Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, March 28, 2011

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Which Way Will You Make More Money?

It's author monetization week! Monday through Thursday this week I'm going to have a series of posts on a crucial topic for the modern writer: How to make money.

Today we'll start with the books themselves. With the e-revolution (e-volution?) well underway, print sales are declining and there's a great disparity between the amount an author can make per-copy with a self-published e-book vs. a traditionally published e-book. Authors are taking a hard look at their balance sheets.

How is it that authors are making more per copy from $2.99 e-books than traditionally published are with $10.99 e-books? Does it mean everyone should self-publish?

First, some important background information to start:

Standard royalties via traditional publishers (note: these may vary):
Hardcover: 10% retail, sometimes escalating to 15% after sales thresholds are met
Trade paperback: 7.5% retail
Mass market: 8% retail
E-book: 25% net (usually translates to 17.5% retail)

Kindle revenue share for self-published authors (source):
Priced higher than $9.99: 35% retail
Priced between $2.99-$9.99: 70% retail
Priced below $2.99: 35% retail

B&N revenue share for self-published authors (source)
Priced higher than $9.99: 40% retail
Priced between $2.99-$9.99: 65% retail
Priced below $2.99: 40% retail

E-distribution fee:
Smashwords: about 15% (explained here). Usually translates to about 60% of the retail price.

Approximate E-book market share (source):
Amazon: ~55%
B&N: ~25%
Others (Kobo, Apple, Google, Sony, etc.): ~20% combined

So. Now that we have those numbers, the real question is: How do you use them? Especially when you don't know the variables of how many copies you're going to sell in which formats at which prices?

Well, here's how. Start running various scenarios:

Scenario #1: Barry Eisler

Thanks to Barry's wonderfully transparent conversation with Joe Konrath, we know he was offered $500,000 for two books, turned it down, and currently plans to (I believe) self-publish his e-books on Amazon with a price around $4.99, or via Smashwords.

Assuming he doesn't also work out a deal with Amazon (or B&N, as Shatzkin suggests) for the print component, the math is relatively simple: How many e-books do you have to sell to make $250,000?

If he self-publishes only via Amazon he'll make 70% of $4.99, or roughly $3.49 per copy. His break-even point would be 71,633 e-books. (UPDATE: Barry notes that his break-even point is actually $215,000 since he isn't using an agent to self-publish).

If he self-publishes via Smashwords, he'll make roughly 60% of $4.99, or $2.99 per copy. His break-even point would be 83,612 e-books.

Or he could deal directly with Amazon and B&N, and use Smashwords to reach the other 20% of the market (UPDATE: this paragraph and the next one was updated based on feedback from Cameron Chapman)

All things being equal, let's say he sold those 71,633 e-books to break even at $250,000 with Amazon (with 55% market share). In that case he'd sell an additional 32,560 copies through B&N for earnings of $105,608.36, and about 26,048 through Smashwords for earnings of about $77,884.61. Getting the e-book out there widely is the way to go.

Lastly lastly, if he does work out a print component that would be a bonus to the above depending on the printing costs and level of distribution. But if he doesn't work out a print deal, he's essentially betting he can sell more than 70,000 e-books.

Scenario #2: Amanda Hocking

Amanda Hocking recently agreed to a rumored $2 million deal for four books from St. Martin's Press. Assuming the royalty levels are standard, she's giving up quite a bit per copy on e-book sales in order to break out in the print world. Was it worth it?

First, as Hocking herself writes, her reasons go beyond monetary, and she states that her desire to focus on writing was her primary motivation for going with a traditional publisher. But let's take a look at what has to happen in print in order to make up for what she's giving up in e-book royalties.

Now, a lot of this depends on St. Martin's pricing decisions. But let's say they decide to keep the same $2.99 price point for her e-books, which has worked very well so far. In that case, the amount she earns per e-book sold plummets from $2.09 as a self-published author (70% of $2.99) to $0.52 (17.5% of $2.99) as a traditionally published author. So assuming St. Martin's doesn't dramatically boost her overall e-book sales numbers, she needs to make $1.57 in print sales for every e-book sold to break even on a per-copy level. Is that a good bet?

