Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You Should Self-Publish

One of the traits I value most about myself is my ability to change my mind about something as more data becomes available.

Well, the data is in. And I'm reversing one of my long-held beliefs about writing.

For many years, I said DO NOT SELF-PUBLISH.

I had many good reasons to support this belief.

1. Self-publishing was expensive
2. The final product was over priced and inferior
3. Self-pubbed were impossible to distribute
4. Most self-pubbed books weren't returnable
5. Chances were, the reason you had to self pub was because your writing wasn't good enough
6. Most POD houses were scams

I had ample evidence to support my opinion. Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors and Absolute Write all had detailed tales of authors being screwed. I'd done enough local signings with self-pubbed authors to see how epic their failures were. I was a judge for several self-pub contests for Writer's Digest, and saw firsthand the dreck being released.

Yep, I was pretty confident that traditional publishing was the only game in town.

Then, in 2009, I became aware of the Kindle.

Even though I began to experience some success self-publishing my ebooks, I still believed in traditional publishing. For all of its flaws, signing with a Big 6 house was still the best way to make the most money and reach the most readers.

So now it's December 2010, and I'm selling 1000 ebooks a day, and I'm ready to change my mind on the matter.

Two close friends of mine have books on submission, waiting for the Big 6 to make offers. They've been waiting for a few months, and will probably have to wait a few months more.

Even being conservative in my estimates, these writers have lost thousands of dollars, and will continue to lose money every single day their books are on submission, rather than on Amazon.

Selling 1000 ebooks a month equals $24,000 a year. Being on submission for 6 months is a loss of $12,000, and then waiting 18 more months for the book to be published is a loss of another $36,000.

Even if they got a nice advance, say $100,000, they'd still be losing money hand over fist.

Let's compare:

Self-Pubbing
Two years of extra sales (the submission time and the time to publication) = $48,000
Three years of sales beyond that @ $24k per year = $72,000
Total five year earnings for self pubbing = $120,000

Traditional Pubbing
Advance = $100,000. But the agent takes $15k, and the advance is broken up into three payments of $57,000 each over three years
Five years of sales = $0 (a $100,000 advance, in today's market, with bookstores closing all around and ebook royalties at 17.5%, will never earn out)
Total five year earnings = $85,000

1000 ebook sales a month for a $2.99 self-pubbed ebook is a very conservative number--I have ebooks regularly selling 2000 or 3000 a month.

But I've NEVER had a $5.99 ebook sell 1000 copies a month, and that's what a traditional publisher will price their ebooks at. Each $5.99 ebook that sells will earn the author $1.05, and they'll sell considerably fewer (as many as ten times fewer, according to my numbers) than the $2.99 ebook earning them $2.04.

Yes, there will be paper sales, but my best selling paper book, Afraid, didn't even earn me $25k in print royalties, and it has a hardcover, trade paper, and two mass market releases on three continents.

I'm also very concerned that many print publishers, in the next few years, are going to go bankrupt. I'd hate to wait 18 months for my book to come out, then have it canceled. And if it is canceled, what happens to the rights? Do they get tangled up in some lengthy court battle? Do I ever get my erights back?

And how about after the five year period? Chances are high, five years from now, that ebooks will be the dominant format. Do I want to be locked into a contract making 17.5% on every sale when I could have been making 70%?

Let's say publishers wise up and begin selling ebooks for $2.99. That would mean authors only get 52 cents from each sale, or 1/4 of what they could make on their own. That's $6k a year in royalties, rather than $24k.

If that went on for ten years, an author who signed with a publisher would make $60,000. An author who self-pubbed and sold the same amount of ebooks would make $240,000.

Yes, traditional publishers offer editing and cover art. But is editing and cover art worth you losing $18,000 a year, every year, forever?

Even if we assume print will remain competitive, I can trot out the royalties I've earned on my Jack Daniels books over the last seven years. With six JD books, including ebook sales, I've made over $300,000.

I'm on track to make over $200,000 on ebook sales in 2011, and have made over $100,000 this year. So I can earn more in two years on my own than I could in seven years with a traditional publisher. Hell, I earned more this month than I got as an advance for Afraid ($20k for Afraid, $22k for this December self-pubbing.)

