Published authors and percentage income

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Brian Turner, Jan 24, 2012.

  1.  
    Mr Turtle

    Mr Turtle Carpe Diem

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    Just my 2 cents,

    I've had the dream for as long as I can remember to "publish" a book. The word publish, to me, means, being able to walk into *insert favourite book store* and pick it from the shelf.

    The new age that we now find ourselves in, may perhaps be destroying traditonal books - but for me, and I'm sure for millions of other peeps, books themselves hold spiecal significance. To quote Giles from buffy the vampire slayer "Books have a smell" - I want people to buy my book and read it while enjoying "the smell".

    I will try to go the Traditonal route regardless of the money - I don't really care if I get paid a £1 advance or £100K, for me its about writing a story and getting it on the book shelves.

    I'm sure in a few years kindle and other such platforms will have completely destroyed the book stores and library's, but for the time being their still here, and as long as they are, I'm getting my book "published"!

    Peace

    Jx
  2.  
    Rosemary Fryth

    Rosemary Fryth New Member

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    I thought like that too Mr Turtle, right up to the day in early Nov last year when I was rushed to hospital and lay in emergency for 13hrs because of a suspected blood clot in my lungs. It didn't end up being a blood clot, but the incident helped me re-evaluate my life. I was no longer content to wait on other people to help me achieve my dreams. I felt I had to do it myself. Don't get me wrong, I do want to hold my books in my hands in paper form. That may still happen, there are ways and means to achieve that right now if I want to. I'm just not ready to do that yet.

    p.s. I don't believe traditional books will disappear. I believe both formats can co-exist. They reckoned movie cinemas would vanish with the video tape/dvd. It never happened. People still go to movies. People will still prefer paper books.
  3.  
    AMB

    AMB Advanced Muddle Brain

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    There is absolutely nothing stopping a person going both routes.
  4.  
    Rosemary Fryth

    Rosemary Fryth New Member

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    I totally agree. If you go Kindle, just don't choose Select and you won't be tied only to Amazon. As far as I am aware you can market your books elsewhere as well as sell through Amazon, and still approach publishers/agents. Besides it might be handy to have online sales reports to show publishers if you do get a nibble.

    So it is possible to have your cake and eat it too.

    Yummy!
  5.  
    iansales

    iansales Active Member

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    Because publishers are in the business first and foremost to make money, and they don't always get it right. No one does. Not even Simon Cowell. As for those "howlers" - yes, there are some pretty appalling books published by major publishers. These days publishers have to make commercial decisions, not artistic ones, and so they'd sooner go with the barely literate ravings of a celeb instead of a well-written genre novel. Sadly, people will actually buy the celeb's book.
  6.  
    iansales

    iansales Active Member

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    If you're selling 75% or more of your copies through the Kindle, then you're "locked in", irrespective of whether it's available elsewhere. The majority of your audience is on Kindle. And if amazon drop their royalty percentage, then the majority of your earnings vanish overnight.
  7.  
    J-WO

    J-WO Pretentious Avatar Alert.

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    I, for one, intend to both be traditionally published and self-publish, with even pages being the former and odd pages the latter.
  8.  
    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    Not sure that counts as both, since I strongly suspect all your pages will be odd.
  9.  
    Mr Turtle

    Mr Turtle Carpe Diem

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    I completely agree with you - I actually have the words "Carpe Diem" Tattooed on my wrist! The idea that you could be hit by a bus tomorrow spurs me on even more to make sure what I write is good enough to be picked up by a "real" publisher.

    Don't get me wrong, I think either way is fine, one thing this forum has really brought to my attention is not only the amount of people are now self publishing on Kindle, but also the amount of people having success with it.

    I just have a certain dream, and if it all falls to pieces, ie I end up with enough rejection letters to wallpaper the whole house, then I will most probably end up going down that route myself.

    I think its down to the individuals own preference, choice, desire etc as to which route they go down - and certainly the kindle route appears to be, quite possibly, more profitable!

    This is a superb idea! I like the 'out of the box' thinking!! ;)

    Peace

    Jx

    P.S Rosemary - sorry to hear you had, what I can only imagine, a horrible experience last year, but very glad to hear that its spurred you on - if more people did just that and Seized the Day, rather than wallowing in self pity, the world would be a much more fun place!! :)
  10.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    I think we're going to see a massive surge of illustrated books especially on tablets, like the iPad, Tablet PCs, and Kindle Fire.
  11.  
    Peter Graham

    Peter Graham New Member

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    At the risk of making myself (even more) unpopular, I think that for many folk, it still is.

    The dynamic is certainly different, in that the internet allows people to self-publish and self-market and occasionally even make a bit - or even rather a lot - of money.

