Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction Writers => Self Publishing Discussion => Topic started by: Doctor_Chill on August 04, 2015, 08:09:02 PM

Title: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Doctor_Chill on August 04, 2015, 08:09:02 PM
Not my views on the matter, but Marc (Overlord) put up an interesting article today on the main website. (http://fantasy-faction.com/2015/why-i-dont-generally-recommend-self-publishing) It lays out a few points on why, as the title suggests, he wouldn't generally recommend going the self-publishing route. Not a lot of discussion on the article, so I was curious as to what our intrepid band of self-published gurus thought on the matter.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: JMack on August 04, 2015, 08:42:15 PM
About to self-pub my dad's book of musings on the meaning of life. (Of course, I've been "about" to do that for some months now.)

I could personally see doing it once, as a hobby thing, to feel good about my work.
But I get it. Editors/curators and all the rest still matter.
And this is true for many reasons, including that most of the self-pubbed I've tried is not so great.

Interesting thought though:
> If you could publish an episode once a month for which 1,000 folks will spend $5, you've actually got something going. (I read this in a book recommended elsewhere on the Forum.)
> This is a very different approach to fire-and-forget self-pubbing of novels.

But anyway, I'm unpublished in either sense; so I'll let someone with real experienced take the microphone.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Raptori on August 04, 2015, 09:00:04 PM
Couldn't agree with Marc more. I don't think there's really anything else to be said about it!  :P
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: ScarletBea on August 04, 2015, 10:01:59 PM
I tend to feel that self-publishing is a bit jumping the gun. People who don't want to go through the work and criticism and improvement that 'all that' (i.e. trying to be published properly) brings.
Like people who want to go on the X-Factor and that kind of programs without really knowing the ins and outs of music; just because some (and I stress *some*) can carry a tune, it doesn't mean they're prepared to be professional singers.
Similarly, just because some can write a few things, doesn't mean they're prepared to be professional authors.

I don't know, maybe I'm just being unreasonable :-\ I've seen how difficult and frustrating it is for writers, previously-main-house-published writers, to get a new contract. Each book is a mountain to climb. And in a way I understand why some are tempted to 'jump the gun'.
Does it make it right? I don't know.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: tebakutis on August 04, 2015, 10:30:13 PM
I actually wrote a whole blog series about this very topic (after I got the rights back to my first book, which was published through a small press, I self-pubbed it and have been pleased with the results) which, ultimately, involved comparing the publishing industry to the videogame industry (my day job).

People self-pub in videogames all the time. We call them "indie" games (one recent example - Minecraft). Even if you make a really good indie game, it is very, very hard to stand out or get noticed, at least relative to a game published by a big publisher (EA, Blizzard, etc). You must do all promotion yourself, you're lumped in with tons of poor quality titles (try getting on Steam and see how that goes), and even then it's often luck (such as a random editor on Kotaku playing your game and writing about it) that determines if you get any traction.

Simply put, while you can self-publish a game, it is ALWAYS better to get a big publisher - despite the huge difficulty in doing so - because you start so much further ahead of the pack. Take all I just said and substitute "book" for "game" and you've got the basics of self-pub vs traditional publishing.

The biggest difference between the videogame industry and publishing industry is that the game industry celebrates indie game publishing, and sees it as a positive, whereas it is still the opposite with the book industry - regardless of the quality of the final product. So that's another caution against self-pubbing a book.

That said, whenever I see someone say "never self-publish" I have the same reaction when people say "never traditionally publish" (which, believe it or not, I have heard from self-pub authors who are doing extremely well). Both options have pluses and minuses. You, as an author, simply need to understand them.

As one final note, at a panel I was on at ConCarolinas this year, one panelist made a very good point. The other thing to remember is that to self-publish "right", you must become a publisher, essentially. This means you must hire an editor, must pay for quality art, and (if you don't know layout) pay for someone to layout your book. Yes, this costs lots of money, but if you don't do this, it's no different from releasing a glitchy, crash-ridden Android game. No one will buy it. So yet another advantage of traditional publishing is they pay these expenses.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Rostum on August 04, 2015, 10:34:12 PM
I read and enjoyed Marcs views on it and have to agree. I feel it takes away the quality control element, Not in the least wishing to suggest everything self published is dross. I have read any number of books picked up by publishers after they were put on the web or were self published, but the quality range is controlled when professionals are involved there simply are no quality controls with self pub. Personally I would not have the self assurance to do so or have any expectation of my work being enjoyed.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: m3mnoch on August 04, 2015, 11:02:52 PM
If you could publish an episode once a month for which 1,000 folks will spend $5, you've actually got something going. (I read this in a book recommended elsewhere on the Forum.)

that's the 1000 true fans thing from kevin kelly, originally about music.
http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/

also, i find the analogy from tebakutis with indie games interesting.  (this is where i shamelessly link to one near and dear to my heart: https://game.grigoristones.com)  i can't really put my finger on the difference between the two.  it feels like there's a bunch of possible stuff that enables fresh-out-of-the-gate indie games, but not indie novels. 

for example, a video game bakes down into more tangible artifacts -- screenshots, gameplay videos, etc. -- that are easier to make a yes/no decision about.  they're much harder to make, so more rare. (more rare compared to books -- don't get me wrong, there's still a metric ass-load of indie games out there)  indie games also have a large penchant towards free for a full experience.  indie games can tickle the instant gratification bone by getting to the 'good parts' much faster.

so, yeah, like tebakutis, my day job is making video games, and that analogy is fascinating.

as to which side of the self-pub fence i sit on, it comes down to the advice i always give 'kids' trying to break into games. it is simply "make and ship something of quality because everything starts there".  it feels like there are many, many ways to ensure your writing is of high quality (like our badass writing groups) other than sending it to random agents and hoping they look at it and give you quality feedback.

it's not like you're going to get a high-quality critique from any of these super-busy agents, right?  the inference that 'you must send your work to an agent to get better' doesn't make sense to me.  sure, it can be looked at as a quality gate, but you're still on your own to get that quality up to par.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: tebakutis on August 05, 2015, 02:07:07 AM
Quote
I have read any number of books picked up by publishers after they were put on the web or were self published, but the quality range is controlled when professionals are involved there simply are no quality controls with self pub.

Heh. Sorry. Bit of a post incoming!

This is one of the misconceptions I wish I'd know about self-publishing three years ago, when I finally published my first book through a (very) small press. It's not that "there are no quality controls" and it's not that there are no "professionals" involved. It's that a vast majority of self-pubbed authors choose to ignore quality entirely, and choose *not* to involve professionals. It's a subtle difference, but important. People who believe the former dismiss all self-published books, even the high quality titles by great authors.

It's the same with indie games. Indie games can be very high quality, but the developers must choose to make them so. If you play an indie game and it's awesome, you can bet the developer tested the hell out of it and iterated constantly. If it's terrible, they spent a weekend coding it and uploaded it to the Android store.

As mentioned, traditional publishing is *almost* always a better option. You pay nothing and actually get paid money. You must still market, but you're way ahead of everything but other traditionally published titles. The only problem (and why self-publishing is so popular) is there are almost no slots available at traditional publishers for new talent right now, even with great books. They're simply full (just like game publishers). If you haven't been published already, even the best book you've ever written will get turned down. Repeatedly.

So, if you decide to self-pub? Understanding that you will be buried in a sea of low quality titles and have to be a real pro at marketing to succeed? Then *you* are responsible for quality control (because if you release a poor quality book, no one who reads it will ever touch your work again). As the panelist I mentioned suggest, you are becoming the publisher. This means you must act like one.

To self-pub a book "properly" (this assumes you are aware of how incredibly difficult it will be to market, and that it will be very hard to get anyone to review it) I'd recommend a process like this.

1) Finish your book, then set it aside for a month.

2) Read it again, find all the place it doesn't work and is slow, and fix those.

3) Find at least four dependable and honest advance readers who either read what you write (don't send your fantasy book to a mystery reader) and/or authors about your same level (hello, writer's group!) Make sure they give you honest feedback (they will discover many problems).

4) Rewrite your book and implement all the great feedback you've received.

5) Repeat step 3 with your second draft.

6) Repeat step 4 with your second draft.

7) If the second group of advance readers says "Hey, this is actually pretty good" you might actually be close to having something publishable! Now, go hire a professional editor (if you aren't sure they're professional, ask for a list of other authors/books they have edited and make your decision based off those). Yes, a professional will cost money. The average rate is around $0.02 per word, so for a 120,000 word book, that's $2400. Yes, self-publishing (the right way) is expensive (just as with indie games).

8 ) Guess what. Your book still has a ton of problems. That's where your editor earns their money, because they have the experience and see those problems. Take most of their advice. Rewrite your book again.

9) Your book might actually be ready now. Are you an artist? No? Then contract and pay a cover artist. This will run from $400-$1500 (average) depending on the quality of the art. Self-publishing (right?) is expensive.

10) You now you have a decent book and a good cover. Do you know how to layout a book in Word so that it is compatible with Amazon Createspace POD, Amazon Kindle E-Books, and other retailers? No? Hire someone to do it (more money) or learn to do it yourself (it's really not that hard).

11) Now read your book one last time to catch any remaining typos or errors, and enlist whoever you can to do so as well. Use Amazon's preview to see how the print layout looks. Use a program like Calibre to convert your e-book file to MOBI and load it on your own Amazon Kindle to see how it looks.

