Stages in career development

Nuomer1

Journeyed there and back again
#1
I just found this set of milestones for a developing author's career (over on Kboards, originally posted by Adrian Howell here)

1. You make the decision to write and publish a book.
2. You write a first draft.
3. You publish a book, professional edits, proofreads and cover included.
4. Your book sells its first copy to a total stranger.
5. Your writing sells enough to buy you a cup of coffee once in a while.
6. Your book gets many reviews, preferably positive.
7. A reader contact you to compliment your work.
8. Bookbub agrees to promote your book.
9. Your books sell more than X number of copies. (Whether it's 5 books or 50-thousand, I love those milestone threads.)
10. Your writing sells enough for you to quit your day job.
11. You get (and perhaps turn down) an offer from a major traditional publisher.
12. You get your own Wikipedia page.
13. Your book hits the NYT bestseller list.
14. Your book is banned, or at least challenged.
15. Your book is made into a movie, video game, or some other form of major mass media outside of literature.
16. You're stalked as a result of your success.
17. You buy a private island.

And so many other things...

What is your standard? What do you need to consider yourself a successful writer?


Personally I am stuck at about 5.5 - I can afford the coffee, even the occasional beer, and I have some rather good reviews, but not enough to claim point 6.

So where do you place yourselves on this scale? And how do I get higher??? Anyone got any other milestones worth including?
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#2
I just found this set of milestones for a developing author's career (over on Kboards, originally posted by Adrian Howell here)

1. You make the decision to write and publish a book.
2. You write a first draft.
3. You publish a book, professional edits, proofreads and cover included.
4. Your book sells its first copy to a total stranger.
5. Your writing sells enough to buy you a cup of coffee once in a while.
6. Your book gets many reviews, preferably positive.
7. A reader contact you to compliment your work.
8. Bookbub agrees to promote your book.
9. Your books sell more than X number of copies. (Whether it's 5 books or 50-thousand, I love those milestone threads.)
10. Your writing sells enough for you to quit your day job.
11. You get (and perhaps turn down) an offer from a major traditional publisher.
12. You get your own Wikipedia page.
13. Your book hits the NYT bestseller list.
14. Your book is banned, or at least challenged.
15. Your book is made into a movie, video game, or some other form of major mass media outside of literature.
16. You're stalked as a result of your success.
17. You buy a private island.

And so many other things...

What is your standard? What do you need to consider yourself a successful writer?


Personally I am stuck at about 5.5 - I can afford the coffee, even the occasional beer, and I have some rather good reviews, but not enough to claim point 6.

So where do you place yourselves on this scale? And how do I get higher??? Anyone got any other milestones worth including?
Ha! I might nick this for another forum that I'm on - the aspiring writers will love it.

1-6 I'm there. Number 7 was special - Sunday afternoon email from Goodreads from someone to say they loved it (they're reading the sequel at the mo, and I'm hoping they like it, too). Number 8 Bookbub UK did, but not US yet. Even so, it was a blast. Number 9 - I did have a figure in mind for my first book, and we're just about to pass that. It took a year. It was not the most ambitious figure in the world. :p

For me, 10 and 11 would finish it for me. I'd be happy, then. In terms of number 11 both my two first books were narrowly rejected by major houses. So that's one that sort of rankles, that I nearly did it. So, yeah - number 11. A big publishing house. If I do that, I'm there. The private island can wait....:D

(Oh, and I'd like a rock opera by Muse for my space opera. That'd definitely be the acme.)
 
#3
I'm researching to write a Celtic fantasy novel. I have self-published a short book of Haiku poetry but that one has only reached step 3.

It would be awesome to have my own Wikipedia page and see it get trolled.
 

Tanniel

Journeyed there and back again
#4
At no. 5 myself. I don't sell ebooks, but I do sell physical copies, and was lucky enough to sell one to a stranger less than two weeks after release; since I'm self-published, every physical copy sold does translate to a good chunk of coffee. No reviews yet though, so a long distance away from no. 6. But I'm gonna use this as a career plan and start focusing on getting some reviews *strokes evil vizier beard*
 
#5
At no. 5 myself. I don't sell ebooks, but I do sell physical copies, and was lucky enough to sell one to a stranger less than two weeks after release; since I'm self-published, every physical copy sold does translate to a good chunk of coffee. No reviews yet though, so a long distance away from no. 6. But I'm gonna use this as a career plan and start focusing on getting some reviews *strokes evil vizier beard*
Congratulations on your progress so far.
 

