There has been a lot of talk about Amanda Hocking and her 2 million dollar deal after making it big in self-publishing not to mention EL James and the 7 figure deal for her erotic trilogy. So people automatically assume that you can put out a self-pubbed book and it will garner you a deal. That is going to lead authors down a path of frustration.
The issue of self-publishing from my perspective isn’t about the huge deal from NY. It is about making a living. People waiting for the big deal from a legacy publisher are worried about recognition. I gave up on that a long time ago. The only recognition I need is making my readers happy. I was very honest last year on a panel at AAD. Unless I was offered a 7 figure deal, I most likely would not take an offer from NY. Not unless they change up their %’s which they have been unwilling to do for most authors, so I am sure they wouldn’t do for me.
I am now making more per month in my self-publishing than I do with my best publisher. By almost twice as much. That is with only three releases. THREE. And one of them was out of my genre and didn’t sell as well as the others. I still made fantastic money.
Making a living at writing isn’t that easy. In the past few years, advances have been shrinking and shelf space along with it. Ebooks have been increasing thanks to new affordable devices and along with it, the stigma of self-publishing. I have talked to readers and the truth is they just want a good book. They don’t care if it is from a legacy publisher in NY, an epublisher or self-pubbed. If it is a good book, they will read it. Before the digital revolution, getting a physical book into a store was difficult. It still is. NY authors had little to no competition with smaller press because we couldn’t get our books in stores. Now, with online stores, that hurdle is gone. When you look at best seller lists they have a nice mixture of small, digital, legacy and self-pubbed.
I don’t really give a damn what other authors think about me. I used to a long time ago, but once I left the sorority writing organization I was part of, I realized that it didn’t matter . I care about making a living and keeping my readers happy. In less than two years, Mr. Mel is retiring from the AF. Now, he will work if he wants to, but I want to be able to give him the ability to choose what he does if he wants to work. Being military, he has had do to jobs he hated, stuck it out with bad supervisors and commanders, and now it should be his turn to choose. So, I have been working toward that. And, thanks to self-publishing, I can.
Part of what has been so great is that I know what I am going to earn. I hate waiting months, sometimes more than 6, to find out what I earned. Now I know immediately what I am earning, what I will be able to afford. Thinking that you can get into self-publishing as a get rich quick scheme is going to leave you very unhappy. If it happens, then more power to you. More than likely though, you are not going to get that offer. That is why most of us know the names Amanda Hocking and E L James. They are not that common. So, here are some tips to keep your head above water and build a readership that will allow you to make a living:
1. Do not think of yourself as an author only. If you self-publish, you are a publisher.
2. Promotion is important but don’t let it take over your writing. Plan your marketing, set up your blog tours, or get someone to do it for you. Just remember that if you don’t write the books, you won’t make any money.
3. Have consistent releases. This means more than one a year. The one book a year idea is gone. Sure, there are people who can do it, but most of us have to have at least a few releases a year. Digital publishing moves fast and the readers are ravenous. Feed them.
4. Reach out to other indy published authors, cross promote. Hit up authors in your genre. It doesn’t mean you can’t promote with traditionally published authors. But, you can do things with other indy authors that you can’t do with traditionally pubbed. Exchanging excerpts is one thing that I highly recommend. Just like publishers, you can put other excerpts in the back of books, and they can do that for you.
5. Have a publishing plan. It doesn’t mean it has to stick. Just a plan on how many and when you can put the books out.
Those five things are important but that last one is one of the most. Have a plan. Some kind of plan. Anything. I have one that I change up based on market swings. One thing I decided to do was add another Cursed Clan book in this summer. After the free giveaway, I had a lot of email asking for the next one. I want to build on that, so I am going to release Angus this summer. I still have a plan though and you need one too.
Building a nice, healthy backlist in self-publishing is much easier than doing it with a publisher. That is an essential key to being successful. Thankfully, you don’t have to compete with other authors for spots when you are your own publisher. It allows you to have creative freedom and financial security which in my book is the best of both worlds.