How to make money as a writer part one

Moon Men

There’s an interesting story behind this novel. I moved to Los Angles in the late 90’s to become a screenwriter and director. I almost succeeded, or technically I succeeded, since I earned a living writing stuff that never got produced.

Basically, I was a hack hired to bang out scripts for an actor who had a deal with the studio. He would tell me his ideas, I would go home and write the script, then we’d pitch it to the studio together as a vehicle for him.

That paid the bills.

But it also introduced me to people and that would lead to lunch. I needed more product to pitch, so I thought about some shows I liked to watch, especially THE X-Files, and came up with the idea of a normal guy who doesn’t know he has special powers.

Powers given to him by aliens who abducted him to prepare him for a time they show up to invade earth.

That evolved into a government agent who was supposed to keep him safe, and ends up learning that he’s practically invincible to aliens, but no good against humans.

There’s more to it, but I pitched it and got an option with a Showtime Producer.

The script sat with him for a couple of years, the rights came back to me and I shoved it in a drawer since Hollywood was in the rear-view mirror, and I was focused on moving up at a corporation.

Fast forward to 2015.

I started an independent publishing company and worked as an indie author to put out my books on KDP. I found the script for MOON MEN and played around with it until it became a novel, published it, and got a couple of “meh” reviews.

No big deal, I thought. A learning curve.

Here’s what I did wrong.

No editing. I just did a couple of passes and threw it up there.

Cover sucked. I made it myself. Urgh.

No series, no link to other books.

After a few months, I bought a pre-made cover and sold about a hundred copies in a four-month period. Then I’d give away a couple hundred every 3 months during free promo days, but no traction past that.

Then I read a Facebook Post by Craig Martelle. He talked about recovering all of his books so they better matched reader expectations. He’s a hybrid author I admire, so I put together a plan to re-cover and re-launch all the books in my backlist, starting with MOON MEN.

I got a good cover that shows a man being sucked up into a space ship.

I rewrote the blurb to hit more keywords.

I linked it to my other sci fi books, which weren’t part of a series, but were in the same genre of sci fi comedy.

I also had outlined a new comedy series and written book 1 in it (Bovine Bloodbath: The Herd Shot Round the World.)

I timed the Moon Men free promo Days to lead up to the Bovine Bloodbath launch, and an INSTAFREEBIE promo for the prequel to Bovine, SUPER SECRET SPACE MISSION.

Finally, the cards lined up.

I hit the promo days for Moon Men, stacked a couple of $5 ad’s, and emailed my list of 1,000, plus tweets to 9,000 in a coordinated effort to slowly gain rank over the promo days.

Moon Men hit top 5 in a couple of niches, and here’s the kicker. That promo ended in June, and I’ve sold 1–5 copies of that stand alone title each day since. I’ve also had at least 5 readers per day in KU, based on length of book divided by days in month.

Not so bad for a 2-year-old book with a decades old story.

What’s your takeaway?

First, go read MOON MEN. You can grab it for less than a cup of coffee.

It’s got a lot of white space which makes it fast paced.

Since it’s based on a screenplay, it’s a lot of dialogue, and minimal description. Let the reader to the heavy lifting.

And it’s fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously as a story.

Write Fast.

Publish fast.

Get someone to edit it for you.

Get a great cover.

Write a blurb that makes folks want to read the book.

Then publish.

Your story won’t make any more sitting in a desk drawer or box.

And if it doesn’t sell well, keep it there and write some more. Go back and visit it after you’ve got more experience publishing and writing.

I promise that if you do, you’ll find ways to make it better, make more money and bring a novel back from the dead.