Having read no fewer than 4 posts from new authors who want to know if they can expect to support themselves on their first book, I’m going to explain why I think the answer is no, and what I expect will happen in my case.
From my research I’ve learned that the majority of books sold by major publishers only sell about 2000 copies, in the lifetime of the book. Self-published authors tend to sell significantly less due to lack of distribution networks.
While I would love to publish my story, sell a thousand copies in the first month, and land a multi-million dollar contract complete with movie rights, it’s not very realistic.
That doesn’t keep me from daydreaming, but being able to separate fact from fiction is kind of how being a writer works in the first place. Fiction goes on paper.
My actual, hard number goals are this:
~ Sell 200 copies of the first book in 8 months.
I’m an unknown author. No one knows who Kambry Ellis is (yet) or what she’s about. No one knows if she can write a description of a doorknob, much less a novel. I have to break into the market. Selling 200 copies will require marketing online, and locally. I will have to get my hustle on to make that happen.
~ Publish the entire trilogy by end of year, giving me 3 books to this first year in print.
This part is basically a given. I have the books already written. I just have to edit the hell out of them.
~ Continue writing at the rate of 3 books/year, 4 if I can manage it.
Sounds like it’s impossible, right? Well, like anything creative, people work at their own pace. I dropped 60 chapters in 3 months. I pulled out another 9 in about 2 weeks. 3-4 books/year is manageable *for me* and I have the story ideas to run with, including the first two that will happen after the trilogy. For me, this is a sustainable pace. For someone else, one a year might be a push, but that’s amazing anyway! Do one a year! It’s better than none a year, right?
~ Win by volume.
I’ve been watching some of the BIG AUTHORS and aside from the very few who had one story that went insane (Harry Potter or 50 Shades levels of fame) the key seems to be having LOTS of books written, and short stories as well.
I think that many people who take up writing forget that writers aren’t all fantastically wealthy. Most, especially first timers like myself, have day jobs that pay the bills. It’s just how the game works. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to hack the game and win in the long run.
Ultimately, what I’d like to do is have enough income to start setting up writing resource centers. These would be places where writers could come to use computers, find resources, and have help on hand to get through the process of creating and submitting their work (or publishing it themselves.) I want to help people have the chance to pursue their dreams. Writing is hard! Editing is hell! Submitting and getting through that dance is like being plunged into the inner circles of hell if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If I get the chance to make that path a bit easier for others, I’d feel as if I succeeded. Achievement isn’t only about getting my own slice of the pie.