If I look at the poor royalty rates publishers offer, the changing, volatile marketplace, the long time to publication, and then add in the multitude of mistakes publishers continue to make (like high ebook prices), I'd be hard pressed to think of ANY reason to sign a book deal.

Unless it's for a huge sum of money. If that happens, take the money and assume you'll never get your rights back or make another cent off of that book.

Years ago, publishers used to grow authors. When authors reached a certain number of books in print, the publisher would have a huge marketing campaign to break the author out into the mainstream and hit the bestseller lists. That's how a lot of NYT bestsellers got there.

These days, you can grow yourself. You can put out books quicker than the Big 6, earn more money, reach more readers, and have more control over the entire process.

But don't take my word for it. Go to Kindleboards.com and look at all the self-pubbed authors selling like crazy. Go to Amazon.com and look at the bestseller lists, which are full of indie authors (who are competing with huge bestselling authors, and in many cases making more money than those bestsellers.) Crunch the numbers yourself, and try to find a scenario where you'd actually do better in the long term by signing with the Big 6.

I'll now take some questions.

Q: But Joe, I've got a self-pubbed ebook on Kindle, and I've only sold 6 copies. Wouldn't I sell more through a publisher?

A: I've seen evidence that the return rates on print books are over 70%. If your book is selling poorly on Kindle, what makes you think you'll sell well having two copies, spine out, in a bookstore that will soon go out of business?

And do you think you'll sell more ebooks through a publisher when they list it at $9.99 and only pay you 17.5%?

If your sales are poor, change the cover art, change the description, rewrite the book, write more books, change genres, etc. There are a lot of ways to improve sales, because you have control.

You have no control once you sign over your rights to a publisher.

Q: Print is still the dominant form of media. Don't you think you're putting all your eggs in the ebook basket?

A: Not at all. Most of my self-pubbed ebooks are available in print, through Createspace. This December, I've earned over $2300 on them.

Q: You're such a hypocrite. You've got several print deals.

A: I signed those deals before I came to this conclusion. I highly doubt I'll ever sign another print deal.

Q: But I need the traditional publishing gatekeepers in order to know my book is good enough. Aren't you concerned a whole bunch of wannabes will flood the Kindle with self-pubbed crapola?

A: Decades ago, pulp writers learned to write while on the job. Early books by many of the greatest mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, and romance writers, weren't very good. But getting paid allow those writers to improve, and become the masters we now revere.

If you write crap, it probably won't sell very well. But you can learn from it and get better. You can rewrite and revise your early work to improve it. With self-publishing, readers become the gatekeepers, and if you work hard, keep an open mind, and learn from your mistakes, you'll improve as a writer.

Q: But what about editing and formatting and cover art?

A: See my sidebar for the folks I use to make my cover art and format my ebooks and print books.

As for editing, I'll be candid here. My last four print releases, all done my major houses, required very little editing. That's because I have writing peers who help me vet my manuscripts.

Join a writers group, or make friends with a writer in your genre and trade manuscripts.

Q: But I want to be traditionally published so my books are in bookstores, and so I can join professional writer organizations like HWA, SFWA, RWA, MWA, ITW, NinC, the Author's Guild, so I can get nominated for awards, and so I can get professional reviews in newspapers and Kirkus, PW, Booklist, and so my books get into libraries, and so I can sell to foreign countries and sell audio rights and get movie deals.

A: Years ago, self-pubbing was called "vanity publishing" because it existed to appeal to the writer's ego.

Joining organizations, winning awards, getting into newspapers, and seeing your books in bookstores and libraries all seems like it caters directly to a writer's vanity.

As a writer, I could give a shit what the New York Times thinks of my latest, or if MWA gives me an Edgar award, or if I'm on a shelf in the Podunk Public Library. Those are all ego strokes.

I care about money, and reaching readers, and none of these things are necessary to make money or reach readers.

As for foreign, audio, and movie rights, watch what happens over the next few years. Print is no longer a prerequisite.

Q: You're doing well because you have a platform in traditional publishing.

A: Will this assumption ever die? I'm not saying every self-pubbed writer will sell as well as I do. But there are many writers selling just as well, or better, and many of them never had a print deal. I'm sure my backlist helps. I'm also sure a backlist isn't needed to succeed.

