I recently interviewed book author Martyn Stanley, also known simply as Mart, about his publishing experiences and overall success with the dynamic marketplace. The following information should give people an idea what it’s like to make money as an average indie publisher, provided you put a great deal of effort and dedication into your work. These questions are also meant to educate you about the things that generally make an author successful in the field. Granted, there’s a lot more involved than the answers provided in this short interview, but these should undoubtedly help get your feet wet in the event you decide to pursue book publishing. Enjoy!
When did you get started, and what drew your attention to book publishing?
I’ve written fan fiction on web forums since around 2000. I wrote a couple of short stories for a website in the mid-nineties.
Do you publish books outside of Kindle? If so, which platforms?
I tried Kobo for a while, made a few sales. Losing out on KDP Select was not worth the gains of a few Kobo sales. I ended up using Kobo as a dropbox for anything that failed the amazon content filter.
What is your writing process like? How do you plan getting from start to finish?
I start with an idea, then I write. I literally just sit and write and write and write. If it’s a long complex plot over a 30,000 words, I tend to write a sort of list of events and then delete them as I write the actual story. You have to be willing to abandon the plan though. Good characters will write your story with you – you just know how they’ll react to a situation if they’re good characters with flaws and personality.
Do you focus on multiple subjects or simply one niche topic at all times?
I prefer to write horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Fantasy is my favourite genre to write, but it’s a very tough category to be in, I think.
On average, how long is your word count per book?
Fantasy novels are 60,000 words plus. Horror, paranormal that sort of thing are 40,000 plus.
Speaking of word count, do you firmly believe that more is always better?
No, stories have a natural length. Originally I had a title for part 2 of my fantasy series – but in writing it I realised I’d finished a book and the title for it didn’t make sense. So I had to change it. Things have to make sense, you have to be flexible.
Do you conduct any promotion outside of Kindle, such as blogs and social networks?
I use Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Shelfari and my library. Some books don’t need any external promotion.
Approximately how many books do you publish per month?
Less than one a month usually, it’s important to keep a steady trickle going though. In twelve months since starting I put out over twenty titles, but some are works I’d written before and just needed some re-working.
Do you outsource any of the work?
No, I looked at the idea, but I’ve decided it is just a bad, bad idea. I suggest anyone writes all their own material and builds slowly. Outsourcing will come back and bite you I think.
Have your sales remained more or less consistent over a long period?
I’ve had to add titles steadily to maintain the income I was receiving. December 2012 was still my best month.
What are some crucial mistakes you’ve made since you started, if any? What have they taught you?
Not writing enough, not having time to write, allowing myself to have writers block. The two main elements to making a go of it are quality and quantity. they are both critical, you need to have both to make a go of it – and you need to be prepared to try other genre if your masterpiece isn’t selling.
Do you consider your publishing experience a success, overall?
It’s given me a second salary, though a smaller one than my main salary. I’d really like to see my fantasy series fly – that’s my passion. If it ever starts to sell well, I’ll really consider myself a success.
Where do you see your publishing business within the next 12 to 24 months?
I will keep doing as before, expanding my various series and promoting as needed. I doubt I’ll be a millionaire doing it in the next 12 months. It’s nice to have the extra income though and I love writing.
What valuable piece of advice can you share with the world?
Dare, and if you want to write – write. Agonising about what to write or spending months planning a novel is fine, but writing is what pays the bills. When you start selling books, don’t spend six hours a day going over your sales stats! That’s wasted time you could have been writing!
Thanks for these superb and honest answers! You can catch some of Mart’s books and series on his main Amazon books page.