12) Everything look good? Everything read well? You're finally ready to publish a quality book!*

*Everything you just did is pretty much what the traditional publishers do. Except you paid to do it, rather than being paid while they do it.


In the self-pubbed books you've probably sampled, here's the process the author probably followed.

1) Write your novel.

2) Publish your novel.

*This* is really the thing I wish someone had sat down and told me about self-publishing years ago. There is no mystical barrier to quality that somehow can't be overcome. Self-publishing is simply time consuming and expensive, and you will almost always lose money on it (but maybe start building an audience so you can become profitable by your third or fourth book). If you're a really good marketer and have a great book, maybe even sooner. Or you might never get it back at all.

If all this sounds discouraging, then good! Keep trying for a traditional publisher or a small press (an actual one that pays for everything - not one that requires you buy their services). If you think you can hack it on your own, however, and you know you can market, and you do things right, it's possible to self-publish a great book and succeed (I know a number of authors who have done so). They just had to work a hell of a lot harder.

As with an indie game, quality is quality. How it was published doesn't matter.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Overlord on August 05, 2015, 08:40:19 AM
Thanks for putting this up :-)

A few things people missed/ignored over Twitter:

1. The Tweet I initially sent out was labelled why I don't recommend self publishing your 'FIRST' novel. My point was that essentially that is like playing your first football match for Manchester United. You may one day be a good enough football player to wear a Manchester United shirt at Old Trafford, but it won't be your first ever match. My recommendation was, essentially, when you choose to submit to an Agent and they say 'this is not good enough to publish' and then you turn around and say 'Fine! I'm publishing on the Kindle!' you are just wasting time that you could be writing your next novel. There are obviously exceptions. I bet we can all research an author or two who has published their first novel on Amazon and made millions, but, if you are serious about being a writer, is that the best tactic? Probably not.

2. I did say there are exceptions. Some people genuinely do want to Self Publish. I'm not sure why, but I have spoken to a few people who have never submitted to an agent. There are others who are good writers and will be missed by agents because their work is A) too niche B) of an era gone by C) too far ahead of the market. In these cases there could well be demand for the work and self publishing may make sense, but I do think it is a pretty big gamble. Sanderson is a good example of an author who probably could have Self Published and become rich doing it, but ended up rich Traditionally Publishing anyway... Gollancz said it well: "There are no Ronaldos playing pub football".
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Rostum on August 05, 2015, 11:05:47 AM
Quote
It's not that "there are no quality controls" and it's not that there are no "professionals" involved. It's that a vast majority of self-pubbed authors choose to ignore quality entirely, and choose *not* to involve professionals

Yes you are correct and make the point eloquently. There is control but only where it is self imposed.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: tebakutis on August 05, 2015, 10:03:10 PM
Quote
1. The Tweet I initially sent out was labelled why I don't recommend self publishing your 'FIRST' novel. My point was that essentially that is like playing your first football match for Manchester United. You may one day be a good enough football player to wear a Manchester United shirt at Old Trafford, but it won't be your first ever match. My recommendation was, essentially, when you choose to submit to an Agent and they say 'this is not good enough to publish' and then you turn around and say 'Fine! I'm publishing on the Kindle!' you are just wasting time that you could be writing your next novel. There are obviously exceptions. I bet we can all research an author or two who has published their first novel on Amazon and made millions, but, if you are serious about being a writer, is that the best tactic? Probably not.

That's a really good point to make, and I do agree with you in almost all cases. My first novel was terrible (and so were my second and third :P) None will ever be published and rightly so. I do think that it is possible to self-publish for your first novel if you already have lots of writing experience (extensive work with a writer's group, real editors have actually purchased your short fiction, etc) but *only* if you get plenty of feedback, hire and editor, and do it right. So your warning about not simply dropping your first book on Amazon is totally valid.

Also, I do know a couple of now self-published authors (they either started with traditional press but only hit midlist, or started out strong enough to gain an audience) who often get knocked by folks simply because they aren't with a big press, regardless of the fact that their books are actually really good. So it's probably a bit of a trigger issue for me, which is why I wrote such a long post! Heh.

Quote
2. I did say there are exceptions. Some people genuinely do want to Self Publish. I'm not sure why, but I have spoken to a few people who have never submitted to an agent. There are others who are good writers and will be missed by agents because their work is A) too niche B) of an era gone by C) too far ahead of the market. In these cases there could well be demand for the work and self publishing may make sense, but I do think it is a pretty big gamble. Sanderson is a good example of an author who probably could have Self Published and become rich doing it, but ended up rich Traditionally Publishing anyway... Gollancz said it well: "There are no Ronaldos playing pub football".

One interesting note in that regard is I know several former traditional press authors who are now either self-publishing (as hybrids, some self-pub and some traditional press) or going all self-pub. Two authors I met at a recent con, for example, had a number of books published through traditional press years ago but took time off, and now, because of how few slots there are in traditional publishing, their agents won't even consider taking on their new books. So they've taken the audience they have and published the book themselves. That's another reason people are self-pubbing right now... they already have an audience.

Ultimately self-publishing, even when done correctly, is just really, really hard - especially if you don't have a known name. Unfortunately, it's also really hard (in some cases, all but impossible) to get into traditional publishing right now due to limited slots, regardless of how good your book might be. So that's a conundrum.

When people ask me about my experience (having now done both) I basically try to present the pros and cons of each approach and let them make a (hopefully) informed decision.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: tebakutis on August 05, 2015, 10:06:02 PM
@Rostum (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=40251)
Quote
Yes you are correct and make the point eloquently. There is control but only where it is self imposed.

Totally understand where you are coming from, though. And you are correct in that most people who self-pub due tend to ignore quality, so it's a valid point.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Overlord on August 07, 2015, 07:05:38 AM
The amount of comments on the main site by authors claiming to be on $100,000 to $350,000 is just utterly ridiculous.

I've been following their links before publishing to make sure what they are saying is legit:

One guy claimed to have made $350,000 for his book. He has 1000 Twitter followers. His cover looks like it was made in 10 minutes on Photoshop.

If you were making that kind of money from Self Publishing you'd surely have decent marketing and a half decent cover?

I'm not trying to be offensive, I genuinely feel for some people Self Publishing 'can' work, but there are others (such as, in my opinion, the guy above) who delude themselves.

I can it the 'Mayweather' technique - where you tell everyone that you are successful and making lots of money in a hope others pick up your work to see what the fuss is about. This works when you can back up your claims with quality - i.e. you deserve to be making what you claim - but it hurts you when you start to believe your own hype or if you actually can't produce the goods.

I am SURE some people self publishing make good money, but I do feel they are the minority. As I've said so many times above and in comments - my point was to a FIRST TIME novelist, you would be WAY better off writing your second book after finishing your first that you would putting your first on Amazon.

If you've written 5 books, 10 books and you know they are incredible. The agent's aren't seeing what you and all your friends / beta readers see... then go for it. Maybe there is a niche that is ready and waiting for you. Maybe your writing style and content just isn't in fashion right now (in the agent's eyes), but you see and feel that they are missing the demand you feel is so obvious.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: m3mnoch on August 07, 2015, 04:08:04 PM
I can it the 'Mayweather' technique - where you tell everyone that you are successful and making lots of money in a hope others pick up your work to see what the fuss is about. This works when you can back up your claims with quality - i.e. you deserve to be making what you claim - but it hurts you when you start to believe your own hype or if you actually can't produce the goods.

hrm.  i missed this analogy.  seems to me that a guy with a 48-0 record has rightfully earned anything he's every claimed.  maybe you're talking about the time someone brags it up and it's justified?  conor mcgregor is probably a better, current poster boy for this.

or maybe you should rename it the "bethe correia technique".  that'd more accurately represent someone with a big mouth and little britches.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: m3mnoch on August 07, 2015, 04:12:03 PM
If you've written 5 books, 10 books and you know they are incredible. The agent's aren't seeing what you and all your friends / beta readers see... then go for it. Maybe there is a niche that is ready and waiting for you. Maybe your writing style and content just isn't in fashion right now (in the agent's eyes), but you see and feel that they are missing the demand you feel is so obvious.

oh!  and this thought misses the joe konraths and barry eislers of the world -- those guys who are fed up with traditional publishers "screwing" them with draconian contracts.  there's a whole crowd of like-minded authors who are fleeing traditional publishing and moving to self-pub.  they're making silly, silly money and will happily tell everyone who listens about it.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/09/konraths-sales.html
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: m3mnoch on August 07, 2015, 04:19:01 PM
dammit.  sorry.  one more.

this list:
http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-eBooks/zgbs/digital-text/154606011

the large majority of those titles are self-published.  basically, anything on the list selling for $4.99 or less.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on October 31, 2015, 07:19:50 PM
I'm going to go the other direction here. Although Marc makes excellent points about the time and effort that go into publishing and marketing a book, he misses the point entirely. "Who" publishes the book just doesn't matter. Only two things matter:

1. Quality of the work
2. Marketing

Why? Books are mostly sold two ways:

1. Quality of the work
2. Word of mouth (which includes reviews)

Marc is correct that it's a lot of work to get the quality of your book up to publishable standards. It's even harder to market a book correctly. But, that doesn't mean you need a publisher to do it for you...assuming they'd buy and market a book that isn't high quality.

