1. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    Studying the Traits of Successful Authors

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by John Rebell, Jan 6, 2015.

    For me personally, I think it is advantageous to study the traits of the people in your industry who are successful, and finding commonalities between them. Successful people usually leave clues to their success. These clues are found in the common traits they share. This was the basis of Napoleon Hill's work "Think and Grow Rich."

    One of the common themes I'm finding with successful Indie authors is they all have successful blogs. Since I come from an online marketing/nonfiction background, I know perfectly well how much work these are. Done correctly, they are as much work as writing a book, and just as time consuming.

    But as examples, Joe Konrath, Hugh Howey, Chuck Windig, and Barry Eisler. They all have excellent blogs. The authors above have been very vocal about their desire to help other indie authors, and they do. Almost all of them writing about the writer's life, calling BS on one thing or another, and, of course, promoting their own books. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that. However, one has to assume, given the amount of time it takes to write quality, thoughtful, and/or insightful blog posts, they do it because it generates sales.

    But surely the people who visit these blogs, or have an interest in them, are other authors and writers, not consumers, or readers. Maybe a reader might search for an author they like, but they aren't going to stick around to read the ramblings of your life. If I'm looking for a plumber, I wouldn't necessarily visit plumbers blog on a regular basis to read about the "plumbing life." (Unless I was another plumber.) Ergo, they are writing for other authors and getting a (Significant) income from doing it. Enough to make the time cost of blog writing worthwhile, anyway.

    As evidence of this, on some blogs these fiction writers are selling nonfiction "How To" books on writing!

    I'm sure the secondary reason (Or maybe primary) reason is to build up a sizable email list. But if so, it will still be an email list of primarily other writers, not necessarily readers.

    So here's my question: Do you think a lot of an Indie writer's income is derived from other authors or writers? (That seems like cheating, somehow.)

    Are any of the authors here getting significant income from their own websites and/or blogs in the form of book sales?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's been noted that most good writers are also voracious readers, so an eMail list of writers will, of necessity, be a list of readers.

    I've never understood how those impressionist painters made a living, when most of the works that they sold during their lifetimes seem to have been to other impressionist painters...
     
  3. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    I guess that is kind of my point. Is having a successful following of other authors the same as having a successful following of readers? Or is it two separate incomes streams? Amazon for readers, blog for other writers?

    While I know that writers are often prolific readers as well, myself included, I don't see them, or consider them, a profit stream, or something to be marketed too. I don't consider my family as one either, even though my mother always buys my books. It kind of gives me a greasy, incestuous, feeling. Maybe I'm missing something, or there is a fundamental difference in viewpoints.
     
  4. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm going to go way out on a limb here, and suggest, that besides reading a lot and having a good blog, they may actually be writing something that others find compelling to read.
     
  5. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    I'm sure you're right. Their fiction, and their blogs are outstanding. I'm sure their readers agree, and look forward to any new work. I know I enjoy them. But their blogs would only be of interest to other writers, which is what this post is about. I'm not questioning the value of their work, or the value of their blog posts. They are all excellent writers and deserve every bit of their success. I'm questioning whether "making money from other writers" is a profit stream to the authors involved. If it is, I don't see them advertising that fact, or calling any attention to it either. That's all.

    And if they are, more power to them. If it works for them, then it works for them. I'm not judging them, or begrudging the fact if they do. I'm also not saying it's wrong to do so. (It's not right for me, but neither is doing a late night infomercial to sell books, but others do it successfully.)

    I'm simply observing their marketing tactics.
     
  6. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see what you mean. I know I definitely am attracted to books that have a positive blurb from well known authors and I guess part of that process is to attract the attention of other authors.
     
  7. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    True.
     
  8. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    A few years ago I started a blog, and (I can't remember how) the possibility arose of getting some pay-per-click advertising...just fill in your details and you get something laughable each time your blog got viewed. I don't think that my blog ever actually got visited, so the Inland Revenue won't be troubling me anytime soon, but a blogger with a decent following could easily make a few bob that way.
     
  9. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    Something else that can be said about those blogs, at least in Konrath's case, (Besides being a really funny blogger) He's doing a public service. The man has done more to protect Indie authors, support Indie authors, and promote Indie authors than probably everyone on this forum combined. The information he's blogged about since 2005, all of his trials and tribulations with traditional publishing, as well as income he made as an indie author through the years, what worked and what didn't, is absolutely priceless. Anyone who is serious about writing for a living, traditionally published or self-published, ought to spend a few days (or weeks) reading his website. You'll get the down and dirty, nitty-gritty details from a person who has done both.
     
  10. Glasswindows
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    Glasswindows Member

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    I question the value of anybody's blog post. But it might not be the writer's own idea, maybe they're told to do so. Since they like to write. And anybody can go on and on about themselves, the question is who'll listen. In the internet there's everyone and their time. I would count the other writers as readers at this. They're just reading about what interests them most. Learning from others who can possibly teach them something new.
     
  11. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Hang on a min, why would a writer's blog only be of interest to other writers?

    The answer is, it's not!!

    How many celebrities read gossip (Heat/Hello/OK/Cosmo/Whatever) magazines containing celebrities just so they can keep up with the other atoz-listers? Not a lot compared to the oodles of fans and 'ordinary' people who read those magazines because it's like a window onto that person's life. "Oooo, look who Miss Kardashian is arguing with now ..." etc etc so why wouldn't a reader be interested in their favourite writer's life?

    I am friends with a number of writers through my FB page, we follow and support each other but I also follow Jackie Collins for nothing more than to nosey in on her life, I've commented on her posts (along with hundreds of other people) and have never once promoted my work to her. When she asked her followers/fans to post pics of when they were younger because she'd posted one of herself, I posted one of me and went totally fangirl nuts when I got a notification to say "Jackie Collins Liked your picture ..."

