Kindle Direct Publishing

When I began this blog, I really wanted it to be a journal of various issues and anecdotes that I felt like writing about. But many of the emails I receive are from young writers wanting tips on how to make it as an indie author. 

I go out of my way to help my readers with whatever they need help with, and this blog is no exception. Personally, I hate writing about writing, but I'm happy that I've reached a level of success that others reach out to me for advice. So, here's a few more tips:

Getting Rich: The Non- 4 Hour Workweek Style

Before you can even think of becoming a successful writer, you must adopt a successful mentality. Our culture seems to value the "get rich quick" scheme. It has taken various forms throughout the ages and has manifested in modern culture with multi-level marketing. And to some extent, the 4-Hour Workweek mentality.  

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the 4-Hour Workweek. In fact, I think Tim Ferris is a genius. I've used his principles in several of my own businesses, including my law firm and my career as an author, and there's invaluable information in the 4-Hour Workweek. I would highly recommend checking it out if you haven't yet (and for those of you struggling with weight loss or body image, his book The 4-Hour Body is also excellent.)

But it isn't for everybody. I believe that for many people, the system of shortcuts he's selling will simply not work. The reason I believe this is detailed and can be discussed on another post if need be.

Ultimately, he's selling a dream and it's a nice dream to partake of. But I've started more businesses than I can remember and what I can tell you is that if you want success you must work for it. Very, very few people can make vast sums of money without putting in the correct amount of work. And submitting to the correct amount of failure (in my own life, I've had twenty businesses fail for every one that succeeded.) 

Writing is no different. There are no shortcuts. You must learn your craft. You must learn characterization, plotting, grammar and syntax. Of course this doesn't mean you should write like an English professor. Once you put in the time and learn the correct way to write, break all the rules. My favorite writers ignored the rules of proper writing and wrote how they felt, which is what I try and do. But don't think that this comes easy or that you can just plop out a few books and get rich. It took me fifteen years of writing nearly every day to get where I am, and all the successful writers I know have put in similar time. 

If you want to get rich using Kindle Direct Publishing, first realize you will have to work hard. The one rule I've learned in becoming a successful author is that content is king. And for that you have to learn to actually write. 

Getting Rich with Kindle Direct Publishing

Once you can actually write, the rest is the fun part. My favorite part of business is marketing and sales. I've spent years perfecting my pitch at my law firm in order for my clients to appreciate my level of experience and feel comfortable enough to hire me. My pitch was developed by studying psychology, not business per se. Because business is psychology; the cornerstone of all business is marketing and sales and those are based on simple behavioral models that anyone can learn. 

So, with the psychology of your target audience in mind, think of these next few steps and how to apply them yourself: 

1. Pick Your Genre:
  
You want to get rich selling books on the Kindle but you like writing literary fiction? You're probably more likely to win the lottery. It's good to take bets sometimes but you have to take calculated bets. The odds are that the genres you can make real money in are not the ones with shrinking markets. Science fiction/fantasy, mystery, thriller, romance, erotica, horror and contemporary fiction are all good genres to pick. Leave the poetry and literary fiction for once you're established and can play around a little.

2. Pick Your Market

Before you put a single word to e-paper, consider your market. In every business I own, this is the secret of my success. Think of your market first before you act. This requires some serious research. Does your chosen genre have many female protagonists and that's how the readers prefer it? You'll have to develop that female voice. Does your genre require knowing esoteric scientific knowledge? You better brush up online or get a subscription to Scientific American

I write some science fiction but I come from a mathematics and philosophy background; two fields that help me enormously in that genre. I wouldn't even attempt to write sci-fi without at least some scientific context. 

So know what your market wants, do the research and put in the work, and cater to that. 

3. Ignore Bad Reviews

Some authors I hear from tell me that they have received many bad reviews and are discouraged from writing. Let me be clear about this: IGNORE REVIEWS. Just ignore them. To a point. 

We all come to the table with different ideologies and prejudices and who the heck really knows why people leave the reviews they do?

To give you one example: a reviewer gave one of my books a one star review because they were upset that my protagonist used an iPhone and Mac and the reviewer preferred android. I'm not kidding, that really happened. 

