I'm nearing completion of one of my projects, and I'm thinking it's the book I want to debut with. I've always been cautious of publishing companies, especially when I hear about how they dictate everything from titles to content. I started looking into self-publishing as an alternative, but it's all a little overwhelming. To sum it up I just have a lot of questions for someone who's successfully self-published before!
I want to make a living off writing. Is this possible with self-publishing? Should I try and get my book published from a company before turning to this method? How would I market my book, and how much would it cost? If I want to make real cash should I concentrate on e-books or try and sell printed copies as well?
If anyone can offer advice or success stories I'd be very appreciative. Maybe it'll help other authors nearing their debut!
You could check out CreateSpace and publish through Amazon... and option I'm looking to explore in the future.
But you will make a lot more profit with e-books, since you just sell copies (clones) of the original book and it's quickly turned into profit. If you can create your own graphics and then turn Word documents into PDFs using things like Primo PDF then you're set to make profit right from the start, without taking advertising costs into consideration.
E-books sound almost too good to be true! I was worried I'd have to save up money before I could publish anything, but if I don't even have to worry about advertising and printing costs then there's really nothing holding me back. Thanks for the advice!
What made you think you wouldn't have to do any advertising with an ebook?
I chose to publish a couple of short stories on Amazon Kindle. I'd advise that you choose them. There's a lot to Amazon Kindle and a lot of options that are good marketing tools. My biggest advice for e-books is that you get a good graphic artist with a proven track record to create your book cover.
Thank you, I'll look into Amazon right away. I'm pretty lucky in that one of my closest friends is a graphic artist. He agreed to design a cover for me!
I count my self lucky in this regard. My brother is an illustrator and has published several of his own comic books and coloring books for years. It is good to feel out family and friends for possible connections.
Personally, I think you should always try to get published as a first choice, with backing from the publisher, advances, and all the marketing and connections that go with it.
Epub is very easy once you learn how to format your book. There are many types of ereading devices and customers have the option of changing fonts and sizes, rendering your formatting unrecognizable. You'll also do your front matter differently as well as your TOC. You need to learn to link and backlink your chapters. It's quite different from the consumer standpoint than flipping the pages of a print book.
You already know you'll do all your own marketing using social networks as well as local networks. Nonfiction generally sells more than fiction but either way, get a plan. The bottom line is you haven't put out any money for the publication itself.
Smashwords goes out to just about everyone except Amazon where you will do a separate upload. But your book needs to get through their autovetter which means it needs to be formatted correctly. This is to your advantage because there's nothing worse, especially on a debut, than having a book out there that is technically unreadable. Remember people can read on their computers, phones, ereaders, tablets, etc. Each unit behaves differently.
All the advantages of getting published are what's keeping me from rushing into self publishing. I think I'll attempt it as a first choice, as you say, and if it doesn't work out I'll just try something else. Rejections are pretty common. I heard Gone with the Wind got rejected around 40 times.
I'll look into Epub and Smashwords. A technical error in my debut would be very embarrassing. Thanks for the advice!
On the other hand, some of the greatest books of our time were first self published including Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, James Joyce's Ulysses, Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of Seven Gables, James Redfield's The Celestine Prophecy, and works by Deepak Chopra, Edgar Allen Poe, George Bernard Shaw, Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence), Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Elliot, Howard Fast (Spartacus), and more.
It still pays to have a marketing plan in place.
Examples from this millennium might be more apt.
Self-pubbing is a very different world in the 21st Century. Most of the greats who self-published were either members or or friends with members of high literary circles. Their work was passed from hand to hand and became popular among the elite. Since we don't have that kind of class system anymore those examples really aren't that helpful.
That kid who wrote Eragon (Eragorn) self-pubbed first.
Is your book fiction or non-fiction? It's much easier to promote non-fiction on your own because there's a 'reason' why a certain interested group will want to buy it. The group your nonfiction book addresses is where you will put most of your advertising effort.
There are already quite a few hubs around self publishing and marketing of boks.
Start by reading those.
A number of years ago (while living in u.s.a) I wrote a diet book and self published. Wrote it as I could not get the idea out of my head. The hardest part is marketing and the cost. Some of it too complicated for me (amazon). Have only sold a few. Form a marketing plan and stick to it. Don' just wander round the web.
If you're serious about self-publishing, I highly suggest you look up J. Konrath's blog on Blogger, "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing". He knows a thing or two about self-publishing and is a great guide for newbies.
THIS is excellent advice. Go read it. Go read all his stuff.
I just put my first one up. I can't believe how well its going so far. Right now it's number 13 on the Amazon "Hot new releases" for science fiction. I, like you, was hesitant at first to go do it. But I was also tired of getting rejection letters from the publishing houses--who actually started sending rejection letters that read "we can't even give contracts to our established writers." When the letters shifted to that from the traditional "this isn't what we're looking for," I knew the old model was broken. If I hadn't jumped in and tried it, I'd still have an unread story on my hard drive. Instead I have a story that lots of people are reading as we speak. It's an AWESOME feeling.
Yes, there's a learning curve. But it ain't that hard. Get a really amazing cover. Proofread your work. Proofread it again. Have it proofread by someone else. Proofread it more. Then, after having at least one other person proofread it, put it out there and go for it. It's FUN! And it damn sure beats sending out queries to publishers and getting turned down over and over, year after year.
