I have discovered the necessary steps for Indie Authors to become rich!
Keep in mind that I am not currently rich (I keep failing at step #5), so this is just theory. That said, I've been self-published for over a year now and have achieved small success. I've also paid close attention to how others have succeeded. In about 2-4 years, I will honestly be able to support myself with my writing (maybe sooner if step #5 happens)
1. Write something and publish it.
This is the obvious statement. Write something and submit it to Amazon, Smashwords, or wherever you like. The more places it's published, the more likely it is to get noticed.
Now, if you go straight to step #5, it doesn't even have to be good (It pains me to tell you that) I've seen books that have been published with a couple of pictures taken from a cell phone and a caption. It's ridiculous. I beg of you to write something worth reading.
2. Make it interesting.
This is my favorite part; a strength of mine. It's even more important than step #3 although maybe not as important as step #4. I like it better than step #4 though. (Nothing is as important as step #5. You can even skip step #1 and win the lottery if you have step #5, although you have to write something to be a rich Indie Author)
Writing an interesting story will draw people in and if one person tells others that it's interesting, you'll sell more. People are more likely to buy your next books too.
Write something fascinating. Take the reader on a journey into a new world. Make the reader stay up all night and call in sick to work the next day because they want to find out what happens in the end!
3. Make it good.
This is an odd statement, isn't it? Good is different than interesting. There are well-written books out there that have every word spelled correctly and punctuation precisely placed . . . and they're insanely boring to anyone with even the slightest imagination.
However, it's difficult to read an interesting story if the words are all spelled incorrectly.
4. Get as many people as you can to notice it.
AKA - Marketing and social networking. That's right. Facebook, twitter, blogs, review sites, your mother (If she buys the book, it's a sale. Don't underestimate how difficult this can be. If you do step #2, she may tell her bridge club.)
You can write the best book in the world, but if nobody knows about it, it won't sell. I won't belabor this point. Indie Authors have been agonizing over this to no end.
5. Get super lucky.
And here we get to the key, the one step that the writer doesn't have full control over. The degree to which you do the other steps is the degree to which you influence this one.
I've written and published 4 novels, 1 novella and 8 short stories (step #1). I have reviews that tell me that my stories are definitely interesting (step #2) and many that tell me they are well-written (step #3). There have been a few reviews that compare me to a teenager who should be failing English Lit. but I'm constantly trying to improve with each writing (step #6), And I'm letting people know about my books (step #4) so . . .
However, I have not gotten super lucky. And yes, I'm saying super lucky. I've been slightly fortunate here and there, but not super lucky. To sell a million books, your work has to be noticed by the right people at the right time. Those people have to like it and tell everyone else. Then everyone else has to take an interest in it.
If you want to become a rich Indie Author, you need to write and publish a book and then get super lucky. Everything else is optional.
6. Repeat steps 1-4.
Okay, so step #5 isn't happening for you. Do it again. That's right. Write another story and publish it. I highly recommend applying steps #2 and #3. Too many people right now are trying to skip straight to #5 after doing #1. They put out a bunch of crap, making the rest of us look bad.
If you do steps #1, #2, #3, #4 and #6, then after a while you'll have a steady, income producing list of books. Get enough good, interesting books out there then you can make a living off of it even if you're not rich.
As I said, I'm not rich (yet), but I have been actively doing all the steps except #5. As a result, I'm starting to supplement my income nicely. If I write two or three interesting, good books per year, I'll be supporting myself before long.
All my best,
John H. Carroll