Q: You're a bitter, angry man, your mediocre success has turned you into an insufferable egomaniac, and your bashing the publishing industry is petty and misguided.

A: I'm guessing you work for the publishing industry. Better get that resume up on Monster.com ASAP.

Q: But what if your ebook predictions are wrong? What if the bubble bursts? Do you think any publisher in the world would ever offer you another contract? I'd much rather stick with a multi-million dollar company who has had a hundred years of experience. Publishers are too smart, and there is too much money involved, for them to fail.

A: I'm sure a lot of people felt the same way about Enron, Delta, Chrysler, General Motors, Northwest Airlines, Montgomery Wards, Kmart, Delta, the Tribune Group, Pacific Gas and Electric, etc.

Bankruptcy happens to big companies all the time. And technology changes how media is distributed and sold.

I wouldn't want to be associated with any company who still supported Betamax, VHS, 8 tracks, cassette tapes, vinyl records, 35mm film, analog televisions, CRT monitors, dot matrix printers, etc.

I don't doubt that print will always exist.

I also don't doubt that digital will dominate print, just as it has dominated music, TV, film, communications, etc.

If you want to stick with the old guard, that's up to you. I wish you much success.

In the meantime, I'll be self-pubbing, making money.

448 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   401 – 448 of 448
Robin Sullivan said...

Joe Konrath said...
Actually the "model" wasn't the problem it was the "market" that was still in its infancy

But are we sure we aren't talking about two different markets?

Self-pubbing in print, even with Createspace, still was a poor model because even though bookstores could order the books (which cost more than traditional trade paperbacks but paid smaller royalties, even with the Pro Plan), these books weren't regularly stocked in bookstores.


True enough --- The Lightning Souce Kiosk (which prints out a trade paperback "while you wait" is the innovation that has the possibility of game changing print for indies.

I wish they would change their sales model though. They should't "sell" them to bookstores/cafes because they will be to concerned about maintenence etc. They should offer to place them into the stores and have service men who visit regularly to make sure they are running etc and take a %. It's been over a year since I first saw one and they're not goign anywhere...yet...but behind POD printing, ebooks, this is the next technology which will be really important. Just think ... no more returns on books - who can't like that.

LauraL said...

In 1998/1999 Douglas Clegg, M.J. Rose and Seth Godin all self published ebooks.

Followed the next year by Stephen King and Douglas Rushkoff and others.

By 1999 Guttenberg Press had thousands of public domain ebooks available free.

The University of Virginia reported more than a million free ebook downloads a year by 2000.

Sure there are more devices now and there are way more ebooks available but lets get real folks...this has been a viable, valuable arena for over a decade.

More is not new - it's just more.

klcrumley said...

>>Q: But I want to be traditionally published so my books are in bookstores, and so I can join professional writer organizations like HWA, SFWA, RWA, MWA, ITW, NinC, the Author's Guild, so I can get nominated for awards, and so I can get professional reviews in newspapers and Kirkus, PW, Booklist, and so my books get into libraries, and so I can sell to foreign countries and sell audio rights and get movie deals.

A: Years ago, self-pubbing was called "vanity publishing" because it existed to appeal to the writer's ego.

Joining organizations, winning awards, getting into newspapers, and seeing your books in bookstores and libraries all seems like it caters directly to a writer's vanity.

As a writer, I could give a shit what the New York Times thinks of my latest, or if MWA gives me an Edgar award, or if I'm on a shelf in the Podunk Public Library. Those are all ego strokes.

<<

Amen.
Glad to see someone else shares my opinion.

I made a similar comment in another blog, and it was implied that I "doth protest too much" and that my comments came from a "sour grapes" point of view. Needless to say, the person didn't know me from Eve.

My point of view comes from knowing a lot of commercial publishing hopefuls who wouldn't dare self-publish their childrens books because they have this fantasy about Disney buying the film rights. Or, they're putting a lot of importance on being shelved at Borders.

Those are vain reasons for wanting to be a writer, IMO.

Michelle Oeltjen said...