Definitely read Konrath's blog.
I've started to read his blog and I'll definitely continue. Thanks for the resource!
That's a really encouraging success story, Shadesbreath! The book I'm planning on publishing is also a science fiction. I'm planning on printing a manuscript and letting people who's opinions I trust proofread it for me. Thank you! I feel really inspired right now!
I used CreateSpace and could not believe how easy it was. They have preformatted templates that you can copy and paste your manuscript into, and you can write your document in Word and do formatting like bullets or numbered lists. Just upload, click the button, and watch it convert to PDF:) The cover designer is free and just as easy to use. As a plus, once you get your book uploaded, they will convert it to a Kindle book for a small fee. I recommend them highly:)
I've self=published 7 books now and should have an 8th out there by the end of the month. Cris A who recently passed away, designed my covers and he did an excellent job. Your cover has to look professional. I use Createspace for my paperback version. You just follow their template, easy as pie and it doesn't cost you a cent. Make sure your book is proofread and well-edited though before you upload it. It is quite easy to format it for Amazon Kindle and Smashwords yourself, and then you just upload. All quite painless. Getting the right pricing is the trick. It is better to sell a lot of books making a small royalty on each one, than selling a few books making a large royalty. If you list your Kindle ebook as $2.99 on Amazon you qualify for a 70% royalty. Then you need to list that same ebook on Smashwords at $1.50. As soon as people notify Amazon that they can get your book cheaper elsewhere and give Amazon the Smashwords link, Amazon will drop their price to $1.50 and you'll keep the 70% royalty. If you had to list your ebook on Amazon at $1.50 yourself, you'll only qualify for a 30% royalty.
Marketing is a lot of work and I just don't have the time. If I didn't have a full-time demanding job I would be able to focus more of my efforts and sell more. Can one live off your writing? I think you can but it is going to be a lot of hard work and you have to be very motivated and have a set schedule you follow. Like in a regular job. With minimum marketing efforts I have managed to sell 20 000 books just on Kindle this past year. I am nowhere near Amanda Hocking and John Locke who have sold millions this past year. But then, their writing is their full-time job and they do a lot of marketing. John Locke actually has an ebook out explaining how he sold over a million books in a year. While a lot of what he says is common sense, it is still worth a read to motivate you. Hope this helps you and good luck!
If you want to make a living at it, major publishers are sill your best bet. That is why even those who succeed at self-publishing move to traditional publishing when they get the chance.
They move to traditional publishing for the validation. Not for the money. And very shortly, not even for validation that will mean much beyond being able to claim recognition by a system that ran its course and died.
Advances have been shrinking by exponential proportions. So have sales.
The future is now. People who can shake off the old belief system will catch the wave and ride it. Those who insist that the old way is best will continue to wait months to be rejected, sell ZERO copies of their stories, make NO money, and go on lamenting how unfair and impossible it is to make a living as a writer.
Would I take a contract and an advance. HELL YEAH.
Have I sold more copies of my novel in the last three weeks since I published it than I have in the last 15 years trying for traditional publication? YUP.
Here's a screen shot of my 3 week old book on Amazon, "hot new releases" for Science fiction in the kindle store:
The only difference between me and you is that I said, "Screw it!" and tried.
Jump in. The water is fine.
Big congratulations Shades - way to go!
I think that what holds many people back is the fear of making mistakes, but the reality is that whatever way you choose to go, you are inevitably going to make a few mistakes. But this is the way we learn, and by the time we are a few books down the track, we should be a lot more experienced.
Yeah, mistakes are how you learn. You are so right. And you never know, maybe the mistakes don't matter.
You know, if you ask really old people what they wish they could do over looking back, they first say appreciate the people I love, but after that, they often say they wish they'd pushed for their dreams harder. They regret the excuses they made, the timidity, the insecurity. They look back and realize, SO WHAT if it bombs. You only get one life. TRY.
You know, I myself have been struggling with this internal decision on whether or not to self publish. I look at it from a few aspects.
1. I belong to a site where you can post stories online. So I've got a couple that are incomplete posted there. HOWEVER, I discovered that some publishers see that as it already having had been published (meaning I just gave my work away, making no commission). Therefore, for those particular stories, I would have to self publish.
2. I live in Wyoming, in the second most populated city, and we have only two book stores. One is a used book store for trading used for used, and one is a small local store. I have to consider this, as it seems to me that book stores are closing down or being phased out (like how music is going completely electronic with iTunes, etc).
3. On the up side, from all I have read about being published by a company, it seems as if it's almost cheaper because they do all of your public relations aspects, and they pay the costs to publish - as long as you don't sign the paperwork and give away all the royalties.
It's a fine line, but I feel like books are going away, and slowing being replaced by Kindle and similar electronic forms.
On the world right now most books are still selling in print form, from stores. And you need a publisher to distribute to stores. I suspect that if you dd a poll of full time writers you would find print/stores was a large proportion of the income of most of them.
If you want to make a little money on the side, sure--pushing out some ebooks is fine. In fact that's what I do. But I am not kidding myself that it will pay all my bills, health insurance, retirement fund etc.
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