51 Comments
Dec 23, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Great post! I do think there needs to be far more content on success strategies for the "artisanal" author, who may only publish a book or two per year (or less) and puts their heart and soul into each one. I'd much rather write a few books that end up on readers' all time favorites lists than rapid releasing ones that are consumed and quickly forgotten.

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Hear hear. I think the problem is that content for those less-productive (and, possibly because of it, less-business-minded) authors is far less lucrative for content creators. Nobody wants to create some whiz-bang course for $497 with lessons like "Take your time and make it good" ... and salable to a bunch of broke authors who aren't inclined to spend much money anyway. Economics are making this whole thing look worse than it is. I think that given the goals of art-minded authors, it's a quieter group by nature ... so we tend to get overlooked.

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One of my favorite authors released their first book in 6 years and I was there for it.

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Dec 23, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Yes, I regularly check for an author who only released 1 book, like 15 years ago, to see if she ever wrote another one. I'd buy it sight unseen if she ever does...

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author

Relatable. Also, if you ever want to write some of that artisanal author content you want to see outside of your own publication, I am happy to host it.

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Dec 22, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Ok, so I’ve been feeling pretty down about the state of indie publishing in general lately, and this article gave me hope.

I have never had the mental ability or even the lifestyle that would allow me to churn out a book a month. Tried that...burned out. Badly. I didn’t write for two years, and now I am writing again, but I’m incredibly gun-shy when it comes to promotion, sales, etc, because I tried it once and all I did was waste money.

I’m still not sure HOW I can find 1,000 true fans, but it gives me hope to hear that there are other authors out there like me.

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I have written many books and articles on this topic. So, you should be able to find some help in the archives, and in my non-fiction if you are a paid member.

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Dec 22, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Definitely planning on digging into those archives this next year, Russell! 2023 was the first year out of burnout, so I focused on healing my relationship with my writing first. 2024 is the year of learning how to market in a way that doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out, lol.

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Dec 22, 2023·edited Dec 22, 2023Author

makes sense :)

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Oh man, I feel like you wrote this for me! My first book is out in February and every 'how to be a successful indie author' article is about churning out more and more and more everything. I write purely for enjoyment, but even then it's discouraging to know your passion project will sink to the bottom of the ocean if you're not a fiction factory. I very much love the idea of true fans and loved the read ❤️

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I helped! :) What I like about the True Fans mindset is that even though it's very slow and incredibly difficult to do, it's immune to the pitfalls you mentioned if you can pull it off. The fans you earn one by one will go into the bookstore looking for your book specifically, so it won't matter what other deluge of books is out there.

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Dec 23, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Oh my goodness. THANK YOU for this piece. This is me. Completely a Forest and Completely an artist and my own brand. And to top it off a slow writer who has kids that need extra from me.

I feel reassured that that there are other Forests out there!

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That's the tricky part, isn't it? We ARE out there, but we're quiet. We don't make all the hubbub and noise that Deserts do. But WE ARE THERE. I suppose that's part of what I can do: just help us all to realize we're not alone.

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Of all the ecosystems, Forests feel the least seen by the industry and the most in need of being seen.

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😶‍🌫️😶‍🌫️😶‍🌫️

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Thanks, yes. Exactly this!

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Dec 24, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

What I love most is the acknowledgment of the writers that want to tell stories and get it out into the world. They aren't trying to game the system to make money. The monetary return is the proof that people valued their work. For me, making back the money I put in is the goal. And I like the direction of finding the 1000 true fans approach. Write the story and cultivate a following. Build on it.

Thank you!

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You bet. The clarification I’d add is that SOME writers want that. Others are in it for maximizing profit without actually caring much about the craft or storytelling itself … which is okay, I guess, but not for me and not for the readers I want to attract. Then there’s what I’d really like for myself: craft AND earning money. It’s the “gaming the system” thing you mention that feels like poison to me.

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Dec 23, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Another Forest here. Thank you for this post. I've been at this a long time and am about to publish my first book in 2024. I'd been dreading it because I knew I couldn't do the fast turnaround thing. I wanted to craft not churn.

No shade to the writers who can. I'm impressed with those who can produce a lot and still transport me through their stories.

So, maybe my playing the long game isn't so bad after all.

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I think Russell nailed it at the end, when he said that there's a place for Deserts ... because there's ALWAYS been a place for them. I like that more of we non-Deserts are finally getting some proper love (and realizing it this time).

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Dec 22, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Wonderful post. Love the idea of 1000 true fans. Reminds me of Anne Lamott's bird by bird theory/story. Only in this case it's "fan by fan."

