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I work with self-published authors across the entire spectrum of success, but the main thing I see from those who head to five-figures a month and beyond is confident persistence. They will do what it takes, without compromising their principles. They write what they like, but with an eye toward what the readers want to read. It’s an overlap of what brings both the author and the reader satisfaction.

A great story delivered to the right readership. Repeat that and win.

For those who write passion projects, temper your expectations. If you write with the audience in mind, you’ll better deliver what they are looking for, and they will respond better than having a questionable story foisted upon them. 

The book has to be good enough, a great story or a good story told in a great way. It happens when the author is a critical reader. High-performing authors see what resonates, recognize the ebbs and flows of a well-paced tale. They deliver a story that people enjoy reading. A great story can get you to $10,000 in a month but putting that book into the broader readership of the genre is what keeps the high-performing indies accelerating to ever increasing levels of income.

High performers don’t have to love the marketing side, but they do understand it. They undertake marketing as a series of tasks. They are on the outside of the story, showing the title to those who will be interested. It’s not “buy my book,” but “this is a story that will entertain you, similar to others that you like but unique.”

The seven-figure authors embrace the marketing side every bit as much as the artistic side. And that leads to rarified air, those unicorns who are at the top of the game. But you don’t have to go there to have a lucrative career. 

Write a great story with the audience of that genre in mind and then put it into their hands. That is the secret of high-perform

Picture of Craig Martelle

Craig Martelle

High school Valedictorian enlists in the Marine Corps under a guaranteed tank contract. An inauspicious start that was quickly superseded by excelling in language study. Contract waived, a year at the Defense Language Institute to learn Russian and off to keep my ears on the big red machine during the Soviet years. Back to DLI for advanced Russian after reenlisting. Deploying. Then getting selected to get a commission. Earned a four-year degree in two years by majoring in Russian Language. It was a cop out, but I wanted to get back to the fleet. One summa cum laude graduation later, that’s where I found myself. My first gig as a second lieutenant was on a general staff. I did well enough that I stayed at that level or higher for the rest of my career, while getting some choice side gigs – UAE, Bahrain, Korea, Russia, and Ukraine. Major Martelle. I retired from the Marines after a couple years at the embassy in Moscow working arms control. The locals called me The German, because of my accent in Russian. That worked for me. It kept me off the radar. Just until it didn’t. Expelled after two years for activities inconsistent with my diplomatic status, I went to Ukraine. Can’t let twenty years of Russian language go to waste. More arms control. More diplomatic stuff. Then 9/11 and off to war. That was enough deployment for me. Then came retirement. Department of Homeland Security was a phenomenally miserable gig. I quit that job quickly enough and went to law school. A second summa cum laude later and I was working for a high-end consulting firm performing business diagnostics, business law, and leadership coaching. More deployments. For the money they paid me, I was good with that. Just until I wasn’t. Then I started writing. You’ll find Easter eggs from my career hidden within all my books. Enjoy the stories.

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