The Throwaway Writer Method of Making $1,000 a Day Writing

About three weeks ago I came across this thread on reddit by a poster called throwaway_writer.

He claimed to have 80 titles up on Amazon (and Nook/Smashwords etc) and had (at the time of that post) just reached the $1,000 a day milestone.

Of course this peaked my interest and I’ve become obsessed with trying to figure out his method and then, if possible, duplicate it.

For those that haven’t read it, here are the basic highlights:

  • Had 80+ titles up at the time (I think he’s well over 100 now).
  • Mostly they are short stories and then collections of those shorts
  • It took him 8 months to reach this level
  • He uses a variety of pen names to establish genres
  • He prices the shorts at between 0.99 and 2.99 (depending on genre) and collections 2.99 – 5.99 (again depending on genre).  He also has a novella or two if I read correctly.
  • As far as I can tell his four main genres are children’s books, erotica, fun sci-fi stories and business books.
  • He has a unique linking method for each ‘series’ of books (I’ll discuss this in further detail below).

Now I’m not going to get into a discussion on whether I think he’s legit or not (unlike many other writers who think he’s full of shit) because personally I think the strategy sounds quite achievable with that many books available for sale.

Instead I’m much more interested if the throwaway writer method can be duplicated by anyone else (and by that I mean me).

So starts the case study …

He credits his success to the following criteria: cover, titles, description (blurb), ranking and reference.

Notice he doesn’t mention the book’s content – which while important to write a good story – is NOT the most critical factor here.  He thinks lots of good enough stories that people will enjoy is more important than one excellent story that you’ve spent months on.

Anyway let’s dissect what he means by these criteria:

Cover – Clear image that conveys what the book is about (no abstract or ‘clever’ images).  And you want it to look somewhat professional, not like your twelve year old cousin did it.  He does the covers himself using stock photos.

Title – Clear title that says what the story is about.  I would also think that he puts keywords in his title too so they are extra searchable in Amazon.

Description – A good description is super important to get people to buy your book.  Think of it like a sales page that would intice someone to want to read more.

Ranking – The higher you rank in Amazon the more often you are recommended on other book searches and even the Amazon recommendation emails.  His linking strategy helps to increase your rank.

Reference – By this he means the category and the tag keywords you use for your story.  He tries to target a broad range of categories with his books so that at least one in the series covers all possible categories and subcategories that your story could fit into.  He tends also to favor those categories that are under represented with good stories so he isn’t competing in the super competitive categories.  Also by tagging your book with lots of searchable keywords can help visibility as well.

So far

So as a result I’ve been writing short stories.  So far I’ve got four up (fifth one finished – in editing).

The majority of his stories are 4,000 – 5,000 words, so I’ve made mine this length as well.

My aim is to get one short out per week which seems doable for me and then when I have seven in that genre or series then bundle them as a collection.

Editing the stories:

He does first draft, first edit, gives to his wife to read, last edit (read aloud) and then ship.

I’ve been doing the same thing.  Write it.  1st Edit.  Give to hubby to read and he tells me where things are unclear, plot holes, etc etc, last edit reading aloud and then publish (once cover is finished).

Now to the linking strategy …

From what I understand each ‘series’ is around six or seven books (shorts) which are then put into a collection.

He uses a unique strategy in that every book in a ‘series’ points to ONE book.  Let’s call it the ‘HUB’ book.

The HUB book then points out to all the other titles in that ‘series’.

So which book becomes the HUB book?

  • If you are writing an actual series then it’s the first one that kicks the stories off.
  • If your books are a similar genre but not really linked as a series then it’s the one that sells the best.
  • If you’ve written all seven then you link to the collection instead.
So to go over that again.  Each story ONLY links to the HUB book – not every book you’ve written.  The reason for this is you want the Hub book to be the highest ranking book on Amazon as that helps snowball this strategy.
Place your link (using your Amazon affiliate link) either at the start of the book or the end – your call.  You can also write in your description on Amazon that this story is part of the X collection, or this story is part of a series and the first in the series is Y.
Then in your hub you can link out to all your other books.

If you think about it, this makes good financial sense since you’d rather people buy your collection at $4.99 (you earn $3.45 at 70%) than all seven shorts @ 0.99 cents where you would earn only $2.45 (7 x 0.35 cents) assuming even that customers bought the entire seven shorts as singles.

Ok so it sounds good so far.

But will the throwaway writer method work for me?

I’ve tried to keep my covers simple that convey exactly what the story is about and the titles clear about what the story is.  Like I already mentioned above, I’ve only got four stories up at the moment, one more will go up next week.

Also I’ve haven’t put the linking strategy into place yet (I need a few more books first).

So how my are sales doing so far?

Meh!  Let’s just say I’ve got a LOOOONG way to go before I even look like this is a worthwhile financial strategy.

Plus I’m pretty new to fiction.  So I probably need to get a few more under my belt before they are really good stories.  (I do feel I’m getting better and I am trying my best to write cool stories though – I’m not half assing it – but just wanted to put that out there in case you were thinking you were getting Suzanne Collins or something).

