Feeling too happy? Read "What I'm really thinking - the failed novelist"

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2008
To go off topic somewhat here, I know that if I self-published, my books would probably disappear. To be noticed, I'd have to put in a huge amount of time and effort (which I don't have) and do loads of self-publicity (which I don't have any inclination towards). And then, on top of all of that, there's the issue of luck. And the suspicion that a lot of what you hear from both sides of the argument are horror stories or unusual successes. The model is slanted towards people who have the free time, money and charisma that comes from being well-off before they even started.

One advantage with the standard model is that, once the contract is concluded and the books printed, the author's work is largely done. Of course, it sometimes doesn't work out that way, but that is the standard towards which things are meant to go. Which is not to say that self-publishing is a bad idea, just that, as far as producing a good book that is recognised as such and/or makes some money, it's got its flaws too. I think a lot would depend on the individual writer and their objectives.


Well-Known Member
Nov 4, 2008
Working with the Bare Bones of talent
I agree Toby - the time element in making self-publishing a success seems to be relentless, because you're swimming with so many other books in a monstrous tide. Not sure they have to be well-off to do it, but I'm sure that helps. Good luck to those who've made it here - I admire all of them. This might help someone:

Amazon launches £20,000 literary prize for Kindle authors

Theophania Elliott

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2016
Birmingham, UK
I think a lot depends on how you define success. Is it:

  1. Holding that book in your hands with your name on the front?
  2. At least one person who is not you holding that book with your name on the front in their hands?
  3. Being able to buy a Mars bar/chippie meal/meal-with-tablecloth/holiday with the profits?
  4. Being able to retire to your tropical island and have your every whim attended to by good-looking persons of the gender(s) of your choice?
  5. Fame?
  6. Prizes?

Some of my self-published author friends aren't quite still at the stage of being able to buy a round for all their readers and still have change out of a tenner, but I know at least one of them can track when some stranger is reading their way through his books on Kindle Unlimited. Would they like to sell more books? Absolutely. Are they planning to give up because they haven't yet been able to put the deposit on the tropical island and start interviewing the good-looking young persons (or even pay the gas bill) with the profits? No. They write and publish because they enjoy the writing. Maybe that makes them foolish; maybe they should give up and spend their time doing something else. But I don't think so: they enjoy the writing, and their readers (however many there are) enjoy the reading. There's a lot to be said for doing something that spreads a little happiness.

I have other self-published friends who seem to be doing quite nicely, thank you, in a quiet sort of way. Nobody's managed to give up the day job yet, but the books are providing a nice side-line. One does virtually no advertising/publicity and says he doesn't know why his books sell the way they do. Another does a lot of events and promotional stuff, and comes from one of those big working-class families with lots of brothers and cousins and friends who all live in the same area and can be mobilised to help out. Another self-pubbing friend works at the day job six-months-on, six-months-off, writing books in the six-months-off.

Of course, then there's my trad-pubbed friend who's been doing OK for the last twenty years or so knocking out BDSM erotica at a rate of about one book a month, under a variety of pen-names. And that is his day job, and he's very good at it. His books are brilliantly funny. :) He's well known in his circles, but he still hasn't bought that tropical island, and as far as I know, has won no prizes.

Success and happiness are where you find them, and sometimes you have to adjust your expectations. I don't think I know any author who wouldn't quite like to at least try out being rich and famous for a bit, but only a few manage it. So if that's what you want out of being an author, it's probably best to give up early before you put any more time and effort into a pursuit that is 99.999% likely not to give you what you want.

But if you want to write for the pleasure of writing, and make at least a few people happy (or even just tick that "write a book" off your to-do list), then why give up?


Cat whisperer
Nov 23, 2011
Sitting in the sun (between the rain storms)

But only if you have a novel ready to go now. To enter, your book has to be published in a roughly three month window - Feb-May. I'm not sure when this was first announced, but it feels like remarkably short notice to produce a decent novel and publish. So if you happen to get lucky and are ready to go in that interval, good luck. If you published a month or two earlier...
Seems a bit crazy.

Still, if anyone here does have a book just ready to go, grab the chance. If nothing else, it puts you on a 'short' list on Amazon - currently under a hundred titles.


Level 30 Geek Master
Dec 9, 2015
Odd way of thinking; I just can't imagine.

I feel like a total success when my books sell their first copy! :D

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