fall away while you chase success.
You are, first and foremost, a writer. Take that calling seriously and do it with excellence!
Tip #5: Be Obsessed
Writing is not for the faint of heart. If you want to make a living from your books - then you better be willing to work twice as hard indefinitely.
There are no easy wins in this realm. You must eat, sleep, dream, and breathe your writing if it is going to achieve the success you desire.
Robert reminds us that it is possible, but only for those who truly go after it.
Tip #6: Market
I love Robert’s simple definition of marketing: “help people who are looking for a book like yours find your book.”
The heart of great marketing really is that simple. Figure out: who your target audience is, where they are, and what they want to read - the write those books and reach those people. Rinse and repeat until you’ve achieved the level of author success you want.
Tip #7: Don’t Be Afraid To Give Your Work Away For Free
If you’re familiar with online marketing at all - then you are probably familiar with the age-old argument of free vs. paid. On the one hand, free usually garners you less quality “leads.” But at the same time, you typically get 10x as many. For Robert, the free strategy has worked phenomenally well. It’s this strategy that helped him reach 6 figure status within 18 months of launching his writing career.
“Whatever promotion hurts you the most will be most appealing to your readers.” - Edward W. Robertson
Think like a reader. What would get you hooked? What promotions have caught your eye? Free is a strategy each one of us must consider.
Tip #8: Never Stop Learning
You are never going to know everything you need to. The answers are never going to be crystal clear. And that is exactly why so few succeed.
Keep learning. And when others are frozen by indecision or insufficient information - press on anyway. People aren’t interested in the book you almost wrote. They won’t find you through a promotion you almost ran. They can only react to what you have actually done - and the only way you will be continually motivated (and confident) to act is by continually learning (i.e. podcasts, books, blogs like this one ;)
Tip #9: Don’t Be Afraid To Fail BIG
For this point, Robert recounts a few of his hard-learned lessons. Like making only $12 his first year as an author, or losing thousands of dollars through a book project that flopped.
Oftentimes, your failures are signs telling you the next steps to take. Each failure is a lesson and an opportunity to do better, to write more, and to grow.
You can endure more than you think you can. You can risk more than you think you should. And you can go further than you think is possible.
Tip #10: Keep Writing
For this last piece, I want to share with you all a full quote from Robert’s original post.
“In every year of my financial services career, I interviewed people. I’d listen to their stories, hear them talk about their work lives. Every day I did that, I put myself in their shoes and imagined what my life would be like if I had their career. Sometimes I’d shudder, sometimes I’d wonder what it’d be like if I’d made the choice to do what they did. Sometimes I’d wish I had. A lot of times I wished I had. Especially when things got bad.
Since the day I started to write full-time, I have never once imagined myself as anything other than a writer. I have never wanted anyone else’s life or job for my own, and I have never wanted to be anyone but me.”
That, my friends, is why we write - because it is not just something we do, it is a fundamental piece of who we are.