Tebakutis gave a great outline of things a new author should cover to get their work up to par. But an author should follow that plan regardless of their intent to submit the work to an agent, a publisher, or self publish. An agent or publisher isn't going to fix your work...they'll simply reject it. A publisher might pay for an editor, but you should probably have paid an editor $50 or $100 to edit a sample of your work anyway (so you can be certain of proper grammar and have clean copy to send to an agent or publisher). Cover design is paid for by the publisher. If you self publish it'll cost you several hundred for original art with design. If you give the work to a publisher it'll cost nothing up front, but thousands over the long run if your book is successful. Same with marketing, you can hire it out or have the publisher do it for much more money.

Essentially, what I'm trying to illustrate is that the only difference between a book that is traditionally published and self published is who takes the risk...you or the publisher. If you believe you have high quality work and a modicum of managerial skills (to hire an editor, cover designer, marketer), you should take the risk yourself and spend the money to self publish.

Another thing that should be taken into consideration is that the "book selling" industry is changing. Author Earnings is doing some excellent work on dissecting sales numbers. I'm sure a lot of you have read in the press that eBook sales have gone flat. This was based on a report done by the Association of American Publishers which stated that their 2015 sales have fallen 6% from the year before. What this report doesn't say is that sales from indie and self published books is growing rapidly. Here's a snippet from the Author Earnings September report (http://"http://authorearnings.com/report/september-2015-author-earnings-report/").

Quote
In the 18 months between February 2014 and September 2015, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), whose 1200 members include the “Big Five”: Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette — have seen their collective share of the US ebook market collapse:

    From 45% of all Kindle books sold down to 32%
    From 64% of Kindle publisher gross $ revenue down to 50%
    From 48% of all Kindle author net $ earnings down to 32%

The eBook market is leaving the big publishers. That means less money for them to finance new projects. Which in turn means less chance they'll publish you. Do you want to stake your career on a dying industry? Or would you rather make a bet on yourself?
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Raptori on October 31, 2015, 07:27:17 PM
the only difference between a book that is traditionally published and self published is who takes the risk
In a sense you're right, but there's also another big difference: if you're traditionally published people will assume that your work is of at least acceptable quality, whereas if you're self-publishing people will need more persuasion to give it a go. In such a crowded marketplace, and in a culture where most people have a ridiculously short attention span, that difference in perception is a not insignificant advantage.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on October 31, 2015, 07:41:00 PM
Quote
In a sense you're right, but there's also another big difference: if you're traditionally published people will assume that your work is of at least acceptable quality, whereas if you're self-publishing people will need more persuasion to give it a go.

Excellent point. A self published author has to find a way to market their books in a way that proves their worth first. Then with that trust build an audience. A traditionally published book has the publishing house vouch for the work, but the author still has to build the audience from there. More risk for the self published author, but potentially more reward if they can build an audience of loyal readers.



Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Raptori on October 31, 2015, 07:53:37 PM
Quote
In a sense you're right, but there's also another big difference: if you're traditionally published people will assume that your work is of at least acceptable quality, whereas if you're self-publishing people will need more persuasion to give it a go.

Excellent point. A self published author has to find a way to market their books in a way that proves their worth first. Then with that trust build an audience. A traditionally published book has the publishing house vouch for the work, but the author still has to build the audience from there. More risk for the self published author, but potentially more reward if they can build an audience of loyal readers.
Yeah definitely - and that's another thing, as self-pub you have to start building your audience from nothing, whereas the traditional publishers can get their new authors' names out there to their existing audience.  :-\
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: m3mnoch on November 03, 2015, 01:28:09 AM
the only difference between a book that is traditionally published and self published is who takes the risk
In a sense you're right, but there's also another big difference: if you're traditionally published people will assume that your work is of at least acceptable quality, whereas if you're self-publishing people will need more persuasion to give it a go. In such a crowded marketplace, and in a culture where most people have a ridiculously short attention span, that difference in perception is a not insignificant advantage.

this makes me want to think of 'traditional publishing' more like 'curation services'.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Mark on November 15, 2015, 01:19:06 AM
I am SURE some people self publishing make good money, but I do feel they are the minority.

I am sure some people published by publishing houses make good money, but they too are in the minority.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: jefGoelz on November 15, 2015, 06:37:07 AM
I know a guy who quit his job as a pharmacist because he made more than enough money with his self-published fantasy books.
The sense I get is that you can probably make more money self publishing if you'd never be more than a mid-list writer if you conventionally published. Some guys have been successful without much promotion, though the ability to promote your book can be as important as the writing.

Regardless of whether you self-publish or conventionally publish, you probably won't make enough money to quit your day job, unless your needs are very modest or your investment account is pretty flush.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: jjwilbourne on April 24, 2016, 12:45:23 AM
About 5 years ago, the general recommendation would be this:
Don't self-publish unless you don't care if anyone reads it.

Today, we live in a very different world.

But first, let's start by saying this: self-publishing isn't new. It's a business model, not a shortcut.

You can open a Dunkin Donuts franchise.
Or you can open your own small Coffee shop.

You don't look down at the small coffee shop owner and say: "You should have applied for that general manager job. You would have had all your infrastructure built. You're a sucker."

When it comes down to it, it's about knowing your "why."
Why are you self-publishing?

If it's because you're looking for a quick buck, it's likely a terrible decision. There's often nothing quick about publishing a book and often few books ever turn a profit. And this isn't exclusive to self-publishing. Traditionally published books often flop even ones that should do well.


Quote
In a sense you're right, but there's also another big difference: if you're traditionally published people will assume that your work is of at least acceptable quality, whereas if you're self-publishing people will need more persuasion to give it a go.

Excellent point. A self published author has to find a way to market their books in a way that proves their worth first. Then with that trust build an audience. A traditionally published book has the publishing house vouch for the work, but the author still has to build the audience from there. More risk for the self published author, but potentially more reward if they can build an audience of loyal readers.
Yeah definitely - and that's another thing, as self-pub you have to start building your audience from nothing, whereas the traditional publishers can get their new authors' names out there to their existing audience.  :-\

Let's work our way through this the way that self-published authors see it:

Does a Traditional deal mean "people" will trust that you are acceptable quality?
Yes and no. It depends who these "people" are and which people are most important to you.

If by "people," you mean "critics," "literary award foundations," and many "professional review mediums," then yes. It definitely makes a difference. And if those are the people you feel are most important for you to gain respect from, by all means DO NOT self-publish.

If by "people" you mean "average readers," then not so much. I doubt that most readers know who publishes the books they read. And why would they? Apart from a few smaller presses who specialize in a very narrow niche of books or styles, the publisher is completely irrelevant. The reader will remember an author's name, however. That is the brand that insures quality, not the publisher's name.

A self-published author may need a bit more persuasion in order to get a reader to try them out. I agree. But, as a self-published author you have the control to persuade. Traditional published authors are tasked to market their own books with their hands tied behind their backs.

There is a misconception that landing a traditional deal means you get a five or six-figure marketing plan, guaranteed. In reality, most authors have to do basically the exact same things that self-published authors have to do. Authors still have to promote their books. They have to build their own fan base. They have to interact with their fans. You don't typically get a team of people to do these things for you. Traditional publishing is not a red carpet.

And to top it all off: you can lose control of your work for life. So if the publisher decides to take it off the market or not promote it at all for years on end, the AUTHOR gets screwed, not the publisher. They have a million other books pulling in revenue.

Again, let's go back to your "why." Before you can decide, you have to decide what success looks like to you.

Why self-publish?
Why traditionally publish?
What will self-publishing give you?
What will traditional publishing give you?

Are you a control freak? Or do you like to hand off work to other people?
Do you like doing multiple parts of a business? Or do you want to keep your hands out of some of the administrative details?
Are you entrepreneurial? Or are you someone who likes to work for a large business?
Do you need to make money as a writer? Or is this purely a hobby? Is it somewhere in between?
Do you need the approval of an organization to feel success? Or do you need the approval of fans to feel success?
Is your book lead gen for a bigger business move or service? Or is your book the primary product?
Are you flexible enough to role with the punches of a changing industry? Or do you want to ignore it all and focus only on craft?
Are you a risk-taker? Or are you extremely risk-adverse?
Are you willing to pay for professional collaborators (editors, cover designers)? Or can you not afford invest in yourself?
Are you an extremely slow writer? Or are you fast enough to meet demand pressures and don't want a larger company slowing you down?
Can you self manage? Or do you need someone to manage you?
Do you have a lifestyle that requires you to have a large income? Or is your lifestyle modest with a low overhead?
Can you make big business decisions and have the wits to pivot when something goes wrong? Or do you need something more straight-forward?

I could go on and on.

Know yourself.
Know your goals.
Know what success looks like to you.
Know and understand the business and be willing to spend months putting in the time to learn how to run a business.

Do what feels right to you.

You can always try it another way.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Syner on May 12, 2016, 07:06:56 PM
Think article overlooks the fact of how subjective and conflicting the entire traditional publishing world is and from that, builds on why not to self publish. From my experience in query hell for the last year and a half, I have to wonder if some established authors of today would have even made it and if not would have opted to self publish. Saying "because your book was rejected = it's a bad story, put it aside and move onto the next, here is a list of established authors who do that as well," is IMHO not a universal rule. Not doubt that rule, at times, is very sound, but lets be honest, there are some first timer books that were picked up, started a bidding war, went on to get movie and show deals, etc, but read as if they were entirely ignored by an editor or even proof read by the agent, publisher, and writer. If I misinterpreted the article, I apologize.

