Getting Started: A Summarized Guide

Over on Twitter, Dragon Award winner and nominee Brian Niemeier delivered a fantastic executive summary of how to get into the game of being a science fiction author. It’s a multi-post thread, but not a long one. I’ll summarize his summary below.

  1. Start blogging every day. Give people free info & entertainment & they’ll be willing to pay later.
  2. Start building your email list now.
  3. Write a book. Hire a pro editor to polish it. Commission a cover that conveys genre, tone & plot at at glance & thumbnail size.
  4. Research best selling titles in your genre to find which KDP subcategories the money’s in. Pick keywords the same way.
  5. Do a silent launch at $0.99. Let Amazon’s algorithm work based on your categories & keywords till you get 100 organic sales/for a week, whichever comes 1st.
  6. Arrange email list trades w/ best selling authors in your categories. Have them announce your launch to their subscribers after week 1.
  7. Only then do you bring in your email list. Wait at least a day before doing a blog post about the launch. Wait another day for Twitter/FB.

What Brian’s talking about here are the lessons learned by himself as well as by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach, especially the latter pair, in building up their own successful writing careers as independent science fiction authors. Brian’s the author of the Soul Cycle sequence, while Cole & Anspach are the geniuses behind the Galaxy’s Edge series, so this is talking from in-the-field experience, something up-and-coming authors need now more than ever.

And I’m not talking idling either; I’m following these steps, and I’m at the point of finishing my novel manuscript, so with a little help I’ll be following that path presently. I’m writing this post not only to point out Brian’s good deed in helping out someone else wanting to join the party, but to show that it’s doable.

So don’t be afraid. It won’t come overnight, but it will come if you stick to it and work to improve your skills, and you don’t have to do the starving artist thing to make it happen. Now that the way forward is lit, all that you need is to step on the path and walk it to its conclusion. It’ll be worth it when you arrive.