Why I'm self-publishing

EJDeBrun

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Jumping back into this! (thanks for entertaining my n00bness folks!)

I completely understand the benefits of traditional houses for publishing (I guess they're saying the big 6 is actually the big 5 now the big 4 because RandomHouse just ate Penguin and isn't playing nice.) But at that same talk I referenced earlier, the authors said there's a huge amount of luck involved in actually getting into print after the luck of getting an agent and then the luck of selling. Sometimes your publisher could out and out forget to include your book in the catalogs! At which point the whole going with them in the first place seems m00t. And every single published author agreed publishers are incredibly disconnected from their readers. I don't know if that's always or just right now, but they all mentioned that the pros of the publishing world really don't know what'll hit or not. (this seems typical though.)

And there are so many other resources. Everyone is obviously trying to get onto book lists and there are more and more ways to do that. At least in California (where I am) you can put yourself in the library catalog for free. Someone from the library system will eventually read your book and if they like it, they'll highlight it and add you to the national catalog. And they say that 50% of readers who borrow books from the library will go ahead and buy the book. That's a huge amount of exposure and readership! Granted it depends on quality, but at least it's quality that's counting and not the whims of a bunch of people trying to make a buck off your work.

Playing devil's advocate, traditionals houses have resources it's almost impossible to equal on your own and they can at least get to book stores which is nigh impossible for independents.

I don't know. It's a gamble either way isn't it?
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
@EJDeBrun - I'm hybrid so both self and trad published (and done the whole soul-destroying agent thing). Choose what'a best for the book. If you feel it's mainstream material shoot for the agent. If more niche, indie. But remember, sp is way, way more work and upfront expense so allow for that. :)
 

EJDeBrun

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@EJDeBrun - I'm hybrid so both self and trad published (and done the whole soul-destroying agent thing). Choose what'a best for the book. If you feel it's mainstream material shoot for the agent. If more niche, indie. But remember, sp is way, way more work and upfront expense so allow for that. :)

Thanks for the advice. I'm looking at all my options. At the very least I'm planning on going to a major writing conference to go to more panels and meet some agents just to get a feel of the industry. I'm originally from film/television, so my experience is more grounded in that side of things. I'm completely familiar with writing to sell. It's a big learning curve and as there are so many changes at the moment, it's very hard to decide what's the right move.
 

EJDeBrun

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Ha! I'm going the other way and trying to get interest in a screenplay of one of my novels.
Right now you'd have a much easier time selling just because you HAVE published novels. It seems the only way to get anything going in visual media. But TV is the way to go. Film is just imploding. (at least in my experience which is grounded in animation and VFX)

This is my first foray into full genre fiction. It's challenging, so I really appreciate the advice. I'm not a natural wordsmith so the whole thing is challenging.
 

Mark Robson

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How are you enjoying life as an author, Brian? Great to see that you've made it into print! And fair play to you for taking the plunge with self-publishing. Do you have my telephone number? If so, give me a ring sometime - I'd love to catch up and see how you're doing. It's been far too long since I haunted these boards. :D
 

Brian G Turner

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Do you have my telephone number? If so, give me a ring sometime

I'm afraid I don't think I do any more, so feel free to PM me. :)


Just going back to my original post ...

My criticisms of traditional publishing were unfair. The industry is filled with supportive people who really want their authors to do well. If there's a problem, it's on contract terms that an agent is supposed to be capable of negotiating - but all too often I see it reported that they don't.

Additionally, the self-publishing industry is over-hyped. Success and sales are unlikely. Royalty rates sound good, but 70% of nothing is nothing. If you can persevere and look to the long-term then success is possible. Which is pretty much the same as with trad publishing. The one big difference is that you can develop your own career in your own way without it being cut short by someone else. But there are no quick wins, except in exceptional circumstances.

In the meantime, I'm doing fine - but I'm changing my strategy because aiming for one book every two years is too slow for building momentum, especially without the cushion you'd get from an advance.
 
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Nick B

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We're aiming for roughly 3 books every 2 years. Certainly hard when working full time and fitting family in, but possible with a good work ethic.
I'll be honest, one of the things is the sheer amount of time that trad publishing takes that puts me off. SPing is hard (promo and marketting suck huge amounts of time and energy). Harder than I expected, but at least it is at your pace.
 

Gary Compton

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It is really hard in all market places. I am convinced that overnight success is virtually impossible. Yes you will get some books that hit the mark and sell, sell, sell, we have had them, but keeping that momentum is hard. The only way is to do what the likes of Jo and Ralph have done and that is write, write, write and expand your network. and build your name and fanbase. Even then you are not guaranteed.

Get into short story collections, blog, interact on Facebook and Twitter. It will take years though but using Jo as an example. 3 books with us, one S/P'd, one coming with another press, several stories out there, writing a couple more books, a newsletter, an advisor, a listener, a talker, a blogger...

Her model is the best I've seen and even so there are no guarantees.

