Saturday, May 02, 2015

The Post Indie Gold Rush

It seems that I’ve always arrived about ten minutes late to every major event. Throw a party, I’ll show up after the awesome conga line. Get into a trout feeding frenzy on a river, I’ll be there right about the time the fish settle in for their nap, tummies quite full.

So it is no surprise to hear that, about the time I publish my first YA novel on Amazon, the grand announcement comes from every blog, podcast, and writer’s conference podium:

The Gold Rush Is Over!

Thanks for comin’. Last one out get the lights won’t ya?

Not only is the Gold Rush over, but those in the know are relieved to inform us that the e-book fad is coming to a close as well. Readers are returning in droves to paper books, tired of the convenience and low cost of instantly downloading any one of a billion titles onto their Kindles.

For those of you who read this early on this Saturday morning before catching that first caffeinated wave of inspiration and coherence, I speak with tongue in cheek (which is impossible, by the way, go ahead and try).

Not so much the gold rush. Yes, that is indeed over. And good riddance. Know what happens when a gold rush ends? The get-rich-quick creek panners get hungry and go back to their regular jobs. Those left behind are the ones willing to dig deep, work hard, and settle in for long-term, slow growth.

Yeah, just like traditionally published writers when Amazon was a river full of toothy fish and snakes the size of…really big snakes (hey, it’s early here, too). The moral of the story? There ain’t no shortcuts.

Twenty years ago, just before I began this here quest to like Hemingway, except without the booze and sudden departure, you’d walk into a writer’s conference and hear that nothing was selling. Publishers aren’t signing new writers. Agents hate you. Blah. Blah. And blah.

Walk into a conference today, you’ll all of the above plus: indies aren’t selling.  Amazon keeps changing the rules. Agents hate you. Blah, etc.

Here’s what all my writerbuds know: successful writers bust their glutes in the same chair day in and day out. They don’t give up until…never. Because even a “successful” writer doesn’t realize it, because by golly she can do better! It’s just how driven people behave. We never reach our goal because we keep moving the goal. If Dante added a tenth circle of hell, it would be full of writers and very slow laptops (and no Novel Rocket).

I almost started a blog titled “5 steps to Indie success!” or some other such nonsense. I have no steps to offer. I’m sorry, life often works in a more circuitous fashion. Here’s all I have for any writer’s success:

Write every day.
Don’t stop.
Marketing work on Saturdays after coffee.
Rinse. Repeat.

I’m sorry to be the Jacob Marley on your Saturday morning, having no comfort to offer. Jacob was a sourpuss and so am I. No rah-rah fluff from this guy.

But you don’t need more fluff. You’re all grown up. You know what you want. And you have no patience for the creek panners who upload their NaNo novel to KDP on December 1st and print their official Author business cards.

You’re ready to dig deep. Break some nails. Drink cold coffee.

Join me, my friends, in the tenth circle. We got this. Eventually.

Ron Estrada is the author of Now I Knew You, the first novel of his Cherry Hill Young Adult series. He also writes a regular column in the print magazine Women2Women Michigan entitled Don't Tell My Wife I Wrote This.

He's a regular blogger at Inspire a Fire and My Book Therapy.

You can learn more about his writing at or email him at


Normandie Fischer said...

Wonderful post, Ron.

Love this especially:
Write every day.
Don’t stop.
Marketing work on Saturdays after coffee.
Rinse. Repeat.

Someone commented on a Facebook post of mine that I must be a fast writer to be on my fourth book. Um, no. I've just been sitting in front of a computer and plugging away FOR YEARS, because that's what we do if we want to succeed, isn't it? We write, and we try to make our work the best it can be, and then we try again and again and again. Until something good happens. And maybe the Lord says, okay, you're on.

Heather Day Gilbert said...

And I just read a post that indie/ebooks are just warming up...

But yes, like any career, it's a ton of work. It's not easy and the bar is getting ever higher (which is a good thing!). Great covers, great edits, great stories.

I'm glad we're in on this party, even if we jumped in a bit later!

Ron Estrada said...

Exactly, ladies. One of the fallacies we have to defeat is that it takes years to publish a book. If we want to actually make a living off of this, we need to think production. I drafted four novels last year. I'm currently working on book 3 of my YA series. I began book 1 last August. Yes, it can be done. And Heather, we're as late to the party as George Lucas was to that whole film thing. It's still new and even far from maturing. We just need to make our plans and stick with them.

Robin Mason said...

wait! what??? we have to actually WORK?!?!?!? well DUH!! and it IS work, too, so many people don't get that. in research mode just now, which I love, but it's work! and I'm with my Indie peeps, I'm in this for the long haul!!
ps - only on second cuppa coffee...

Sally Bradley said...

Great post, Ron.

Yes, the gold rush is over--and there really was a gold rush. But I agree that that's good for serious writers. Because there is still plenty of gold out there. And serious writers can--and do--make serious gold. It just takes work and know-how, like any job.

Debby Mayne said...

Great post, Ron! I agree with what you and everyone else said about hard work and success.

Richard Mabry said...

Ron, You have it right. In his office, one of the chiefs at the hospitalwhere I trained had a sign: TANSTAFL. Translation? "There ain't no such thing as free lunch."
Keep on learning, keep on trying, keep on improving. Thanks for the reminder.