Become a Successful Indie Author is in the NaNoWriMo Writing Tools bundle, a collection of a dozen books on writing. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, a non-profit group created by the families of the crew of the Challenger shuttle. This bundle is only available through the end of November 2018.
Craig runs the 20BooksTo50K author group, which has over 26,000 members. A successful indie author, he writes best selling fiction in genres he loves: space opera, military scifi, Space Marine, colonization, and genetic engineering. He lives in Alaska, where temperatures reach fifty below zero, and he and his wife get to watch the northern lights from their driveway.
Become a Successful Indie Author
Demystifying the tangled web of self-publishing to put you on the road to success.
This is a motivational guide based on Craig’s two and a half million published words (mostly with Amazon) to help you see past the hurdles that are keeping you from climbing the mountain of success. Nothing is overwhelming once it’s been explained. If you are smart enough to write a book, you are smart enough to do everything else needed to make your indie author business a success.
Clocking in at nearly 50,000 words, this guide has something for every budding author as well as those who have already published, but for whom success remains elusive. In this business there is only one hard and fast rule—you must find readers willing to pay for your stories. It starts with the first sentence. You have to write a gripping story that people want to read, wrap a cover around the book, and then do the marketing. There’s no doubt that you can do it. Let Craig show you how.
Why publish your books yourself? For the same reason most small businesses start—you have an idea and are the best one to make it a reality. That idea is a story, and you have to write it, then publish it, and then sell it. And then write another one.
Easy? Definitely not.
We publish independently because we get a much higher royalty share, we have complete control over our work, we interact directly with our readership, and so much more. The drawback is that you have to do it all yourself—creativity, production, marketing, and accounting. But indies are betting on themselves, just like any other small business. We stand up and shout, “I got this!” Then we knuckle down and do the hard work where we and we alone are responsible for our success.
Will this book guarantee that you’ll be the next seven-figure author? Absolutely not. But it will show you that if you work hard at the right things, it may not be as far away as you think. Make your hard work work for you.
This book is meant to show you what’s possible, and that you’re not alone on this journey. Arming yourself with information is the best way to win the battle known as “Indie Publishing.”
You can do it. It takes work, but the mountain is not insurmountable.
JK Rowling made over one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) in book sales alone and estimates suggest that she reached only nine percent of the book reading public. Only nine percent is worth a billion dollars. She didn’t get there because she was trying to get rich. She got there because she wrote great stories and then handled the business side of it.
What if you were able to tap 1/10,000th of what JK Rowling tapped?
Then you would be a $100,000 author, while the average author makes less than $10,000 a year. But we refuse to be average, because we learn from others with readily available information that will help us get to that next level.
No matter where you are on your author journey, there’s always a new level you can reach.
Roll up your sleeves, because it’s time to get to work.
– from Become a Successful Indie Author by Craig Martelle
What’s the most important lesson readers should take away from Become a Successful Indie Author?
That if you work hard at the right things, your chances of success greatly improve.
Why do you believe newsletters are so important?
It is the direct link to my fans. It lets me have a conversation with them at regular intervals. They subscribed because they liked my books. It’s important to keep feeding them.
What helps you stay motivated?
My fans, the readers who buy my books and make the characters their own. I worked as a Fortune 500 business consultant and seeing the opportunity while applying sound business practices to the art of storytelling is doubly rewarding.
You’ve written nine books in your Free Trader series, and three books in the Cygnus Space Opera series, which is set in the same universe. What do you enjoy about writing in this universe?
It takes me back to my high school days when D&D was first rolled out. It was a great game of the imagination. The first science fiction role-playing game was Metamorphosis Alpha by James M. Ward. That is the game I loved the most for engagement of the imagination. With the success of the Free Trader series, I was able to connect with James and we have since written two books together and are currently working on our third.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from collaborating with other authors?
You can learn something from everyone, whether it’s a turn of phrase, depth of character, or so many other things. Everyone you’ve ever met knows something that you don’t. Take a chance to learn what that is
What suggestions can you give to someone trying to improve their word count?
Practice helps immensely. Writing every day is the key to big word counts. The more you do it, the better you get at it.
You co-wrote The Human Experiment with Kevin McLaughlin. What was the most surprising thing to you about the experience of collaborating with another author on this project?
That a literary fiction style book takes a different kind of marketing and a different style of writing than either of us was used to.
Darklanding, a space opera/western series you’re writing with Scott Moon, is being released in a serial format with twelve releases in a season, then a break before the next season begins. Why did you and Scott choose to use this format, and what are your thoughts about it now that you’ve completed the first season?
We wrote Darklanding very specifically to woo the small screen. Each episode can be turned into a one-hour screenplay with minimal effort. We focused on different characters in each episode to make shooting them easier. After completing the first season, we learned that as a series of books in a niche genre, it needs more oomph. We marketed it a great deal before launch. It did well, even with the rapid release but fell off the charts after we stopped releasing.
You’re a key part of 20BooksTo50K, and a driving force behind the group’s conferences. What’s your favorite part about being involved with this group?
Changing lives. We have helped so many people to turn their lives around. The stories are amazing. I’ve had the pleasure to meet a number of incredible authors because of running the largest self-published author conference in the world.
What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?
I’m working on a number of stories right, building IP (intellectual property) through outlining and preparing three new series. I have co-writers working on three different military scifi/space operas, a space dragon trilogy, and an epic fantasy trilogy. The stuff that I personally write—my lawyer in space series is doing great and I love writing it (I’m a lawyer, too, my sordid past). The biggest new series is a Young Adult Cozy Mystery set of 24 books that we’ll publish next year—a new story every two weeks. These will be novellas, but they are going to be great fun. Look for Monster Case Files in a store near you. 🙂
Craig retired from the Marine Corps, spending time both as enlisted and as an officer. Then he went to law school, took his law degree into business consulting where he became a business diagnostics specialist and leadership coach. He retired from that at age 52 because he was away from home way too much. That’s when he started writing full time, and he has not looked back since. This is a great ride! He have a variety of stories now since he’s been at this for a little while, lots of short stories so you can see if you like his style. He has a number of best selling novels in categories that matter to him—space opera, military scifi, Space Marine, colonization, and genetic engineering. As a serial daydreamer, it’s nice to finally get the stories on paper (virtual and digital paper, that is). And then since he runs the 20Booksto50k author group with over 25,000 members, he has taken what I’ve shared, put it into logical order, expounded on a few things, and then published it as a self-help book for indie authors.