Well, right now when e-books represent approximately 20-30% of the market, it's somewhat of a safe bet. Hocking will likely sell, I'd predict, a mix of hardcover and mass market paperback. Over the lifespan of her books, let's say 75% of those print sales are mass market (priced at $7.99, 8% royalties) and 25% are hardcover (priced around $22.00, 10% royalties). In that case, the average print sale would generate about $1.03 in royalties.

Assuming she sells eight print copies for every two e-books sold, she makes way more in print royalties than she loses in e-book royalties. Two e-books sold as a self-published author equal $4.18. Two e-books plus eight print books as a traditionally published author equals $9.28 (minus commission). But if she sells, say, six print books for every four e-books traditionally ($6.18), compared to four e-books as a self-published author, those gains evaporate ($8.36).

If she breaks out in print or if St. Martin's boosts her sales significantly, the decision will definitely have been worth it (not to mention that she has a guaranteed $2 million that she gets no matter what). But if the bulk of her sales continue to be in the e-book format, she may lose money per copy sold.

Scenario #3: The Law of Averages

So, this following scenario doesn't really exist. Authors tend to be either hardcover/trade paperback or hardcover/mass market or straight trade paperback or straight mass market authors with a mix of e-books thrown in. And authors who deeply discount their e-books can sell a very disproportionate number.

But let's say that you're the perfectly average author and you're deciding between traditional publishing and self-publishing. And we'll use the January revenue numbers as a (very rough) guide.

I don't know the average hardcover/trade paper/mass market/e-book prices, but let's say $24.99/$14.95/$7.99/$10.99 and the net to publishers is 50%/50%/50%/70%

That means your sales will be about:

11% hardcover
33% trade paperback
29% mass market
27% e-book

If you're a traditionally published author with books available in all channels, you'll make about $1.35 per copy sold across all formats: [($24.99*.10 royalty*.11 share)+($14.95*.075 royalty*.33 share)+($7.99*.08 royalty*.29 share)+($10.99*.175 royalty*.27 share)].

If you're a self-published author working with Smashwords and selling your e-book for $4.99, you make about $2.99 per copy sold, but are only reaching 27% of the market, so an effective hypothetical-per-copy revenue of $0.81 across all formats.

So it really comes down to whether you can move print copies. My ultimate conclusion:

If you can sell print copies, all things being equal there's still the bulk of the money to be made there. 

But if you're not going out in print in a big way, a self-published e-book is absolutely the way to go.

If you'd like to play around with some of these numbers, please check out Ted Weinstein's very helpful spreadsheet (and thanks to John Ochwat for pointing it out).

Also, if any of this math is wrong (and there's a lot of it), please correct me!






100 comments:

D U Okonkwo said...

This is a great post, thanks, Nathan. I always appreciate someone else doing all the numbers :)

Richard Gibson said...

Thanks for all this. I don’t know where (or if) I fit into all that. I made the deep-breath decision to self-publish (it came out 10 days ago) because I have a niche non-fiction that is somewhat time sensitive; I didn’t want to wait 2 years or more. I have a “moderate” platform according to the agents who were interested but worried about the market. I enjoy things like layout and design (did the whole thing including the cover, for better or worse) and am moderately confident of my marketing skills.

Having said all that, after lots of looking (and being confused) I went with an indie print-on-demand shop that offered (as far as I could tell) everything the bigger self-pub places do, for a lot less money and better royalties and much more personalized service.

I get 35% of the $17.95 paperback retail for copies sold through the publisher, and 70% of the e-book ($9.99) through the same channel – so that’s about 70 cents more per e-book. The book isn’t yet converted to Kindle, Nook, and iBook e-pub format but it will be; I’ll get less on those – something like 55% of whatever Amazon or whoever pays the publisher.

