The Handy-Dandy Author Career-Path Graph

Assuming you can pen a good story (a rather large given), then the key to indie-author success is output. The more books you write, the better chance you have of striking a reader. The key to curing most indie-author fits of self-doubt (which are frequent) is also output; feeling bad about your sales? Write through it. Wondering why your first book isn’t selling? Write your second and compare it to your first.

Output, output, output. It’s what makes authors successful. Unfortunately, it’s also what drives authors crazy.

I know of one or two work-freak authors who actually get off on cranking out a book every eight weeks. It’s what gives them pleasure. I liken these people to triathletes; I admire them, but I also realize they are crazy. The rest of us, the vast majority of self-published authors, are constantly pressuring ourselves to write faster and we get slightly sick when we hear that the latest indie-author who hit the NYT Bestseller list did it with box set…which they filled out in half of a year.

I just put together a box set too. It took me six years.  So naturally I get a little jittery when I hear things like “momentum is key” and “backlist is everything.” And believe you me, I wish I could sit here at my desk and tell you straight-faced that if you write at a book-a-year pace, you’ll have every chance of success that the prolific guys have.

But I can’t. Because you won’t.

My theories about selling and marketing change daily, and sometimes hourly, but right now I think the number one driver of success across platforms are the “Alsobots”. These are the “Customers who bought this item also bought (BOOK X)” links. They are what spread your visibility across authors. If you’re fortunate enough to have your book linked as an Alsobot to a popular author or book, it will SIGNIFICANTLY affect your sales. Alsobots are more important than social media visibility, they are more important (in my view) than genre best-seller lists (the top 100 excluded) and the Hot New Release charts or Movers and Shakers lists. That’s because lists fluctuate a lot, but if you land as a well-placed Alsobot it sticks for much longer.

I have a theory that if you were to somehow schedule a Bookbub promo at the same time and in the same category as a big name author, you would most likely end up as one of their Alsobots. I don’t know for how long, but certainly for a good chunk of time that might get you on other big name Alsobots. So now I just need to get ahold of Hugh Howey or AG Riddle and we can plot simultaneous promotions over a nice sandwich and an Arnold Palmer and pretty soon I’ll be riding that Alsobot train all the way to the top of Indie Mountain, and when I’m there I’ll strap on a squirrel suit and soar to best-seller valley, which is a beautiful strip of golden fields surrounded on all sides by perilous peaks, wherein I will live like a Viking gone to Valhalla.

It all makes you a little bit crazy. You see what happens? You go crazy in this business quite easily, that’s why I often refer to my Handy-Dandy Author Career-Path Graph (patent not pending). Also, fair warning, it’s liable to make you go blind.


This graph commits the artist’s first sin, of course, which is to equate sales to happiness, but if you captured even the most ardent goth, anti-establishment writer and sat him/her down in a room with a twelve-pack, I bet you’d get them to admit that sales (i.e. readers/attention to their art) makes them happy. Nevertheless, the point is this: Your career isn’t a straight road. It’s probably more like a spaghetti looking thing.

Also keep in mind that my extremely scientific graph is still in the process of rigorous peer review.

Keep writing, friends.



  • I got your boxed set of the trilogy on Bookbub. I’m glad you used them or i doubt I would have ever found your books. Just bought book 4 and am purchasing book 1 of the vanished series. You tell a great story. I look forward to getting your emails on. Your new works.

    Maria Sandoval | January 6, 2015
  • Thanks Maria! I’m so glad you liked the trilogy! Enjoy Summer Crush and the Vanished series. This year I plan on adding to both series, so I’ll keep you updated!

    B. B. Griffith | January 6, 2015

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