Category Archives: luck

Author Finds Success through Ebooks: Royalties, Publishing Deal, Even a Movie

Today I heard a story on the radio that caught my attention. It began with a story not unlike my own. A writer discussed how she’d received complementary letters from publishers and editors in response to her manuscript submissions. Although they liked her work respondents didn’t think they’d be able to market it. As this was my experience, I wanted to hear what happened.

Also like me, Karen McQuestion had been a freelance writer, and had written on a regular basis for a local newspaper. Karen loved to write. Her heart’s desire was to write novels. Karen had written several and had even had an agent. Unfortunately, she was unable to sell her books.

A year ago McQuestion began to think she’d never be a success as a novelist. When her freelance work dried up, she realized it was time to take a serious look at her options. During this time Karen learned about a writer who published his novels as e-books.  After 7,000 download the author had earned a small royalty and a publishing deal.

Karen didn’t know the basics such as how to design a book cover or determine pricing, but decided publishing on the ‘Net was worth a try. McQuestion reasoned that if her books weren’t successful she’d have lost little, and in the best case she’d make enough money to continue writing. During the next six months she uploaded six books.

The end result?

Karen McQuestion wrote on her blog: “I’ve had (to me) unbelievable success. The first few months I was stunned that anyone was actually buying and reading my books. I’d wanted it for so long that I was afraid of it all going away. Some small part of me thought that my sales would peak and then taper off to nothing. But despite my worries, my sales numbers kept growing, partially because I was adding books and also because more people were buying e-book readers.

“The best part–I got emails and reviews and comments on the message boards from readers who liked my books and were recommending them to others! Without this word of mouth I never would have had the kind of numbers I had. Some of the posters are people I now consider to be Internet friends. My world became wider, and happier too, for that matter.”

Karen’s story doesn’t end there. She’s had one of her novels optioned for film. She also was contacted by an editor who wanted to publish her books.

Karen’s success didn’t come overnight. Her love of writing kept her going. Not every writer is likely to have Karen McQuestion’s success; however, if you love writing, the process is its own reward.

Patience is the hardest part of the writer’s journey. Karen McQuestion offers advice to writers who are yearning for validation of their work through publishing:

“To other writers I say–please, keep the faith. Keep writing and improving (that’s a given, I know) and keep up with the latest news and opportunities, because you never ever know.”

What keeps me going? A commitment to the women who contributed to my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories; the positive comments and support I’ve had since I released the book and it’s companion blog Living in the Heartland; and the faith that something good WILL happen.

To read stories of other extraordinary women go to Living in the Heartland.

Read how three women overcame life’s challenges on the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on

Click Living in the Heartland video preview.



Filed under Amazon, blog, book, dreams, editors, frustration, hopeful, income, indie writer, job, luck, on writing, Pamela Ferris-Olson, perseverance, publishing, royalty, success, writers, writing, writing block

How Green is My Writing?

Getting rich writing is no more a reasonable expectation for most people than for a 9-year planning on making it big in the NBA. The odds are against you. In order to be a success you’ll definitely have to stand out.  There’s a lot of hard work to get traction in the business, and there’s a certain amount of luck. Success isn’t based solely on the quality of your writing, it’s also about how good you are at self-promotion and networking.

I’ve found few  jobs in my 15+ year career where writers set their fees. In the beginning, you’ll need to hustle to find jobs. My advice is keep your day job if you need a steady income. Write because you love it, not because you want to make money. The quality of your writing and your life will be enhanced if your motivation is personal rewards not money.  Your journey as a writer will then be valuable even if it doesn’t translate into cash. If your effort is financially rewarding consider yourself doubly lucky.

This cautionary applies particularly to people who want to write books. Expect to invest money. If, as they say, time is money, a writer invests heavily of their time into producing a book. There are emotional and physical costs too. On top of these there ARE going to be financial outlays. Initially, these might be travel expenses for research purposes,  equipment costs, and printing and postage costs if an agent or traditional publishing house is sought.

More contemporary avenues like self-publishing, Web publishing, even digital formats such as Kindle involve financial outlays.  These outlays include editorial reviews, graphic services for layout, formatting and cover art, legal advice for copyright and indemnity protection, and a gamut of other issues writers didn’t contemplate when they first decided to write their book.

Bottom line…an author will see a lot of red ink before they see their words published in black and white.

Click here for subscription to blog on Kindle Out of the Box Publishing Blog on Kindle

Click video preview to see preview of my new book. Click to order.

View my other blog Living in the Heartland


Filed under book, cost, dreams, luck, publishing, success, talent, writing

As I’ve Been Saying There are No Easy Answers…

This post contains an excerpt written on February 20, 2010 by Jane Friedman in Writer’s Digest. As I’ve been saying, there are no easy answers, no formulas. Writers have to flex their writing muscles, develop their voice and style. Eventually, editing skills become essential. Whether a writer is successful is another story. Some of it has to due with talent, some with luck, and some with perseverance. Read on…

The Writing Advice Book That Would Never Sell
The book I really want to write would encompass the following dilemmas and contradictions:

• Talent vs. Practice (or Discipline). Some people are born to be writers. Others seem to be blessed with the discipline to get better. Can you succeed without any talent? Which quality is more important? And how do you know if you have any talent to begin with? Certainly those with talent need to practice, too—or not?

• Luck vs. Persistence. I’ve seen so many lucky writers—people who were at the right place at the right time. Yet the cliche is that luck favors the prepared. That feels true, though I’ve met a lot of prepared people who never seem to catch a break.

• Confidence/Ego vs. Doubt. I’ve never met a writer who didn’t have self-doubt, though not all will admit to it. We’re always waiting to be revealed as complete phonies. Yet without some measure of outrageous ego—a belief that you have something to say to the world—there’s no way you could justify writing. Writing is not for the weak. The weak ones give up easily, sometimes with the first rejection.

• Professionalism vs. Eccentricity. The writers who are business-savvy and have a flair for marketing & promotion almost always do well. Yet the writers we tend to fall in love with, and the ones we remember, can be the craziest, the most rude, or the most outrageous. Strong personalities sell, too.

• Extroversion vs. Introversion. Extroverts network better and find more people to help them. Introverts are naturally suited to writing and often notice all those wonderful details that extroverts miss. Horrible stereotyping here, but still.

No one really wants to read a heady book on these issues. People want the secrets to success and a positive spin. But the longer I’m in the business, the more slippery it all looks. I know what works for some, but it never works for all. Sometimes I wish I could sit down with each writer personally, and put together a specific plan of attack based on that writer’s talents and strengths.

But you know what? When I do that for some people, they ignore the advice anyway and do their own thing. Our innate (and learned) tendencies, inclinations, habits, and attitudes reign supreme.

Click here for subscription to blog on Kindle Out of the Box Publishing Blog on Kindle

Click video preview to see preview of my new book. Click to order.

View my other blog Living in the Heartland


Filed under editing, luck, on publishing, on writing, practice, publishing, talent, writing