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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Secret to My Success

Hi. I know many people visiting my blog today were directed from Joe Konrath's blog (thanks for the shout out, sir). A lot of people had very kind things about me and my books, and I thank them for that.

If you haven't read Joe's blog, you can check it out: here. And if you're interested at all in writing or publishing in the near future, I suggest you check his blog in general. He does a much better job of explaining things than I do. I like to pretend that it's all magic, and leave it at that.

But somebody asked for proof. Even though I know I don't have to give proof, I don't like insinuations that I'm a liar. I'm many things, but I'm not a liar. So I'm posting what proof I have.

I didn't take screen shots on the sixth or seventh, when I actually reached the 10,000 mark. But I did take them just now.

Here's a screen shot for Amazon: (I think you can click on it to enlarge it - or I hope you can)

Here's a screen shot for Createspace:

And here's a screen shot for Barnes & Noble:

The Barnes & Noble is tricky because it's a cumulative of all the books I'd sold through them since the beginning. So, I have to subtract the amount of books I sold through them prior to Dec 1st, which was 10,605. So, at the time of the screen shot, I'd sold 5,387 books through them in the month of December.

If you add up those three totals, you get a grand total of 12,598. Since today is the eighth, I think you can agree it's a safe to say I'd sold 10,000 books as of two days ago.

But something else that I haven't mentioned - I'm selling 4 of my books directly on Barnes & Noble. Three of them - My Blood Approves, Fate, and Wisdom - are being sold through Smashwords. And Smashwords is horrible at reporting how many books I've sold through them.

I can roughly estimate, and you can see how many books I'm selling of Flutter (the third book in the series) through Barnes & Noble, so I imagine that Fate and Wisdom are selling comparably well, and My Blood Approves, being the first book and the cheapest, is probably selling a bit better. I'm not going to speculate on sales, but I'm fairly certain that my actual sales for December (thus far) are higher than 12,598.

For those of you asking how I did it, it's all fairly simple - I wrote a lot of books.

As of today, I've written sixteen novels, four novellas, at least fifty short stories, a screenplay, hundreds of poems, a one-act play, and I have two works in progress, plus the outlines for an additional six or seven novels. And that says nothing for the incomplete works I've started and for the trunk of notebooks filled with half-finished ideas in my bedroom.

Of all that stuff I've written, most of it will never be fit for publication because it's just not very good. I stand by most of it being good when I wrote it - meaning I wrote a really great short story for a twelve-year-old or a pretty good novel for a seventeen-year-old. But that doesn't mean they're good enough to be published and read. Just because you write something, doesn't mean other people should read it.

If you want more in depth information, I covered most of it in a previous blog I wrote, which you can check out: here.

And as I've said before, a lot of this has seemed easy to me and it appears that it's come easy for me and happened suddenly. But I have been writing continuously pretty much entire life. That's not even an exaggeration. I wrote my first short story by the time I was five. And I've written hundreds of thousands of words since then.

And I haven't just been writing. After I turned eighteen, and I got really serious about being published, I spent a lot of time researching the publishing world and learning and getting critiqued and critiquing others.

What I'm saying is that I've been working my whole life for this. I've spent twenty-six years writing, and eight years studying what it takes to make writing my career. I write commercial fiction, with nice covers and good prices. And I happened to publish during an ebook revolution. So if you want to know the secret to my success - it's all that right there.


  1. So simple! Congratulations, Amanda.

    Scott Nicholson

  2. Seriously great post!

    I've got ten titles on Amazon but I've yet to see these kinds of numbers.

    Well done and good luck on your continued success!

    All the Best,


  3. Congrats! And I hope your iBook sales are doing as well.

  4. Oh, come on, Amanda!

    We all know that to succeed as an indie author you need to sacrifice at least one unicorn per month to Publigoth the Fickle, Devourer of Writers.

    So fess up! Where are you getting your unicorns?

    - Joseph

  5. Well said, Amanda. Especially about how much work you've put into this to make these numbers, dispelling the notion of some lottery-jackpot win.

    What's that old saying? It's a long, hard road to overnight success.

    Congrats and carry on,


  6. "It's a long, hard road to overnight success. "

    Or, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?

    Practice, practice, practice.

    Your 20+ years of hard work are paying off. Congratulations!

  7. Absolutely COOL! I, for one, am glad you posted your numbers. It's heartening to know that there are authors out there that are truly making it work for themselves. It gives me (with almost non-existent sales compared to yours) the ambition to keep trying. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that you can write a good book!

  8. I am a huge fan. I cannot wait for the rest of your future books to be published. You have a talent, and I'm glad you share it with the world. For this, as a reader, I am grateful. Thank you.

  9. This is brilliant Amanda. You are an inspiration to the rest of us. I need to write a lot faster to reach your levels of book sales success. Congratulations!

  10. That's terrific! I'm happy for you, impressed by your success, and I hope to come close to those numbers some day. Congratulations! May it continue to grow.

