I am happy to start ‘The (vacant) Author’ series off today with B.V. Larson. He is a self-published author who has sold more than 500,000 eBooks and continues to sell more and influence new authors to go on their own to reach success.
The Unleashed Author
I’ve been writing fiction seriously since the nineties. By 2010 I had around 300 rejections plus another 300 “totally ignored” non-responses from publishers and agents. I tracked these for years with little gold stars in a green, zip-up notebook of shame. I’d been successful in non-fiction (I have a textbook series), but I’d never managed more than a few pro short story sales. Occasionally I did manage to get close, but in the end my hopes were always dashed. In those dark years, I landed three different agents, each of which wandered off eventually when I didn’t hit pay-dirt. I was teased on many occasions with “rewrite this” requests. There were several “maybes” and “almosts” from editors, but I never sealed the deal with a novel sale.
Throughout all these experiences, I had a fulltime job which I didn’t hate, but I still hadn’t given up on my passion—not until April 2010. As a teacher, I generally spent all summer each year writing. But this time, I could tell I wasn’t going to do it. I could no longer suspend my disbelief and waste more of my life span. I was on the verge of giving up—my dream of becoming a novelist had turned into an embarrassing folly.
I decided to look actively for another path. It was this effort, born of despair, which finally yielded success. My ebook odyssey began when I
discovered Joe Konrath’s blog and read about how well he was doing on Amazon. I decided to give it a try, as it could hardly be worse than
firing blindly at New York. Amazon’s site was a wonderland to me. All I’d ever wanted was a chance to play the game, and they gave it to me. I worked hard at it, studying every facet of their system. In the end, I figured out there weren’t any shortcuts. It wasn’t a matter of employing tricks or gimmicks. The system is carefully designed to allow a polished product, which people want to buy, to find its way to interested customers. The system does this very well, and I found that to be a fantastic relief. All I had to do was write good books and present them to the world as best I could.
When I started uploading ebooks, I’d never even laid eyes on a kindle. But by the end of May, 2010 I had two books up and 7 big sales. Things grew rapidly from there, and over the last two years, I’ve racked up nearly half a million ebook sales, mostly through KDP. I now have an effective agent, traditional book deals, foreign translations, audiobooks and film options. I did it all without a fan-base or a web-presence. I had nothing going for me other than determination, a pile of unsold manuscripts and a willingness to adapt. My point is: Indies can succeed.
As a modern writer, I feel I have many advantages over my last-century equivalents. One of the critical ones is feedback: instead of writing a book and finally seeing it published 2 or 3 years later, I can release it a month after it’s finished. Very quickly, I gather reviews and fan mail from readers. Sales data is also available in real time. These tools allow me to adjust and learn. I can tell what works and what doesn’t and do a better job next time. This fast feedback has helped me grow as a writer when I fail, and given me the morale-boost to write more when I succeed.
-B. V. Larson
About B.V. Larson
Imperium Series: (Alien Invasion SF)
Mech, Mech 2, The Dominant (Mech Novella) publication pending
The Haven Series: (Epic Fantasy)
Amber Magic, Sky Magic, Shadow Magic, Dragon Magic, Blood Magic, Death Magic
The Star Force Series: (Military SF)
Swarm, Extinction, Rebellion, Conquest
Hyborean Dragons Series: (Dark Fantasy)
To Dream with the Dragons, The Dragon-Child, Of Shadows and Dragons, The Swords of Corium, The Sorcerer’s Bane, The Dragon Wicked
Seeker Series: (Paranormal Romance)
Blood of Gold, Blood of Silver
Lost Shores, Creatures, Real Life, Shifting, Spyware, Velocity, Deadly Weapon, The Vampire’s Image