Good luck with writing quicker - it's hard and I know it. A snail is like Linford Christy compared to my writing speed. LOL
 

thaddeus6th

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Indeed, Nick. Pros and cons on both sides, but the element of control over timing is not a small thing. Obviously publishers can't splurge everything they've got then have eight months of nothing, so pacing releases make sense from that perspective, but it's a long wait for a writer (or can be).
 

Brian G Turner

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I am convinced that overnight success is virtually impossible.

It seems possible, but exceptional. Just like in trad pub it's probably a 10 year one for most people who do achieve it. New goal set.

I have to admit feeling lied-to by all those articles claiming a mass self-publishing readership. I always knew the advertising on chrons wouldn't work very well (hence why I could never take Gary's money for ads) but even I'm surprised at how bad the conversion rate is.

Even still, I've managed to sell a few hundred copies so far (6 months?) though mostly sold at just 99p/99c - otherwise at full price sales slow to just a handful of copies per month. At the moment I figure readership is more important than income, but it'll go up to £1.99/$1.99 at the end of this year when the new books come out.

I think one huge mistake is that I didn't offer Gathering as free to the chrons community. If I'd have got a trad pub deal I would have argued for that option. Instead I think I panicked, especially seeing how bad my financial situation threatened to become at the time (though is now stable).

My whole approach was wrong, and aimed for a quick success on a slowly developing series. So I've changed strategy - aiming to write far more books than I'd ever planned.

I've always had lots of ideas for spin-offs in the Chronicles of Empire universe - heck, I've been at it for 20 years. So, earlier this year I tried an experiment - I took one of those ideas and decided to just sit down and write it. First draft, no stopping, aiming only to finish the next page. No word count goals or timed sessions - just write as much as I could every day.

The result is that after two months I now have a first draft of a short trilogy. There are issues, of course, being a first draft - but I plan to get those smoothed out. Covers are already booked. Then I'll release the first book in November, and give it away on chrons. Just like I should have before.

Just to update what I'm doing. :)
 

Stuart Suffel

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It is really hard in all market places. I am convinced that overnight success is virtually impossible. Yes you will get some books that hit the mark and sell, sell, sell, we have had them, but keeping that momentum is hard. The only way is to do what the likes of Jo and Ralph have done and that is write, write, write and expand your network. and build your name and fanbase. Even then you are not guaranteed.

Get into short story collections, blog, interact on Facebook and Twitter. It will take years though but using Jo as an example. 3 books with us, one S/P'd, one coming with another press, several stories out there, writing a couple more books, a newsletter, an advisor, a listener, a talker, a blogger...

Her model is the best I've seen and even so there are no guarantees.

Good luck with writing quicker - it's hard and I know it. A snail is like Linford Christy compared to my writing speed. LOL
Well, I agree re overnight success, in that, it takes a writer ( and any creator) quite a while to 'hone their craft.'
How quickly they get a response once published is outside of their control, though of course marketing can help - but only to an extent.
Zeitgeist has a role to play, among other bits n pieces.
 

Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
It will take years though but using Jo as an example. 3 books with us, one S/P'd, one coming with another press, several stories out there, writing a couple more books, a newsletter, an advisor, a listener, a talker, a blogger...

Her model is the best I've seen and even so there are no guarantees.

LOL

There are no guarantees. I hope Waters and the Wild does well and early feedback is very good - but Inish Carraig had a great reception and didn't break me, nor Abendau.

What I do know is I have a lot in place for this launch across multiple platforms. I have radio lined up, newspapers, magazines, conventions, book festivals, panels, reviewers (anyone want a copy?) readings, bookstore support, blogs.... and it might all still be a drop in the ocean. And it is all a hideous amount of work.

I try not to make it - writing sales - the be all and end all anymore. I try to take the good days and ignore the bad. But, mostly, I try to enjoy being a writer - because that's what I control, what I enjoy, and ultimately what I love doing. Being a best seller or a celeb author or anything else wasn't why I wanted to write, but to tell stories.

Once the external motivation becomes less rawly needed things get easier, I think. But, thankfully, I did a lot when I was in raw need, hit my name out there as far as it could go, and things like promo are a little easier now.
 

Gary Compton

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I'll make a prediction: when I'm old and white (I am grey already LOL) and sitting in the Home for the Totally Bewildered. I will be able to say. "You know that best selling writer, Jo Zebedee? I published her trilogy back in the day...

Go for it! Everyone go for it because failure is guaranteed if you don't start or you give up!
 

Gary Compton

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And to use my well used phrase. "A man who do nothing, never make any mistake!"

Say it with a Chinese accent, cos Confusias said it.
 

apocalypsegal

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Overnight success no matter which way you go isn't typical. Not sure why anyone would think self-publishing would make any difference? People who tout that are usually scamming something.

Almost every overnight success really has someone behind it who has worked for years on craft before they "hit" it.

One thing self-publishing favors is writers who can put out good books frequently. A book a year, or one every couple of years is going to be very hard to market, and things move so fast the readers have gone on to something else. I'm experiencing this difficulty myself, because I haven't been focused enough to write the books and publish them. It's something I'm struggling with, but making progress. My goal is four novels a year. I might actually make it this year, if I don't screw myself over.
 

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