Nuomer1

Journeyed there and back again
#6
Oh, wow, I started this thread so long ago I had to go back and check the date - just over a year ago - and it finally seems to be taking off!
I checked number 17 "Buy a private island". Purely by coincidence, I spotted one a couple of days ago for less than £200K! OK, so its an island in the middle of the River Avon in Worcestershire, near the village of Wyre Piddle (strange names - feel free to laugh, but its real!) but it has a house on it, and it is only accessible by boat (or really serious fisherman's waders) so it counts! I was really tempted . . . but I think I am getting a bit old for those sorts of games!

I don't sell ebooks, but I do sell physical copies
Hmmmm. Your decision. But I checked your website and felt vaguely tempted - thought about it - and have downloaded it. However - I suggest you reconsider. I will now have to reinstall an epub reader, and then read on my laptop. I would otherwise have downloaded a sample from Amazon and read it on my Kindle (rather more convenient!) before deciding whether to spend a small amount of money buying it electronically or a bit more money buying a dead tree version. Is your business plan working? Do you do things this way round because you regard Amazon as the Evil Empire? (And I am tempted to agree, but choice is limited). I need to get past point 6, and I would be grateful if you would tell me more about how your system works. Bear in mind that I know ****-all about marketing, and probably lack the motivation to do it properly.
 

Tanniel

Journeyed there and back again
#9
Hmmmm. Your decision. But I checked your website and felt vaguely tempted - thought about it - and have downloaded it. However - I suggest you reconsider. I will now have to reinstall an epub reader, and then read on my laptop. I would otherwise have downloaded a sample from Amazon and read it on my Kindle (rather more convenient!) before deciding whether to spend a small amount of money buying it electronically or a bit more money buying a dead tree version. Is your business plan working? Do you do things this way round because you regard Amazon as the Evil Empire? (And I am tempted to agree, but choice is limited). I need to get past point 6, and I would be grateful if you would tell me more about how your system works. Bear in mind that I know ****-all about marketing, and probably lack the motivation to do it properly.
If you choose the 'other formats' option on the site, there's a mobi file for Kindles. It's not the prettiest, because converting to mobi was rather difficult (in epub I could eventually get it to look like I wanted, but mobi seems like an inferior format to work with), but the words are the same, so you can read it on Kindle instead.

I chose to do this because I primarily want readers, not buyers. This way, I can ask people to read my book simply because I want to share it with them, not because I want them to buy one. I run a patreon also in the spirit of 'Pay what you feel is fair', so people can support and speed up the process of getting the next one out - but if a person wants to read it for free, that's the first option. I enjoy so much free content myself online, it just felt like the right way to go. Also, this way I don't have to obsess over sales, money spent on ads versus money earned on gained sales etc. I put some thought and time into it, of course, but at the end of the day, I advertise if I feel like I want to, not because it's a commercial decision.

So as a business model, it's absolutely terrible. It will probably never get you to where you can live off writing, and I wouldn't recommend others doing the same. The only thing it does for me, is that it liberates me from worrying about sales or income, mailing lists and newsletters, should I put it on Amazon KU or KPS or half a dozen other abbreviations I don't know or understand. I can be less of a publisher and more of a writer. It lets me feel that I'm sharing my work with the world without barriers. And if someone doesn't like my book, I don't owe them anything as they didn't pay for it.

I imagine some feels that is a naive disposition (I've certainly heard approximate opinions), and that's fair enough to think, but I don't owe such people anything either. =)
 

Nuomer1

Journeyed there and back again
#10
At risk of this turning into a very long post . . . .


I primarily want readers, not buyers.
Lets get that one out of the way first. Yes, I fully understand that, and respect it, and am in a similar position myself.

BUT:

OK, I am in the fortunate position of not needing to make money from writing (retired, reasonable pension, no children to pass the profits on to). So I am in the game for the fame, the glory and the status rather than the dosh. And it would not be unfair to describe my writing as a hobby.

Even so . . .

Lets compare writing with my other hobby, carving wood. (Here)

As people say about writing (and they’re right) I carve because I feel I have to – it is a release of my creative urge (OK, laugh if you have to). And I sell my work – but pricing it is a major problem.