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Yep. Super slow build, but I actually LIKE that something isn't whiz-bang, as-fast-as-you-can for a change. It makes the whole thing feel real, not like some git-rich-quick scheme. I like things that require time and work because otherwise I just assume it's bullshit, or that every uncommitted person out there will do it and crowd out the people who actually care and are willing to put in the effort.

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Dec 22, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

And I thought 1 book a year was a lot 😅 but nonetheless, interesting article! It definitely makes me more open to thinking about self publishing.

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The self publishing industry is bonkers with output. Many authors put out the same number of books as a small publishing company does in a year.

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I love seeing this post from you Johnny - not sure if you remember us meeting way back in the SXSW and BlogWorld days, but I've really enjoyed watching your journey into publishing. Thanks for writing this!

I went down the software company path and I've been really happy with that, but like you mention in here - I've been wanting to write my first novel... and for me publishing isn't going to be replacing my current gig, so it won't be a rapid-release approach.

I've subscribed to you Substack and I'm looking forward to learning more from you and Russell as I get my first fiction book out into the world. :)

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Oh man, this comment robs me of going "NATHALIE!!!" and getting credit for remembering you the second I saw your name in the likes list. I was going to ping you and say hey, but now I can do it here, so I guess it's okay. :)

Probably almost 15 years ago. You, me, Pace, and Kyeli eating somewhere here in Austin -- probably Magnolia Cafe. It's great to hear from you again.

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Hehe, sorry to steal your thunder! Those were the days with Pace and Kyeli in Austin, for sure! So great to reconnect :)

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Dec 23, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

I have to agree with you on this. The best authors are genres unto themselves, and those are the ones I try to emulate.

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Dec 22, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

This speaks to me so much. I released five books last year and it was fun, but next year I'm shifting to a slower approach and focusing on bonus content around fewer releases. I'm doing the same slowdown in my ghostwriting business. I wrote 100 books in the last 12 years just to try to keep up and make a living, but I'd like to hit 200 over a much longer timeline.

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Dec 22, 2023·edited Dec 22, 2023Author

that's so many books. I burned out after a monthly book for 2 years. Were they non-fiction? I feel like I can do non-fiction easier than fiction.

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Dec 22, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Mostly fiction! More than 75%. A lot of them were series I wrote for publishers that would be between 5 and 10 books with the same MC. I've burned out at least once every two years for this whole time! But easier said than done to slow down when you need to put food on the table.

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This is so relatable

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I found that the pressure of writing the next thing made me feel guilty when I really took my time on a project. I LIKE taking my time on books -- especially certain books. This approach ENCOURAGES me to take my time ... which sits so well with me.

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Right! I actually had this with one of last year's books where the story felt like it needed to be longer than I had planned. But if I took the time to explore and make it longer, I would have missed the preorder deadline and lost my KDP preorder privileges. It sucked to have to compromise.

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I can SO relate. :)

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Dec 22, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Love it! Although it’s no less work than the faster-faster way, the goals are a lot more sustainable, and create a certain dignity about being an artist, about valuing your readers.

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I agree. It's not LESS work, but for me it's BETTER work. I'm spending tons and tons of time customizing books, my personal brand and reader experience (you wouldn't believe the complexity of an email-autoresponse thing I'm building, meant to be like a reader's choose-your-own-adventure thing), and more, but that feels like care and craftsmanship to me rather than just churn and burn.

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Dec 22, 2023Liked by Russell Nohelty, Johnny B. Truant

Wow, THAT‘s what I‘d call an ecosystem. Very exciting. To build a village for your tribe.

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I have written a bunch of genre novels. I gave up on it, because I couldn't sell them without spending a fortune on ads, and fuck Zuck and Bezos. I am instead now working on real books that I care about.

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Great article, thank-you! This is where I’m at.

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YES!!!!!! This is exactly how I started ten years ago but then about five years ago I got sucked into the KU mindset. It exploded my business even more but this year I decided I want to be done with that rat race. I built my online store this year, not so that I can be like everyone else getting into direct sales but so that I can have a home base for my 1000 true fans. I’m like you, Johnny, super excited for what’s to come! Thank you for writing this article and now I’m off to devour all your other posts. So great to see you back!