    So what makes you think only writers would be interested in other writer's blogs?
     
  12. Glasswindows
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    Glasswindows Member

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    People are interested in celebrities, but how big portion of readers would be interested in the writers life. Not talking about knowing where they're from and what was wrong with them (there must be "something" otherwise nobody would care), writers are known as people with a little boring choice of profession, often failed if asked from the public (since they don't tend to succeed). In order to care one needs to understand something about being a writer - if there is such a thing - where as with celebrities nobody wants to know them they just want to know the gossip.
     
  13. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    You can get a decent idea of the readership by reading the comments. By a very large margin, the comments sections are populated by other authors. This doesn't necessarily mean no one else reads them, or is interested in them. But when the author of the blog is a writer, and the commenters as well are all writers, it can be taken as a hint to it's primary readership.

    Also Indie authors aren't on the same celebrity level as Lindsey Lohan or Leonardo Di Caprio. Most don't have paparazzi chasing them. Stephen King might, but he can hardly be called an Indie author.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015
  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think I agree with your general point... but I still can't help but feel that your argument is weakened by the fact that you're a writer... so proving that you read writers' blogs doesn't really prove anything about non-writers...?
     
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  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    That's what I'm saying, I don't read writer's blogs! (I've read three in the past because of a link to something that interested me) I am 'friends' with a number of writers on FB, by friends, I don't mean I follow them, I mean we post pictures to each other, we have conversations about things other than our books and we give congratulations when things go right for one of us.

    I only 'follow' one author as a fan and that was primarily because a friend of mine gave me a link to this persons new book as she released it chapter by chapter.

    What I'm saying, is that, as a writer, I'm not going to go out and specifically search for blogs of other writers. If I want to read someone's blog, then I will search out one written by a person who I like and who I find interesting. Like, as an example, Stephen Amell. He has a great personality on his FB page and always has a lot to say in his posts that show his as a genuinely caring person. He doesn't flood his page with personal stuff but does give his fans little insights into his personal life as well as his professional life.

    All I'm saying, is that I don't agree with the statement that only writers will read other writer's blogs and for anyone to assume that that's the case, would be like saying that only celebrities read other celebrities' blogs.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    My opinion from my observations:

    Writers blogs are typically about writing. If you are writing a how-to or a style guide, a blog makes sense.

    "WTF Evolution" is a blog that is a lot of fun. The blog spread quickly by viral word of mouth and the author collected lots of followers. Enough people followed the blog he turned the material into a book. I expect great success for this author.

    My Friend wrote "Bad Astronomy" about the same time he started a forum community and a blog. It grew from his activism debunking astronomy myths like Planet Nibiru hiding behind the Sun and alien abductions. That grew into speaking engagements and now he has a column in Discover Magazine and occasionally gets published in other media like Slate as well as having a short stint with a pilot TV show that lasted for a few episodes. The book remains in the 50K range of Amazon selling ranks (a good rating) despite being written in 2002. The negative reviews are hilariously written by conspiracy theorists who are sure the author is involved in the Moon Landing Hoax. His popularity involved his blog.

    The writing of EL James and Amanda Hocking became popular online before becoming best selling books.

    People who write blogs that become popular leading to books or marketing already written books are generally writing about something they have expertise in and are known for that expertise. I can't see how a writer's blog is going to be a very cost (of one's time) effective means of promotion.

    Now that's different from having an author's blog to promote the books you've already written. In that case getting your name out there via a blog, or just a web page, FaceBook, Goodreads or any other website is probably something authors need to do.
     
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  17. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Now that, I agree with (getting your name out there via social media) but sometimes, especially if you're self-published and do all your own advertisements and promotions, networking and getting your name out there can take up more time and give you more hassle than writing the book in the first place.
     
  18. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I think the bottom line for those of us not yet established is the quality* of the writing and a little luck of the draw.


    *I use the word, quality, here to include readable/popular books like Twilight and 50 Shades despite the lack of quality in the writing itself.
     
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  19. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    As we've already seen in the past, the argument of quality will never end as one readers' crap is another readers' cracker!
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Yeah, I probably should have hunted for a different adjective. :)
     
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  21. Bryan Romer
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    Some of the more popular blogs are not just about writing but about the writer's interests and about upcoming books. Many fans, especially of SF enjoy discussing technical points of stories with the writer. "How does that ray blaster work? Do XXX aliens enjoy bacon?", all manner of stuff.

    An example of this is Larry Correia's blog
    http://monsterhunternation.com/

    Or that of Eric Flint
    http://www.ericflint.net/
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    SPAM - go away.
     
  23. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    ... And with a wave of the wand he was gone.
     
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  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find it fairly unlikely that these blogs are actually making money, in the sense that there is a specific income stream attributable to the blog. I would guess that they instead increase the public visiblity of the blog owner, and that that pays off in some way--business contacts, reader recognition, and so on.

    Or maybe they don't pay off in any way whatsoever; maybe they instead cost the blogger time that he or she could be spending on more profitable things. Maybe they're pure pleasure for the blogger. There's no particular reason why that can't be true.
     
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  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I read a couple of author blogs regularly, but not many. These are blogs from authors whom I got to 'know' through their books, not their blogs. I don't know, but this notion that you need to have a 'blog' going in order to become a successful writer is maybe too universal. It's the cart before the horse in most cases, isn't it? (With the possible exception of David Thorne...) The sheer volume of author bloggery is enough to put me off the practice altogether. Just one more thing to clog up the Inbox.
     

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