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The Sad Truth about Self Publishing

Updated on July 18, 2012

We keep hearing about them, don't we? These authors who are making a mint out of self publishing, sticking two fingers up to the publishing houses that rejected them and going it alone and winning. The truth is, we love a David and Goliath story, but like the story of David and Goliath, it is not as common as one would hope; if it was then it wouldn't be all that special, would it? There are some, authors like John Locke (who shares his name with the character from Lost) that are making a fortune selling on Kindle. The sad truth is though, for a lot of people who publish on Kindle this is not, nor will it ever be the case. When you send your book out there, there are another million books published that year, some screaming much louder than yours to be brought. No, the majority of people, 75% publishing on Kindle today are making less than five hundred dollars a year. Sorry to shatter the illusion, but that is the world we live in, even that figure seems over inflated if you ask me.

And the best sellers, aren't crime novels as one would expect, nor thrillers, but erotica. The previously mentioned John Locke specialises in the genre. His latest offering 'Bad Doctor' certainly doesn't conjure up images of a chainsaw wielding doctor; especially as the cover has a scantily clad lady on it. It seems that if your book involves vampires and love making, you are well in, for those of us with our feet on the ground, as apposed to knocking boots on the bed, or in this case in the examination chair, we face an uphill struggle to make anything significant from self publishing. There are exceptions like Amanda Hocking http://amandahocking.blogspot.co.uk/, but what we have to realise is that if we really want to be taken seriously as writers, we need to be serious readers. What I mean by that is, the majority of authors enjoying success on Kindle today, were lucky or were superb at marketing their writing. Some worked for years without success, reading other authors work, whilst quietly working on their own novels in the hope of sowing enough seeds that when the time came, that the authors of other works would want to read their e-books. John Locke used to buy scores of E-books and promote them on Twitter. Ultimately if you want people to read your work, then read theirs. If nothing else it will make you a better writer and editor. It is quite a pleasurable activity, and you may get ideas from other author's work, like how to write in first person. For me though, and I am sure there are many others that will say the same thing, writing isn't about making a fortune. I am not making novels to join the kindle million list (though it would be nice), I am doing it because it is my passion.

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    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      get my sexy vamp novel underway already (just kidding) I'll stick with the magazine and writing thrillers for now, more up my street. Cheers for commenting!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 5 years ago from UK

      Oh no, that's just burst a few bubbles! You're right of course. Will just have to write about some nice hot vampires and learn some aggressive marketing techniques.

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      Totally, well when you finish your MA and have a bit of money behind ya you can promote the hizzle of out it!

    • Vitallani profile image

      Bryony Harrison 5 years ago from UK

      Yes, quite a while ago. It was too expensive to do any promotion though, so I got very little money out of it. I wasn't expecting to when I did it, though; I just wanted to get my work out there.

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      I think you just have to know how to market, the sad truth is most writers are marketers. i think you have already self published haven't you vitallani?

    • Vitallani profile image

      Bryony Harrison 5 years ago from UK

      You're right, when you self-publish, unless you spend a lot of money promoting your book, then no one is going to notice it, and even then there is no guarantee.

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      i think cost i also a big barrier for people, why should people pay for your book, what makes it worth it?

    • callmelife profile image

      callmelife 5 years ago from India

      Read this : The way I see it is, the more you create, the more product you have out there for new readers to stumble across. I'm sure the math is much more fuzzy than the simple example I'm about to toss out, but if you have TWO books on the (virtual or otherwise) shelves, readers are twice as likely to come across you and want to read something else that you've got out there for them.

      The more you write, the more potential readers you can get on your side.

      Of course, you should also just write because it feels damn good to do it.

      And to make people love you.

      And to buy you things.

      Just thinking out loud over here.

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      its not the dog in the fight, its the fight in the dog- mark twain

    • callmelife profile image

      callmelife 5 years ago from India

      Wow. Really helpful but I believe giving up your hope is not an option.

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      amen to that! I honestly believe that there are a lot of people that can write well, but only a few who can market well, I put my self amongst the few that are alright writers and awesome marketers loool. I have strategies in place for when the first book is finished. if you google A K Turner, I am either top or second, if you google Joseph A K Turner, you get my blog, my hub and everything else. No point being a great writer if no one can find your writing. My next hub will be on using Keywords on google search.

