I’m Only a Mild Exception

I recently went over the advantages of self-publishing, and the post garnered quite a few responses and emails. One of the things I really want to highlight is that I’m not an exception to any rule; I’m only an outlier by degree, not kind. I have watched hundreds if not thousands of lives get turned rightside up this past year by hanging out on writing forums like KindleBoards’ Writers’ Cafe. Today, author H.M. Ward shared her amazing story over there.

Two years ago, H.M. had an agent and a book on submission. Editors wanted to change the tone of the book to match what was currently selling. Instead, she took the book and self-published it. It went on to sell 25,000 copies. More importantly, she kept writing and publishing and used her freedom to skip genres with a romance novel.

Two years later (with a baby born during the interim), she has sold her 200,000th book! This is a remarkable achievement, and many other authors are on their way. Because their books are published and available forever, there’s a great chance that someone selling a few thousand copies this year will hit hundreds of thousands over their lifetime, especially if they keep writing.

If you approach this as a hobby and something you love doing, anything can happen. It’s happening to people right now and more than you think. It’s the feel-good story of our age, I believe. Not since Guttenberg has the dream of writing and publishing reached so many. And even if it’s only so that 13-year-old Kelsey Day Marlett can craft a book with the help of her grandmothers and hold it in her hands for the first time, this is something to cheer.

6 responses to “I’m Only a Mild Exception”

  1. Thanks for the post Hugh! :)

  2. I just want to say, I read your post on the advantages of self-publishing and it (and WOOL) inspired me to try writing some short stories while I’m working on my novel.

    To tell you the truth, prior to now I’ve avoided short stories (writing OR reading them) because all the ones that are held up as “good” by the establishment and/or high-school English curricula seem to be uber depressing (anyone remember the one about the boy who lived in a McDonalds trash can? although, I kind of liked that one, so maybe not the best example. but still. depressing).

    But between realizing that WOOL started as a series of linked short stories, and getting real pleasure from reading Neil Gaiman’s twelve shorts for his Calendar of Tales project, it’s opened my narrow little window on why short stories should exist :) And I’m letting my freak flag fly – it’s kind of fun. All the rather twisted things I don’t necessarily want to introduce into a novel world? Hello, short story. So, thanks for the encouragement!

    Also, it is snowing outside. AGAIN. That is all.

  3. I can definitely say that self-publishing saved me. When I started in December 2011 I hadn’t been able to find freelance or temp work in months and hadn’t had a full-time job in years. Out of money and out of time, I had to adapt or die.

    Now, less than a year and a half later, I’m making enough month-by-month to pay for my rent and utilities. I’m far from financially secure, but I’m not homeless. It makes it easy to think of myself as a success story.

  4. Annabella Coetzee Avatar
    Annabella Coetzee

    I am a first time author. My book will be published in three months’ time. I wish I could link myself to you just for one day of fortune and good luck. It feels completely illusive to me to think I will have success at this stage.

    Good luck to you!!

    1. It took me several years and 8 or 9 works before I had any success. Just keep writing because you love writing! Everything else is bonus.

  5. Great post — loved the last paragraph. Anything that encourages people to go after the dreams is worthwhile, and I think the success of indie authors is doing that.

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