Bravo Joe - another great article and inspiration for newbie authors such as myself. Going against the tide is never easy but that is what makes it that much more thrilling!

Two-Ten Book Press said...

I have to say this has been the best blog (article) EVER about self publishing that I have ever read. Way to go Joe! I have learned alot on my own and I was determined to seek out an agent again, but this refuels my cause for total independence and financial success. I don't want to share my idea (rights) if I don't have too. The delay in getting a book in print traditionally is insane. Why wait if you don't have too. Nay! I believe!

Leigh said...

With all due respect (doncha hate comments that start that way?), the article posits a couple of flaws in reckoning. In the six reasons you lead with for not publishing, at least the first five (if not all six) remain true.

Secondly, as any economist or accountant will attest, not making money is not the same as losing money. If a writer doesn't make $100,000 a year, they didn't lose money– they simply didn't earn it.

Thirdly, while self-publishing non-fiction can benefit the author, self-publishing fiction apprears to be a losing game. While I don't disagree with all your conclusions, I'm concerned the average dying-to-be-publshed author will be misled.

Ty Hutchinson said...

Joe, I'm curious. Do you still feel like you need author/review blurbs for the books you are self publishing?

Joe Konrath said...

Thirdly, while self-publishing non-fiction can benefit the author, self-publishing fiction apprears to be a losing game.

That link is from May 2009. Back then, it was a losing game.

In 2011 it isn't.

And none of the first five in my list are valid for ebooks.

Joe Konrath said...

Joe, I'm curious. Do you still feel like you need author/review blurbs for the books you are self publishing?

Can't hurt if it's a big name, but I don't count on them. I had to give up giving blurbs because I have no time.

Anonymous said...

I published my first novel self-published on Lulu. It's called The Boy Who Skipped. I haven't sold a lot of copies yet, but as a self-pub without a long print history I know I have to do my legwork. Friends who read it helped tremendously.

Star-Dreamer said...

Joe, this post made me excited about the possibilities offered by self pubbing... but I'm still a little wary... I mean, perhaps it's true that it doesn't matter if you have a backlist or not, but the fact of the matter is that you do (and I'm not trying to make excuses here... really). I definitely want to check out some more self-pubbed books now, though.

The thing is, I keep debating with myself over this matter, and for me the choice is difficult because I can agree with both sides. The self-publishing market has grown a lot, but I suppose there is something to be said for being traditionally published too. I have a traditional publisher looking at one of my novels (no, I haven't been published before). If he doesn't accept it, I think I might try self pubbing it... after I tweak it some more, of course. :D

I saw that someone asked if genre matters in this market. That's one thing I'm curious about as well, especially since I write Christian Spec Fic and many people who read that genre are paper fanatics. I suppose it all counts on the audience too...

However, with one of my other books, I definitely want to go trade all the way.

Jim said...

I signed a contract with one of the Big 6 in June 2009, before I knew how easy it was to self-pub. Got a small advance for it. The book isn't coming out until December 2011, 30 months later. Do I wish I had of self published? You bet your ass I do.

Patty G. Henderson said...

Joe, you're certainly an inspiration. Rob Walker is another guy who inspires for indie publishing.

If you can find a good cover artist and editor for decent fees, you will soon make up for what you put out in sales.

If anyone is in need of a good cover artist, I'm an artist and an author. I've got the best rates in the market. Check out my online portfolio if you like at: www.boulevardphotografica.blogspot.com

booklover said...

I am sticking my toe into self-publishing. I have a short story that is 7800 words. I have more or less made up my mind to publish it on Kindle.

I am also considering to self-publish my novellas. They tend to be quirky. Epic fantasy novellas anyone? Or a fantasy duology set in Heaven and Hell?
Before I do that, I need to find an editor that I can afford.

The Paradise Series said...

I love the POD principle and enjoy the control it gives me. It is one thing to work for someone else and be a prisoner, but it is freedom to be able to make your own decisions.

We can't assume that everyone is in the writing business just to make money. Some of us love the task of writing and seeing the shining eyes of the young people who read what you have written.

I have been authoring for over thirty years and love every word of it. I enjoyed reading this post.
Dr Robert E McGinnis

D. Robert Pease said...

You seem to have settled on $2.99 as your price for ebooks on Amazon, what are your thoughts on paperback pricing through Createspace? I looked up several of your novels, and the paperback pricing seems to be all over the place.

Stephen Pate said...

Cool story and you're on the right track.

http://njnnetwork.com/2011/01/you-should-self-publish/

Suzanne Beecher said...

Nice read. Makes you think, thanks, but wanted to point out that your math doesn't work when you're talking about the 100,000 advance, agent's commission and the three payments. Just an FYI so you could correct that.

Shannon Lee said...

The more and more I look at it, the more I want to go this direction. I have been researching self publishing for years and nearly went down that road five years ago, and yet I held back after everyone was telling me to go traditional since I was writing a horror novel and the World Horror Association looks down on authors who have self published their work.

However I like that feeling of being in control of the novel and publishing it as well as promoting my work. Not to mention if you get a movie deal out of it, they have to go through you than the major publishers who have the rights to the book.

Problem is now I don't know where to go to self published, second of all I need a good editor to look over my novel. I had hired two editors before and yet they didn't really give me what the story needed...

Delays delays.

Have any advice when it comes to picking out a self publisher for when the novel is read? I would love to find a place that also sends the author a good amount of books to sell on their own for the right price of course.

John Wiley Spiers said...

I've a book with 32 out of 35 five star ratings on amazon.com, has sold consistently for ten years, and since I print the books my self, I make $10 a copy rather than the $1.05. Since I make sure it is never out of stock, it sells better... So I wrote an ebook on how you can do it. Free .pdf download at www.perishyourpublisher.com. I'd love your feedback on the ebook.

Kenneth said...

We have a new kind of organization called Libertary that is trying something new called team publishing (check our site, www.libertary.com for more info) We think there should be several important roles involved in publishing, including author, editor and marketing, but these don't have to be confined by the high overhead/infrastructure of traditional publishing. So our organization is a much lighter umbrella where the people working on the book share royalties, which are larger than traditional publishing due to reduced overhead. We focus on on-line sales of ebooks and print books, and we think free reading is helpful in the whole equation. One of our authors talks about writing for the highest common denominator and we are trying to do that, as well as getting better at reaching readership outside the bookstores (unfortunately, a dying business so new outlets are needed in any event) We'd love to know what you think of what we're doing and of the whole idea of an alternative to both traditional publishing and to self publishing, so authors can benefit from editorial and marketing help without the slowness and high overhead.

womenintheword said...

Great aritcle! Thanks for all the great tips! I'll have to thank my friend, Kristen Swensen for sharing the link to your blog. Blessings to you, Joe!

womenintheword said...

Great aritcle! Thanks for all the great tips! I'll have to thank my friend, Kristen Swensen for sharing the link to your blog. Blessings to you, Joe!

az said...

If the guys at Google really wanted to prove good intent--as apparently the format they've chosen is an anathema to readers, hence they can't stand up to Amazon--they'd invent an algorithm to identify the forum/blog/board posts/messages associated with flame wars, so I wouldn't have to read them.

The threat of the "i" phenomenon is what has made Amazon sit up and take notice. That, and that lurking monster in the background slowly building up a database of everything about every one of us. Competition is what's making it better for the consumers/readers. Whether that will hold true for the producers of the stuff consumed is another question. This isn't your standard, Econ100 model of a market.

Like Lizzy Ford, similarly suffering from underexposure, I'd like to know if offering free ebooks is the way to go when you DON'T have a backlist (Konrath and Goldberg) or planned series (Sullivan).

Wendy Bertsch said...

Just Joe Konrath . . . making sense again!

Like old age, self-publishing ain`t for sissies. But it`s a new world for authors out there.

Thanks for keeping us on track to take best advantage of it.

Percy said...

Joe,

I love your blogs and what you do on educating aspiring writers on how to become published authors. I also want to thank you for your frank comments reagarding your sales and profits. Keep up the good work.

Also make sure to keep pounding into the heads of every writer and artist that they need to get paid. No matter how small the payment, insist on a commitment and define that commitment. If the content you are creating is worth a buck, then charge a buck. If it doesn't sell, then refine your skills and hone your craft in order to get paid.

Content is KING and the creators of that content need never forget to EXPECT some sort of compensation. Indie authors are creating so much free content for Amazon's Kindle right now which is driving sales. Marginal sales they may be, they're still sales. The free Indie content is lowering consumer product expectations while creating a download habit whith benefits only Amazon through increased Kindle sales.

Don't give your shit away. Content is KING and every artist/creator that gives their work away only drives the payscale down further. Never give it away, and if giving it away is the only way to move it...either improve by taking your art/craft seriously or move on.

Indie authors need to quit providing FREE content. Let Amazon hire writers to create content which they give away (never gonna happen, it's for a reason too), but don't volunteer your content for free.

onelowerlight said...

Just a quick quibble with your numbers:

Advance = $100,000. But the agent takes $15k, and the advance is broken up into three payments of $57,000 each over three years

Don't you mean three payments of ~$27,000? Because three payments of $57,000 comes to $171,000.

Thanks so much for this post, and the other posts on your blog; you make some very compelling arguments for ebooks and self publishing. Your posts are always eye-opening and insightful to aspiring writers like me, and I hope you keep blogging about this for a long time to come. Thanks!

Marjorie Marie said...

This was a great post, Joe. I just stumbled across this blog, and I'm so glad I did. I've been on the fence about self-pub for years, but I think it might be time to choose a side.

That said, congratulations on your success. Can't wait to read more of your work. :)

Daleen Berry said...

Love, love, love your blog--and just came across it recently, thanks to another writer and my mentor! I've been pulling my hair out while trying to set the price for my ebook, Sister of Silence, and think I finally can keep the rest of what hair is left. Thanks to your very persuasive argument, and the mention of Amanda Hocking, I'm probably going to offer it for $2.99. (Unless you think there is an exception to this rule.) Thanks for such an informative piece.

Jonathan said...

I am a newbie to writing and self publishing and I have bought in!

http://writersannonymos.blogspot.com

All Over This said...

I am ALL over this! I have a niche ebook that sells about once a week for $20 and there is nothing like the feeling of checking my email and seeing a new sale. I have been searching for ways to emulate these type of sales on a larger scale, hopefully Kindle is what I was looking for!

Three questions -- 1.How often do you get paid? 2. Is there a threshold you must meet to get paid? 3. Can you see your current sales on your account as they happen?

Barbara Kloss said...

This was JUST what I needed to read! Awesome post...thanks for being so thorough. I'm going back and forth with what to do - mainly because of the aforementioned "stigma" with self-pubbing. I LOVE your line about the readers being the gatekeepers. I'm going to print it and post somewhere. THAT is what I think traditional publishers have lost sight of. And, it reminds me of why I'm writing. Not for them, but for the readers. It's so easy to make it about "them" when you're trying to get noticed.

THANKS!

Simon Haynes said...

I self-published three novels between 2001 and 2003. I then signed with a so-called 'legacy' publisher and released 4 books over the next 5 years. Now I'm turning to self-pub for my new series.
Dedicated ebook reading devices are the catalyst, as far as I'm concerned. Over the years I've read ebooks on laptops, mobile phones and web browsers, but only when the Kindle came along did I finally decide to clear the huge collection of paperbacks from my house.

DK said...

Wow! Thanks for the insight from someone who's been on both sides.

James Villinger said...

Hi Joe. I'm writing a book at the moment and I have the advantage of a family member being an editor to fix up my shocking grammar. I've only written two chapters so far and this is my first book. I'm quite committed and I really hope it doesn't end up in the 90% pile of unfinished books.

2 Questions:
1) Is it possible to start off with my book being self published online, and then have it picked up by publishers as well?

2) I've been told that the Authors name and how it sounds can often affect someones purchasing decision. Do you think the same rule applies to eBooks?

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe. I'm writing a book at the moment and I have the advantage of a family member being an editor for a living to fix up my shocking grammar.

2 Questions:
1) Is it possible to start off with my book being self published online, and then have it picked up by publishers as well?

2) I've been told that the Authors name and how it sounds can often affect someones purchasing decision. Do you think the same rule applies to eBooks?

satyendra dhariwal said...

Hello Joe I am also self published a book from author house but everywhere on the web it is called scam and internet is full of it's complaints can you suggest me something about it. http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/BookSearchResults.aspx?Search=satyendra%20dhariwal

satyendra dhariwal said...

Hello Joe I self-published my book with author house but now i came to know that it is a scam, internet is full of it's complaints, there is not a single thing posted in favour of author house....what should i do know......do i approach to a self publisher http://www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000485292

Tom said...

Joe, thanks for writing this, and it certainly leaves food for thought. The numbers you tout though seem too good to be true. $200,000 a year? If you don't mind my asking, what's the take-home salary for that? Self-publishing involves a lot of cost: paying an editor, artist, publishing and marketing fees on the delivery platform of your choice, etc. Much of this is handled by your agent/publisher when you go through the big boys and get printed. How's it work for a self-publisher?

Keep in mind I'm not disputing your numbers; I'm an aspiring writer who's looking to get a game plan for himself before he commits. I like to make sure I have the total story from both sides. I'm confident about my writing, less so about my business sense.

Thanks in advance.

Keane said...

Thank you for this article. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Joan Hall Hovey said...

Joe. What a guru you are. I too began with a traditional publisher, and when they didn't take the third suspense novel, I was lost. Spent too much time resubmitting to other traditional publishers, and waiting. And waiting. I'm with a good small ebook publisher but consider myself an Indie for all that. My books are selling well, and rankings moving up all the time. I hang on your every word. -:)

Kevin Hull said...

Dear Joe,
I used to publish a magazine, won a few awards, ws anthologized and seem to have what they call a 'target audience.' I went through ten years of ______ which included divorce, ect. Now I am writing better than ever, have just finished a novel, both as an E-Book and paperback; but I haven't a clue how to reach that so-called audience. For a moment let's assume I'm the next John Steinbeck -- how do I find the people who would want to read my books?

Simon Haynes said...

Hi Joe,

Just spotted a possible typo in the figures:

"Advance = $100,000. But the agent takes $15k, and the advance is broken up into three payments of $57,000 each over three years"

3 payments of $28k, I think?

Liz Mahoney said...

I like what you share. I initially thought of going through traditional publisher and talked to some people in the field.
Although I would resort to that way eventually, I will start with self publishing just because there is less risk.
I don't mind taking longer and building skill of being an author. Print on demand also lowers risks with the $ I have to invest.
Once I see how to write and sell some, I can more easily deal with traditional publishers.
I respect good writers and intend to be one to make this society a better place for everyone.
One of my favorite motto is, "Pen is mightier than a sword."
For inspirations you should check out: happysandbox.com/inspire

Liz Mahoney said...

I like what you share. I initially thought of going through traditional publisher and talked to some people in the field.
Although I would resort to that way eventually, I will start with self publishing just because there is less risk.
I don't mind taking longer and building skill of being an author. Print on demand also lowers risks with the $ I have to invest.
Once I see how to write and sell some, I can more easily deal with traditional publishers.
I respect good writers and intend to be one to make this society a better place for everyone.
One of my favorite motto is, "Pen is mightier than a sword."
For inspirations you should check out: happysandbox.com/inspire

David said...

Thanks Joe for a detailed look on the benefits of self publishing. I am a new writer and am in the final stages of finessing my book (im writing a novel in verse). I wanted to ask you—since im fairly new to self publishing and havnt self pubbed anything as of yet—where would I check for the proper procedures to make sure I dont get screwed in the process. I am looking to self publish it as an ebook style to be available over multiple platforms such as Kindle, Nook, Apple, and other e-book distributors, and id like to do it the right way.

Thanks in advance,
David

Lesley said...

Joe please have a virtual hug! I have spent TEN YEARS training and working in a profession that now supports my family and myself very well.
However, I am burned out and have been working on writing in the romance genre to take me to a new career.
BUT, the bad news about money etc. killed my motivation. My partner keeps telling me my book (so far) is better or at least as good as the commercial fiction he reads...and he reads ALOT...but until now I have struggled to find the energy for something hat probably won't work.

SO, you have rekindled my hope and I will again get into my manuscript. Thanks so much!

Lesley

Pay Loadz said...

Thanks for giveng us usefull information about self-publishings .

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