Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

A Pithy Comment

A Good One This Week…

I find a pithy comment of the week every week to add into the videos in the Motivational Monday class. This Monday is the 5th week of the second quarter. If you sign up for the entire year, you get all the ones from the first three months in the first quarter, plus the five so far this quarter. Plus all the rest coming in this year.

But this week I wanted to share the quote from Ingrid Bergman out wider, which I thought applied to writing and publishing spot on the money. And from a direction most writers don’t come from.

Basically, what I hear from a lot of writers is how bad things are going, what they have missed, where they fell off the challenge, and so on and so on. (Writers are expert whiners about things they have screwed up.)

Just like rewriting a manuscript, that negative point of view is you basically standing with your back to the future and focusing on something, or complaining about something that happened in the past. A totally pointless exercise.

Sorry. You just can’t do anything about the past.

But if you turn around and face forward, it is amazing what you can accomplish in the future.

So the quote from Ingrid Bergman that fits this perfectly is:

“Happiness is good health and a bad memory.”

Might want to tape that on the wall over your computer and then look forward to what you can do today and tomorrow.


  • Prasenjeet Kumar

    Hi Dean. I love your blog and I’m very passionate about story-telling. But after reading your blog and copyright, and about long term mind-set, and so many amazing things, I don’t think indie publishing is a viable career. It’s like making a living with You Tube or Google Adsense. Sure, there are a few You Tube celebrities that make millions but 99.99% of people make just a few cents here and there.

    And I don’t see any reason why 20 or 30 years down the line, things can be different. If a book makes one sale a month, in 20-30 years, it’d barely make (12 sales x 30 years= 360 sales. Assuming you make $3.5 at $4.99, it’d amount to $1260). And at one sale a month, if I have to make $3000 to make a living, I’ll have to write a thousand books all selling one copy a month. And for a thousand books, it’ll take a 100 years (assuming I’m publishing ten books every year. 10 x 100= 1000).

    Hence, it may take a 100 years to make a living with your books.

    Now you can say that the book may be turned into a Netflix series or become the next Harry Potter or Game of Thrones but isn’t that like saying that someday you’ll hit the lottery.

    And it’s even more depressing to think that a book may take off fifty years from now, after when you’re dead. Would hate others profiting from my work (like poor Vincent Van Gogh) when I’m not around.

    I was hopeful earlier but I’m saying this after 8 years in the industry and 74 books published. I still love the creative side and writing stories and will continue to learn and write because I enjoy it. But now I don’t think it is financially viable in the long run.

    What do you say?

    • dwsmith

      Wow, and that thinking from a person who must have twenty how-to-write and market books out. I’d be afraid what you are teaching your students with that kind of thinking.

      If all of your books are only selling one copy a month, you are doing a ton of things wrong if you have that many fiction books out. Now granted, I have books that don’t sell a copy in a year, (And if that happens for very long, we rebrand it and put it out again which always helps the sales) but I also have books that over all the things I am doing, sell upwards of a thousand copies a year and more. But I do a lot of different things that is 2022, does not just depend on standard promotion like it is 1990. And yes, we do some of that as well, but mostly we build readers one at a time.

      I was in traditional publishing back in the 1980s and 1990s when the contracts were good, they actually did promotion on books and sales were far, far higher per book than they are now. I make 10 times the money now in indie than I ever did with the 106 traditionally published books. And I wrote some big ones and got paid a ton.

      So instead of questioning the thousands who are making a great living at indie publishings, start asking yourself what you are doing wrong. Start with passive sales copy? How about covers that give the reader no idea what genre you are in. Or even what the book is about. Maybe you are still thinking that Amazon sales are the only way. Holy shit, if we thought that, we wouldn’t be able to pay for much of anything. But yet that, by the way you framed the question in your post, is what you think is the only way to sell a book.

      So what do I honestly say? I laughed, to be honest. And then I hoped you were just not another writer looking for an excuse to quit. Even back in the day of traditional stupidity, most writers quit because “it’s just hard.” And guess what? Making a living at an international profession is hard. Far harder than being some local lawyer or doctor. This is international. And only those of us who just kept going, kept learning, year after year after year got to where I am now.

      By the way, after eight years in publishing, I was making about $100 bucks a maybe. And I didn’t sell my first novel for the grand sum of $5,000 before agent fee until 14 years after I started. If you want to quit at only 8 years, that will be sad. But instead of blaming the industry that is working for thousands and thousands of of us, blame yourself, figure out what you are doing wrong, open up your mind to more sales paths to book readers than just Amazon. And learn to be a better storyteller. Not a writer, a storyteller.

      And then be patient enough to let the fans find your work.

      And I would stop writing how to write books and how to market books until you actually know enough to teach it. Just saying. Might help you focus on writing stories instead of teaching others how to write stories. You are not helping anyone by giving them advice you have not lived.

  • Prasenjeet Kumar

    That’s reassuring. I’m already feeling better. I have read your sales copy book and cover designing, so those are the things I try to nail. My problem is that I’m not able to reach my target audience. I live in India and write Indian fiction and so my target audience is also in India. Not in the United States and right now I’ve no access to reach them.

    I tried to run a kickstarter campaign after your free course but it’s not open to citizens from India.

    Otherwise I’ve got great feedback from strangers who have read my book, so hopefully I’m doing something right. But as you say and I believe that writng and business is continuously a learning process.

    Sometimes I feel depressed but I needed what you said just now. Thanks.

    • dwsmith

      If you live in India, you should have access to massive numbers of ways to get to the readers in your country, which are massive in number. Your country blocks outside access to protect writers like you. Sounds like you have some research to do to find out what those channels are and how to get your books into them. Massive opportunity. Good luck.