Saturday, 26 November 2011

Ups and downs of an indie writer

On Kindleboards I came across this post by V.J. Chambers which struck an instant chord with me. I'm sure most self-published authors will agree it's spot on about the ups and downs of an indie writer. 

The good news is, that most traditionally published authors experience similar ups and downs, but the whole process is much slower, you have less control, less direct information to obsess over, and it's possible to be dumped by your publisher.

My emotional writing journey by V.J. Chambers

  1. I loooove writing. I'm going to get published and make millions of dollars!
  2. (100 no-responses from agents later and two manuscripts later) This is really hard and demoralizing. Why do I freaking bother?
  3. Discover self-publishing is not as bad as eating babies.
  4. I loooove self-publishing. I'm going to market my butt off and play with my price and make millions of dollars!
  5. So, um, I'm not actually making any money. This is really hard and demoralizing. Why do I freaking bother?
  6. OMG! I'm selling more!
  7. OMG! I'm still selling more. If this keeps up, I could quit my day job!
  8. Oh. So, I'm, um, not really selling that many books any more. This is really hard and demoralizing. But I bother because I know that it's possible to be successful.
  9. Huh. My sales are picking up again.
  10. Huh. My sales are plummeting.
  11. So, um, apparently this writing thing is going to be emotionally draining. 
You can sample V.J.'s first novel in her Toil and Trouble trilogy on Amazon in the UK and US.


  1. Regardless of the publishing journey, I think this pretty well summarizes it for most of us.

  2. Yes...btw, I forgot to mention that there will be a small fine for the first person to use the expression rollercoaster ride in the comments...

  3. Oh yes, the publishing journey is definitely like being pinned inside an out of control open train carriage zooming along a length of winding track that loops around and goes up and down!


    Take care

  4. Kitty, if you could see me now, you'd notice I'm giving you a Quelling Look.

  5. I think obsessing about how one's work is selling is more like keeping a constant watch on the stock market. Pointless as in one can't do anything to even it out or better, put it on a steadily upward trajectory, but very, very hard to ignore.

    The only way I've found to combat the emotional drain is to write something new. Not that I get much done most days outside of a journal entry. But even that helps.

  6. Studying the stats does give you an insight into the workings of the Amazon algorithms - movements in the charts are much brisker since the early September changes, for instance. I like to know what's going on, even if there isn't much I can do about it...

  7. And it does lead one to speculate whether the writers we admire expend much time on checking their Amazon rankings. Or is one of the "secrets" of their success the fact that it is still All About Writing?

    No if you will excuse me, I need to wander over to and see if Boomerang has finally sold a copy in the UK this month.

  8. I remember reading about traditionally-published writers obsessively checking the Amazon charts when the Kindle was but a gleam in Jeff Bezos's eye...

  9. That's a terrible example to set. Shame on them.

  10. I'd tut right along with you, Alan, but I'm not sure I'm entitled.

  11. Sounds exhausting. But am thrilled to hear none of it ranks alongside eating babies (yikes!).

  12. K, I believe the people at AbsoluteWrite think eating babies the lesser evil when compared to self publishing :o)

  13. The emotional roller coaster is the same for everyone. Believe me on this.

  14. There! I knew, sooner or later, one of you would crack and say 'rollercoaster'.

    Still, I suppose at least we've got it over with...

  15. How many times do I say to myself, 'why do I bother?' and then get a lovely e-mail or review from a reader and go, 'Oh, yeah. THAT'S why.' It's not for the money but you need to money to keep doing the work-part of writing. (You know, the editing, formatting - all the non-fun writing stuff!) Otherwise, I'd have nineteen manuscripts sitting in a drawer not being read while I write number 20 just for a hobby.

  16. True, an email from a reader always makes my day. None of us are in it primarily for the money (and don't publishers take advantage of this).

    But I must admit, I enjoy editing and formatting. I like that sort of nitpicky stuff :o)

  17. Ooooh, it's TOO nitpicky for me because there's always one little thing that goes wrong! I will admit, I've found editing can actually be creative and not just completely right answer/wrong answer. I still wouldn't give up my editor for anything, though!

  18. Jennifer, it's detecting and correcting those little wrong things that I find satisfying. Sad, I know.

    I've never used an editor, but I think my marvellous beta readers do much the same job.

  19. The best part of writing is rewriting. The first part is making the big chunk of marble. The rest is making it look like something. I think that sculptors say they just remove the bits that aren't part of the final product (or something like that), but as writers we have to first make the blasted chunk of rock and then chip away at it until it resembles something worth being resembled.

    Or maybe rewriting is like be a gem cutter, eh? Pretty stone to start with, but the faceting is what makes it sparkle.

    And that is the fun part.

  20. "Discover self-publishing is not as bad as eating babies."


    Yes, to all of it. I skipped the agent stuff and went straight to self-publishing, but I've been doing it long enough now to see the ups and downs in sales.

    It definitely seems to help if you write fairly quickly. I had my slowest month in a while in October, but released the third book in my series in November and had my best earnings month to date (nothing compared to your killer months I'm sure, but I'm getting to the I-could-do-this-for-a-living level, so that's encouraging).

    If nothing else, I'm learning how important it is to cultivate a fan base because ultimately that's what determines whether you get to turn this into a career.

  21. To carve a duck: remove everything that isn't a duck. Being a wax modeller, I think writing is more like wax modelling; I make the rough outline, add and subtract bits until it's the right shape, then smooth or texture.

    Lindsay, you are right. The day job doesn't half get in the way, though :o)

  22. Sometimes it's more like being dropped out of an airplane.

    True, though, very true.

    We are all preparing for the next drop - Christmas Day.

  23. Would this be with or without a parachute, Ms Kitty?