What I've learned over the course of trying out the traditional route is that an awesomely written query to an abysmally written book will get you noticed, but not the other way around. But I will agree that if one wishes to be rich and famous then self publishing is probably not the route to take.

Saying self publishing stunts progression as an author is also disingenuous as a universal rule. Editors and agents reject your work 99% of the time based off the query or synopsis, both which need to be written better than the book. Granted there are people who will ignore advice when it's given, but when the rejections are, the majority of time, formal, there's not really any advice to ignore. A person needs to be objective regardless, and continue to learn, at whatever it is they do and that is something I think one is either born with or without.

For me, I know my story could be better, but I also know that even if the godliest of editors or an army of beta readers helped me rewrite it, I would still think it could be better.

I'm new here, and not trying to step on anyone's toes or offend, simply offering my opinion. :)
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Peat on May 12, 2016, 09:19:58 PM
That said, whenever I see someone say "never self-publish" I have the same reaction when people say "never traditionally publish" (which, believe it or not, I have heard from self-pub authors who are doing extremely well). Both options have pluses and minuses. You, as an author, simply need to understand them.


I too have heard "never traditionally publish". It comes from a friend who said it well before he ever published anything, and is still saying it as he sits at home writing all day. He's not exactly typical but then, neither are the traditionally published authors who sit at home writing all day as well. His logic is that publishers these days simply don't do enough for their percentage.

Would it work for me? I don't know. But I am paying attention to both options, I'll try both within the next five years or so... and I know that 90pc of it all comes down to writing, writing, and more writing...

... and the other 90pc comes down to dumb luck  :P
Title: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: marshall_lamour on May 14, 2016, 08:06:44 PM
I think that, increasingly, self-publishing is a viable first-option. If an author knuckles under to put the work and investment into it, they'd wield more bargaining power if and when they did decide to go the traditional route.

In the end, a book's dissemination is more important than its route of dissemination, and if it's not, I would have to question the value of that work. The two greatest risks an author is likely to take are both signing a contract and, in my opinion, undervaluing their work--the risks of traditional publishing and self-publishing, respectively.

There's this odd notion being popularized that self-publishing,itself, is inherently risky, but it's only as risky as the stakes an author undertakes. If an author stakes their entire livelihood on the success of a book, that's risky with either publishing route. The advice that I wish people would dole out more often is to simply not publish, as both sides of the industry have plenty of fat to trim--plenty of authors with little regard for the craft of writing, let alone the art--and it would better represent the realities we face today.  I think too many people are encouraged to write novels as though it's somehow a healthy mode of self-improvement, then when they finish, they've spent so much time on it (or what they percieve as a lot of time spent) that they think they might deserve some compensation for it or that they might as well cast out and see if anything bites.

On the flipside, if someone is relying on what amounts to a "permission to publish," then maybe they don't have enough heart in their work to make it worthwhile for anyone.  The same can be said of someone whose primary consideration for publishing is sales, which leads many to publish crap within traditional publishing as well as without.  Certainly the ultimate goal for any writer would be to write fulltime, but it's the merit and diligence of their work that should dictate that (and for good or for ill, that work does now include audience engagement for authors of all stripes).

It used to be that many of our greatest writers died before or shortly after reaching a broad enough audience to achieve success--likely due to their publishers' failings--but these days, authors have every opportunity to disseminate their work.  It would be foolish to withold work that you whole-heartedly believe in just because it's been rejected by a business equipped primarily to judge a work's salability, not its merit.  It's the author's own duty to cast a critical eye on their work and decide what's worth publishing and what's not, and after that, it's just a question of how and moreso now that authors are less reliant on publishers.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: SarahW on May 18, 2016, 12:25:39 AM
I decided to self-publish my first novel. The reason is simple: it doesn't conform to a mono-myth, Satanic Futurism is highly experimental, it's a serialization of a collection of short stories set in the same world. Almost no agent even takes novellas, let alone short stories.

Maybe if someday they took 20,000 to 30,000 words, took experimental subsets of science fantasy, and took serials than maybe I might consider it.

Plus it seems like everyone wants the mono-myth, maybe I'm wrong. I find trying to force short stories that build toward a monomyth is both silly and immensely irritating.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: tebakutis on May 19, 2016, 07:29:28 PM
That said, whenever I see someone say "never self-publish" I have the same reaction when people say "never traditionally publish" (which, believe it or not, I have heard from self-pub authors who are doing extremely well). Both options have pluses and minuses. You, as an author, simply need to understand them.


I too have heard "never traditionally publish". It comes from a friend who said it well before he ever published anything, and is still saying it as he sits at home writing all day. He's not exactly typical but then, neither are the traditionally published authors who sit at home writing all day as well. His logic is that publishers these days simply don't do enough for their percentage.

Would it work for me? I don't know. But I am paying attention to both options, I'll try both within the next five years or so... and I know that 90pc of it all comes down to writing, writing, and more writing...

... and the other 90pc comes down to dumb luck  :P

That's the way to go, I agree. Evaluate your options - my personal operating procedure is to query a number of agents and open submission windows, and then, and only if those people pass, look at self-publishing. For your first book, at least, always exhaust your traditional publishing options first, but don't assume getting shot down means your book isn't good.

I'm currently shopping around a military sci-fi novel that has gotten rave reviews from everyone I've had read it ... around 25 advance readers ranging from casual sci-fi readers, to fellow authors still working on breaking in, to professional published authors. I've also had several editors who passed tell me the book "is absolutely sellable, but just not right for us". Which is encouraging and frustrating. I've workshopped the hell out of the book based on comments from my writer's groups and various advanced readers, and I think it's about as solid as it's going to be.

To date, 34 agents have expressed no interest, with about 20% saying "Thank you, but not for me" and the other 80% not responding at all. I *guess* it could be my query letter, but ... who knows?

Regardless, that (plus the fact that I know traditionally published authors with 3 book deals with big publishing houses who aren't even making enough money to live) means my outlook on traditional publishing is now *another* route, rather than the only route.

With my mil sci-fi book, my last stop is going to be Baen (since they take unsolicited/unagented novel submissions) and then, if they pass, on to self-publish. After all, it went fine with my first book - since self-publishing last year, I've far outsold my numbers with the small press that published it originally.

It used to be that many of our greatest writers died before or shortly after reaching a broad enough audience to achieve success--likely due to their publishers' failings--but these days, authors have every opportunity to disseminate their work.  It would be foolish to withold work that you whole-heartedly believe in just because it's been rejected by a business equipped primarily to judge a work's salability, not its merit.  It's the author's own duty to cast a critical eye on their work and decide what's worth publishing and what's not, and after that, it's just a question of how and moreso now that authors are less reliant on publishers.

Pretty much this. Self-publishing is *not* cheap (as we've discussed, there's a right and a wrong way to do it, and the right way requires you to hire a professional editor and get professional cover art, at minimum) but Amazon, Nook, and other open PoD and e-book platforms make it absolutely viable. Just depends on the route that makes the most sense to you, and which you can afford.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: SarahW on May 23, 2016, 06:26:41 AM
Assuming your editor isn't the type to think draft (pick your hundredth draft) is the same as draft one. No, each draft has it's own manuscript killing issues that should be addressed. I've learned better editing by programming in Ruby/Python. The terminal literally won't run if you have a syntax error.

Plus while self-publishing isn't cheap, if you can draw your own graphic novel art you probably should. That's $500/generate your random hundred a page you won't have to spend on someone that flakes out on you. (Negative experience with comic hosting sites.) I've done my own covers for a long time because I have enough drawing ability.

In the real publishing world, if your editor/cover designer/comic artist flakes on you at say Big Two in comics, they might never get that job again.

At least I'm committed to my own work.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Kaybee on October 12, 2016, 07:58:33 PM
It's been a while since this thread was active, but wanted to agree with most posts here -- the quality control mechanism is gone with self-publishing.

I've both self-published (kids' non-fiction) and published with a boutique royalty publisher (adult non-fiction), but with self-publishing I put myself through hell allowing others to critique it to death for both content and grammar. In later years when I ordered self-pubbed books off amazon, I was nearly enraged at the poor quality. Worse than a rough draft from a creative writing class that specifically said "Use your right brain, grammar and spelling don't matter for this assignment."

One intriguing alternative, though. There is a group out of Bellingham, WA made up of authors who have previously been published in their fiction genre by an established royalty publisher. This group has formed a sort of group-self-publishing co-op, helping to promote each other and keep quality high. No one can join unless they've been accepted by a royalty publisher, but once in this group, they have the freedom that self-publishing can offer.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: J.R. Darewood on October 30, 2016, 09:30:48 AM
Everyone on this thread makes a lot of sense.  My WIP has been in revision... forever... so I bring no experience to the table, but I have quite a few friends who have self-published and make next-to-nothing each year.  But then you get the one-in-a-million stories like this guy...

