Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: The Newbie’s Guide To Publishing

The Successful Writer


Becoming a successful writer depends, completely, on your definition of “success”. Success for Writers

Success As Money is the most uncontrollable goal you can set.

Sure, there are things that can be done to enhance a writer’s chance of making money; but, none of them is a sure bet.

Success As Readership is a goal that’s easier to reach if you’re willing to give away lots of copies of your work.

Combining success goals is probably the most reliable way to find “success” but, if you never define the word, you may never know if you’ve reached it… 

So, what’s a writer to do if they honestly can’t seem to define the kind of success they want to pursue?

Perhaps, reading a book by an author who was successful with traditional publishing then went on to become more successful with self-publishing?

An author who loves the money he makes but has other goals wrapped up in his success-strategy?

An author who has a highly developed sense of humor?

An author who wrote the book that’s over 350,000 words long and is called The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing (Everything A Writer Needs To Know)?

An author who’s name is Joe Konrath?

The guy I talked about and shared a video of in the past post, The Best Book On How To Be Successful As A Writer?

Yeah, that guy

So, this is a very long book but it’s only $2.99 on Amazon.

And, because it’s a compilation of four years of Joe’s blog, it’s in handy blog-sized chunks.

Plus, it covers nearly any aspect of working toward nearly any success goal you can imagine.

It does have typos in it; but, do check out my past post concerning typos—A Book Review That Teaches The Author Something About Typos . . .

And anyway, even though I’m always brought up short when I notice a typo, it somehow just doesn’t seem to matter all that much when reading Joe.

He’s a very personable writer.

And, even though I have no interest in genre-writing and Joe is a genre-writer, he still “Speaks” to me.

So, if you’re just not sure what “success” should mean to you as a writer (or, if you’re someone who thinks they may want to be a writer) this is the best book I’ve yet found to help you massage your mind and figure out your own personal path toward “success”

Here are some of Joe’s ideas from the book:

“Luck Is Important

“I say this all the time. In fact, I think it’s the #1 factor in determining success in this business. But I’ve never specifically identified what luck is. In essence: Getting someone within the industry with enough power and money to recognize they can make money from your work. That’s luck. It involves having the right book, in the right place, at the right time. Too soon, too late, wrong person, not good enough — these all can minimize your luck. But hard work, paying attention, and being willing to roll with the punches and accept criticism can maximize your luck. Still, at the end of the day, it always comes down to a roll of the dice. No one said it would be fair, easy, or fun. But if this is your dream, it is worthwhile to pursue it.

“Why do I pursue it?

“First, because I love to tell stories. I think it’s a fundamental part of the human experience.

“Second, because making a living doing something I love is the whole point of life.

“Third, because I’m ensuring my little place in history.

“The most important thing I can do as a human being is be a good husband and father. And yet, who remembers husbands and fathers? How many can you name that you don’t personally know? But writers — everyone can name a dozen writers. That I’m able to reach people, and at the same time become immortal through my work; that speaks to to the essence of what I believe humanity is. As a species, we love to create things. I’m doing my part and making my mark, in a way that makes me thrilled to be alive.

“Understand The Industry

“The publishing industry is broken. No doubt about it. Any business that allows returns, where a 50% sell-through is considered successful, where no one can figure out why things succeed or fail, is fundamentally flawed. But the more you know about how things work, the better you can manipulate the system. Good decision-making comes down to facts. The better informed you are, the likelier your decisions will be correct. Listen. Ask questions. Follow examples. Experiment. Take chances. Stay alert.

“The Harder You Try, The More Books You’ll Sell

“You will not become a bestseller by doing all the things I tell you to do, no matter how logical or well-informed I appear. You will not become a bestseller through your blog, your touring, your speaking efforts, your internet efforts, or you social networks. The only way you will become a bestseller is to have your books available, at a discount, in as many places as possible. And that’s beyond your control. That said, every little thing you do to sell your books can help your career. Books sell one at a time. If you’re the one that sells them, one at a time, its one more that probably would not have sold without your efforts.

“The Race Is With Yourself

“You can’t ever compare yourself to any other writer. EVER. This isn’t like the business world, where certain positions have a salary range. You can make $100 a year, or $5,000,000 a year, with no discernible difference in your output or your quality. If you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to yourself. Monitor your successes. Learn from your failures (and if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.) Try different things, make mistakes, grow, adapt, evolve. Your peers are a tool you can use to better yourself. But they are NEVER something to aspire to. Your only aspirations should be within your control. Which brings us to:

“Set Achievable Goals

“Goals should be within your power. In other words, anything that involves a yes or no from another human being isn’t a goal, it’s a dream. You can and should dream, and dream big. But ‘I want to be a bestseller’ isn’t a goal. ‘I want to attend three writing conferences this year, polish my novel, and send queries to ten agents by November’ is a goal. Learn the difference. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you reach those goals.

“Love It

“The term ‘tortured artist’ is an oxymoron. Art is not food, clothing, or shelter. Art is what we do to express and entertain ourselves…”
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The Best Book On How To Be Successful As A Writer?


What’s your definition of success as a writer?

Lots of money? Lots of books? Both? Something else??

I just may have discovered the best book to read, no matter how you want to be successful

And, even though it’s called The Newbie’s Guide To Publishing, I feel it can help those who’ve already attained a bit of publishing success to find even more.

The author is Joe Konrath, and, if you click-through on that name-link you’ll read stuff like this:

“Konrath…spent…12 years garnering close to five hundred rejections for nine unpublished novels.”

He now has 12 published novels, 15 tie-in stories, and 22 other stories.

If you want an independent and forthright blog to read, his is it!

In January of this year, Konrath wrote:

“One hundred grand [$100,000]. That’s how much I’ve made on Amazon in the last three weeks.

“This is just for my self-pubbed Kindle titles. It doesn’t include Shaken and Stirred, which were published by Amazon’s imprints. It doesn’t include any of my legacy sales, print or ebook. It doesn’t include audiobook sales. It doesn’t include sales from other platforms.

“This is from my self-pubbed books. The ones the Big 6 rejected.”

Needless to say, since I discovered him, Joe Konrath has been referenced on this blog many times.

So, that book by him has over 360,000 words. And, you can get The Newbie’s Guide To Publishing, only $2.99.

If you still feel hesitant, I’ll let Barry Eisler, best-selling novelist, speak to you from the forward to Konrath’s book:

“There’s no one in the industry more knowledgeable than Joe about both the craft and business of writing. A Newbie’s Guide is the result of years-worth of thought, research, discussion, and, most of all, experience. Want to know how to develop compelling characters? Write crackling dialogue? Run the kind of guerilla marketing campaign publishers only dream of? Put together a cost-effective, kick-ass book tour? Want to maximize your chances of getting and staying published? Then you need to read Joe. This is a guy who never accepts the conventional wisdom, who never does anything just because that’s the way it’s always been done, who’s totally unafraid to try new things, who’s remarkably honest in reporting the results of his experiments, and who’s obsessed with sharing for free his uniquely valuable insights. Yeah, you can get published without reading Joe. But you can drive a car with the parking brake on, too — it’s just not the fastest way to get there.”

And, if you still don’t want to download Joe’s book, here’s a video from 2009 with Joe giving quite a bit of advice:


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