First I would like to point to ML Stewart's blog. I have been following and commenting on his blog almost since he started it about his The Facebook Killer series. I find his blog to be highly entertaining and the best way to describe it is with a 'You're doing it wrong" picture, but it's working for him if you check out his rankings.
Next, I want to chat a bit about success. There has been a lot of articles, blogs, and forum posts regarding that the Kindle gold rush is past us. If you don't sell a million eBooks you're not successful. You can't make a living as an indie author, so don't quit your day job. A lot of negativity, and the impression I get is that lately there have been a large influx of people rushing for the Kindle gold who don't even have a book finished yet, or only have one book and can't figure out why their book doesn't sell. The obvious answer is they are wanting Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath success with one book where these authors have tons of books available and they have tons of fans buying them. This is fool's gold.
Konrath's latest blog post says it best. If you have two $2.99 novels and three 99c short stories for sale, all you need is 10,000 fans and you are making $50,000 a year if you continue to produce a novel every 6 months and a short story every four months. This is much more realistic and attainable than superstar success. For me, half of this would be what I need to pay all my bills and live comfortably.
Lets break this down. For myself my novels are going to average roughly 80,000 words and a short story would run about 10,000 words. This means I need 190,000 words a year for two novels and three short stories. Let's just round that up to 200,000 words. That puts me at a minimum of 3850 words written a week or a whopping 770 words a day for 5 days a week. Slow typing at 30 words per minute this should take you a half hour to complete.
A more realistic number is 1000 words a day five days a week. This gives you 260,000 words a year, but also lets you miss a lot of writing for book covers, editing, promoting, etc. However, in two weeks you can have a 10,000 word short story complete. Another week for editing and that fourth week to format, put a cover and in a month's time you have a 99c short story ready to sell on Amazon.
If you don't have an hour a day to devote to your writing, then you need to make the time. Once the kids are in bed, instead of watching some reality TV show on your DVR, sit and type for an hour.
Getting fans of your work is the hard part, and easy part. Like the doing it wrong picture, I think most people go about this the wrong way. Authors tend to be introverts to begin with and you need to get past this. If it takes a shot of tequila to open up then do it, but no one will get you fans faster than yourself. Most of us already have a lot of fans but we don't even know it. Start small. 10 fans, 50 fans, 100 fans, 1,000 fans. Don't be afraid to ask your family and friends to help. The trick here is these people need to be real fans, not some mass add me to your twitter account crap. Also you need to get over your fear of asking for the sale. You can blog, tweet, and Facebook your book all day long and never get a sale, but if you shake someones hand and become a real person, you will sell books, and you will make fans. Best part is these fans generate referrals. Online fans can work, but it's a lot harder to shake their hand or have a couple of minutes conversation. Replying to comments, emails and forums helps, but they need to be fans, not other authors, editors, publishers.
Asking for the sale is hard. It took me about an hour to warm up at my last book signing and about two hours after that it dawned on me what I was doing wrong. Don't start a sale with your genera or book, start with yourself the author. When people were walking by, I was asking them if they liked Science Fiction or Fantasy novels. Overwhelmingly the answer was no, or that they don't read. If they said yes, I engaged them and either sold a book or gave them a signed postcard. What made me realize this wasn't working was the number of people who did stop to talk, did not grasp that I was the author of the book. I figured the sign that said "Local Author Signing" in front of my booth was enough, but it wasn't. When I started asking people if they would be interest in taking a look at the book I wrote and published. Almost everyone now stopped and engaged. The people who didn't read, still did not buy the book, but about a third of them took a signed postcard because their kid liked this stuff, or had a friend or relative who did read. Those who did read but dislike Science Fiction were better at around half of them knew someone who would be interested. I sold a few copies to non Science Fiction readers because I the Author was sold, not my book. These people also had friends and family who read and took postcards. I attribute all of my 15 secondary sales this week from this engagement that would have been completely missed if I hadn't changed my approach. In one afternoon, I sold 22 books, handed out over 50 postcards, and talked to about a 100 people in a real conversation. When you're starting out, this is the type of thing you need to do. Become a real person, sell yourself, get over your fears, and write consistently and constantly. When it comes time to measure your success, be sure to have a realistic idea of what success is. I sold 22 books, I made about $115, I am a successful author.