This Is Not The Path To Success

There’s an interesting thread on a certain writing forum right now where people who are making over $25K or over $100K per year are answering some questions.  By my count there are twenty-six people already in the $50K+ range with a few others that posted that they’ll be there soon and a few I know of that could’ve chimed in but have not.

Of those twenty-six, almost all have just one name they write under.  If they did have more than one name, they’ve let the others die off or the others exist but make them no money.  There was one author that said they had twelve pen names but that only three really make them money.  Almost all of the others were focused on one name.

Which makes me look at my schedule for this year and think to myself, “this is not the path to success.”

I know that I should focus my efforts on one name.  (Likely my most successful romance pen name that’s earned me almost half of all my income.)  That is the way to do it.  You write something people like by someone they like and then you keep doing it.  Far better to write 750,000 words under one name than under ten.

And yet, I can’t do it.  My most successful name isn’t even in my plans for this year.  (Plans I’m not even sure I’m going to hit as is.)  I’m planning on publishing under five names this year.  And I already published under two others.

Why am I so stubbornly stupid?

At least I’m finally learning the lesson about writing in series or connected standalones.  I’m hoping to finally complete two series this year which will be the first time I’ve written a series since starting self-publishing almost three years ago.

So if you’re better at self-control this than I am, here’s the advice: Stick to one name.  Write in series.  Write in related genres.

At least until you’re making enough to experiment or move around.  And, because you’re going to be stuck doing it a while, start with writing something you love that has a reasonably large potential audience.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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1 Response to This Is Not The Path To Success

  1. Dave Higgins says:

    Based on a melange of data and anecdotes from many sources, an author’s sales are very unlikely to take off before they publish their third book. Which would seem to suggest people who want to write under more than one name (and there are solid reasons) would be more likely to succeed if they don’t drop a name until after the third book.

    Or the obverse, if you have a single idea that you don’t want to publish under your own name, it probably won’t be commercially successful.

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