The Pointy Marketing End of Writing Fiction: Old Dog, New Trick

No big secret that I’m working hard on making my fiction a full-time paying gig again — my objective is to earn 50% of my income from fiction, with the other 50% coming from my writing classes.

Fiction has been shoved over in a corner for years, because, well — writing good nonfiction is about a million times easier than writing good fiction, and in general it pays a lot better for significantly less work. And at the point where my writing site broke, it was getting the nonfiction up and running again that kept us from ending up living under a bridge.

And, honestly, after being taken in by that con artist John Locke, I had any hope of making a living writing fiction crushed out of me for a long time — everything that including both “indie publishing” and “earn a living doing it” looked like a scam.

But writing fiction is the dream job I love — sitting by myself in a room talking to invisible people on a page, watching them do things I don’t expect, finding better conflicts, bigger stories — and writing about what matters to me in THIS world that translates into my worlds.

I did it for free every spare minute I got for seven years before I sold anything. Did it as a commercial novelist working fiction as my full-time paying job for seventeen years. Throwing in all the years when I’ve been an indie doing fiction at least part time, I’m now over thirty years in on this — and it is STILL work I love.

When you find WORK. You. LOVE…. you do not ignore that. It’s rare. It’s astonishing.

I’m writing hard again. Fiction is what bounces me out of bed every morning. Knowing that I’m writing the stories I love, and that they will not be destroyed by bad editors or cancelled by ordering-to-the-net publishing idiocy matters to me.

Knowing that if I can get my work in front of a broader readership, what I’m writing has a chance to matter more — to me because it will help pay the bills, but to MY perfect readers, who can find something in fiction that they love, that matters to them as well — that’s what MAKES this the dream job.

I know how to write fiction. I’m good at it, and a good number of my students are making REAL money writing fiction after taking my classes.

They learned the “write good fiction” part from me.

Learning how to bring in serious money as indies? No.

That’s the part I’m learning from them.

And here are the books and here is the software they have pointed me to that I am fighting with and fighting through in order to make fiction a business, while STILL keeping it MY fiction. Good fiction.

1. Mastering Amazon Descriptions: An Author’s Guide: Copywriting for Authors
2. Mastering Amazon Ads: An Author’s Guide
3. Rapid Release: How to Write & Publish Fast For Profit
4. How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good
5. Become a Successful Indie Author: Work Toward Your Writing Dream
6. KDP Rocket

None of these are affiliate links. They’re just links to books I’m reading and software I’m using.

I do NOT yet have numbers to prove any of this will work for me. I can prove (using KDP Rocket) that my folks are earning what they say they are. That the writers of the books above (and the maker of the software), are earning what they say they are.

So this time, I can see that there is a path that leads from where I am to where I’m going. I am going to find my way down that path.

You’re going to be seeing more split tests on this site. NOT just cover art. Sometimes cover copy. Sometimes blurbs.

If you’ll help me out by participating in the split testing (just click whatever you like best), I’ll be grateful.

The only data I’m gathering is clicks. Nothing personal, nothing identifiable, nothing that will track you across the web and show you damned advertising.

I’m simply learning the split-testing process to figure out how to write better cover copy and blurbs, and how to build better covers.

Whether you’re a reader or a writer, thank you for reading this, and thank you for your help in clicking to let me know what you like.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

11 comments… add one
  • Heidi Human Mar 9, 2019 @ 10:03

    I cannot wait to read your new stuff! So excited!

    • Holly Mar 13, 2019 @ 12:00

      😀 Thank you. I’m excited, too.

  • Tammi Labrecque Mar 7, 2019 @ 12:02

    I’ll add a recommendation here: David Gaughran’s recent book on BookBub ads. INVALUABLE advice, and he’s one of only two people I know who does well with them. His method is a bit labor-intensive, which is bad, but most indies don’t want to put in that kind of work, so the good news is, most will give up rather than do all that work, leaving a viable ad platform for the rest of us.

    • Holly Mar 7, 2019 @ 13:48

      Just bought it. Thank you very much.

      • Robert L Slater Mar 7, 2019 @ 15:07

        Dave’s stuff is great. Also really find Joanna Penn’s posts useful. ARe you coming to 50BooksVegas in November? Would love to hang out and there is not a better group of people to help us! Most of the people whose books you’re reading will be there!

        • Holly Mar 8, 2019 @ 12:35

          It sounds cool, but no.

          At the moment I’m just trying to get us moved out of Hurricane Alley. I’ll consider doing the sort of stuff that costs money (like conventions) when I have us out of the line of fire.

          • Rob Slater Mar 8, 2019 @ 16:56

            Moving out of Hurrican Alley is a seriously good goal. Where do you want to be? 50BooksVegas is a cheap conference rather than a convention. If you ever want to go, I’ve got a brother in law with a place in Vegas to make it even cheaper. Pay it forward!

        • Tammi Labrecque Mar 8, 2019 @ 13:04

          Robert, I’ll be at 20 Books! I’m hosting a newsletter workshop the weekend before and then probably speaking at the con (Craig and I still have to work out the details). Come find me; I always love to meet fellow Holly acolytes! 😉

  • Kate Mar 7, 2019 @ 11:35

    there’s no link for the split tests…at least I couldn’t find it, but I’d help with copy. one thing I need help with, actually.

    • Holly Mar 7, 2019 @ 13:54

      The third-party software I bought because I thought I’d be able to use it for split-testing covers and copy turns out to be unable to handle text. And getting it to work with covers is half-assed at best.

      Dan is working on my Split Tester again (a piece of one of my classes that got derailed when the site broke).

      When we have enough of it done that I can use it, I’ll start split-testing with that. And we’ll get folks who took the class into the software as soon after that as possible.

      Meanwhile… I’m just guessing and hoping.

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