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Ha, awesome. If you're on my site, concentrate on the Featured Posts category. That's where the best stuff is. :)

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𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐓𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐧 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐑𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐨𝐮𝐬. 𝐁𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐝𝐢𝐠𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐉𝐎𝐇𝐍𝐍𝐘'𝐒 𝐁𝐨𝐨𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐨 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐈 𝐜𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐬 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝟐 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐨. 𝐈 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐃𝐚 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐦𝐚𝐡𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝟒 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡𝐬. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐆𝐀𝐌𝐄 𝐑𝐄𝐂𝐎𝐆𝐍𝐈𝐙𝐄 𝐆𝐀𝐌𝐄, 𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐞?? 𝐀𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐒𝐄𝐋𝐅-𝐏𝐔𝐁𝐋𝐈𝐂𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐒𝐄𝐋𝐅-𝐃𝐈𝐒𝐓𝐑𝐈𝐁𝐔𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 𝐭𝐨 𝐌𝐚𝐡 𝐓𝐑𝐔𝐄𝐒𝐓 𝐅𝐀𝐍𝐒 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐦𝐚𝐡 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐚𝐜𝐡 𝐭𝐨 𝐖𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐇𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐭𝐨 𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐘 𝐓𝐇𝐀𝐍𝐆 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐈 𝐜𝐮𝐦 𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐭𝐚 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐔𝐏 𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐄𝐃𝐘 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐈 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐧 𝐭𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧 𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐦𝐚𝐡 𝐁𝐈𝐆𝐆𝐄𝐒𝐓 𝐅𝐀𝐍𝐒 𝐰𝐚𝐬. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐨𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐧 𝐒𝐔𝐌𝐁𝐎𝐃𝐘'𝐒 𝐇𝐎𝐔𝐒𝐄!! 𝐔 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐞. 𝐈 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐮𝐩 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐝𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐋𝐈𝐕𝐈𝐍𝐆𝐑𝐎𝐎𝐌𝐒 n 𝐁𝐀𝐒𝐄𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐒!! 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐭.....

𝐁𝐮𝐭𝐭 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐎𝐎𝐊𝐒....𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐬 𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐬𝐚𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐈 𝐠𝐨𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐔𝐁𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐂𝐊: 𝐅𝐈𝐍𝐃 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐨𝐫 𝐁𝐈𝐆𝐆𝐄𝐒𝐓 𝐅𝐀𝐍𝐒 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐖𝐑𝐈𝐓𝐄 𝐎𝐍𝐋𝐘 𝐅𝐎𝐑 𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐌....𝐅𝐔𝐂𝐊 𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐘𝐁𝐎𝐃𝐘 𝐄𝐥𝐬𝐞. 𝐄𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲, 𝐅𝐔𝐂𝐊 𝐃𝐀 𝐀𝐋𝐎𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐃𝐃𝐈𝐌, 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐞!! 𝐡𝐭𝐭𝐩𝐬://𝐛𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐩𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞.𝐬𝐮𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐜𝐤.𝐜𝐨𝐦/𝐩/𝐲-𝐮-𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐝-𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐞-𝟒-𝐲𝐨-𝐛𝐢𝐠𝐠𝐞𝐬𝐭-𝐟𝐚𝐧

𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐭 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐔𝐁𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐂𝐊. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐈 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐦𝐧 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐌𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐦𝐚𝐡 𝐄𝐌𝐀𝐈𝐋 𝐋𝐈𝐒𝐓 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐚𝐡 𝐁𝐈𝐆𝐆𝐄𝐒𝐓 𝐅𝐀𝐍𝐒 (𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐫𝐮𝐦 𝐌𝐚𝐡 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐔𝐏 𝐃𝐀𝐘𝐒) 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐬𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐄𝐃𝐘 𝐑𝐄𝐍𝐃𝐄𝐑𝐈𝐍𝐆𝐒 𝐭𝐨....𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐌𝐞: 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐀𝐋𝐖𝐀𝐘𝐒 𝐛𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐎𝐍𝐋𝐘 𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐒𝐄 𝐖𝐇𝐎 𝐀𝐏𝐏𝐑𝐄𝐂𝐈𝐀𝐓𝐄 𝐌𝐄. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐲 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭.

Also: I have always seen mahself as an ARTIST...someone who writes a PARTICULAR kinda werk for a Particular kinda READER (therefore I charge accordingly for mah Books, upwards of $50 that Mah BIGGEST FANS have no problem PAYING...they dont give-a-fuck. They just want Mah Werk)....Then too: I Advocate for READERS over SUBSCRIBERS. Period. If U git the READERS, the PAID SUBSCRIBERS will take care of Itself.

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I think you're amazing as an artist, DuVay, in part because what you do isn't usually what people point to when they say "artist." You exemplify the TRUE meaning of that word instead of the artifice and bullshit of what it sometimes means.

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Yes, and yes! 1000 true fans still holds true. I've banked my creative career on it. Thanks for sharing!

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author

Thanks for appreciating it!

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