Oh and it’s actually really fun.  Making stuff up is much more enjoyable than writing about the stock market.  Just sayin’.

But it’s far too early to see any financial reward yet (I think I’ll be able to afford a coffee this month and that’s about it).  So I’ve got to get 80 of these suckers up before the end of the year (or at least 52 if I can do one per week – icon wink The Throwaway Writer Method of Making $1,000 a Day Writing )

Only then will I be able to let you know whether it’s a worthwhile strategy or not.

Fingers crossed!

Comments

  1. Jim says

    I wish you all the luck because I am a wanna be famous/rich writer myself, but I think you are making a mistake looking for a get-rich-quick gimmick. You’ve never written fiction before, but you are throwing up a short 16-20 page story a week. That’s sad. Take more pride in your writing. Take some time to perfect your craft. Short stories are a great place to start. Aim for getting 6-12 really good ones up this year, and start making connections with readers. Don’t just throw up crap and hope it sticks. Sorry, but I really would like to see you succeed, and I don’t think a cheap trick is the way to do it. (I do think your husband put together some nice covers, though. He’s a keeper.) Good luck to you, whatever you choose!

    • Tracey says

      Hi Jim,

      Ouch – not sure I’d describe them as crap ;) I actually really like them (especially the newer titles). I’m just saying that I’m new to fiction and I’m not probably in the league of some other bestselling authors yet.

      A week for a short story is actually a good amount of time for me, I’m a fast writer – so it’s doable. I write 1,000 words a day and use the rest of the day to think about the story – what comes next, where I could improve etc. Plus hubby gives me some good feedback where he feels the story is weak so I can fix those parts.

      I’m sure I’ll get told by readers if they do or don’t like them in good time – in fact that’s probably the best way to find out what works and what doesn’t and will help me grow as a fiction writer ;)

      Cheers
      Tracey

      • says

        It amazes me just how vicious wanna-be writers can be – makes the MMO crowd look like a bunch of pussycats!

        I took a quick look at your previews – and you quality is a helluva lot higher than some of the others I’ve seen in the erotica genre particularly!

        I don’t think you are claiming to write literary fiction, but writing a good story doesn’t need to take a year LOL!

        • Tracey says

          LOL I know! It’s funny that in the Internet Marketing world 1,000 words a day is considered slow – yet in the writers world it’s too fast!

          I actually think my stories are pretty good (I would never have revealed my pen name otherwise) but sometimes I wonder if I have TOO much story in my erot.romance and not enough sex ;)

          I’m enjoying myself and hoping this case study works so it can inspire other writers.

          t xx

  2. Derrick says

    Good post Tracey. I have been working on my first project, a non fiction kindle book, been cranking out 1,000 words per day, the 30,000-40,000 words seems daunting but it is getting closer and closer.

    After I get that up on Amazon I am going to do some short story fiction as well.

    I think as long as we are all putting out quality we should be set for the long term. There are a ton of people throwing junk up on Kindle and it is a shame because it puts a black eye on all authors who publish for kindle.

    Pen names you are limited to 3 right?

    • Tracey says

      Hi Derrick,

      Thanks Derrick – let us know when the non fiction book is finished I’d love to see it up on Amazon!

      With pen names you can have as many as you like through KDP, but Amazon Author Central you are limited to 3 if you want to create author pages (although you could open other Amazon account to have more).

      Take care
      Tracey

        • Tracey says

          Who said anything about having more than one author account? It’s ONE author account with MULTIPLE pen names. You can put whatever pen name you like on your books along as it’s all under the one account. I know authors with over twenty different pen names. It’s the best way to separate your genres.

          • says

            Many pen names, yes – you said “open other Amazon accounts”. Just wanted to clarify that so people don’t get themselves banned.

  3. Bea says

    I second what Lissie stated. Your blurbs are interesting and make your potential readers want to know more. They’re well-written, so I’ve no reason to doubt that your stories are equally well-written. I wish you the best, and please keep us posted on your progress. It encourages me, so I’m sure it encourages many of the other readers of your blog here.

    • Tracey says

      Thanks Bea!

      I’ll definitely keep you posted on the progress. I was hoping that this post would help encourage other authors to go for it (which is why I’m doing the case study – apart from the fact that I’m enjoying it immensely) so I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      All the best,
      Tracey

  4. Bea says

    When you say you don’t have enough stories written yet to do the linking, does that mean you can go back into the books you already have up at some later date, and then link them?

    Also, can you recommend someone reasonable who can properly prepare or format what you’ve written to get it onto Kindle? Possibly including the cover?

    • Tracey says

      Hi Bea,

      Yes you can upload new versions as often as you want. The old version will stay up until the new one overrides it – usually within a day or two.

      I just use a normal Word document and upload that to Kindle. I follow a some of the guidelines from the Smashwords Style Guide (PDF) a bit, but generally it’s just straight text – nothing fancy.

      My husband does my covers so I’m lucky in that respect.

      I’ve got four books in the erotic series so I’ve started the linking now. Still early days but we’ll see how it goes.

  5. Derrick says

    Bea,

    It looks like you can update your books as desired, so yes you can go back in. For the formatting there really isn’t a lot to it Amazon has a help doc that walks you right through it. If you are publishing on createspace(a physical book) I hear the formatting is a little tougher though.

