I started seriously writing SF about three years ago. I got lucky with my first few sales pretty early. I never made it out of the fringes though, no sales to the big genre magazines. But in writing those short stories I realized that I was not a horrible writer and that maybe writing books would be fun.
I wrote a SF book and a Mystery book. The Mystery has a strong following with the ten or so people who have read it. But to this day, it has a very small audience. The SF book is quite good and many people have it on their Kindles. Not sure how many have actually read it, but those that do seem to agree it’s pretty good.
I keep writing novels at a pace of about one per year and putting them on Amazon as ebooks. I’ve had some success but mostly my sales have been pretty low. My books are decent reads at decent prices. Those that actually take a chance on them are rarely disappointed. I also shop my books around to the various remaining agents out there. So far nobody has had more than a passing interest in my work.
If you are going the self publishing route you need to be following the lessons of those who have had success and keep plugging away at it. Not everyone who does it will be successful. I’ve been doing it for four years now and I still have not had much success with it. I use Twitter, Google + and I write blog posts like this one but truthfully, the social media thing does not really work for getting readers.
The most successful way I’ve found to get readers is to use the Kindle Select program. It gets unknown writers in front of Kindle readers and the residual effects of the free sales do in fact lead to real sales if you have more than a couple of books for sale. I don’t have much time to do effective marketing for my books. Heck, I don’t have much time to write them. I work 40 hours a week, and I’m very involved in my kid’s activities from Scouts to Sports.
I’ve found that if you really like to write novels, write them. Don’t talk about it, do it. Put them on the Kindle Select store and then keep writing the next one. Once you have a body of work that people can discover, you will see increased sales. You will not be able to make a living as a writer. Unless you write Thrillers or Romances and one takes off. Sci-Fi novels are incredibly niche and readers are slow to adopt new writers. Especially ones who are not blessed by the Big 6 publishers. So if you are a small press author or a self published author you probably won’t get the respect you crave, so just forget about it.
If you want to be published traditionally, then write your books and send out your queries to agents and play the game. There’s nothing wrong with that. Otherwise, you just have realize that you are fringe and be happy with it. My books will never win awards and I will never be considered a “real writer” by others, so I don’t even seek that kind of validation anymore. Steady, rising sales are my only form of validation. If one day I’m able to write full time, it will be because lots of readers are buying my books. And that’s okay by me.
Until then, I get to keep writing and getting better.