Second class citizens in a warm cosy club

I’ve been trying to sell my two books, Rock’n’Roll Suicide   and Doppelganger  (both on Kindle for 77p) for around 6 months now, and I feel as if I’ve been blundering around in the control cabin of an old steam train, trundling along on an interminable journey that never seems to end.

I started off thinking lower the price – even try doing the free (KDP) offer, just get the first book out there, the more people see it the better my chances of it catching on.  And it was rewarding, because lots of people seem to like the first, and the second book , I’m building up good reviews (and one resoundingly bad one that Amazon put right at the top of the page as a comparison).  The reality is though that it seems as if you can only get so far and there’s a kind of ceiling you can’t break through.  I don’t mind admitting that I’ve sold very few copies – what’s the point in lying?  I’ve heard that lots of other people are seeing low sales too.  Whether it’s because of the recession, or maybe there are just so many people out there doing it and there’s such competition I don’t know.

My idea of the Jack Lockwood Diaries  seemed as if it might be a way of selling the books: I write a short story every now and again, put it on the blog and hope people like it, and be inspired to buy one of the books because they like the character.  John Locke’s book (How I sold a million copies on Kindle) gave me this idea of creating a ‘brand’ around a character.  And I like doing it – there’s not so much work involved as writing a complete book.  But do I have lots of followers?  No.  I have 11.

But aside from all the effort and enthusiasm, I get the feeling that us independent authors – or maybe a more honest way of putting it is ‘authors who can’t get a publisher or agent’ – are viewed as second class citizens in the publishing world.  The successful Dan Browns are out there really doing it, and we are trying this, trying that, helping push each other’s books on twitter.  But as writers we are still treated as second class citizens, and it seems sad, when so many independent authors are clever, talented and really good writers.  What’s even more relevant is, we are like wanders in a storm: some of us probably need editorial guidance to improve the work, which we’d get if professionally published, but we go ahead and put out our work, and someone ‘in the business’ might easily spot snags that could easily be eradicated and improve the product.  But we are all on our own, having a go, like architect, builder’s labourer and planner building an office block, with no rule book to guide us and no one to help.

Of course lots of people are doing it for vanity.  Some are doing it purely for fun.  But I’m doing it because I like telling stories, I’m sure that if I could only reach a certain type of reader, I could give up my other work and make enough from writing to do it all the time – not a fortune, not riches, just enough to live on.  This is probably what we all aim for, and let’s hope some of us achieve it.

A very unexpected thing that had happened in all this ‘adventure’ is meeting via twitter so very many kind, generous, lively and helpful people, who genuinely want to help me and other people by doing nice reviews, offering encouragement and support, and sharing their journeys and experiences.  It’s nice to feel that if you’re on a long journey, at least you’re not alone, and I must say the company is the best you could ask for.  Like the person (you know who you are) who has spent ages giving me lots of helpful advice and suggestions of what approaches to take, who to follow etc etc, when I was new to it all, and still helps me out if I have a problem.  Or the other twitter friend (who I’ve now met and is a ‘real life’ friend) who spent ages telling me about the formatting process, pitfalls and mistakes to avoid.  Or the friend who is famous for championing other writers’ work, who produces a newsletter and gives as much help as she can to anyone who needs it, and has helped me particularly.  And the many other twitter friends in the UK and in other countries, who offer nice words and praise and make me feel as if people enjoy what I’m doing and it makes it all worthwhile.  Following blogs is something I never even knew about but now I do it and it’s very interesting.

The generosity and kindness of twitter active writers is incredible.  Other writers want their work to succeed, but it seems that they’re; keen for you to succeed too, there’s no competitive spirit, just mutual support.  Many people catch sight of someone  who’s doing a free offer and go  all out to help them if they can – I certainly do.

So we might all be second class citizens when it comes to the world of professional writing.

But we are in a warm cosy international club.


13 thoughts on “Second class citizens in a warm cosy club

  1. Can identify with a lot here Geoffrey – It’s all about striving for that break, which can happen at any time and often through chance (JK Rowling is a case in point)


  2. Aaah Geoff, I really feel your frustration buddy! Yes, it’s terribly difficult to sell our books and at times I’ve felt like giving it all up. Then out of the blue a random 5 Star review lands on my Amazon page and gives me the faith to carry on, or a lovely Twitter friend says something that gives me the vital boost and encouragement I need. The author/writer community at Twitter is incredible, as you rightly say. Most of us go all out to help each other.