So ignore the bad reviews on a personal level, but learn from them if there's something to learn. It's a fine line you have to walk, but occasionally reviewers leave constructive reviews. You just have to separate them from the nut-balls and you might actually learn something. 

4. Write Like Crazy

There is no form of marketing as efficacious as a previous book someone enjoyed. I list all my books at the front and back of all my other books. I want to make sure all my readers know about all my books and nothing has led to more sales. 

Write as many books as you comfortably can in a year. I wrote six novels and a novella in 2012, adding an additional $3500 per month to my income from Kindle Direct Publishing. Many of you may not be able to write as quickly as I and that's fine; but whatever you do, don't take the publishing industry's advice that each book should take two years to perfect. If you're trying to get rich from KDP, then you need to think of each book you write as a roll of the roulette wheel. I took seven rolls this year. Do you really want to only take one roll every two years? Forget that and write as much as you can. 

I should say a note on writer's block here: I have never gotten it. I don't even understand really what it is. Are the words just not coming or can the writer not even articulate the ideas in his head? I think the reason I'm blessed with this is that I just treat writing like any other business. I sit down at the Mac every day and write and that's all there is to it. No ifs, ands or buts. You'll need to develop something similar. Too many writers spend too much time contemplating writing rather than actually writing. 

Psychiatrists and psychologists routinely recommend patients keep a journal. This is because the process of writing is psychologically different from the process of thinking. They involve different regions of the brain. 

How many NBA players come out one day and say, "I can't play basketball today?" How many television actors/actresses come out and say, "Sorry guys, you'll have to shut down production cause I just can't act today." People in every field have stress but writers seem to think they have something unique that prevents them from performing. It's BS. Just sit down and write every day and I promise you that after a number of months or years you won't even remember what writer's block is. 

5. Use Your Funds to Advertise Your Books

In my other businesses, and as every successful business does, I take much of the profit from my books and invest in new books. I market, spend on editors and book cover designers, travel to various events etc. Many writers take their funds and blow it on momentary pleasures. As a Mormon, for me this would probably be cars, travel and clothing (I love nice clothes). But for others it might be booze or drugs or prostitutes or gambling (writers are not known as a stable group). 

Don't do that. 

Instead, take your money and think like a businessman. Think, "how can I maximize the profit I just made to make even more next month?" Invest in your books and they will pay dividends. Ignore them, and like the books at failing bookstores all over the world, they will collect dust. 

6. Stick to Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing: For a While

I've been successful at all the different book publishing platforms, but none of them are as responsive to marketing as Kindle Direct Publishing. Pubit, Barnes and Noble's publishing platform, can make a tidy sum but you have to forsake the Kindle Prime program which can garner a lot of money for you in loans (Amazon prevents your ebook from being published elsewhere if you join Prime). 

Some authors swear they've had more success on Barnes and Noble or even Kobo, but I've tested various marketing models and none of them responded like Amazon did. This wasn't a double-blind University study, so take it for what it's worth, but in my experience you can make a lot more with Kindle Direct Publishing and Kindle Prime than with anyone else.

Having said that, experiment and find out what works. I have an exclusivity deal with Amazon that expires soon and I'm going to allow Kobo and Barnes & Noble to publish my books in 2014. I'll report on whether market conditions have changed, but you shouldn't take my word for it. Try all the platforms out yourself and see which ones are the most responsive to your type of writing. 

7. Help Other Authors. 

There's just something about helping other people that leads to blessings in your own life. You may not believe in a God, so just think of it as karma or a principle of electromagnetism: What you put out into the universe is exactly what you get back. You be a jerk, you'll find yourself surrounded by jerks. But you be generous with your time and your knowledge and the universe will reward you likewise. So, for  crap's sake, just be a nice guy or gal and help out when someone asks you for help. 

These are some of the principles I've used to sell more books than I could've ever dreamed I would've sold. It's gotten to the point to where I'm not even interested in a book deal with a publisher because there is no way they would offer me as much as I'm making now. 

If you want this type of success, the only thing I can tell you is to treat your writing like a business, believe in yourself, and write as much as possible. Do this, and there's no way you can fail. 

As always, leave a comment or email me with any questions or clarifications. I'm always happy to help out my fellow wordsmiths.

By Victor Methos

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