I have to sell 67 through the publisher to make back my investment, and I figure if I can’t sell 67, then I was just being stupid. After 10 days I’ve sold 46 so I’m not worried about that. Fortunately I’m not in it to get rich, although I do hope for beer money and maybe more.

Bottom line, I’m content and very happy with the process and the numbers.

Sandi Johnson said...

Hi Nathan,

Interesting figures. While the numbers are interesting, for writers trying to build some kind of platform/following...I personally think self-publishing ebooks is a great option.

When you consider the odds of landing a publisher for an unknown...self-publishing can be the difference between finding readers/a following and drowning in publisher rejections.

I think it really boils down to a personal decision.

Neil Vogler said...

A sobering, honest, readable, and common-sense post -- exactly why we come here, Nathan! Like DU, I too appreciate it when someone else does the digit-crunching. We seem to be in the grip of e-revolution fever, and we certainly need some cold hard facts in the face of all the hyperbole, which presently seems to be spiralling out of control.

Breadline Books said...

Great idea for the series, Nathan, and it couldn't have come at a better time! I look forward to reading the rest of them.

Karen said...

It does not matter who publishes them/you or if you do it yourself, if you don't market the books.

Publishing houses of any size do so little in the way of marketing.

Either way, the author has to own their work and the responsibility for selling it.

Publishers are publishers, they are not publicists, and they are not bookstores.

I take my hat off to authors who can self-publish successfully, but that aspect of the industry does not make publishers obsolete.

There is enough room in this industry for everyone to do what is best for them.

This was one of the most informative posts I've seen in a while on this subject.

I sincerely appreciate you not picking sides, and just stating some simple facts.

Karen Syed
http://klsyed.com

Mr. D said...

Whatever Math you use, I figure a deal that gives you two million bucks is a deal that's hard to turn down.

Cameron Chapman said...

The whole Smashwords vs. B&N vs. Amazon is kind of misleading. Why wouldn't you distribute through all three? I have my ebooks available directly through Amazon and B&N, and then also through Smashwords (I just removed the B&N distribution channel so there's no overlap). This way I'm available almost everywhere.

Only distributing through one channel would be like mainstream publishers saying they're only going to sell books through Barnes & Noble. It's missing a big chunk of the potential market.

I think of it like this: B&N and Amazon are like the big chain retailers, while Smashwords is like the independent booksellers. Traditional publishers don't use an either/or strategy, so why should self-publishers?

DearHelenHartman said...

I used to read a dozen industry blogs (yours among them). I have cut that down to yours and the occasional glimpse at others if someone says - hey so and so is talking about something good. This kind of post is why. It's useful info not pie in the sky everybody can become a millionaire with self pubbing ebooks stuff. Hey, I LIKE pie, I LIKE millions, I just know that given what I write and how mid-listy I have always been, that's not gonna happen for me at this point. Thanks for helping me make good decisions.

Sandra said...

Wow, all that math and it's early still! My head hurts...

This is something I've been trying to figure out, and your post has helped clear the waters a bit - thank you!

TiffanyD said...

This was fascinating. The thing that I do not understand about self-publishing is this: how do you "market" your book? Oh well. If you're the sort of person who can figure that out, it certainly looks like self-publishing is worth a try.

Pamela said...

That's a lot of information and my hats off to you for compiling them in such an orderly manner. Numbers dumbfuzzle me, though. I just wanna write and let someone else worry about the rest of it. :)

Nathan Bransford said...

Cameron-

Ah, thanks for that, I forgot there was that option. I'll update accordingly.

G.P. Ching said...

All great information and something every author should understand before making a decision but a key piece of the puzzle is that Amanda Hocking initially self-published because she couldn't get an agent in a reasonable amount of time. A manuscript reaches no readers in the drawer. E-publishing is a great way to establish a platform and move forward as a writer.

Marita A. Hansen said...

Fantastic post. Gives me good information in regards to thinking about going through the e-book avenue with Kindle. I will put this page on my favourites then reaccess it after my HC(UK) review from Authonomy. Thanks for the breakdown of numbers. Marita A. Hansen.