    • seanorjohn profile image

      seanorjohn 5 years ago

      I remember reading an article by a hugely successful self published crime writer who admitted to being a rubbish writer. He quoted what he referred to as one of his more accomplished sentences and wrote " I'm not kidding that really is one of my best ." He said his success was down to being a half decent story teller of throwaway books and marketing, marketing, marketing. Voted up and useful

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      definitely, as I said I think with writing in general you only ever get out what you put in, most will not get less than that, I am learning, though it is taking time.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 5 years ago from California

      Self-publishing is definitely a mixed bag. You spend much less money to get published but you still have to promote the book, which is a daunting task to say the least. Good hub. Later!

    • pagesvoice profile image

      Dennis L. Page 5 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border

      Voted up, useful and interesting, plus I Tweeted this as well. I agree with your analogy regarding reading a lot in order to be better writers. As they say, "Sex sells," and it is apparent in the number of sales centered around erotica. Also, and this is just my personal opinion...I do not see the infatuation with vampires and fantasy writing...but that is just me. As we used to say in marketing, "See you at the top!"

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      definitely inKarn, thanks for commenting! You don't need me to tell you how much I enjoy your writing, but I'll do it anyway, this lady rocks!!!!

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      Can't think of a better reason to do it, AK! it is one of my passions as well, but - i'd need an 'assistant' to publish anything online - as i'm completely lost when it comes to computers and techie stuff. Those who can and do - have my deepest respect! My problem is - i'd be one of those who would write erotica - and - it might sell - and - then where would i hide? LOL

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      I think the same can be said of many of us, that is definitely my hope, and once I am in full time employment (September) I will be working tirelessly to promote the work of new authors, and buy their books myself. Obviously I don't want to be a dream killer, I think people just fail to realise the countless hours that a lot of these people put into marketing, once the book is finished that is when the work really begins! Most authors use their advance to promote their book.... it takes A LOT OF TIME!

    • profile image

      thechronicler 5 years ago

      This is very good advice about reading other writers' available work and promoting others' ebooks as Locke did. I have an ebook still in draft stages that I'd like to publish and offer for sale, though it's a study guide rather than anything like erotica. I've yet to learn how to write any kind of fiction, so I'm sure I'd get some insight from reading more online fiction writers' work. Actually, that's one of the reasons I hub-hop, come to think of it :)

    • LABrashear profile image

      LABrashear 5 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      Alexandra is an excellent author, but also very down to earth and willing to chat with folks. I found the blog on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2717892... but she also posts at http://thedarksalon.blogspot.com/. Check her out - she's very candid about changes in the publishing industry and marketing, etc.

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      sounds good could you post to link up here LABrasher, cheers! I have some wacky marketing ideas of my own, and would like to see how they stack up.

    • LABrashear profile image

      LABrashear 5 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      I just read a blog entry by Alexandra Sokoloff on goodreads.com. She was sharing some of her crazy marketing and touring insight from 2009. It stressed me out a bit just reading about it. Unfortunately, I think you are right - unless you make yourself known, it is highly unlikely to be "discovered" in the vast sea of self-publishing folks out there. I agree we should just keep writing for the passion (not erotic, but love of writing!...or erotic if that's your thing) - voted up!

    • A K Turner profile image
      Author

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      haha just google +'d you; definitely with you there, I love, love love the cover for the book though! looks amazing! Also erotica is selling quite well, so you never know! I am of the reaping and sowing policy, if we give freely, we will reap in due course

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Thanks for shattering my illusions, A K :)

      I have just published a Kindle ebook called The Catalyst and I was just thinking the same thing as you stated in your hub. How can I possibly stand out from the millions.

      And another thing I have noticed is that my rave reviews (only two, sadly) in amazon.co.uk do not appear on amazon.com (gloom!)

      Ah well, it’s just as well I write, like you, because it’s my passion ... because I can’t help it.

      Good hub with useful information and a sensible point of view (again, sadly).