    But let's face it. Aspiring writers generally want to be published writers. The enjoyment and the fulfilment comes from the act of writing, not from the act of marketing or the act of plugging. I'd argue that most go down the self publishing route not because they have made a cold business decision about turnover, profit and misc, but rather because they want to get their work out there but cannot (or worry that they cannot) secure a traditional deal.

    If my theory is correct, one would expect self-published works to generally be of a significantly lower quality than traditionally published works. And they are. Overwhelmingly.

    This is hardly surprising. As I mentioned in a thread the other week, one well respected agent has come out and said that about 95% of the stuff on the slush pile is absolute rubbish - badly written, badly executed, poor stories, poor character, hackneyed plot lines or a mix of all of it. The ability to spell, write, plot and develop theme, character and story immediately puts you in the top 5%. You've still got a devil of a job to get accepted, but the chances are far less bad than one might think.

    Some exceptionally well written stuff will never get published. It might be overlooked, wrong for the market or whatever. Authors who self publish that work - and there are a fair few of them - are doing us all a favour. But the vast majority of self published work is not in that category - much of the 95% is going to end up somewhere.....

    Does it matter? Arguably not. One has written a book and one might as well stick it up there. At least you have a chance of a few sales.

    But these folk are not really writers. They are folk who have written something - which no more makes them a proper writer than me hacking Dave Ten Pints' leg off with the chopsaw makes me a surgeon.

    Does that matter? Arguably not. But the person who goes down that route and who loftily calls themselves an author is certainly guilty of vanity.


    Perhaps. I suspect you italicised "business decision" for a very good reason. For the genuinely talented author who has written something which the industry doesn't think the market wants, or the genuinely talented author with an established fan base who wishes to take control of their career, all well and good. But if one is in need of money, one has to be business minded, which involves embracing the joys of publicity, marketing, law, accounting, tax and all the rest of it. And, of course, any successful business must have good product.....


    Whether it will actually increase the number of people who read fiction is perhaps a different question. But if it does, surely Bertelmann, Hachette and the rest of them will exploit the medium to best advantage.

    Only if:-

    a) You can do it better than Hachette et al - or, at least, you can spin more money from it through having fewer middlemen

    b) You know yourself to be a very good writer

    c) If you are unsure as to whether you are a good writer, you don't care that you might be selling the literary equivalent of a t**d on a string.

    Regards,

    Peter
  12.  
    iansales

    iansales Active Member

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    One reason for the success of self-published writers on Kindle is that the purchase is trivial. These are books that are significantly cheaper than their paperback equivalents. Quality becomes immaterial with such mini-purchases. If it looks like it might appeal, you spend your 99p and get it. If it proves to be rubbish, so what? It's not like you've spent a fortune, or have the object cluttering up your home afterwards.

    When you look at the self-published genre works that have succeeded on Kindle, you can see that it's all derivative stuff, stuff with existing fanbases who are, let's face it, not especially discriminating. Bog-standard fantasies. Urban fantasies with feisty female leads. Sparkly vampires. Someone else has done all the hard work of marketing such books, the self-pubbed ones are just slip-streaming them.
  13.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    Absolutely - increasingly, published writers are expected to take charge of their marketing, as well as treat publishing as a business.

    While most self-published books on Kindle will remain trashy, I suspect there will be some with a decent product and business acumen who really lead the pack there.

    Also, another thought - a writer could look to run their main works through a publisher, and then sell backstory packages via Kindle directly.
  14.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    I get very uncomfortable about distinctions like these. If someone has written a whole book -- however er... experimental (or appalling) -- then they've written a book.

    If someone writes, even if what they write is drivel, they're a writer.

    Do you have to have a traditional publishing deal to be a 'proper writer'? As someone commented above, there's a fair amount of utter drivel out there, traditionally published, just because people will buy it (vampires -- I'm looking at you).

    When I first started reading about writing and publishing I encountered a reviewer's blog where she ranted about how much she hated 'newbie authors' describing what they'd written as 'a book'. I thought then, and I think now, her definitions were pointless snobbery.

    I don't want to go all airy fairy about it, but if someone chooses to define themselves as an author, where's the harm?

    (I don't even bother looking at self-published books -- or I haven't yet -- because pretty much anything I've glanced at at random has been shockingly poor, so I don't disagree about the mountains of rubbish -- just that the distinctions are difficult to make)
  15.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    Hear, hear, Peter!
  16.  
    HareBrain

    HareBrain Lagomorphing Staff Member

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    "Writer" seems to be one of those terms (possibly the only one) where many people insist on putting a silent "professional" in front before they'll acknowledge its validity.