Paul Greci said...

Great post, Nathan!! You've demystified this self vs. traditional debate a bit for me. Thanks!

Lexi said...

The thing is, Nathan, that's not a choice most of us get to make. It's almost impossible for an unknown new author to get a novel traditionally published.

Amanda Hocking tried hard to get into mainstream publishing, and couldn't do it. That's why she self-published.

Michael Offutt said...

Great theorycrafting post Nathan. If we were playing WoW together, I'd love to see your dps numbers.

Bryce Daniels said...

Thanks for a great post, Nathan! Very helpful.
Now I am just kicking myself for not paying attention during math class in school. Who knew that as a lover of words I would have to know this stuff? Ha.

Livia said...

Great post, Nathan! One more consideration. If you go traditional today, your book comes out in approximately 2 years. What will the ebook marketshare be like then? That's the major unknown in my calculations these days.

Dan said...

There are a couple of assumptions here that I don't agree with. First of all, the proportions represent the total market, not the market for an individual book.

The reporting publishers earned $69 million in revenues for e-books, and $49 million for hardcovers. But nearly all the books that are available in all print formats are also available in e-book format, along with other titles that may only be e-published (depending on who the reporting publishers are). So the e-books include almost every title that is selling, while the hardcover sales are divided among a much smaller set of frontlist titles.

That means that you're probably overestimating the proportion of sales from a traditionally published book that are likely to come from e-sales. This is why I think it's probably a mistake for authors who can publish through a publisher to consider self-publishing.

By ditching his print deal, Eisler is cutting off a huge proportion of his existing readership who aren't buying e-books, probably still 80-90% of them. He's betting that his ability to attract new readers by offering a lower price point than his traditional publisher and the higher per-copy royalty for self-pubbed e-books will offset the loss of existing readers.

If he sets his price-point at $2.99, you can nearly double the sales-numbers he'll have to achieve to break even. Can he do that? Does he sell those numbers now? And if he sets his price above $2.99, as a prominent self-publisher, do you think the audience for cheap e-books will tolerate that? These people consider $2.99 a God-given right, and they've been known to spam one-star reviews onto authors' Amazon pages over pricing.

I'd really like to know where the people buying all the $.99 e-books and $2.99 e-books are coming from. I don't believe people who were routinely reading lots of frontlist titles have suddenly forsaken hardcovers for self-published books. If these sales are coming from used books on half.com or Amazon marketplace, this is a good thing for authors who got nothing from used-book sales. But it sounds a lot like it's eating mass-market genre fiction.

There's also the question of how much more the e-reader market can grow. This Christmas will see a new wave of devices and possibly a price-drop to $99. It will be interesting to see how many people out there want one of these and didn't already get one. I still say that e-readers are the niche and print will remain the favored format, but if e-books continue to grow, they'll kill off bookstores, making it harder for authors to connect with readers.

Narielle Living said...

Great post, Nathan, thanks! Don't forget that for every author, both traditional and self-publishing needs to include a marketing budget. I would think the budget for self-published is higher due to the need for increased exposure. Much of the marketing can be of the 'guerilla' type (social media, etc) but there will still be dollars and time spent promoting.

Nancy said...

Excellent breakdown.

As for self-marketing: I wonder if the whole self-pubbing thing works best if the writer has lots of books, not just one, to sell? Seems as if old publishing wisdom might be at play here---each new book on the shelf helps sell all the rest. A writer with just one book in the marketplace has a hard job of making a living.

danielle spears said...

Thanks for keeping your finger on the pulse of the publishing world and sharing the information with us. I had been leaning towards self-publishing and this settled it for me. I still have a lot to learn, however. Thanks again and looking forward to the rest of the series.

Loree Huebner said...

Thanks for the post, Nathan. Thanks for laying out the numbers. Wow. I really need some time to think about this topic. For now it's just, WOW!

I do salute the self publishers who are making it work them.

Monica Shaughnessy said...

