I keep hearing that breakout success is harder and harder. I’ve even heard that it isn’t possible, not like it was two years ago when WOOL took off. Don’t tell that to A.G. Riddle, whose ATLANTIS GENE debuted last year and has sold several hundred thousand copies. And don’t tell that to Matthew Mather, whose ATOPIA CHRONICLES has sold hundreds of thousands as well and was picked up by 47 North and landed a film deal.
That’s just two examples in my genre. And from the last two years! In that same time, I’ve watched several others in the mystery/thriller and romance genres go from nothing to the top of the bestseller lists. How about Jasinda Wilder, who I watched go from publication to world dominance in just a couple of years? Or Blake Russell, one of self-publishing’s superstars both in terms of success and as a spokesperson?
I rarely comment on the outliers like this. My focus has usually been on the indie midlisters who are finding readers and paying bills and who otherwise wouldn’t be published at all. But I keep hearing that no one can go from unknown to bestsellerdom anymore. And yet I see a new name on the lists every couple of months and across a wide variety of genres. (Look at the science fiction list on Amazon right now. It’s Card, Martin, and indies. Amazing).
When I worked in a bookstore, I saw perhaps two new names a year have moderate success. Every year or two a single author would come out of nowhere. If we (booksellers) were lucky. The Stieg Larsson stories are vanishingly rare. The A.G. Riddle stories seem to be occurring with much greater frequency. Several indies a year are now breaking out and making hundreds of thousands of dollars (I estimate Riddle has made close to or over a million). The traditional book industry would go nuts over this many new bestsellers a year. It’s usually the same old names over and over.
Yes, more and more people are self-publishing these days. And so yes, the odds are against all of us. But don’t listen to the naysayers. There are still millions of readers out there looking for a good story at a fair price. So keep writing great books. Keep winning over one fan at a time. Keep improving your craft. It may not happen to you — I sure as hell didn’t expect it to happened to me — but it’s still happening. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Again, this isn’t a “Everyone can do it! Write a book and get rich quick!” post. This is a “The people who say the goldrush is over and that indie authors can no longer come from nowhere and have success are idiots” post. There’s a huge difference. :)