I'm an established full-time author - willing to answer questions if you have them



Yes, starting early is a good first step, but you have to be aware that it takes time and practice to get your writing to a level that is “ready for prime time.” Stephen King says you should consider your first 1,000,000 words as practice, and Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours working at something to become proficient. Those numbers are pretty spot on from my own experience and others. So work on developing your voice, read voraciously, dissect why authors do what they do and how, and you’ll greatly increase your chances.

Having a first book written by the time you finish high school is a great goal! But I’m sorry to say the chances of it being good enough to publish is pretty small. As I mentioned above, it takes time and practice to develop your voice and the tools needed to be successful. My first published novel was the 14th I wrote. And the first 10 were pretty horrific. But I got better with each one…that should be your immediate goal.

Most authors (even those who have a good amount of success) don’t earn a full-time living from their writing…especially early on). So it’s best to choose a position that will give you time to write. For instance, a night clerk at a hotel is a great choice as there is little to do and you can write when nothing else is going on. A night security job also has that type of “down time” that allows you to write while you are being paid to “stay awake” at the job you are being paid for. Teaching is another great choice because you have the summers off. What you don’t want is a high pressure job that is going to consume you 50 - 80 hours a week. Those professions won’t give you much free time for writing.

I hope some of this helps.


Digital has already surpassed print for most author’s income (especially given the growth rate in audio versions). For me, 40% of my sales come from ebook, 40% from audio, and only 20% from hardcovers and paperbacks. Now I’m more “weighted” to audio so for most authors it’s something like 10% audio, 55% ebook and 35% print) but as you can see print is not dominant any more.

That said, if you are traditionally published you are going to have both print and ebooks so it’s not a matter of concentrating on one or the other. For self-publishing, you SHOULD focus on the ebook first, and if you are seeing good sales then, and only then, consider releasing a physical copy.

As for free books…If you have a series books, then giving away an ebook of the first is a viable approach that many indie authors take. For me, personally, I tend to use free short stories rather than full novels. My theory is (a) they take less time to produce (b) they don’t eat into my novel income and © they are easy for reader to digest. If they like my writing style then they’ll dive into the novels.

I hope this helps.


Yes, I’ve self-published in the past, and more importantly all my future stuff will be self-published. Here is my breakdown:

  • 2008 - 1 book published through a small press
  • 2009 - 2 self-published books
  • 2010 - 2 self-published books
  • 2011 - 2 big-five published books
  • 2012 - 1 big-five and one self-published book
  • 2013 - 2 big-five books
  • 2014 - 1 self-published book and one small press published title
  • 2015 - 1 self published book
  • 2016 - 1 big-five published book
  • 2017 - 1 big-five and 1 self-published
  • 2018 - 1 big five published book
  • 2019 - 1 self-published book planned
  • 2020 - 2 self-published books planned

The marketing and promotion is pretty much the same whether you self-publish or traditionally publish. You can’t rely on the publisher to make the book a success. The author will always be the only one 100% dedicated to growing the audience for their books. Marketing departments are (a) stretched thin and (b) only have a few weeks to work on your title before moving onto the next “crop.” Also, the marketing budgets are reserved for the titles with big advances, and books with standard advances get little to no marketing support.


Great advice!


with your planned books for 2019 and 2020, are they already edited?


Thank you for taking your time to answer my questions. Most appreciated.
Another one has popped up while reading your replies. Is it worth breaking out? It’s quite a condensed market already, and sounds really tough so for the average writer is it worth focusing on breaking out or more on being a writer and producing writing.


Check out the Podcast How Did This Get Made?-- it explores this, focusing on one movie per week. And it’s awesome.


Thank you for the insight! I’ve been on Goodreads but only to look up my next prospects and recommendations. I’ll do a bit of digging about starting a presence there. Thanks again for providing help to the newbies out there!


Hi Michael, I recall your figures on hardcovers here and believe you mentioned you’re printing your own hardcovers and…supply them to a distributor? Would you be willing to share what printer you are using, or whether they are domestic or foreign?