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/02/adam-croft-self-published-her-last-tomorow-story

Damn, making bank from a best seller would be the dream, wouldn't it? That impossible carrot can be very motivating...  It doesn't mention it in the article but I think he spends a butt-load in marketing.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Russ on January 24, 2017, 10:12:09 PM
If you've written 5 books, 10 books and you know they are incredible. The agent's aren't seeing what you and all your friends / beta readers see... then go for it. Maybe there is a niche that is ready and waiting for you. Maybe your writing style and content just isn't in fashion right now (in the agent's eyes), but you see and feel that they are missing the demand you feel is so obvious.

oh!  and this thought misses the joe konraths and barry eislers of the world -- those guys who are fed up with traditional publishers "screwing" them with draconian contracts.  there's a whole crowd of like-minded authors who are fleeing traditional publishing and moving to self-pub.  they're making silly, silly money and will happily tell everyone who listens about it.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2012/09/konraths-sales.html

I thought this post could use a little update.

After only a short time as a loud and proud indy Mr. Eisler returned to traditional publishing with Thomas and Mercer.

And low and behold the great icon of self has just signed a deal with Kensington. 

The story behind both of these chaps is not often as it gets told in certain mythic quarters.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Ryan Mueller on January 28, 2017, 07:14:05 AM
Maybe I'm strange as a reader of self-published fantasy, but I'm okay if the book is a bit rough in places. I don't mind a few typos here and there. If they're all over the place, then that's a problem, but I generally stick to the better self-published titles, so I rarely run into major issues with quality.

In fact, I'm constantly amazed at the fact that some self-published authors can put out so many books that are enjoyable to read in such a short time. It makes me wonder sometimes if the publishing industry ends up making a lot of writers less productive than they could be.

I'm hoping to be successful in self-publishing myself. For me, it's about being in control of everything. I actually like the idea of controlling my own marketing, pricing, etc. I can experiment with different things and see what works.

I'm not looking to get rich from the process. If I can break even, or even get halfway to breaking even, that's initial success for me. If I can make even just a few readers enjoy my stories, that will make me happy.

If I can make a career out of it--well, then I'm one of the lucky few.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: gennerik on January 30, 2017, 03:15:09 AM
I know when I published Lamentation's Peak, self-publishing was my goal (Which Mark does actually touch on).  If it were longer, then perhaps I would have tried traditional routes first, but getting a 157 page novella published is, so I've heard, very difficult.  Unfortunately, the story found its end, and I didn't want to add 40k words of fluff to it just to make it a full-length novel.

I do understand that some people do end up publishing stuff after an agent has told them that it/they aren't ready to publish, and it does dilute the market and make it difficult for authors that are ready to publish to break out, but I do feel self-publishing is important because there are so many roadblocks in traditional publishing that could stop a great author from getting out there.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: ksvilloso on February 14, 2017, 04:41:08 PM
A good article and hefty dose of reality check to start with. I think there's a lot of misconceptions about writing and publishing that many beginners don't get. The biggest thing I find, being the idea of becoming "published" as some sort of STAMP OF APPROVAL, in that you're not a writer before you get published, and then you are after. Like it's magic. Nooot quite. :P

Taking a step back, though, it's not really that traditional publishing is "better" because professionals are there to guide the beginning writer. It's mostly because it's a gatekeeper that will keep all the clueless writers out. There is no way in hell that a talented editor can work wonders on your manuscript if it looks like a reject from the Infinite Monkey Theorem process. For a beginner, this means that you either give up, or you learn to hone your craft over and over again until YOU become the expert (which I wholeheartedly believe has nothing to do with how much money you make, but how many hours you've spent honing your craft...I think the most accepted number is 10,000 hours).

So there is merit to the thought.

But the book publishing industry is still an industry. The reality is also that the traditional publishing industry can sometimes be a damned brick wall, and I've always gotten the feeling that certain works are taken in because they fill a "niche" and then unless you're the next J.K. Rowling you're going to get a really shitty deal out of it. So yeah, you may not have to pay for a cover artist or editor out of your pocket (so it looks like), but actually you are because if your book ever starts to pay over your advance (if you got one), those royalty checks will look severely thin.

In the end, as others have mentioned, it's a business. And the writer has the choice of becoming an "employee" and not have to learn anything beyond what their "boss" (the publisher) wants them to do, or becoming a business owner and having to wear many different hats--as well as hire their own professionals and have absolute control over the whole process--in order to get a quality product out.

And at the end of the day, only the customers/readers can decide.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Ray McCarthy on April 28, 2017, 10:29:22 AM
Self publishing can be appropriate, it's not for the faint hearted and takes three kinds of skills / work
1) When you have finished writing / editing you need to proof read & Edit (a 3rd party is about 1c a word) multiple times till you find nothing. You need to consult reference material and learn what is right for the language market. If you actually edit the content, then you are back to the start.

2) Formatting, software, etc for different platforms. Cover image procurement etc. Paper needs different formatting to eBooks. This takes time to learn. Writing Blurbs. Costs a lot to outsource this.

3) Self marketing; at least a blog and Author pages on Goodreads, Smashwords and Amazon. If you are REALLY good at social engagement, then also Forums, Twitter, Facebook, BUT not spamming your title. Your personality and comments have to have value and be the 99% thing, not your book. I think most authors / writers don't have the social skills for this, but you can learn. Just post, but not arguing or about your book. Learn by experience. Takes a year or  two.

If you write, you are a writer. If you complete a book, including proofing it to death, then you are an author. Getting published doesn't make you an author. Selling books doesn't make you more an author. Some best sellers are not much good!

I prefer writing to the three aspects of "self publishing" especially #3 which publishers want the authors to do. They spend serious money promoting maybe less than 5% of their authors. I've written nearly 2 million words and about 18 books (some are seriously drafty [sic]), I'll have 10 out by the end of June. Started submissions to publishers in 1992.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: WilliamRay on October 09, 2017, 06:32:13 PM
I'm still new to all this, but it's an issue I've considered quite a bit.  It's interesting to read through this and see that despite the voluminous verbiage, the principle arguments are only two-fold:
1) Self-published authors don't hire editors.
2) No one takes self-published authors seriously, giving them a huge marketing disadvantage.

The first, as a writer, is very easy to address - just hire an editor.  I hire two per book; a professional developmental editor (I use Writer's Ally for that step) to give the story polish, and then a copy-editor to clean up any typos (which I hired freelance).  My first copy-editor didn't do a great job, but one marvel of self-publication on something like Amazon is that when I find mistakes that slipped through, I can fix it very quickly, and remove the error from everything that goes out from that point forward.  For the second book I hired a better copy-editor.  Those are expensive steps, but if you want a quality product, they are unavoidable.

Which brings us to the second issue.  People expect self-published work to be crap.  Hell, some of my reviewers put in remarks on my grammar, like I'd uploaded a six-hundred page grade-school report.  Even in this thread, a number of commenters discuss the lack of editorial polish like it's an inherent aspect to self-publication.

The irony bridging these two elements is that traditional publishers screw up this stuff all the time.    R. Scott Bakker writes some amazing stuff, but I remember reading one of his books (White Luck Warrior, maybe?) where for the entire novel he had a guy who kept talking about fighting 'duals'.  I cringed every time, yet he's available in brick and mortar stores around the world.  I've seen errors in Stephen King and others who have no excuses to budget or inexperience.  It happens to everyone; but when it happens with an indie book, everyone rolls their eyes and claims it's an aspect inherent to self-publication.

A majority of self-published works are crap, but as the technology has rendered a number of publisher services increasingly superfluous, the main advantage they are left with is credibility.  A new author published by a major house gets professional reviews with no proof of sales (I need to prove $3k in sales before a number of places will even look to review my book).  A new author published by a major house gets their literal stamp of approval before anyone has read the book.

The trade-off is that you spend years going through their song and dance, vying for a spot on their limited roster.  You're not building readers, you're not paying off developmental costs, you're just circling the airport, hoping they clear you to land.

With either traditional or self publication, the entire trick is overcoming the default presumption of not being good enough for traditional publication... so the option is whether you want to try and overcome them by courting publishers, or try to overcome them by courting readers directly.

Given the usual multi-year pendency required to court publishing houses, as an indie author, if I can build to just over 2k readers within 6 years (and presumably continue to grow from there), then I've gotten a better deal.  I suck at marketing, but looking at the numbers, I decided to gamble on my own entrepreneurial efforts, and never actually sought traditional publication.  You've got to court the readers eventually regardless, so courting publishers first seemed like duplicative work to me.

That course certainly carries penalties, but you can't fairly compare the two without including the several years head start that self-publishing gets you.  To overcome the competence perceptions among readers, so far I've found two expenses most worth the effort:
-A cover.  People judge covers very heavily.  If you toss up a proposal on 99Designs though, you can get some really solid stuff for super cheap.  Plus, you can engage those designers for more than just the book cover... they can make website elements, business cards, forum signature banners, and all sorts of things using the same elements.  A professional looking cover is a major step to overcoming self-publishing prejudices.
-Professional reviews.  I used Kirkus, and they liked my book a lot.  Being able to tout an organizational review goes a long way to making your work look professional.  Despite being willing to review any book, Kirkus has a reputation for blunt honesty in their reviews - indie authors pay them for that service, but even major publishers pay them, they just get it as a subscription for all their books.

Self-publication is still a marathon of effort, but it's a mixed bag of advantages and disadvantages.  You start earlier, and manage things your own way, but you're also missing a lot of the expertise and connections traditionally published works get you, and you have to find that stuff on your own.  The challenge is to use that head-start productively to engage your audience and establish credibility.

