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6 Laws for Becoming a Career Author

Being an adult has its perks.

We don’t have to go to school, eat all our vegetables or do what anybody says just because they say so. We can buy all the sugary cereals we want (so says the giant box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in my pantry), stay up way past our bedtime  and watch R-rated movies.

But being an adult also has its downfalls.

All the things we dreamed of as children — careers, houses, cars, etc. — come with hefty price tags.

As a kid I had this board game called “Payday” that I absolutely loved. Players moved their pieces through a calendar month, trying to make money with risky investments while also paying for bills, groceries, and other incidentals depending on what spaces you landed on during the course of the game.

The goal was to get to the end of the month without going broke so you could get your “Payday” and start the month all over again.

I couldn’t figure out why my parents hated playing that game with me until a few years ago when my pal Toni hunted down a copy for my birthday so we could relive our glory days.

Five minutes in, I realized some sick individual had made a game out of every adult’s struggles to earn money while covering our financial responsibilities. That’s not a game, that’s just called being a responsible grown-up and it blows.

What weirdo would make that into a fun activity for kids?

How do you pay your bills, bills, bills?

Are you working nine to five (what a way to make a living), at a full-time job outside of writing? A lot of us author folks have no choice but to work at a real job so we can find a way to pay for the roofs over our heads, clothes on our backs and food on our tables.

But what if things were different?

What if we could all achieve that golden dream of actually doing what we love for a living?Continue Reading

The Slap-Your-Head-Simple Secret for Selling More Books

Remember the wannabe-summer-blockbuster Battleship?

If you’re drawing a blank, I’m not surprised.

Released all the way back in May, the movie is based on the classic board game, which is fun, but not quite deep enough to plot even a summer movie.

So, they added Liam Neeson (who I hope just needed the money), the Nordic-looking vampire from True Blood, singer/celebrity Rihanna and…aliens. Yes, aliens.

Think there’s no way that movie could possibly be good? You’re right. It currently stands at a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. And some of those positive reviews “praised” it only for not being as bad as expected.

As a result, Battleship made back only 30% of its production budget. A genuine flop.

For a big movie studio, that’s a disappointment, but not the end of the world.

As an author, however, making only 30 cents for every dollar spent could prevent you from ever publishing again.

Continue Reading

My Self-Publishing Story: 3 Book Marketing FAILs and Lessons Learned

“I just met you, and this is crazy…but here’s my story, learn from it, maybe.”

In a lot of ways, I wish Duolit did not exist.

That sounds more drastic than it is — more accurately, I wish we didn’t need awesome websites like Duolit to teach us how to market our books.

I wish readers just flocked to us in the instant that we released our books. I wish we could spend our days writing whatever our hearts desired with no regard for how it will play with our target market, what our editors will think or what kind of reviews we might get.

I wish I woke up every morning in the beach house I bought from selling the movie rights of my latest book and sat on the deck overlooking the ocean, typing away on my snazzy MacBook Pro while a shirtless Joe Manigniello served me a homecooked breakf–

Oh, sorry, let you a little too far into my head — my bad!

Unfortunately, very few artists have that luxury.

The reality is that I’m currently subdividing my writing time between working a full-time job, blogging for Duolit, keeping up with my social media accounts, marketing my own book and all those other pesky things like sleeping, eating and watching Teen Mom.

Oh, and I live with my parents and operate off of a five year-old Dell laptop that’s on its last, dying breath.

In other words, I feel your pain.Continue Reading

Have a Beautiful Author Website for Under $20/mo (Even if You’re Not A Geek)

Ever done a 180° on a subject so fast you got whiplash?

That’s kind of what happened to me this past week.

In case you’re new to the site, or haven’t visited in awhile, last week, we went through a bit of a redesign.

Ready for the true confession?

This fancy new design is a template! *gasp*

Wait…aren’t I the one touting custom web design, shouting from the rooftops about its amazingness and ability to set you apart from other authors?

This isn’t Invasion of the Body Snatchers — I promise, I’m still the same geek.

But, the discussion we’ve been having on the costs of self-publishing got me thinking: with all the costs authors endure to get their work out there, is a custom web design, costing at least $350, really one of the neccesary ones?Continue Reading

How to Engage Your Crazy-Dedicated Fanbase

This series has been expanded into a step-by-step eBook! Find out more about Building Your Fanbase: A From-Scratch Guide for Indie Authors.

Check out other posts in the reader-centered marketing series: 11 Questions to Turn a Target Market into a Reader Profile and Pinpointing Your Crazy-Dedicated Readers’ Favorite Hangouts!

Imagine this: You’re back in high school, it’s the first day of Chemistry class, and you don’t know one other student in the room. You need to find a lab partner, someone you can work with for the entire school year, and you have two possible strategies for trying to accomplish this:

  • photo by west_point

    Strategy 1: You start approaching people at random with eager handshakes, immediately listing off to them your GPA, class schedule and previous Chemistry experience. Before they can say a word in response, you drop to your knees and beg them to be your partner, pleading and promising that you will be the best partner if they will just give you a chance.

  • Strategy 2: You hang back for a moment and size up the room full of people, notice one person in particular who has stickers for three of your favorite bands on his binder. You approach and ask his name, chat him up about your similar tastes in music, and discover that your lockers are close to each other. After getting to know each other for a few minutes, sharing a couple of laughs, you suggest that your similar tastes would make you great lab partners.
Which strategy do you think is better? Which would you use?

Maybe we stacked the deck a little, but hopefully you see the appeal to Strategy #2! This should be your overall approach to engaging with your readers as well.

No matter where you’re going to meet your potential readers, you should approach it with the intention of making a friend, not making a sale.

Instead of a pushing for a lot of quick, one-time purchases, using Strategy #2 will create the kind of loyal, dedicated fanbase you can build a career on.Continue Reading