There’s Always Hope

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m just at the five-year mark with self-publishing and so I was playing with Excel today and doing charts (rather than rewriting the CreateSpace for Beginners book which is half relevant still but half no longer relevant thanks to Amazon’s changes).

I’ve also been occasionally watching a train-wreck of a thread over on a writing forum. As you do.

In that thread someone said something like, “If I hadn’t gained traction after two years I would’ve given up.” (Amusingly, one of the people who responded to that comment was #1 in the entire Amazon store earlier this year after I want to say 3 or 4 years of trying to break through. They didn’t point that out, just commented that they hadn’t know how close to the edge they were. I’m sure their bank deposits are reward enough for sticking with it, though.)


As part of my procrastinating I put together a line chart of all of my pen names and their revenue by year. Which made me realize something. One of my pen names went from $500 in revenue in its third year of existence to $20,000 in its fourth year of existence. That after having years of $150 and $97, respectively, before that.

Not a name I had much hope for after those first couple of years.

But then I did something crazy. I published a title people actually wanted to buy. And advertised it so that the people who wanted to buy it found it. And guess what? They bought it. And I made money.

Funny how that works.

(Not that I knew that title would be in demand, me being me I was still writing what I felt like writing and just happened to be lucky that people wanted that particular book.)

I’m sharing this little anecdote with you to point out that there’s always hope. Just because things are bad now doesn’t mean they always will be. I have two other pen names that went from about $500 in one year to $3,500 the next. Not as big a jump, but still a nice increase.

Did that put me in the big leagues? No. But all of it adds up over time. I think of it as laying bricks. I’m building something, one piece at a time. It just takes time to do.

What I would say in all three of those instances, though, is that I kept moving forward. I added new books. Sometimes it was more books in that series. Sometimes it was completely new material. But the key is to try, assess, learn, and try again.

Iterate. Over and over and over until it hits. Don’t bog down on what failed. Learn and then try something new.

(And I should add that this comes easy to me because Strategic is one of Strengthsfinder strengths so finding alternate paths is what I do. A fails. Try B. B fails. Try C. C fails. Try D. So YMMV and all of that. And if you haven’t checked out Becca Syme’s Write Better-Faster classes, which are really about finding the writing path that works for who you are and leaning into your strengths, you really should:

Anyway. I have a book to rewrite. And then a new book in a brand-new-to-me genre to write. Because I’m still a fool when it comes to all of this. 🙂

Author: M.L. Humphrey

M.L. Humphrey is an author who has been published under a variety of pen names and across a variety of subjects and genres. You can contact M.L. at mlhumphreywriter [at]

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