    Personally, my favourite thing is now blogging. I aim for at least one post a week and try to keep to subjects which appeal to large audiences. It seems to draw very many people in to my blog and I think I have accumulated about 25 followers in two months. I had hoped that my ramblings might encourage sales but not so. Like you Geoff, even though I did the KDP free promo it hasn’t resulted in sales… yet! Even though I would like to make a living out of it, I accept now that it will never happen UNLESS the right person from the film/tv world comes along and snaps it up for a movie or tv series. Yeeeeah right! MOST unlikely but it only takes one person, eh? So, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing as my time allows and see where it leads, if anywhere.

    I wish you well Geoff and you know I’ll always help out with tweeting etc. Just shout if I can do anything else. X


  3. Hi Geoff, I agree that it’s not easy for Indie authors. Most all of us are struggling to get sales and it sounds like the same story of sales going well right after the free book promo and then dropping off sharply to where the book was languishing before the promo. I think the trick to keep sales going is to market one’s book and I don’t think Twitter is the best place to do that. I’ve been experimenting with a few things. I’ll let you know if I have any positive results.

    I have been reading about the fact that writing a series increases one’s odds of selling books. The reason being is that the complete story is not told in the first or second book but usually in the third or fourth. If readers like the first book, they most likely are going to purchase the other books to find out the final outcome of the story. I also recently read that there are 5 Indie authors on the top ten New York Times Bestseller list. Some people just have all the luck!

    Hang in there, my London friend! xx


  4. Hello Geoff—-another very interesting blog post; thank you for sharing the thoughts and truthful situation that most of us Indie authors face on a daily basis. I agree wholeheartedly with you about the ‘real treasure’ for us all—the wonderful friendships we make with other Indie authors and the support and help we all give and receive. Oh, that the world could enter into such generous and willing ‘sharing’! In fact, I’ve been harbouring an idea for a while now—-an idea to celebrate our Indie Author Community. I think it would be a wonderful project to compile an ‘Indie Author’ book ALL TOGETHER and promote it as a charity fundraiser as well as giving each author individual highlight. I reckon we might get a publishing house to sponsor the project too. For a while now I have been concerned by the fact that in our western culture we only have one word for the MANY DIFFERENT faces of ‘LOVE’. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to highlight them all–and even invent a new word to describe each!! Every author could choose one version to write about—their own entry and personal writing profile included. ‘THE LOVE PROJECT’ by the TWITTER COMMUNITY of INDIE AUTHORS! If anyone has any ideas to add to this–or would like to be involved, please let me know. I need a writing partner to make it happen! Thanks Geoff. All the best from Marina 🙂


    1. Hello Marina yes that sounds like a very good idea. Maybe it could be broadened to the many faces of love murder and mystery, or something like that. Or, for those who write about love ‘the many faces of love’, for those who write about murder ‘The many faces of murder’ and so on, therefore several books, utilising lots of authors writing in their own specific genre? Why not test the water with a blog post, or a tweet along those lines? I’m not qualified to write about love, but mystery or murder, I’d like to.


  5. Thanks for your inspirational ideas, Geoff!:) I’ll keep the thoughts turning over and see what lands on the desk! A blog could be the way to go—‘ll give it some serious thought. Have a great bank holiday weekend.
    All the best, Marina


  6. Hi Geoff, I feel very much like you do in this post and if it were not for the supportive indie community out there I think many would have given up long ago. But is really is a great community to be in and I believe you are doing the right things. You write great books, great posts on your blog and you’ve built up a whole world for Jack to inhabit – the short story blog is a wonderful idea – but it all takes so much time and at the end of it we can only say that we do it for the love of it rather than the hope that we shall ever earn anything out of it. I think the series idea is a sound one and as your books always involve Jack you are following that theme through. Readers like a character to follow, as long as they like that character – no problem with that with Jack!! I read somewhere that you can expect to be earning some money on a vaguely regular basis when you have 10 decent books under your belt so we have a way to go – at least we are all on the same path together – Onwards and upwards Geoff, onwards and upwards 🙂


    1. Absolutely, thanks Georgia. As you say, before I was on twitter I had no idea there were so many kind, helpful, unselfish people around. Like everything in life, things turn out differently to how you imagine


  7. Mark the Wizard thought I was going to give you a big telling off for writing about not being able to sell your books, but I’ve just realised that this post was originally posted a year ago and I’ve probably given you grief about it already!!!! Also, I’ve said enough on that subject in other places!!! Now, about that Kindle Countdown….!!


  8. Yes, it is indeed an old one Terry. As my grandfather used to say: “Everyone makes mistakes, but only a fool makes the same mistake twice”. You did tick me off at the time. (hangs head in shame).


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