Am I a Real Author?


When I jumped into the indie author scene, it was a calculated risk. Like I do with a lot of decisions, I looked at the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • There are a number of platforms that are easy to publish your work on for little or no cost (Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, etc.).
  • The royalties for sales are pretty decent. If you price a book on Amazon over $2.99, for instance, you will get 70% of what you sell.
  • You can write at your own pace in whatever style you want.
  • You can directly interact with your readers through many vehicles (blogs, mailing, lists, social media, author signing events).
  • There is a fairly organized community of independent authors and you can learn from others and help others that are just getting started.
  • My writing would be judged directly by the readers and not some low-on-the-totem-pole publishing house employee looking for the flavor of the month.
  • Trend-setters like Hugh Howey and Mark Dawson are putting independent authors on the map ranking higher than some traditional best-selling authors.
  • You have creative control over everything! You can select your own cover, hire an editor (or not), title your book, and write in whatever genre you want to.

Cons:

  • Just like with the indie music world, there is a lot of variety out there. There is also good and bad. The key component that differentiates here is quality. Poor spelling, grammar, and formatting occurs at a much higher frequency in the work of indie authors.
  • Getting recognized is hard work. There is no publishing house promoting your book, issuing press releases, and setting up interviews. You are your own social media and blogger.
  • You have creative control over everything! There is no one to point out if the emperor is not wearing clothes. There are no focus groups to select your cover for you or advise you on a title or a genre to write in. You are it.

Obviously, the pros outweighed the cons for me. The main factor was my age. Becoming a novelist after age 50 is daunting enough without the rejection letters and constant queries to publishing houses that don’t want unproven ‘seasoned’ authors. I wanted to get my writing out there and let the readers tell me if it stunk or not. Of course, my first reader was my wife of 30 years. I knew that she would not ‘blow smoke’ if she didn’t like my writing. She liked the first book and that gave me the confidence to move to the next step.

I hired a very intelligent, long-time friend of mine to be my editor. When I say ‘hired’, that’s a bit of a stretch. She edited the book for free with the promise of whatever I could pay her as the book made profits. I knew that, as a friend, this wouldn’t just be a job for her, she would also tell me if the book had weak points, which it did, and be honest about it’s viability, which she was.

In the end, it all worked out. I am now four novels in, along with two non-fiction books, and I still have the same passion I did in the beginning. Am I ready to quit my day job? Not yet. Although, my earnings from writing have doubled each year since I started. Each book I release seems to outperform the previous one. I must be doing some things right.

The one piece that still is elusive is getting that recognition. I’m doing what I can, but it’s still a challenge. This year, I created a street team. I honestly didn’t think that anyone would be interested in promoting my books. I solicited interest from my mailing list and immediately got responses. Instead of the two or three I expected, I got 30 volunteers in the first several hours and cut off the street team membership at that number. They have been a loyal group trudging out to bookstores and libraries loyally with the promise of signed copies of my latest book. I owe them tremendously.

So, I may write more about this in the future. This has been somewhat cathartic. I would love to have this blog start off a discussion. What journey did you go through as an independent author? What has worked and what hasn’t? Let’s help each other.

As always, your comments are most welcome.

About Don Massenzio:

Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian-American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others.

His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first of a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files.

The second Frank Rozzani detective novel, Let Me Be Frank is now available. His third book in the Frank Rozzani series was released on April 24th, 2015 and is available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and Paperback formats.

27 thoughts on “Am I a Real Author?

  1. Great post Don. My own journey has been full of ups and downs. Just recently my little indie publisher I was with announced they are closing down, so now I face going totally alone ie Amazon and so on. I think being with them for the past three years has taught me a lot though! It’s certainly not easy being an indie but hopefully one day it ill be worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    Sounds like you are not only an author, but are successful at doing it. Success isn’t measured in a dollar amount necessarily, but one can definitely argue you are a success based off your progressive improvement in selling books. Good job and I am sure you are inspiration to others that want to self-publish. Keep writing, keep sharing, and keep blazing that trail for others. Who knows one day maybe I’ll join your ranks. -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here. Please visit their blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think you have been reading my mind. I am in the over 50’s and working to get my writing out there, while debating the indie route. It really appeals to me. Definitely creative inspiration in your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good luck Don. I think it’s great that now we can bypass the gatekeepers and get our work directly out to the public. I don’t know how to make your work stand out, there’s so much out there now. But at least it’s out there. 🙂
    I started blogging for the same reasons, to get my writing and photography out to the public directly. So far, I have not had much success with numbers, but every week I do a little better. That is encouraging and keeps me motivated to keep trying. I am also considering writing an e-book.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Nice breakdown and valuable insights from your own experience.
    It’s definitely swinging in favour of self publishing just now it seems. Like you point out marketing is the real key that’s lacking by the DIY method, but as you also point out, it would be easy to end up on someones slush pile and even if a publisher takes someone up, I highly suspect that very few authors get real support and promotion apart from the 10% ear marked for success. In essence you can’t go wrong with self publishing in that if a book fails it fails. There’s alwas book two etc.
    I’m glad to see you’re making a success of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this. I feel more motivated and inspired reading it. I am a 50+ writer, who has self published one book onto Amazon, and am busy editing the second book (does that mean I am an indie author?) I have found self publishing real good as you can retain control of your work, so your words have definitely resonated with me. Looking forward to more posts! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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