My motivation is the same as for writing – when I am doing duty on the desk at my art gallery I occasionally have visitors stop in front of my work and say nice things like “Wow! Clever sod!” And hearing that (and usually bathing in the glow of praise, but not owning up to the fact that it is my work) is the main reward. If it sells, that’s nice, but the admiration, even when I am anonymous, is what I am really after.

But also: Money is a way of keeping score If stranger is willing to part with dosh (and I am talking close to, sometimes well into, three figures) for a piece of my work, that is praise indeed. So should I charge a price that will sell, or a price that fairly represents the level of skill and tens of hours of work involved? For all I know, there is some poor bloke out there trying to make a living at this same art/craft – and unless he can do work as good as mine in less than a third of the time I spend, he’s got problems! And just because I don’t need the money is it fair for me to undercut him? And thereby spoil his chances? Or should I price fairly, and sacrifice my own sales figures for the sake of educating the general public about the time and skill involved? It is a difficult balance to find, and I suspect I am currently selling much too cheap – but maybe as I get better known I can put my prices up; not because I want to be rich, but because as an old saying has it, a craftsman is worthy of his hire – a fair price should be paid.

Now that won’t translate directly into the publishing world. I make a single item, and although I may cut the same pattern three or four times, that’s it. I am looking at the possibility of resin casts, but even so I would be looking at ten or twenty copies, and they would still be hand finished. Several thousand copies is just a different world.

So

I enjoy so much free content myself online, it just felt like the right way to go. Also, this way I don't have to obsess over sales, money spent on ads versus money earned on gained sales etc. I put some thought and time into it, of course, but at the end of the day, I advertise if I feel like I want to, not because it's a commercial decision.
OK, Tanniel, I understand your position and respect it – but I have shown an alternative view. Should you be charging? If only to remind people that quality should be paid for? Or do you regard your electronic copies as something the internet (and the High Street) already has quite a lot of - a taster, or sample, or ‘loss leader’? And does
I run a patreon also in the spirit of 'Pay what you feel is fair'
And finally
I imagine some feels that is a naive disposition
Yes – but the world would be a better place if it had a higher proportion of people with your mind-set!

Does anyone else have strong opinions here?
 

Tanniel

Journeyed there and back again
#11
And just because I don’t need the money is it fair for me to undercut him?
I don't think there is a danger of that happening in books. Readers don't need a limited number of books, and I don't think authors are in competition with each other. If people are interested in both your book and mine, I do believe they will simply get both and read both. Now, they may only be able to afford one book at present, and in that case, authors can compete; but since my book is free, the reader will always be able to afford both my book and another. So in a sense, I am doing the opposite of under-cutting other authors, because I am not taking up space on any reader's book budget.

I do understand the principle of sales being a measure of keeping tally and also as validation that your work is worth something to people. That's completely fair. It's just something I have to do without (for the most part; I am able to track sales of the physical book, and since each copy costs $80+shipping, selling one to a complete stranger is quite the validation boost for me as well).

OK, Tanniel, I understand your position and respect it – but I have shown an alternative view. Should you be charging? If only to remind people that quality should be paid for? Or do you regard your electronic copies as something the internet (and the High Street) already has quite a lot of - a taster, or sample, or ‘loss leader’?
I suppose that's not entirely wrong; I feel the ebooks are, in a way, samples (just a sample of the whole thing). The physical book is hardcover with cream-coloured paper tied with yarn and a map in colour at the back - all of which makes it very expensive, and in every way a counterpart to the e-book. That is the book to me in the traditional sense, worth having on your shelf for aesthetic reasons alone. The ebook is the book in the new sense, where the digital internet allows for endless copying at (virtually) no cost - so offering it at no cost just seemed sensible to mel. I guess I'm hoping to show that quality of work does not depend on price, and also as a gesture of faith in the readers; if my work is worth paying for, people will, at whatever price they seem fair (and which they can afford; you can join my patreon for $1 per book, so won't bankrupt anybody).

Yes – but the world would be a better place if it had a higher proportion of people with your mind-set!
Well, that is a compliment of the highest order, thank you. =)
 

jo zebedee

Journeyed there and back again
#12
Interesting figure. I would not have known where to guess, but this is no surprise.
Do you think this is a normal sort of figure?
I think until you're big enough to be in multiple bookstores and the Tescos and what not of this world, it probably is, esp with sff being so strong on kindle.