I wouldn't give an automatic 'no' to a publisher who was interested in my work... but not being forced to rely upon them gives me an enormous range of options and flexibility in negotiation I wouldn't otherwise have.  For those of you who habitually discount self-published work, I encourage you to look beyond that, because the world is changing fast.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: cdmonline on November 23, 2017, 11:21:48 PM
I think this is a rather cynical perspective. Alas, I also think there's quite a bit of merit to it, albeit with some caveats. Perhaps the most critical points I agree with are those regarding good quality editing - an absolute must for any book (regardless of the publishing route taken).

For the benefit of this discussion, let's assume there are two types of self-published books out in the wild:

1. Those that have been rushed through, not good enough quality, but the author thinks terrific
2. Those that are really top quality and worthy of a reader's attention

The article is written from the perspective that all self-published books fall into the former category - tarring everyone with the same brush. That's not only harsh, it's damaging and does a discredit to self-published authors that have a great book to share.

Another point I'll make is that just because you've gone through an agent/publishing house doesn't necessarily guarantee you'll end up with a perfectly polished book - that's assuming you get past the minefield of scammers and charlatans looking to take your money. Yes, on balance, there are probably more trad published books that are better than indie books but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

As an indie, I'll freely admit it can be a lot of hard work. There's a good chance you won't make a lot of money and if you do, you'll probably need to have several books out first and have cracked the whole marketing side of things. People can and do pull all of this off, however. There are also some great spin-offs possible from making the attempt. For example, I've joined forces with other authors on all manner of projects - including a rather successful author services company (http://DragonRealmPress.com/). I've generated a mini-business in visiting schools and talking to students about writing, literacy and being an author. I sell quite a few books this way. I've also been involved in thngs like box sets and anthologies and I know plenty of authors who have also been successful at various spin-off activities.

Let's say that publishing is like driving and your route to getting published is akin to how you get your driver's license. Some drivers get their license from overseas, where the rules aren't so strict. Does that mean ALL drivers that get their licenses from overseas are automatically rejected out of hand? If the analogy was with someone's race, the argument would be considered racist. Why should it be any different in this situation? All indie published books are bad because some indie published books are bad? I think not.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: J.R. Darewood on November 24, 2017, 07:23:40 AM
As an indie, I'll freely admit it can be a lot of hard work. There's a good chance you won't make a lot of money and if you do, you'll probably need to have several books out first and have cracked the whole marketing side of things. People can and do pull all of this off, however. There are also some great spin-offs possible from making the attempt. For example, I've joined forces with other authors on all manner of projects - including a rather successful author services company (http://DragonRealmPress.com/). I've generated a mini-business in visiting schools and talking to students about writing, literacy and being an author. I sell quite a few books this way. I've also been involved in thngs like box sets and anthologies and I know plenty of authors who have also been successful at various spin-off activities.

Wow!  That's really enterprising and brilliant-- I love it! I've been trying to figure out creative ways to write and survive.... Some people around here do ghostwriting to fix messed up scripts, or freelance writing for blogs, online magazines, etc. As soon as I get this chapter done, I want to branch out into some freelance stuff.

RE: this thread's main purpose

I really don't think anyone (well 90%) of the people on this thread think an indie artist is somehow less of an artist per se, it's more of a question of whether indie publishing is a viable route to success.  So what is success? I think we can split it into 1) commercial success/distribution and 2) quality of work.

Starting with #2 (since I love disorder), it's important to realize that writers (like--ahem--Sanderson( spent ages writing a kajillion books before they managed to get one sold.  They failed, revised manuscripts over decades, started entirely new projects, forced to perfect their craft before selling anything.  An author might write something that's the best thing you've ever read and a publisher might reject it for some fickle reason, and you might indie publish it, but youre generally not put through the same gauntlet as traditional publishers.

#1-- Here's where it gets really interesting.  Indie publishing from the POV of Amazon, is all about the long tail.  1 milliion books that sell 1 copy ever make the same as 1 book that sells a million.  Amazon doesn't care.  That said, I think there's the illusion that trad published books make more money than they do.  Authors you've heard of and are semi-famous often make fuck-all (20-30k)!

Writer's Digest did a survey 2 yrs ago... granted their sample size is hardly favorable, but here's what they found:

“Just over 77% of self-published writers make $1,000 a year…with a startlingly high 53.9% of traditionally-published authors, and 43.6% of hybrid authors, reporting their earnings are below the same threshold. Only 0.7% of self-published writers, 1.3% of traditionally published writers, and 5.7% of hybrid writers reported earning more than $100,000 a year from their writing. (The typical writer in the sample was “a commercial fiction writer who might also write non-fiction and who had a project in the works that might soon be ready to publish.”)
https://publishingperspectives.com/2014/01/how-much-do-writers-earn-less-than-you-think/ (https://publishingperspectives.com/2014/01/how-much-do-writers-earn-less-than-you-think/)

That means half of traditional authors made 1,000/yr or less!!!  It's better than the 80% of indie writers, but still, it's not very good.  Those who made bank were 0.7% indie and 1.3% traditional-- only a 0.6% difference.  So clearly trad publishing improves your chances... but not as much as you might think.  It's a better commercial option, but only marginally so.

I guess the main thing is how do we get more people to start reading... and then what helps people discover your work-- that's something that both trad and indie authors could do with figuring out.  I have no idea.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Peat on November 24, 2017, 07:57:01 AM
Bradley, I read that as 77pc of SP authors make 1k or more, not 77pc of SP authors make less.

Which is no surprise to anyone looking at the figures. I think most SP authors pull back $2 a book - that's 500 books sold, or if you have 10 books (which is totes doable in a couple of years as a churner), a mere 50 copies of each book. Obviously this doesn't include editing (but if you're a churner, you use a copy editor at most) or cover art, which the trad published person doesn't have to worry about. But since (according to the first hit on google) the trad published might expect 80 cents a book for their paperbacks and maybe double that for the hardbacks... they need to sell about 8 books minimum to the SP 5, and they can't churn either.

If you want to make a living, self-publish. Maybe trad publish a few books for the added visibility and doors opened but the economics are in your favour unless you become huge. Although, tbh, if I ever became a huge author, I'd be tempted to open my own small publishing house, hire a few people to handle the logistics, and be the guy making the dividends on my book rather than whoever owns Penguin. It still boggles my mind how opening your own record label has been a thing in the music world forever but I never hear of authors forming their own publishing houses.

Obviously this doesn't cover things like selling audible rights (which currently heavily favours big name SPers) or the potential of film rights (write Sci-Fi). Or spin-off stuff from writing like cdmonline talks about.

Is there something to be said about going through the gauntlet of TP to make your work of the highest quality? I think so. But tbh, you can still go through the submission process... then head for the horizon as a SPer once you know its good enough to make it. Its not like we haven't all got stories of friends who got knocked back at the last for reasons of money rather than quality.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: J.R. Darewood on November 24, 2017, 08:21:16 AM
Bradley, I read that as 77pc of SP authors make 1k or more, not 77pc of SP authors make less.

No, it's less. If you look at the graph, ~20% of BOTH trad and indy make zero, the other 57% of indie writers make 1$-1,000. Important to note: only about 3% or so of trad publishers make 40k or more (what I consider a living wage), even less for indy.

(https://publishingperspectives.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/dbwslide.png)


More importantly, this includes romance and erotica which sells an order of magnitude more than anyone else.  If you cut them out this would look even more dismal!

Is there something to be said about going through the gauntlet of TP to make your work of the highest quality? I think so. But tbh, you can still go through the submission process... then head for the horizon as a SPer once you know its good enough to make it. Its not like we haven't all got stories of friends who got knocked back at the last for reasons of money rather than quality.

I totally agree with this strategy (if I ever get my WIP edited 200 yrs from now...) !

However I think the bottom line is that the market is simply not there for authors.  Not enough people are reading, and those that do read aren't reading a diverse # of books.  That goes for indy or trad publishing alike. If you're gonna write you need to be like Teb and write for video games, or some people here in LA and ghostwrite for TV writers who suck at dialogue, or try to do freelance stuff or do the stuff cdmonline was talking about.  I really like the idea of touring schools and teaching creative writing.  I think 1) that would generate interest in your book and 2) it would help encourage young minds around the world to appreciate the written word as a form of expression and possibly give us more readers in the world period.  A third of all men haven't read a book in the last year, tho I saw another stat somewhere that was more like 75%.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/23/who-doesnt-read-books-in-america/ (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/23/who-doesnt-read-books-in-america/)


This is also very interesting

http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/04/04/part-2-the-general-reading-habits-of-americans/ (http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/04/04/part-2-the-general-reading-habits-of-americans/)
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: cupiscent on November 24, 2017, 09:15:55 AM
See, I just approach this one from the side of the reader, and I hit two significant points:
1) Because there is no guarantee that a SP book will have editing/proofing/design time/money put into it, I'm reluctant to try any of them, and I've yet to find a gatekeeper service that will sort the wheat from the chaff for me. (I admit, I haven't looked very hard, because my to-read list is out of control just with trad pub books.)

...which could probably be point zero here: I have so many trad pubbed books I'm excited about, I don't need to look further afield.