    If I say to someone that I'm a cyclist, being someone who cycles for pleasure (if fairly speedily) five thousand miles a year, no one then questions the term on the grounds that I'm not in a racing team. The only qualification I think there needs to be for someone to be called a cyclist is that they take it seriously, maybe not even that. Likewise, anyone who spends a reasonable proportion of their time writing, and takes it seriously, can call themselves a writer, in my opinion.

    Edit: I'll let this post stand, but it now occurs to me that I've never said to anyone "I'm a cyclist", in the sense of defining myself that way, and the times I've claimed (nervously) to be a writer have all been in reply to questions where people usually expect to be told how you justify your existence, and I've added it as a rider to describing my data-monkey paid job.

    In summary::confused:
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  17.  
    Peter Graham

    Peter Graham New Member

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    I really don't agree.

    There is a tendency to see "creative" work as somehow different to other forms of work. I don't see why any such distinction ought to be made.

    I'm not a doctor just because I can cure my own colds or alleviate my own backache.

    I'm not a lawyer just because I can trot along to court with a pal and speak up for them.

    I'm not an engineer just because I can stick a plank over a beck and call it a bridge.

    I'm not a psychotherapist just because I can empathise with my chums.

    I'm not a chef just because I can flip a burger.

    Why should I be a writer just because I can string a load of half baked gibberish together?

    Writing is difficult. Like any other skill, craft or profession, it takes time, ability and dedication. The measure of a writer - like the measure of any other craftsman (or woman) or professional - is the quality of their work.

    The quality of work in any field is measured by any number of factors - but amongst them is the approval or validation of one's fellow professionals. In the literary world, that includes authors, agents, editors and publishers.

    Ergo, writing that is abysmal does not qualify the author to refer to themselves as a writer.


    No. But it's a jolly good yardstick.


    I agree in part. But although snobbery is always pointless, discernment isn't. Even when, to some, it looks indistinguishable from snobbery.


    At one level, there isn't any. But just because there is no harm doesn't mean it is true.

    At a deeper level - and let's not go there - there might well be harm. The internet has allowed the cult of self to go absolutely haywire. It isn't always healthy, and self deceit is rarely a positive characteristic in a person.

    Regards,

    Peter
  18.  
    Hex

    Hex Mod in tooth and claw Staff Member

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    Perhaps part of the difficulty is that to be a doctor, etc., there is an established training process, and this is not the case with writers. I'm sure no one would argue that to be a writer you must take a creative writing course, for example.

    So if many (most?) writers are essentially self-taught, then who is to judge whether they are 'writers' or merely 'people who write'?

    I see your point, but I think that while on the one hand we have the situation in which everyone who wishes to can describe themselves as a writer, the alternative is to define 'writer' only in terms of their industry-recognised potential for making money. That's not primarily about quality, and it seems too narrow a way to define 'writer'.

    And -- returning briefly to the point of the thread -- even published writers make most of their money elsewhere.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  19.  
    Anne Lyle

    Anne Lyle Fantastical historian

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    The big difference between trade publishing and self-publishing is that with the former, you get a lump sum (in installments) which is yours to keep regardless of how well your books do. With the latter, in order to get an equivalent quality product you generally need to invest money upfront (cover, ISBN, proofreading, etc) and there is no guarantee you will recoup that investment, never mind turn a profit. Some do, but a great many do not.

    For those with entrepreneurial flair and either money to invest or the necessary skills, self-publishing can be a very attractive option. For those who just want to write and would rather leave the rest of the process to professionals, a conventional book deal may well be preferable.

    P.S. Do not confuse self-publishing with e-publishing. Most trade publishers now e-publish (some imprints like Carina are ebook-only), and some self-publishing packages include print options. The medium is separate from the business aspect.
  20.  
    Scarfy

    Scarfy Stephen J Sweeney

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    I've been thinking about the self publishing thing a lot more today, and I think that all authors would be wise to hedge their bets. Two things could happen:

    There's a chance that self publishing might end up becoming so swamped that people will steer away from anything produced that way, as they'll find that so much of it is rubbish that they'd rather buy traditional books, to be assured of quality.

    OR

    Commercial authors will find their sales dropping, their royalties and advances doing likewise, as readers turn to cheaper self published novels. You could pay £5 for a book on Amazon and be assured that it will be good, or you could pay £5 for 5 best-selling Kindle books and equally end up with 5 good books.

    In reality, I think the the two will happily co-exist, such as the way PlayStations and Xboxes co-exist with iPhone and Android games. However, the economy is worth considering right now, and in the short term I think people will learn towards cheaper self-published books.

    I intend to do both, myself. I'm planning a trilogy of three fantasy books that I'll sub out to agents once I'm done, but am also writing another book that I'm planning on just selling on Kindle.

    That's just my thinking on the matter, which might* be wrong.

    (* - probably is)
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012

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