I tried to follow the best of the advice in this thread and I’m doing well with my debut of books 1 and 2 (which I released only 4 weeks apart). Really positive reviews and decent rankings. My most successful advertising campaigns have emphasized my physical books–even though most people then go buy the ebook the physical book seems to have great marketing appeal. This has motivated me to make the most appealing physical book possible, with some embossing and gold foil lettering. I’m debating between ordering a tiny quantity of special edition books, like 8 of book 1 and 8 of book 2, and giving a few copies to influencers and listing a few for sale on my own website that I would likely make $0 on because small print runs are hugely expensive. I’d like to rule out ordering a larger quantity first.

Also: your thoughts on Kirkus reviews would be appreciated. While I don’t consider my books to be YA genre, they books appeal to a YA audience and I would like to be able to market to librarians. An actual YA librarian I consulted with says they definitely consider Kirkus reviews, but every indie author I’ve asked thinks it’s a waste of money.


“waiting to get optioned here (on wattpad)…”

Wait, is that a thing? I’ve been using Wattpad just as a kind of forum for feedback. It has effectively zero connection to the world of actual publishing - except that you might need to take something down here forever before you start shopping it around with a query letter.


There are a few notable success stories of books here that were eventually trad-published. ‘After’ And ‘The Summoner’ both parlayed their millions of reads into agents and publishing deals. Both happened a while back, though, when Wattpad was the hot new thing, and I’m not sure a breakaway hit here would make the same waves now with the larger industry.

More recently folks at Wattpad HQ have selected Wattpad books to represent to publishers. They essentially act as agents for the writers. ‘The White Stag’ was identified and championed by Wattpad directly and eventually received a trad pub deal.

So it does happen . . . but to a tiny, tiny percentage of books put up here.


Hey, when you have a finished book ready to be either published through self publishing or Traditional publishing, which will you gain more experience from more? Self publishing or Traditional publishing?


What type of experience?

If you traditional publish and work with good editors at a traditional publishing house, you should gain more experience on how to write a better novel.

If you self-publish, you will gain more experience in managing the project and marketing.


Wait―it’s shutting down?!?
Ah, you meant the old forums. Whoops lol


Some different experiences, some the same. I’ve never been trad published (outside of a few short stories in online magazines - I suppose that counts, as I was paid for the stories and worked with the editors)

With trad-pubbed books you’d learn how the trad industry works and how to work with an editor to improve your story in a developmental sense. You need to learn how to be part of a team producing a book as opposed to the sole creator.

With self-pubbed books you need to learn how to find and work with freelance designers and editors and producers of things like audio books. You have to learn how to use the various ad platforms. You need to learn how to budget and handle the business side of things without going into the red.

Both trad and self-pubbed authors need to learn how to create a public personality - through social media, through managing email lists of your readers, through creating and maintaining a website and your Goodreads author page. Trad pub MIGHT help you in arranging blog posts / author events, etc, but they might not as well, in which case you need to be as proactive as a self-published author.


Ah I see…


I was originally going to self publish as an author (I have a book that’s a little over 62K words), but they said that it was too short so I took it down so after it’s gotten better with plot holes and all then I’ll re-upload it in the future. At the current moment, I’m writing books from a list of blurbs that I’ve got on my google docs account so “Black Heart” (At the top of my list and down the list that I’ll be working from).



Anna Todd’s fanfiction is a movie now. Will be released in 2019, but that doesn’t mean that everyone on here should expect the same. I’ve been on here for almost 3 years. I used this site for feedback, but I’m not going to wait till someone notices me (if ever). I write for a different audience and getting the same amount of reads and fans for me on here as opposed to the success stories is not possible because my audience is a generally mature audience, which is not represented widely on this platform. I looked around, gathered some feedback, made some friends, practiced a little, polished my books, and took them down to prep for publishing. It’s just people who sign up for Wattpad shouldn’t expect for producers and publishers to come knocking on their doors. It happens but on occasion. So, the best thing is to just move forward with either self-pub or querying, whichever works for you/anyone else who wants to get pubbed.



I was wondering, how would someone do well with self-publishing? I heard most authors don’t get far with that route or get recognition.

Thank you!


I’m not sure if this is a true fact but I feel it depends on what your publishing, if you have the perfect book cover, perfectly edited, etc. if you do your research on self publishing and speak to people on here and even when you make your own thread in this club. I hope that if you’re interested in becoming a self published author, then I wish you the best of many blessings! :smiley: