Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Guest Post by Scott Sigler

I've never met Scott Sigler, but he and I are often mentioned in the same breath when people talk about self-publishing success stories. His route was different than mine and... well, I'll just let him tell it. Here's Scott:

Back in 2008 I had a Big Idea (I’m making air-quotes with my fingers here, folks ... a “Big Idea”). At the time, I thought this idea was so disruptive that it would impact traditional publishing. Turns out an entirely new phenomena cropped up to impact both my Big Idea and Big Publishing, a phenomena that has changed both forever.

If you want to read about my writing background and how I built an audience, I’ll put it near the bottom of the article. But first, my Big Idea: a self-published, high-end collectible hardcover, pre-sold to raise capital prior to printing.

I give away all of my stories as free, serialized audiobook podcasts at scottsigler.com and at podiobooks.com. I’ve been doing that consistently since 2005, so I’ve built a good-sized online audience. I thought that if I could get 10 percent of my 10,000-odd weekly listeners to buy a self-published print book, I could make some scratch.

If you want to self-publish, that’s easy enough to do with trade paperback POD. If you want hardcover, it’s not so easy, and if you want high-quality, collector’s edition hardcovers, it’s going to cost you. POD for that kind of book makes the price points ridiculously high. To do it right (and to actually have product cost low enough for a real profit margin), you need to do an actual print run. I didn’t have the capital to do book of that caliber, but I knew where I could get it.

From my fans.

This was 2008. The eBook craze was just a blip on the radar for all but the truly prophetic. Some guy named “Konrath” was jabbering how he was going to make all this money. Blah-blah-blah. Sure, Konrath, go crazy with your “eBooks” — like that’s ever going to catch on.

I partnered with a PMP-certified Project Manager named AB Kovacs who runs a successful logistics management company in San Diego, CA. I had the marketing and content, she had the management and planning skill set — together we formed Dark Øverlord Media and decided to melt faces.

We set a goal to sell 600 pre-orders of a signed, numbered, limited-edition $34.95 hardcover, which would generate a $21,000 budget for cover art, interior layout and hard cover print run of 3,000 copies. If I could sell those 600 books, I would have no out-of-pocket overhead. Everything beyond the 600 copies? Step 5: profit.

At the time of our first book together, I already had two hardcovers, INFECTED and CONTAGIOUS, out for Crown Publishing, a division of Random House. Crown wasn’t interested in my scifi/crime/sports book called THE ROOKIE. I describe it as “Star Wars” meets “The Blindside” meets “The Godfather.” You can see how that might not fit into their thriller-based marketing strategy.

So, A and I used THE ROOKIE to test out our theory. We launched our pre-order of THE ROOKIE on April 25, 2009. Despite a server crash due to unexpected demand, we hit our 600-copy goal in the first three hours, thanks mostly to die hard fans who hustled to get the lowest possible number. Huzzah! We covered our costs!

Eighteen days after launch, we pre-sold copy number 1,000.

Dark Øverlord Media had made a profit on our first book. Well, what the hell, let’s do it again! We repeated the process on April 1, 2010 with the next book in the series, THE STARTER. That time out, it took only ninety minutes to sell the six hundred copies. We reached the 1,000 copy mark in just eight days.

We also crashed the server — again. That cost us money, as some people didn’t come back. It damaged our brand. What was funny the first time around now annoyed our customers. Unacceptable.

Late in 2010, we launched eBooks for both THE ROOKIE and THE STARTER. We’re also selling audiobooks for both. Combined with the hardcovers, we had too many products to manage on our site. We partnered with BackMyBook.com. Their e-commerce platform now handles all the product sales on our site, both for physical items and for digital downloads. BackMyBook.com helps track our inventory, fulfill orders, and handles the big file transfers needed for the audiobooks. While it’s great to make 70% selling an eBook from the Kindle store, it’s even better to make 90% selling that same book from our own site.

Even as eBooks are blowing up the market, it seems our fans still want these special hardcovers. Just a few weeks ago, on April 1, 2011, we launched the pre-order for the third book in the series, THE ALL-PRO. On our third try, we sold 600 books in just under one hour, and the first 1,000 in just three days.

To reach our primary goal of 1,000 copies, we cut the time from Book One to Book Two in half, then halved it again from Book Two to Book Three. The model works, y’all.

Oh, and this time? The server didn’t crash. Thanks, BackMyBook.com!

Now, this may all sound like a movie that should be titled Happy Times in the Candy Land of Magic Publishing, but it’s not that easy. We still manage a 3,000 copy print run. This is not POD, but an offset print run through RR Donnelley & Sons. The books ship from North Carolina to a rented warehouse in San Diego, where I sign every single book. Then A and I number, package, and ship approximately 1,500 hardcovers. We put the remaining 1,500 copies into a smaller warehouse, then manage inventory and shipping until those sell out.

WHY I THOUGHT IT WAS SO DISRUPTIVE

It was fine and dandy for me to sell my 1,000 books, but what would have happened had a Stephen King or Stephanie Meyers done that? Imagine Meyers puts out a collection of Twilight short stories. She partners with web-savvy folks like BackMyBook to handle the pre-order, hires people to do production, but she controls a direct sale to the end reader. Say instead of a 15 percent royalty, she shifts into a 70 percent profit margin. She would sell, comfortably, 200,000 copies in the first day. That’s $250,000 at $34.95, a first day gross of $700,000 (shipping is paid by the customer, or course). She brings the money in up front, her project managers use it to pay staff and manufacturing. Of course there are plenty of costs involved, but sooner or later the 70 percent profit margin is going to whoop ass on the 15 percent royalty, no matter what the advance.

Because of the internet’s ability to allow authors to sell directly to the end reader, I thought that if big-timers adopted this pre-order they would have little need for a Big Publisher. If Stephen King puts out one short story collection a year, sells it directly online, he makes an extra million. Or two. Probably three. Oh, right, like his publisher is going to slap his hand and say “No, Stevie, you can not put out your own book!”

Maybe the model will be disruptive in the future, if big-timers want to manage their own process, but more than likely it won’t — not when they can do the same thing with an eBook and avoid all of the physical costs.

OUR EBOOK STRATEGY

All of this hardcover stuff is a grand old time, but we now define inventory as a curse word. We dream of a day where our inventory is nothing but ones, zeroes, and possibly print-on-demand paperbacks. We’re going to keep the hardcovers as a special, in-the-know item for the fans that really love the series.

We are happily watching people like Konrath, Amanda Hocking and Jeremy Robinson and plotting to follow in their footsteps. THE ROOKIE and THE STARTER are now available as eBooks, priced at $2.99. They’re available in the Kindle Store, BN.com, Sony’s eBook store, Apple’s iBooks store, and directly from us at scottsigler.com/gfl (at our website they are available for all eBook formats, because that’s how you bake a pie, people).

We only have these two eBooks right now, and I think that hurts our ability to make each title rank higher in their respective stores. We’re not getting a multi-title multiplier, if you will. THE ALL-PRO hits the eBook market on September 6 of this year, probably for $4.99. We also have a short story collection, BLOOD IS RED, hitting for 99 cents this week on Mother’s Day (because it’s One Bad Mutha of a book, you see). By the end of 2011, we hope to have five eBooks. We’ll see if that impacts the individual success of each book.

ARE WE STILL PODCASTING?

Yes. In fact, right now we’re podcasting THE STARTER, unabridged, for free. I’ve been podcasting since 2005; it’s something my fans have come to count on. We’ve refined the process so that instead of recording an episode each week, I record the book all at once. And even though we give it away, we also sell the unabridged audiobook as a digital download ($19.95). More ones and zeros, sitting there making us money whenever a customer wants to hear the whole thing all at once. It happens every day.

If you hear only one thing in this rambling blog, hear this — we give all the stories away for free, and people still buy them. There is something to be said for having the confidence that your storytelling and production chops are just that bad-ass, then letting the customer decide if the content merits their money. We don’t hold content hostage.

WILL WE KEEP DOING HARDCOVERS?

Probably. The fans love them. We crank up the collector’s value with sixteen-page color inserts and bonus content you can’t get in the free podcasts. The annual April 1 pre-order anchors our process and gives us clear goals to keep producing content. The pre-order process drives our eBook, audiobook, and podcast — if we get the hardcover done correctly and on time, everything else will fall into place.

But, high-quality hardcovers are a ton of work. We need the big print run to drive per-unit costs down to $8 or less (not counting the labor of A and I), which is the only way the process makes financial sense.

A QUICK OVERVIEW OF MY PUBLISHING HISTORY

Like most authors, I spent years in the trenches trying to attract the attention of Big Publishing. My agent at the time, Joshua Blimes, worked his butt off but we just couldn’t find the right fit. I kept writing and editing, and racked up four novels of 120,000+ words as well as dozens of short stories. Oh, and racked up rejection letters: I had a goal to collect 100 rejection letters. I defined that effort as the price of proving to myself I was in this game for good.

We eventually landed a deal with an imprint of AOL/TimeWarner to publish my thriller EARTHCORE. The book was due out as a mass market paperback in May of 2002, I believe. The 9/11 recession, however, killed that dream — AOL/TimeWarner scrapped everything that wasn’t already profitable. That included my book, just weeks before it would have hit the printing presses. Imprint scrapped, book deal gone, back to square one.

Joshua worked to land a new deal, but it didn’t happen. In February, 2005, I read of this newfangled thing called “podcasting.” I learned how to record and create an RSS feed. In March 2005, I was one of the first people to put out a “podcast novel.” EARTHCORE had already been professionally edited, so I released it as a weekly, serialized audiobook.

The book quickly attracted a big following. I finished the EARTHCORE podcast in August 2005, then quickly rolled into my next podcast novel, ANCESTOR. I landed a two-book print deal with an indie publisher, Dragon Moon Press, who put out EARTHCORE in trade paperback in 2006.

In 2007, I was on my fourth podcast novel when lightning struck. I had a new agent, Byrd Leavell of the Waxman Agency. Byrd was circulating my novel INFECTED to New York publishers. On April 1, 2007, I published ANCESTOR in trade paperback with Dragon Moon Press. The book hit #1 on Amazon.com’s SciFi and Horror charts, and was #2 overall in fiction. It only held those numbers for a couple of days, but it was #1, right when several publishers were considering INFECTED. INFECTED went to auction, and I wound up with a three-book deal with Crown Publishing.

Two weeks later, Rogue Pictures optioned INFECTED. A book deal! A movie option! Holy crap! But wait, there’s more ...

Crown was very excited about my potential, so the brass decided they needed to control the Sigler brand. They bought up the rights to EARTHCORE and ANCESTOR. A three-book deal became a five-book deal.

At the time, I had hit the jackpot. A five-book, hardcover deal with one of the bigs. It’s been a great ride with Crown and I love working with them, but the one thing I didn’t think about at the time was the deal tied me up for at least five years, probably more like seven.

The movie didn’t get made, the option expired. And my, how publishing has changed since 2007.

So, I’m still happily putting out books with Crown. I’m also happily putting out my own books: hardcover, downloadable audio, and eBook. By 2013, I’ll be done with Crown’s five-book deal. At that time, I estimate Dark Øverlord Media will have ten or more full-length eBooks of our own in all the stores. We’ll see if I sign with a traditional publisher, or decide that we’re just better off doing our own thing and selling straight to the end-reader.

Joe sez: There's a lot to like about Scott's story.

The first is his dogged determination. He refused to give up, even when getting repeatedly knocked down.

The second is his innovation. He saw an opportunity with podcasts, and he went for it.

Show me someone with an open mind who refuses to ever say die, and I'll show you someone making a lot of money.

I've been giving away ebooks for six years, and had the same experience as Scott: free leads to sales. Not to turn this into a talk about piracy, but I've always believed that the more readers you have, the more money you'll make, whether those readers pay you or not.

Remember the 10,000 Hours I talked about last blog? Scott put in his time. Now he's reaping the benefits.

Currently on Amazon, in the Horror category, the Number 1 ebook is Sigler's Blood is Red.

It amuses me to no end that #2 is Run by my writing partner Blake Crouch, and #3 is Trapped by some guy named Jack Kilborn.

It gets better. All top 8 horror bestsellers are indie. Indie authors are outselling King, Koontz, and Harris.

Even more amusing is that combined, Blake and I have 14 of the top 100 horror books on Amazon. Not just Kindle ebooks--but ALL books, including hardcover and paperback. And 46 of the Top 100 are self-published by indie authors.

The revolution hasn't just begun. It's pretty clear we're going to win.

64 comments:

Cameron Baylor - Author said...

"Indie authors are outselling King, Koontz, and Harris."

Amazing! I wonder how long before us indie writers see similar trends in other genres. What a wild ride we're all on.

Lovelyn said...

Thanks for sharing your success story, Scott. I find these stories to be very inspirational. They also help me come up with ideas for marketing my books.

JD Rhoades said...

There's more than one way, it seems, to skin this cat.

Scott Sigler said...

Not only are there many ways to skin this cat, I think there are many cats. I'm tickled if any of this helps Konrath's readers sell more eBooks.

Aaron Polson said...

Always inspiring to know hard work can pay off. Keep fighting the good fight.

ezbeanz said...

Thank you for the cool story.

Mark Edward Hall said...

I love this ride. Great post, Scott, I've been following your career for quite a while. The future is very bright.

JamesFinnGarner said...

I've followed Scott Sigler for a while. He inspired me to create a serialized podcast of my own e-book. Since "Honk Honk, My Darling" vamps off of old noir cliches, it's been a cinch to mold it into an old-radio detective serial, with music, fake ads, multiple characters, the works. Not to mention the fun of recording it.

Another great example of giving the reader something extra, and thinking outside the box. Congrats and thanks, Mr. Sigler.

James A. Owen said...

This is a truly excellent post. And a wonderful story, Scott.

I'm an old-school print guy - I came out of a family of printers and artists, and when I started self-publishing in the comics field, part of my anchor wasn't just the $2.95 comics - it was the $100 limited edition, slipcased hardcovers that I sold to my core fans.

I write and illustrate YA fantasy for Simon & Schuster now, and have two books to go in my current series - but being true to my roots, I'm concurrently self-publishing other work as ebooks. I'm about to release - at $2.99 - a short story collection with a preview of a new Urban Fantasy series of novels, which will be published MONTHLY. And I've already released - to excellent reviews - a nonfiction book called DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS: A Meditation on Art, Destiny, and the Power Of Choice, which is based n the live presentation I do about how it only took a quarter-century to achieve overnight success as an author.

If Joe and Scott will allow me, I'd like to loop in the readers here to an offer I made last night - I think it will be especially helpful to aspiring writers and self-publishers. I call it ‎24 Hours of Good Karma. Send someone you care about - anyone, friend, family, or colleague - a note telling them why you think they would like DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS, and give them my email address (or you are more than welcome to simply request a copy yourself). If they send a note to me with "24 Hours of Good Karma" in the subject line before 7:30 Pacific Time Tuesday, I'll send them the pdf version of the book for free. This offer is open to anyone and everyone who chooses to take advantage of it.

If you're hesitant, simply cruise over to Amazon and take a look at the reviews. And if you take me up on this an enjoy the book, thank Joe and especially Scott Sigler - his is the sort of story that keeps the creative fire going, and I for one am grateful he chose to share it.

Send the requests to goodkarma@coppervaleinternational.com

Darlene Underdahl said...

I certainly can't add anything, so I'll just say:

Congratulations to all of you.

Michelle Muto said...

Great story, Scott. I've read about your journey to publication and I agree with Joe - it's as much persistence and talent. Maybe even more. Congrats!

Kendall Swan said...

Awesome post! Thanks, guys!

I've been thinking about doing the podiobooks thing and Scott's story cinched it for me.

Happy writing, all!

Kendall Swan

David Gaughran said...

A great story Scott, I really enjoyed reading it. I was especially interested in the limited edition hardcover idea - something I may consider in the future, once I have built up my readership.

Dave

Scott Sigler said...

David: As you start to build your audience, make sure you are capturing audience contact information. And email list, a Facebook fan page, something that lets you contact them on a regular basis. They will forget about you otherwise. These kind of promotional efforts only hit when you can reach out directly to your fans.

Lois D. Brown said...

So much out there to learn. After reading this, I think I need to add podcasts to my list. Thanks!

Lois
Life of Lois

David Gaughran said...

@Scott

Good tips. I'm trying to do all of that, but I do worry at times that my efforts are more networking than anything else, i.e. reaching writers rather than readers. I think I need to reconfigure a little.

James Melzer said...

Excellent post, Scott. I never get tired of hearing your story.

Tay Nguyen said...

Having been behind the curtain of Scott's operation, I can tell you that nobody works harder than Scott and A. They deserve all the success and credit they garner. I'm privileged to be in the room with them.

Tay
Founder/BackMyBook.com

Jamie Sedgwick said...

Thanks for the article. I've always like the idea of doing a special hardcover like that, but for my situation I think its wisest to stay focused on the e-book market for now. I have also done some giveaways, with mixed results. In the end I priced all of my e-books at $.99.

Readers can buy my entire collection for less than the cost of an average paperback. It seems to be working. I'm sure I'll experiment more after I have a few years of sales under my belt, but by then everything could be different. For now, I'm taking notes. Thanks Scott, and Joe!

Jill James said...

Scott, love your publishing story and I love Infected and Contagious. The covers jumped off the shelf at Barnes & Noble. Thanks for a great read.

Geekomancer said...

Thanks for the story. Like a few people here, I'm a fan of Scott's (proud Original Junkie, represent! :) ) and it's great to see more people hear Scott's story. Thanks for putting it up, Joe! And keep up the great stuff Scott!

Christina Garner said...

I think the idea of hardcover collectibles is a great one. My all-time favorite fantasy series is Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time and I have special shelf just to display them.

Re: Outselling King, Koontz, and Harris--Very inspiring, congrats!

David Gaughran said...

"Indie authors are outselling King, Koontz, and Harris."

Who are those guys? I only read authors in the Top 10.

(joke)

Lisa of In Pencil said...

It's interesting that in this post Scott mentioned Steven King when discussing the windfall his own idea could bring a big-name author, and then Joe later pointed out how he and other indie author are currently outselling King in the horror genre...What do you think is holding the big-name authors back from self-publishing? At this point, it seems like a foolish business decision on their end to keep with traditional publishing. I would be interested to know their rationale.

Richard Brown said...

If I was James Patterson making 60 million a year I doubt I would be too eager to self publish. I know my local Books a Million has an entire section devoted solely to James Patterson at the front of the store.

People like Patterson and King and Koontz are the traditional publishers glory boys, they get the big advances and the big budgets. Most of us will never achieve that status, not through lack of talent but simply through lack of luck/timing.

I believe eventually they will come around, but not until the well runs dry.

-Richard Brown

azarimba said...

Scott, thanks for adding more ammunition to the argument that readers want to see writers remunerated fairly.

nicolasmcgregor said...

What I find uncanny about this is that I found a copy of "Ancestor" in paperback (published by Hodder and Stoughton) in my local British Heart Foundation store on Friday and finished it last night.

I hadn't come across Sigler's writing before, but was drawn to the book by the cover artwork (black backing with four talon marks across the front - I'm a fan of the original "Howling" movie, so it struck a chord) and the Black Petals review on the back: "Jurassic Park meets Predator". I'm pretty much target audience.

And an outstanding book - particularly enjoyed the character Clayton. Was planning on seeing what you had in ebook form on Amazon. Stopped by Joe's first, and of course, there's a guest post by Scott Sigler.

Seems to me there's a lot of truth in the idea that giving away stories leads to sales, because I purchased "Ancestor" second-hand in a charity shop, meaning Scott doesn't get the monetary benefits of that sale: but since I'm about to go buy the rest of his books online, I'm thinking that's worked out okay for everyone involved - a happy reader, and a paid author.

Sean said...

Team Horror all the way!

And being from Iowa, I have to read Iowa Typhoon in Scott's Blood is Red. Didn't realize we had typhoons here, but it's 94 degrees in Des Moines, Iowa today - breaking a 100 year old record - so I guess anything is possible.

Thanks for the great post and sorry about all the sweat!

Stephen T. Harper said...

Thanks for another great post, Joe.

And Scott, thank you for the info, inspiration and your perspective.

I've been freaking out over Garageband on my iPad lately and thinking about using it to make an audiobook/podcast, so this was, as usual around here, well timed inspiration.

BTW - off topic but close enough -for any amateur musicians out there who own an ipad - get yourself that App for $4.99. I had a friend over yesterday who used to work in a recording studio pre-digital. The two of us, with only one guitar and an ipad, arranged and recorded an entire song from start to finish in about an hour. We did "Alright Now" by Free just because it was the first thing he started playing on my guitar when when he sat down. I was just showing off how the ipad can mimic just about any amp-stack or effect, and then thought - hell let's just record the whole song from scratch. So we laid down multiple guitar tracks, fake drums, fake bass, and a live vocal. He said that it would have taken days to do that in the olden days. Amazing item.

Scott Sigler said...

I see a lot of interest in podcasting among the commenters. First, feel free to subscribe to my podcast at my site, http://www.scottsigler.com, or just subscribe to the RSS with the address http://feeds.feedburner.com/scottsigler. You can also bring it right into iTunes by clicking here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/scott-sigler-audiobooks/id78561049

You don't have to dig my fiction to listen in and see how one author does it. Every Sunday, there I am (plus extra stuff on Fridays and some Tuesdays).

But before you begin, understand podcasting takes a lot of time, and you need to plan on doing it every week for 3-5 years before you see any serious return on your time investment. I think it's a fantastic way to connect with and build an audience, but it DOES take time. I would urge you to think about it, and think if that time is better served instead writing new stories and getting them into the Kindle and Nook stores.

Finally, a couple of places to get information on podcasting books is podiobooks.com and authorbootcamp.com.

Have at it!

nwrann said...

Great stuff Scott. I'm a huge fan of the special edition for fans idea.

I think I probably would have put the short story collection up for $2.99 and sold each one individually for .99 but what the hell do I know.

Great work, great blog.

Stephen T. Harper said...

Scott suggests... "But before you begin, understand podcasting takes a lot of time, and you need to plan on doing it every week for 3-5 years before you see any serious return on your time investment."

I found this ­ "how-to" for podcasting books on "Grammar Girl." It not only echoes what Scott is saying here... but it's actually another interview WITH Scott. Man's everywhere.

It's itemized and "save-worthy" if you are researching the topic.

jeroentenberge said...

Hey Scott - big fan here. Have copies of The Rookie and The Starter, just purchased The All-Pro.

For those that haven't seen these books - the production quality of these books is superb.

Eloheim and Veronica said...

I printed 120 paperbacks of my first book through LSI and signed and numbered them. It was awesome. They sold right away and it was so fun to see people's reactions to the book.

BUT!

It didn't do squat for my Amazon ranking and I wonder if it was a good trade off. In my category - channeling - a few sales makes a huge difference in rankings. 120 sales in a couple of weeks and I probably would have been top 5 if not #1.

Now I have people asking when my next paperback will come out. They WANT to collect the signed versions.

They are even more excited about the book that I am considering releasing as a hardcover.

I sell about 50/50 between paperback and ebooks across all venues so this is a big section of my customer base.

Just another variable to factor in.

Veronica
The Choice for Consciousness: Tools for Conscious Living, Vol. 1

The Homo Spiritus Sessions, Vol. 1, Vol. 2

Katie Klein said...

This is such a great story. Congrats on your success! :)

Conor said...

Such an interesting transition into kindle publishing, Scott. It's great to see that indie writers are taking over the horror genre. I hope it continues!

Eric said...

I have read a lot of articles and comments saying that books are dead. However, I think that Scott shows that the printed book is not going to die. What we are seeing is how and who are going to print the books.

Basil Sands said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Basil Sands said...

Scott, your first podcasts are what got me interested in the same thing in 2006. Watching you and a few others motivated me to test those same waters, with a satisfying degree of success in podcasts, audiobooks, and ebooks as well as now in POD paperback.

I appreciate not only the work you've done but your willingness to reach out and help others, like myself, get our feet underneath and launch into the whole indie field.

Between guys like Sigler, Konrath, and Evo Terra from podiobooks.com I've been able to learn a whole new way of doing things.

Take this guys advice folks, just like Joe's. Hard work and relentless pursuit of improvement will pay off. Never give up....never, ever give up.

Basil
www.basilsands.com

Iain Edward Henn said...

Great post, Scott and Joe. I too have been following Scott's career for a while, with interest. You guys are like an alternate universe version of each other - Scott started podcasting direct, became legacy published, continued podcasting, is now ebooking (is that a new word?); Joe was legacy published, went indie with ebooks, sold his own audiobook rights, continues publishing both indie and traditional. Both have kept readers, fans and the wider writing community informed on just how you're doing it all, kind of like an online school of hard knocks and making it happen. Thanks for the inspiration.

Mike Fook said...

Who'd have guessed hardcover anything had a place in 2010-2011?

MIlton Bagby said...

Congratulations, Scott! I'm particularly interested in your success using BackMyBook. As an author and an audiobook producer, I've been looking for a decent place to park audiobooks for some time. Audiobooks are just one more revenue stream for serious indies who want to look like they swim with the big fish. I plan to check out BackMyBook tonite.

David Gaughran said...

And don't forget, audiobooks grew by more than A THIRD in the last AAP figures.

Kathie said...

Hi Scott--thanks for the post. What an amazing business you've shaped for yourself! I need to start reading your books...it's great to know that although readers love their ebooks there's room for your special editions! You've got me thinking...my new release is doing really well on kindle and okay in paperback, but I wonder if the hard back works so well for you because of your initial audience--that group you could go to with pre-orders. Lots to consider! Congratulations!
The Last Letter
Kshoop.com

Jude Hardin said...

I read Infected a while back, Scott. Loved it!

Sometimes I'm amazed by the effect of a brand. David Baldacci's short story "No Time Left" is currently #23 on Amazon, and ten of its fourteen reviews are one-star. People are buying it anyway. In droves.

Tara Maya said...

Thanks, Scott. I really enjoy these guest posts. It's interesting to see how each person's experience is different in the details, but converge on the importance of things like perseverance.

Tara Maya
The Unfinished Song: Initiate

Bjorn Karger said...

Another way to do 'free' is to solicit from fans and interact on soc networks. I use Twitter w/ dozens of custom hashtags incl #frugal, #frgl, #TUGTLF etc. It works: my book has been #1 in its category since January, outsells dozens of 'pro' competitors, and I now make more in a month w/ 99c ebooks than I did in ten years of hawking the hardcopy.

(Plus, my frugal-philosophy is making broad headway--thru fan devotion I'm finally able to publish my working design-plans for various innovations that would otherwise have sat in obscurity, unwanted by the mainstream style-pushers.)

Sarah Woodbury said...

Thanks for the post, Scott!

Something happened yesterday to my book, however, that made me realize how important it is to diversify revenue streams in this indie world: For my book, Daughter of Time (ranked at #822 early yesterday), Amazon dropped all the 'also bought' books from its page and it disappeared from everyone else's lists as well. It spent 12 hours in a black hole where nobody could find it except that it started out as #2 in historical fantasy. It came back up 400 points lower in the rankings.

This happened to a dozen other 99 cent indie books yesterday, including several in the top 100.

Something to think on.

Stephen Knight said...

@ Sarah,

Happened to me as well, and hastened my book's departure from the Top 20 (though I'd been nestled snugly in the Top 10 for a few days before then).

These are the breaks. If the book is any good and appeals to folks, it'll slog its way back up.

Library4Science said...

There was a thread about this on the Kindleboards (Writers Cafe) yesterday. It appears that Amazon has changed the algorithm for 'people also bought' to churn up newer publications. They aren't as sticky now.

Selena Kitt said...

I loved Infected!! I didn't even know Red was out - going to one-click now! :)

I've been freaking out over Garageband on my iPad...

You can get Garageband for iPad? Going to check that out, too!

I used to Podcast and folks seemed to like it, but my blog died and all of the data was lost and I just stopped. Which was probably a good thing, in retrospect. Erotic writers have a lot of readers who want to blur the lines between fiction and reality. :x But I still have people email and ask, "Aren't you doing podcasts anymore?"

Still, for mainstream writers (or even primarily erotic romance writers) I can see how it could build a fan-base. But it could also be a monumental waste of writing time. I liked doing it, but Scott's right, it took a lot of time. I wouldn't recommend it as a quick road to fans. I'm not sure there IS a quick road to fans... that 10,000 hours rule really does seem to really apply!

Amber Argyle said...

I barely have time to write. Where am I ever going to find the hundreds of hours it would take to get this kind of thing going?

evilphilip said...

"I barely have time to write. Where am I ever going to find the hundreds of hours it would take to get this kind of thing going?"

You don't.

What worked for Scott isn't going to work for you. The lesson to take away from his success is the inspiration in his perseverance and his independence.

Find that thing that works for you and put your energy into that idea. That might be a blog, social networking or something as simple as astounding cover design.

Patricia McCallum said...

I love hearing inspiring stories like this! Thanks so much for sharing and keep up the good work. :)

Scott Sigler said...

Thanks for all the kind comments, y'all. Happy to provide a different perspective. Although as you can see now, I'm dropping in the ranks. I still recommend following JA's path as opposed to podcasting, if you're not podcasting already. Times have changed. I can make a big splash for a couple of days, but it's sustained sales and growth you're looking for.

S Alini said...

Nice to see creativity and innovation being rewarded. I like your business model. I think it's similar to how films get made. Pre-sell first, then make the film with funds raised.
S Alini
The Strange Journal of the Boy Henry

Robin Sullivan said...

Another great guest blog. I know a bit about the podcasting world as Ridan publishes Nathan Lowell's Solar Clipper sci-fi books which are HUGE in podcast form. It's a great way for new authors to build a platform. Nathan even did a podcast of my husband's first book The Crown Conspiracy - that did very well. It's something that I think new authors should consider more often. I think there is a tremendous market for those already in podcasting to become pod-distributors. Using their established names to launch new works.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Shéa MacLeod said...

Thanks for sharing, Scott. It's so inspiring to hear from authors who have gone their own way, done their own thing, and become successful.

Gk said...

Scott, thanks for the kind words. I think you say it best with "Not only are there many ways to skin this cat, I think there are many cats." There are so many opportunities out there for authors right now -- it is amazing.

Quick math check re: someone like Stephanie Meyer or Stephen King running the same model.... Assuming 1st-day sales of 200k units @ $34.95, first day gross would be in the neighborhood of $7 MILLION vs. $700k. Think you lost a zero in there somewhere ;-) Nevertheless, you conclusions are spot-on -- these folks could certainly clear a couple million in profit by direct releasing a book or ebook.

And Joe, thank you for everything you do to support and educate indie authors through these exciting times!

-Gk, co-founder, BackMyBook

Anna Murray said...

One of the best things about writing is this culture of sharing in the profession.

Thanks, Scott. Thanks, Joe.

Kate Madison, YA author said...

What is that- like 35 comments lost? Too bad.
Thanks for the post, Stephen and Joe. Yay craft!
Not so yay for podcasting.
Peace out.

David Gaughran said...

Like the Ancient Library of Alexandria, all that wisdom is gone forever.

Indy Armada said...

"The revolution hasn't just begun. It's pretty clear we're going to win."

Love that! This is going to be a fantastic year! :)

Threepwood said...

Scott / Joe - first up, great post. However, while I've been a long-term fan of our FDO my interest in this article was piqued by your partner at Dark Overlord Media. I'm really interested in the skills your PMP partner bought to the table, how did the two of you get involved, how does the work you do now fit with his/her background in project management. Also, what value if any did the PMP certification deliver. I'm interested in your take on this Scott because the way you use the PMP tag is sort of like the way we now refer to a CPA and I'm wondering if you see the PM profession in that same sort of way.
All dry and boring stuff, sorry, but this was a side to the Sigler story I didn't know.
Thanks Joe, thanks FDO
Threepwood