I’ve been at this for 4 years. I’ve been writing for much longer than that, but 4 years ago I self-published my first book Remember the Yorktown, book 1 of my sci-fi saga Gravity. Since then I have added 5 other works to my backlist, 2 more additions to my Gravity saga (book 2, book 3), a short story, a poetry book, and a novel. I am also a few weeks away from another short story and a little over a month from publishing another novel. It sounds like a lot. In a way I agree. Many accomplished writers (traditionally published and otherwise) don’t get that many titles out in 4 years.
But it isn’t enough.
My goal is to make my career as an independent writer. I want to earn enough money to replace my current job earning a living from my writing. In no uncertain terms that will be an enormous undertaking. The vast majority of writers never get to that point.
When I look at where I am, the fact that I have so many books published means nothing. At one of the moments in writing this post I was ranked 724,807 in the Amazon author ranking. At my highest ranking (nearly 4 years ago mind you) I was 84,047. My guess is that I need to maintain my rank between 5,000 and 10,000 to probably earn the salary I am after. This is a guess in its purest form. It might be higher, it might be lower.
Every day I wonder how I am going to make it happen. For one, I certainly need more than the 5 current published works plus the 2 I am about to push out. I have this idea in my head that I won’t start making a consistent income (small, but consistent) until I reach about 10 books available, meaning that I have 3 more to push out after these upcoming 2. Of those 3 my thought is that 1 should be Gravity 4, another should be a short story, and the last should be a novel I initially wrote over 15 years ago (but updated with a revision). Looking at what I have and what I can get out quick, I am more likely going to have 3 short stories.
Of course that may earn me like I said: “a consistent income (small, but consistent).”
That isn’t everything though. As I wrote about a little in a prior post “Advice for this Newbie Writer,” there are a number of things that I need to start doing in order to increase my chances of being discovered by an audience.
I need to then keep building on top of the 10 books. Each year I need to put out some number of new pieces. How many? Some say 1; some say 4. I guess that the number will be determined by how much success each work has. If one title earns me what is my current salary, then it’ll be one (I laugh now because all of my books together have only eclipsed a few hundred in sales these last 4 years).
Then again, why am I worrying about all of this?
I worry because it is an ultimate goal. But at my stage that goal is still too convoluted too grasp. I could do all of the things and more and only make pennies. Now while I will never stop writing, eventually given a lack of success, I might just slow down. What I need to do long before that is to break my lofty goal into stages. Daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals would work. Examples would be like: hit 500 words written a day, update the site weekly, revise marketing strategy every month, and publish a work every quarter.
In no way is that what I’ve worked out at this moment, but it could look something like that.
More to the point, I need to break my goals down to daily achievements with that end goal in mind. Maybe, just maybe if I keep up with it, I will find my success. Even if it never ends up being financial as I would hope part of it is.