2) I only buy books unread when I know and love the author's work, or when I've heard so much and am so excited about a book that I just have to. (This happens approximately once a year.) Otherwise, I borrow books from the library and read them. If I love the book, I'll buy it after that. But I don't know about libraries elsewhere in the world, but my libraries here in Australia generally don't have SP books in their catalogues, not even e-catalogues. I'm not sure how conceivable it is for SP authors to get their books into libraries.


Given all that, as a writer, I'm not interested in self-pubbing because I don't read self-pub. I'm also more interested in the professional relationships around my writing that come with trad pub, but that's sort of a secondary concern.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Ray McCarthy on November 24, 2017, 02:51:22 PM
Smashwords, Amazon and others give previews you can download, sometimes up to 20%. That's enough to know if it's proofed and fun.
Some authors may have a free title or 99c special offer periods.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on November 24, 2017, 08:22:36 PM
See, I just approach this one from the side of the reader, and I hit two significant points:
1) Because there is no guarantee that a SP book will have editing/proofing/design time/money put into it, I'm reluctant to try any of them, and I've yet to find a gatekeeper service that will sort the wheat from the chaff for me. (I admit, I haven't looked very hard, because my to-read list is out of control just with trad pub books.)

...which could probably be point zero here: I have so many trad pubbed books I'm excited about, I don't need to look further afield.

2) I only buy books unread when I know and love the author's work, or when I've heard so much and am so excited about a book that I just have to. (This happens approximately once a year.) Otherwise, I borrow books from the library and read them. If I love the book, I'll buy it after that. But I don't know about libraries elsewhere in the world, but my libraries here in Australia generally don't have SP books in their catalogues, not even e-catalogues. I'm not sure how conceivable it is for SP authors to get their books into libraries.


Given all that, as a writer, I'm not interested in self-pubbing because I don't read self-pub. I'm also more interested in the professional relationships around my writing that come with trad pub, but that's sort of a secondary concern.

Most readers I know don't care -- or even know who the publisher is. They discover books from friend recommendations, review sites, browsing amazon, or seeing an ad on Facebook or Twitter. As a result, they get a good mix of both indie and trade pubbed books and don't see a difference between them except for the mega authors like Brandon Sanderson, GRRM, etc. Those authors are talked about by name, but for the most part, I hear my friends talking about the story/plot without regard to the author (and never about the publisher) when recommending a book.

Trade publishers make it easy for an author to focus on the craft and leave the business to the publisher. But, the downside is that the publisher doesn't care as much about your success as you do. If your book sells, great. If not, then the publisher moves on to the next lottery ticket. That's why 90% of trade pubbed authors make less than 30k a year.

If you really believe in your work, indie publishing is probably the best path to success because you can dedicate the resources necessary over several years to get to the point where you make a living from writing (a publisher won't invest the time and money if your first attempt doesn't hit the mark). My advice would be, focus on your craft first. Then learn marketing and business management or hire someone to do it for you. And most important, remember you're playing a long game.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Peat on November 25, 2017, 07:59:21 AM
Thanks for the correction then Bradley - that's some very poorly written stuff on their part.

I don't suppose it said how many authors of each type there are? Computer's acting up or I'd open it myself.


And cupiscent raises some fair points (particularly libraries). But there are some readers I know who increasingly read SP only because its cheaper/they like looking for gems in the rough. I also think really die-hard one subgenre only fans (i.e. mil sci-fi) are far more likely to go to SP to get their fix.

I'd also point out that, issues about not controlling your price point withstanding, there's no reason an author can't learn how to do their own marketing and advertising and go to town on their trad published book. And while you can't control your price point, you can open a lot more doors for places to go and people to talk to with a trad published book. Not least arts council funding - I know one author who did better on one book alone before it was published than all of the others put together just down to that.

And while we sit here talking SP vs Trad, I'd point out the happiest looking column on that graph is Hybrid.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on November 26, 2017, 06:15:26 PM
And while we sit here talking SP vs Trad, I'd point out the happiest looking column on that graph is Hybrid.

The reason for this is a lot of hybrid authors get there with a big hit self published book then sell their print rights, foreign rights, etc. Some of them go on to sign a contract for full rights on the next book or series, but it's not super common for the big hitters in self publishing. They don't see the value of the publisher for their ebook rights.

The other authors that end up hybrid get a book deal with a publisher and build an audience, but then the publisher doesn't want their next work. They leverage their existing audience to sell it and subsequent books as self published.

The common thread is that hybrid authors were successful to some extent before going hybrid. So, it makes sense that they're more successful as a group. Add to that the indie and trade published stats lose authors who crosses over and that group has a big advantage statistically speaking.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: KyleCon on January 10, 2018, 11:08:00 AM
Whether or not to choose self-publishing is really a matter of choice. SP gives you an option to quickly get visibility on Big Etailers like Amazon.
You just need to sign up on an SP platform like KDP or Lulu.
I mean it's a good option for new writers to get published and test the waters.
Also, it's really difficult to hunt down a publisher and convince them to publish your work.

Trust me. Nowadays there are a lot of places like Goodreads where a new author can sign up and build anticipation for their books. Good promotion skills mean you can make good money.

People keep looking for new stories and quality content to read. 
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: J.R. Darewood on January 10, 2018, 11:40:23 AM
Whether or not to choose self-publishing is really a matter of choice. SP gives you an option to quickly get visibility on Big Etailers like Amazon.
You just need to sign up on an SP platform like KDP or Lulu.
I mean it's a good option for new writers to get published and test the waters.
Also, it's really difficult to hunt down a publisher and convince them to publish your work.

Trust me. Nowadays there are a lot of places like Goodreads where a new author can sign up and build anticipation for their books. Good promotion skills mean you can make good money.

People keep looking for new stories and quality content to read.

Bold added.

I think for both SP and TP you need good promotion skills.  Which I have none. Like zero clue how to do it. Not that I've ever finished editing my WIP, but damn I wish we lived in an alternate universe where someone else could do the promotion for you...
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Justan Henner on January 10, 2018, 02:11:49 PM
Whether or not to choose self-publishing is really a matter of choice. SP gives you an option to quickly get visibility on Big Etailers like Amazon.
You just need to sign up on an SP platform like KDP or Lulu.
I mean it's a good option for new writers to get published and test the waters.
Also, it's really difficult to hunt down a publisher and convince them to publish your work.

Trust me. Nowadays there are a lot of places like Goodreads where a new author can sign up and build anticipation for their books. Good promotion skills mean you can make good money.

People keep looking for new stories and quality content to read.

Bold added.

I think for both SP and TP you need good promotion skills.  Which I have none. Like zero clue how to do it. Not that I've ever finished editing my WIP, but damn I wish we lived in an alternate universe where someone else could do the promotion for you...

Just trick a family member with the false promise of future rewards. That's what I did.  ;)
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: J.R. Darewood on January 13, 2018, 12:25:08 PM
Whether or not to choose self-publishing is really a matter of choice. SP gives you an option to quickly get visibility on Big Etailers like Amazon.
You just need to sign up on an SP platform like KDP or Lulu.
I mean it's a good option for new writers to get published and test the waters.
Also, it's really difficult to hunt down a publisher and convince them to publish your work.

Trust me. Nowadays there are a lot of places like Goodreads where a new author can sign up and build anticipation for their books. Good promotion skills mean you can make good money.

People keep looking for new stories and quality content to read.

Bold added.

I think for both SP and TP you need good promotion skills.  Which I have none. Like zero clue how to do it. Not that I've ever finished editing my WIP, but damn I wish we lived in an alternate universe where someone else could do the promotion for you...

Just trick a family member with the false promise of future rewards. That's what I did.  ;)

Actually @Justan Henner and @KyleCon , it looks like goodreads might soon be off the table for indie writers. Family members it is!

https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/29/16714972/goodreads-giveaways-program-changing-standard-premium-tiers-authors
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Ray McCarthy on January 13, 2018, 05:33:56 PM

Actually @Justan Henner and @KyleCon , it looks like goodreads might soon be off the table for indie writers. Family members it is!

https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/29/16714972/goodreads-giveaways-program-changing-standard-premium-tiers-authors

It was bad that Amazon was allowed to buy Goodreads. KDP Select and Prime damage creative content or exploit authors or customers. All is purely designed to maximise Amazon dominance 1st and profit 2nd now (but 1st when they are more of a monopoly). Do not help them to be a monopoly (KDP Select).
Also IMDB, Book Depository, ABE books and the two companies they merged to make Create Space.
Jeff Bezos: Richest man in world. The majority of authors don't earn a minimum wage and even most that do have a tiny hourly rate.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Skip on January 13, 2018, 05:43:13 PM
Most authors in all times have not earned minimum wage. Nor artists of any stripe. Nor teachers or ministers or any number of other professions. In fact, I'd argue that all the best kinds of work fail to reach minimum wage. The notion that one can earn a living through self-expression is a peculiarly modern one.

That said, I do wish Goodreads had remained independent. Monopoly in all its forms is abhorrent.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Lu Kudzoza on January 13, 2018, 07:35:40 PM
Actually @Justan Henner and @KyleCon , it looks like goodreads might soon be off the table for indie writers. Family members it is!

https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/29/16714972/goodreads-giveaways-program-changing-standard-premium-tiers-authors

If you're looking to promote books that are free or .99 there are a lot of sites out there that are much cheaper than Goodreads. A lot of them let you target readers of your genre only. Below is a sample list.