  11. Congratulations, Amanda! Amazing numbers. Your persistent hard work is finally paying off.

    Best wishes for your continued success.

  12. Congrats! That's wonderful to see.

  13. Quantity instead of quality. Brilliant formula to success.

  14. Inspiring! So what's the problem with Smashwords reporting?

  15. Amazing! Congratulations!
    (As a self-pubbed author myself, I'm thrilled with your success, and you have beautiful covers.)

  16. Sorry, I meant to say Quantity AND Quality. Congratulations.

  17. I wasn't necessary to prove yourself, but it's great to see the success you’re having. Gives hope for the rest of us.

  18. That's amazingly impressive, Amanda. I'm glad you emphasize the hard work and persistence that's gotten you where you are (with a little luck that you emerged during the ebook revolution). Yes, talent is a requirement, but there are plenty of talented people who haven't accomplished nearly as much as you have because they didn't realize they had to put the work in. Congrats on all your success. I'm sure publishers will be camping on your doorstep with this news, but when you're selling 10,000 books a week on your own, they would have to offer you a pretty awesome value proposition to change what you're doing. But if movie studios or foreign-language publishers come calling, get yourself a good agent.

  19. *tsk* I can't believe people would call you a liar. I don't see how it's any of their business if you are anyway! I mean, I know you're an author and people should be able to trust you to some point so that they buy your books, but it's pretty silly. And I know, you are NOT a liar. You've never told me one dishonest thing. Well, not anything relevant. Anyway...I have this new thing where I think people are just jealous if they're bad mouthing something. You're doing very well, and I'm so proud of you! Plus, I LOVE reading your books. Remember how I never read books in High School? Now I read all the time. (It doesn't hurt that they're on the Kindle. It makes it much easier to motivate myself to read at night time when I'm in the mood for that kind of thing.)

  20. Hi Amanda! Just wanted to say congrats on your success, and that I referenced you over on my blog.

    Here's the link to what I posted, and thanks for sharing your story!

  21. Congratulations and keep up the good work. Somebody once told a great golfer that he was lucky. His reply: "The more I practice, the luckier I get."

  22. I would never expect you to lie about anything. I grew up not far from you. What I remember most about that part of the country, was never having to question anything anyone told me--unless they were on the lam from a reform school. The key to your success, I think, is that you've written books a lot of people want to read.

  23. I came back here to your blog to see if you'd had time to answer my question regarding ebook pricing and found both my comments gone. Not sure what happened to them. Maybe they have to be approved first...if so I'll delete this last one.

    Again, congratulations on all your success. Your story was very interesting and inspiring! :-)

    My question: how did you price your ebooks during this rise in sales? Did you price them low ($1.99 or less) as Joe often suggests?

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
    bestselling author

  24. Way to go Amanda! I am a huge fan of your books both as a reader and a writer. I've been looking up to you the way you said you looked up to Joe Konrath in your comment on his blog, lol. I only have one book out right now, and I was wondering if you'd share with us what your sales were like with My Blood Approves when it first came out? Has this been a slow uphill climb? Or did you see amazing numbers right off the bat? How much marketing work have you done? Or have you mostly concentrated on getting new content to readers?

    Any insights you could share would be extremely helpful and appreciated. I am so excited for you for your success, and not a bit surprised!

  25. HA!! Thanks for smooshing that in the annoying persons face *happydance* I really can't stand those who feel the need to take down tall poppies (NZer's have it real bad *sigh*) You go girl *lol* so proud of your success - proves all the naysayers wrong *hee* (and yes I might have had a little too much coffee this morning....)

    BirthRight The Arrival, on Amazon 1.1.2011

  26. Congrats and keep it up! Don't worry about the haters. :)

  27. Awesome job! Very happy to have made your internet acqai...aquwain...acqwain...

    Nice to meet you!

  28. Thanks for sharing numbers. So few indie authors do, and it's a nice bit of encouragement for those of us just getting into it.

    Plus, it's great to see authors having such great success!

  29. I just ordered your first book. Got my Kindle last week and am loving it. Thanks. :)

  30. Awesome, Amanda! I am so happy for you and hope things will get even better for you as the ebook market continues to grow.

  31. Hi Amanda,

    Congratulations on your success!! -- I think there'll always be some people asking for "proof," so the occasional screenshot can be good (though one is not required to entertain such doubt, if one wishes not to ^^).

    I think your last paragraph really says it all -- I hope the success of indie authors like yourself/JA Konrath/Karen McQuestion etc inspires other indies to keep going (or inspires those that are "on the fence" to jump in). High time evil empires got whacked.


  32. I personally purchased your Trylle book series from Barnes and Noble and I love them!!!! Where can I find the release date for the next installment? I am hooked and dying to read the next!!!! Thank you!

  33. You are an inspiration amanda i wrote the below book, but been unable to move even a single copy so far. I promise i'd work harder to promote my book.
    [ a handbook for people joining IT industry -> Half Baked Sun: ]