How to Make a Living as a Professional Self-Published Author


Great (and short) article!


Not much there to indicate how things will play out for the average writer. It’s a nice pitch for the published novel in question, but it lacks in useful information–which is an all too common theme with “successful” authors.

They want you to “buy” their book to get all the “hidden dirt” on the so-called “competition” but 9 times out of 10, it’s been regurgitated by someone else who had the same idea after selling a gazillion novels and making a mint off their books and having next to nothing in name recognition–like this guy for instance. This author’s name doesn’t ring a bell. And if he was successful, why isn’t he in in the news? Or making rounds at the local library? Being a prominent author on the internet where he’s known the world over? Or at book signings? Conventions? 60 novels published? Where’s his mailing lists? His website? His Amazon page? Where’s he been hiding all this time? In a ditch? I would’ve heard something by now.

Sorry, but this type of deceptive advertising just pisses me off.

I’ve lost count of the number of times in the past decade where some unknown–yet “successful”–author just pops up out of nowhere with a spiel that sounds too good to be true (and usually it is) and they have this “claim to fame” that somehow mysteriously evaded every Internet junkie’s radar (mine included) for years, and they throw down this idea that they have what it takes to be “successful”, but first it means: “Buy my book to know more”.

Seriously, I can look up the exact same information in this ad of his on the internet and find out all I need to know on how to be a successful (or professional) self-published author. (And save myself 30 bucks in the process.)

It would take me about 20 to 30 minutes of doing an exhaustive search and finding all the information I need–a lot of it is pretty basic and common knowledge by now. (Why charge people for it?)

In fact, I’ve been telling people for a long time on how to become good at what they do as a writer and be successful and I’m not charging people for the privilege. I’m giving away my information for free. :wink:


And it’s worth what we paid for it since, um, YOU AREN’T A SUCCESSFUL WRITER. You aren’t even published!

As you’ve been told many times, that isn’t how it works, sweetie.

If you hadn’t been on Wattpad, would you have heard of AW Exley? And yet she’s making six figures a year – successful by any yardstick.

Successful and famous are not synonymous.

VERY few writers are EVER in the news. He may well make the rounds at local (to him) libraries. And he may well do book signings and/or conventions. Those, BTW, are far more common with trad published writers than self published ones.

Here are the books he wrote under his own name:

He’s also a ghost writer.

gasp He doesn’t have an Amazon page! Oh noes! He must be a failure.

Of course his books are on Amazon.

It’s, what, a 200 word article? What do you want? A blueprint? He gave you some SOLID ideas – now figure out how to implement them in a way that works for YOU. If he’d written a long article explaining in detail how he’d done those for himself, you’d whine – you ALWAYS whine about EVERYTHING – that his plan couldn’t possibly work for poor little ol’ you.


You know, it’s funny that you would mention @AWExley being a “success” and making six figure incomes when neither you, nor her, nor even @MichaelJSullivan has even been featured so prominently on the internet in the past 20 years.

I was just giving this some thought. You guys claim too often to be successful and making all this money, and yet, you’re not even on Facebook or Twitter (where I can see you), you’re not mentioned (at all) in any writing or publishing form of the BIg 5 as “successful self-published” or traditionally published authors, or by any blogger like J.A. Konrath–yet you just have this “claim” as being such.

And being an avid book reader for as long as I have been, I certainly would’ve heard the three of you by now. But for some reason, it’s been crickets for a number of years. I peruse the Amazon best-sellers list frequently and none of you are even in the Top 10.

But yet…here you are…claiming to be successful and making all this money and I haven’t even seen one book of anyone’s off Wattpad being market movers or global phenomenons. So it’s just a little strange how the three of you can figure so into this business and yet somehow escape my radar and attention for a number of years.

I mean, it’s just a little odd how this plays out in the writing and publishing world and neither the three of you are even in it.


Thanks for sharing! That was super informative. :smile:

Oh and if anyone is looking for his amazon page, it’s here:

And here’s his Facebook

And Smashwords

And Goodreads


Friendly reminder that everyone has a different definition as to what they constitute as successful.

Not everyone wants to be as big as JK Rowling or Stephen King. Some are perfectly content with carving out a little niche for themselves.


Shockingly, a writer doesn’t have to be noticed by you to be successful.


I’ve never claimed to be famous. Quite frankly your definition of “success” as someone who is trending on Twitter is ludicrous. I’m never made any claims about being a bestseller or top earner. I have always been upfront and said I’m a small author that most people have never heard of and I’m able to make 6-figures a year serving my small weird niche.

Yet again you attack those who have put their work out there and who are figuring out this business and how to meet readers expectations. Have many books have you published again? NONE.

It’s much easier to make grandiose claims of how you are going to be a “success” than it is to hit publish and actually put your work out there. For the 4-5 years you have been on Wattpad making all these big statements about how you are going to self publish and have publishers and movie producers banging on your door wanting rights, I have simply put my head down and done it.

You continue to attack and denigrate me for not being “successful”, but I’m the one supporting my family from my books. How much are yours bringing in?

I known dozens of other authors like me - people you sneer at as not being successful, yet we all make full time livings with our books. I know authors making 7 figures who again you have never heard of. For someone who likes to loudly shout how much you know about publishing, you yet again prove you know very little. Indie publishing allows authors to carve out niche followings in sub genres that you have never heard of. If you were actually part of the indie community you might have heard talk of the potential in small categories and the dozens of success stories arising for authors and niches you have never heard of.

Here’s another shocker that shows your lack of industry knowledge - browsing the Amazon top 100 doesn’t tell you who is earning a living. For starters it ignores all other retailers and the rest of the world. Plus your browsing skills are obviously lacking as my latest release was #1 on Amazon in its category for some weeks. It also trended in its sub category on iBooks, Kobo and B&N but I guess you don’t know anything about those stores either.