    For covers check out Fiver.com there are a lot of talented people that will do covers cheap.

  6. says

    Hi Tracey, I’m part of Throwaway_Writer’s writing group, Frankenwriters. Although I do not know his identity, I can confirm that he’s legit.

    Back in November, I came across his thread for the first time and it changed my life. Once I applied some of his strategies, I started making a lot more money. I made $20 in November, $200 in December, and then $5,300 in January. (Yes, I had my first breakout title that lit up my catalog like a Christmas tree.) February was disappointing, though I still made $6,300. March has been a down month thus far; currently I’m on pace to hit slightly more than $3,000 (about half what I did the month before). Hopefully this is the bottom.

    So far, I think you’re doing a better job at implementing his wisdom than I am. Currently I’m up to 33 published works, but I have tons of translations and compilations, so the number of unique works is far lower. Last I heard, Throwaway_Writer was up to 180 titles. He’s probably over 200 by now.

    Like you, I’m happy with everything I’ve produced thus far. I laugh at these traditional-published authors/wannabes who are willing to wait years to see their works in print. My mother is a traditionally published author (Kathleen Kirkwood, a.k.a., Anita Gordon), and I’ve seen firsthand how crappy the Big Six treats their authors. But let these halfwits debate the finer points of literature while Amazon fills my bank account.

    Besides, what’s the going rate for a debut novel? You’d be lucky to get $5,000 these days, and I made that in a month without any major publisher behind me.

    And I still retain all my rights.

    With traditional publishing, you can kiss your rights goodbye, since the standard agency contract demands the life of the copyright (i.e., the rest of your natural life + 70 years). Personally, I’d rather be adding another work to my catalog than sending out a query letter. In addition, it’s pure insanity to forgo years of royalties. You’ve seen what I’ve made; that’s just scratching the surface.

    Let the trolls come and say what they will; if they had an ounce of intellect, they’d be investing their time getting out their next e-book rather than telling a successful author (Throwaway made $30,000 back in February) that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    This is the golden age of publishing, people. You cannot afford to sit this one out.

    • Tracey says

      Thanks Scott!

      It’s definitely a great time to be a writer. I’m still not making much money from my fiction books but I don’t have a lot up there at the moment and I think that will change once the collections go up.

      So glad to hear that you are having great success as well. Might have to check out the Frankenwriters group!

      All the best
      Tracey

  7. Jenna Halston says

    Tracey, I love the covers. I think they are great. I’m also v. intrigued by this strategy. But 80 books. Wow. If writing doesn’t come easy this is a huge obstacle..

    Anyway thanks to you and other mentors I’ve finally published my first kindle ebook. Non-fiction. Really appreciate you “blogging out loud” about your experiences..

  8. says

    This sounds like a pretty good idea especially if you are enjoying writing the short stories. Since I was little I have always loved making up stories in my head (does that make me sound crazy?) but I’m not sure if I could probably convey them on paper. You have definitely piqued my interest though and I am curious to see how well your books start selling.

    Oh, and the covers your hubby made are awesome!

    • Tracey says

      Hi Tiffany,

      Arn’t all writers crazy? ;)

      The books are selling slowly but starting to build up. I’ve just finished short story number 7 although haven’t decided on a title or cover yet (is that the hardest part?) This one took me a bit longer (3 weeks instead of 1) so I’m already behind on my 1 a week strategy – never mind ;)

      Thanks!
      Tracey :)

  9. Allyson says

    Thank you for summarizing and giving your opinion. You’ve helped clarify things for me. I’ve been kicking around the idea for awhile and wasn’t sure what to do. I have one short awaiting editing, but you’ve really helped give me some direction. Thanks again.

      • Aluminum says

        If you don’t mind me asking, how many stories did you have published by the time you quit? What was your return on them?

        Thanks for any additional information on this.

        • Tracey says

          I think I had 16 short stories up and a bunch of non fiction books, so 20 or so titles. I was only getting a handful of sales from each story and I didn’t think it was worth continuing to write them. I felt then (and still feel) that longer works sell better, and so I’m writing 50K+ word books now.

          Plus it’s more challenging, so I’m having more fun. ;)

  10. says

    Yay, twitter! I found you through a tweet, and am I ever a happy camper. This has eased my concerns about pen names and the ability to support myself with my writing. Aside from those goodies, I’ve discovered a writer I find worthy of admiring who writes well. (Lots of other good links in the comments, too.)

    As for making a run for the money goes, that is often an excellent stimulant for increasing craft, not crap. I remember Chris Rock being interviewed and asked what he credited his success to. His answer was that he bought a house he couldn’t afford and had to get out there and work, get better at what he did, and keep getting better if he wanted to keep his house. Worked great for him, and he entertains others along the way.

    I’m so glad I found this blog. Everything about it is loverly.

    • Tracey says

      Thanks Cyd! So glad you’ve found my blog too :)

      P.S. Apologies for not approving this comment sooner, WordPress didn’t tell me there was a new comment and I didn’t see it until now.

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