Fussy Librarian
eReader News Today
Bargain Booksy
Free Booksy

The big one that will place tens of thousands of free books (or hundreds of .99 books) is BookBub, but it's pretty expensive.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: NedMarcus on January 14, 2018, 02:16:13 AM

If you're looking to promote books that are free or .99 there are a lot of sites out there that are much cheaper than Goodreads. A lot of them let you target readers of your genre only. Below is a sample list.

Fussy Librarian
eReader News Today
Bargain Booksy
Free Booksy

And Book Barbarian which specializes in fantasy and sci-fi.
Quote

The big one that will place tens of thousands of free books (or hundreds of .99 books) is BookBub, but it's pretty expensive.

And very hard to get one of their deals. Even their ads have a waiting list months long to use.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Ray McCarthy on January 14, 2018, 05:57:53 PM
Smashwords lets you offer 99c or Free
Biggest indy eBook seller/distributer. Direct sales and also distributes pretty much to all except Amazon and Google (i.e. Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple etc).
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: Ryan Mueller on January 15, 2018, 11:13:30 PM
Whether or not to choose self-publishing is really a matter of choice. SP gives you an option to quickly get visibility on Big Etailers like Amazon.
You just need to sign up on an SP platform like KDP or Lulu.
I mean it's a good option for new writers to get published and test the waters.
Also, it's really difficult to hunt down a publisher and convince them to publish your work.

Trust me. Nowadays there are a lot of places like Goodreads where a new author can sign up and build anticipation for their books. Good promotion skills mean you can make good money.

People keep looking for new stories and quality content to read.

Bold added.

I think for both SP and TP you need good promotion skills.  Which I have none. Like zero clue how to do it. Not that I've ever finished editing my WIP, but damn I wish we lived in an alternate universe where someone else could do the promotion for you...

Just keep editing it until it's amazing. Then publish it, and I'm sure people here on FF will read it. If we love it, we'll let everyone know. Word of mouth can do amazing things. Just look at Senlin Ascends. I've lost count of the number of books I've picked up because they were recommended by people I trusted on forums like this.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: WilliamRay on January 18, 2018, 08:25:30 PM
Exactly.  Josiah Bancroft is a great example.  Self-publishing success can, and has been made.  I mean, it's work, and it takes time, and as near as I can tell the key is mostly just to find bloggers who will actually give indie books a shot, but once you've bridged that credibility gap, there's no longer an issue of sales capacity... the old thunderdome has fallen silent now that writers don't need to contest with each other in B.D. Dalton's various bloodsports for shelf-space.  It's a wide open market.

It's always been a low-paying job for most, and for the vast majority it was an entirely non-paying job.  My debut was named one of the best books of the year in '16, and yet I'm still out of pocket for my editors and cover designer... but even selling one book means I'm making more than nothing, which was the traditional model.

I think the traditional model is a dinosaur.  It'll still stomp on a lot of us little mammals before it lumbers off into the tar pits, but I think in the future indie is the way most stuff will begin.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: NedMarcus on January 19, 2018, 12:18:46 AM

I'm still out of pocket for my editors and cover designer... but even selling one book means I'm making more than nothing, which was the traditional model.

I think the traditional model is a dinosaur.  It'll still stomp on a lot of us little mammals before it lumbers off into the tar pits, but I think in the future indie is the way most stuff will begin.

I'm in the same position—still working on recovering the outlay on editors and cover designer. Intrigued by your cover and the 'look inside' on Amazon, I bought a copy of your first novel. Probably be a month before I read it with all the other books I'm reading.

How did you get a copy of your cover in your signature? Perhaps I should do the same.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: tebakutis on January 19, 2018, 12:42:25 AM
How did you get a copy of your cover in your signature? Perhaps I should do the same.

Pretty easy! The board supports a number of tags, including <img></img>  (replace the < >s in the example with [ ]s for the actual tag ... I couldn't use [s because the tag wouldn't display in text).

So, step one is to upload a reasonably sized image of your cover to the Internet somewhere.

Step 2 is to modify your signature through the forum. You can add special characters to a sig as well!

Step 3 is to add <img>YourBookCover.jpg</img> (again, replace < > with [ ] ) to your signature, save it, and and bang! Image in signature.

You can also do URLs, formatted like this

<url=YourAuthorPage.html>Your Author Page</url>   (replace < > with [ ] )

...as you can see in my sig.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: WilliamRay on January 19, 2018, 05:25:34 PM
I'm in the same position—still working on recovering the outlay on editors and cover designer. Intrigued by your cover and the 'look inside' on Amazon, I bought a copy of your first novel. Probably be a month before I read it with all the other books I'm reading.

How did you get a copy of your cover in your signature? Perhaps I should do the same.

My mantra has become, "I am not the thunderbolt; I am the unrelenting sea. My tides will rise and fall, but mountains are not worn away in an instant."
Whenever self-publishing feels utterly Sisyphean, I just repeat it to myself.  Sometimes just getting to 'thunderbolt' is enough to remind me that I have a plan, and that the plan is workable, and is working, but just slow.


And thank you for giving my book a try!  If it catches your fancy, there's a second novel in the same setting out now as well, which is more of a mystery story.  I'm actually quite proud of having swapped story style and structure within the series to create a second book very different from the first.  :)

tebakutis gives good instructions on putting stuff in your signature, so I won't bother to repeat them, but I will say you totally should get a signature banner.  I had my cover artist design some for me, and I use them on Facebook, Twitter and various other forums I visit.  It feels far more professional to me than just a picture of a book, or mis-fitting vertical rectangle.  The big thing with self-publishing will always be that credibility gap, so anything you can do to overcome that is going to help.


Also, I should say more enthusiastically that I absolutely love the wide-open market of self-publishing.  I'm not competing with anyone.  If someone only reads one book a year, they're going to read GoT or something else they see on TV.  If they read just a few books, I might have an entry-point, but really it's not a sure enough thing to scramble after.  The literati who buy the most books read them far faster than I can write them and therefore, as a marketer, everyone else's rising tide raises my boat too.  If Bancroft does well, then it draws in more fantasy readers, and more readers means more who are likely to read my work too.

As a modern self-publisher, I don't have to worry that someone else gets better awards, and thus better shelf-space, or whatever; I can just do my best work and I get to cheer enthusiastically when I come across someone else whose work I like.  Sure we're paid peanuts, but we don't really have to fight each other over those peanuts, which is a rarity in any business, and one I greatly appreciate.  I get to go on Twitter and wish other authors well, and mean it, and openly celebrate work I admire because the other people who like things I like will probably also like the things I write, and celebrating helps us find each other.  It can be a great, positive world.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: NedMarcus on January 20, 2018, 02:21:27 AM
I like the mantra and enjoy many of things about self-publishing you mention.

And using a banner looks better than a book cover image. I'll have to play around with Canva and see what I can come up with.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: jjwilbourne on April 15, 2018, 12:56:14 AM
Over the past few years since this was originally made, I've met so many authors absolutely killing it by self-publishing. I even make extra income by working with some of them (Sterling & Stone - sterlingandstone.net).

So many authors don't understand how to sell a book, how to market a book, and what their key conversion elements are. You have to write an excellent book, and then put on your publisher hat and then think like a publisher.

From the six and seven figure authors that I know personally, their best advice is:

1. Build a mailing list (using best practices and a good cookie), and understand how to build a proper sales funnel.

2. Write in a series. It's much easier to get a reader to pick up your next book if it's in a series because they're already invested in the characters. Writing standalones makes it much more difficult.

3. Don't cheap out on your cover. Covers sell books. It's the number one conversion element, followed by product description and reviews. Also, make sure your description is actually a product description, not a book report. You're writing sales copy, not art.

4. If you can, write multiple books in your series, but don't release them until you have at least three written, then start releasing them in relatively quick secession. On Amazon there are 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day cliffs where the algorithm stops selling your book as much and the novel will need to float or sink. Staying ahead of these cliffs will give you a huge boost.

Lindsay Buroker has been killing it and has been for years, but wondered whether or not her success was more or less a fluke. So a few years later, she started a pen name and used the best practices that she learned over the years (and didn't tell her fans about it). Here are her results one month after launching and 10 weeks after launching.

http://lindsayburoker.com/amazon-kindle-sales/pen-name-launch-first-month-earnings-marketing/
http://lindsayburoker.com/amazon-kindle-sales/pen-name-update-at-10-weeks/

Doing well as an independent author is not only possible, but you can do it. Lindsay proves it here because she did it twice. And the second time (being smarter than she was when she first started), she earned more in one month than most writers earn in a few years.

It's never been a better time to be a writer. Your options are wide open compared to what it used to be. Learn your craft. Pay for quality editing. Pay for a quality book cover. Make smart marketing decisions. Be patient, and focus on building up multiple streams of income. You can do it. It's not an overnight success career, but neither is traditional publishing.

Fantasy-Faction didn't ask for permission from a corporation to build this website write. Authors don't have to ask either.
Title: Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing.
Post by: NedMarcus on April 15, 2018, 04:12:14 AM
Of course many authors don't know how to sell and market books; they're new skills to learn. It takes a bit of time—maybe a lot of time. Writing several books is my next aim, and I think that many marketing methods are wasted until an author has 3-5 books for sale. I will, however, just release them as they're finished.