I agree.


Oh my god, that’s amazing, I congratulate you for these talents!


I can’t believe you just tried to call out Michael J Sullivan. That’s incredible.

Here’s an io9 article about the most successful self-published authors where he’s mentioned:

I would say he’s one of the 20 biggest fantasy authors in the world right now. If not, he’s very close.

But beyond questioning Michael, it’s really rude to say that the writers who claim success here are lying. Like, really, really rude. And it’s something that is very easy to check - go to Goodreads and Amazon, see where their books are ranked (pro tip - you don’t have to be top 100 or even top 1,000 with your books to be making a good living) and also how many lifetime Amazon / Goodreads ratings they have. AW Exley’s most popular book has just under 4,000 Goodreads ratings. That’s terrific. If her sales / ratings ratio is similar to mine, that means she’s moved around 80,000 copies of Nefertiti’s Heart. Amazing.


I just looked at your books this morning…did a little investigating and your “new release” isn’t even #1 for a number of weeks. For someone who claims to be successful and makes a lot of money, all I had to do is look at your reviews and find out some truth. You’re not exactly infallible. You’re still a small time author who hails from New Zealand with a very small internet presence. (Much like me.)

Your books aren’t exactly straight A material either. I looked at one of your older releases that had 270 stars (the only one that had this many because it was a Historical Fiction novel set in the year 1918 during a zombie outbreak that was the result of the influenza pandemic of the same name), and some of your reviewers complained your book “lacked depth” and "had trouble with verb and noun tenses and also…wouldn’t you know, a lack of editing halfway through the novel with a ton of grammar errors. So much so in fact, that the reviewer said: “I didn’t know when to stop reading or start correcting the mistakes.”

And while the book had 4 out of 5 stars overall, these were the first reviews I encountered. Not the best ones.

So in light of these discoveries (and others), you guys do not have a complete command over everything if you’re not flying high on your work with impeccable authorship.

How are you still making money when some of your books are this badly written? I noticed your rankings on your first novel slid all the way back down after a few years on the market. And your latest release (in only 10 days) has only gotten a total 7 star ratings.

If you’re as good as you claim to be, you should be at the top of everyone’s list as a best-seller. Not at the bottom. Because real best-sellers (like Neil Gaiman for example), they are pounding cyberspace with themselves and their works. They are putting themselves out there on a daily basis for all to see.

You guys complain so much about what I do with my books and so on that you remiss on the very things that make someone successful. And I’m watching. I am learning. And doing some observing and taking mental notes at the same time.

I don’t need the industry’s knowledge 100% of the time to figure out how writing and publishing works. All I have to do is watch people like you jump through hoops on a limited basis and see how things work.

And realize that I was right to hold off publishing as long as I did. You guys have been a treasure trove of information and insight on basically everything. You three small time authors have been invaluable for the past 5 years.

I should’ve seen this coming, but I was too wrapped up in my own thing to notice I’m not dealing with anyone who is a house hold name in the publishing world. But local celebrities in name only.


Woah, @AWExley has 4 out of 5 stars on a published book? Congratulations! That’s amazing :smile:


:open_mouth: Amazing…


Okay, Schuyler, you’re really pushing things right now. A lot of us have been very patient with you but that reservoir is rapidly evaporating.

Michael J Sullivan is a very big name in the publishing world. Every agent and editor in America who deals with Fantasy and Science Fiction (and most who don’t) knows who he is. The fact that he’s willing to come here and share the wisdom he’s accumulated after being one of the top Fantasy writers for the past decade (in both self and trad) is incredible, and I hope he realizes that your insinuations are solely your own and the rest of us are very grateful.

AW Exley has terrific ratings on Amazon and Goodreads, and a lot of them. A 4 star average is a great average anywhere, Amazon or Goodreads, and thousands of ratings on multiple books shows her staying power and talent. Very few writers - self or trad - get anywhere near the number of ratings she’s accumulated. Imagine what percentage of readers must love a book to come away with the average being 4/5. There are no books that have only positive reviews. No books work for everyone. You can sift through the reviews of any book and find negative reviews, no matter how loved the book is.

Go type Michael’s name into Google. Or AW Exley’s. Or mine, and I’ve only been at this for less than 2 years and have only 2 novels out. I’ve been reviewed in blogs maybe 20 times, interviewed 8-10 times. I’m not sure what you mean that we don’t have an internet presence - frankly, I think you haven’t been paying attention. If you expect our names to randomly show up in your twitter feed that’s not going to happen, but outside of Rowling and King I don’t know who else trends randomly on Twitter.

Until you publish something you have no right to disparage those of us who have put our books out there. You certainly have no right to guffaw at the success we’ve seen, when we are all making enough money to live off of our book sales.


If you know more about the publishing world, then why haven’t you started to get going with your works? everyone that’s on here shouldn’t have to put up with this. People that are on here are like family to each other because we as Wattpadders want to help each other improve in our writing. So stop playing God…


Why don’t we go ahead and look at your reviews?

You know, the all of two one star ones you have on goodreads?


I would have to have someone look over my work before I ever published. Then again it took me years to talk myself to publish on here. XD So I might need a few more to actually publish anything for payment.


Mine certainly has


@SchuylerThorpe You have have your opinions but you can not attack other users. @XimeraGrey created this thread to spread information. that is all. You do not have to agree with what she shared but you also have the option to simply not comment. Your response to other authors on this site implies that you have none of the respect for them that you ask them to have for you. If I see you attacking other user in this way again, you will indeed be reported to wattpad. You already know you are walking a fine line at the moment. But indeed your comments here are entierly inappropriate and in no way in line with the positive community we have on wattpad. Writers to not tare each other down here and that behavior is unacceptable


Community Ambassador