The catch-22 in all of this is: how do you know if you'll break out in print in a big way?

I think we'd all like to believe our book will be the "next big thing." But not everyone gets to the top. Most, in fact, are relegated to the mid-list. Even people who thought they'd written THE summer blockbuster.

So, how does a writer with no publishing history make a decision? It's a tough one...

Elle Strauss said...

You tell us how many e-books Barry Eisler would have to sell to make 250k and break even, but I'm curious how that would compare to how many print books he'd have to sell if he'd stay with traditional publishing. Is it more or less?

Shawn Lamb said...

I straddle both traditional and self with my books. It takes royalties from 4 1/2 traditional books to equal 1 of what I make on my self-published books. The decision for me is easy.

Reena Jacobs said...

Excellent post. One thing to keep in mind is indie authors also have the ability to publish print through sources like CreateSpace and Lightning Source. A small print or indie author wouldn't get the same deals for bulk print as POD, but the royalty rates for a trade size POD can potentially be more than one receives via the traditional route.

When I calculate the figures for Amanda Hocking, I can see it's not all about money. The fact is she became a millionaire in less than a year through self-publishing.

Yes, she has nine books out compared to the four she has to produce for 2M. One thing to keep in mind is the first few months, the sales were slow for Ms. Hocking. According to her epic tale (http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2010/08/epic-tale-of-how-it-all-happened.html), June was her first big month. She didn't come out the door selling 100k books a month. Her monetary boom happened in an short period (seven-eight months) and grew exponentially.

In December, she sold about 100k books with her nine titles (http://amandahocking.blogspot.com/2010/12/pics-or-it-didnt-happen.html). I highly doubt she'll receive the 2M in a lump sum--likely in 3 installments, the last as each work is released (whenever that'll be--12, 18, 24 months). :) Then she won't see royalties until after she earns out her advance.

In the end, I think a more fair calculation is based on the period of time it'd take her to earn out her royalty compared to the amount of time it'd take her to earn 2M through self-publishing.


This isn't a push toward self-publishing. Those are Amanda Hocking figures, and few will see that kind of success. It's difficult to predict how successful other authors will be.
It's more of a hindsight is 20/20 kind of thing.

D.G. Hudson said...

This is good basic info on the possibilities for publishing one's book. I hate number crunching too, so glad you did the math.

A lot of other decisions will need to be factored in depending on where you are in your writing career (1 book or several/prev. published or not), how much self-investment you can afford to pay for, and sometimes the type of book.

These aren't easy decisions, you must look beneath the surface flash of money. (Think long-term) Just define what you are trying to accomplish, then choose what best fits you and your book.

I'm looking forward to this series of posts this week, Nathan. The more we learn, the better we can use that information. More money doesn't hurt either. Thanks.

Joe Konrath said...

Amanda's deal is minus the 15% agent commission, Barry's is not. So Amanda only gets 14.9% royalties on ebooks, while Barry still makes 70%.

It's also important to keep a few things in mind.

First, if St. Martin's does price Amanda's ebooks at $2.99, it would be the first time a major publisher did so. $12.99 is more likely.

Second, print sales in 2015, when her fourth book is released, may be a fraction of what they are today, following trends in both ebook upswing and bookstore closings.

Third, the goal isn't to just match the advance. After the advance is matched, Barry will be making a lot more per ebook than Amanda will. The long view, of how much Barry will make ten or fifteen years from now, will amount to a lot more money. Would you rather make 1 million dollars upfront, or $100,000 a year for life?

Nathan Bransford said...

All good points, Joe. Thanks for chiming in.

Matthew MacNish said...

This is beyond me. I just want to write great stories.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. I'm on the cusp of making such a decision myself after years of being batted around by the cat paws of big publishers.

The more I read about e-publishing, the more I hesitate to give up any rights to a traditional publisher (or agent). To me, one of the best arguments for going this route is that I would like to see my books published in my lifetime! I have already wasted too many years waiting and waiting while my manuscripts get passed around, often with wonderful feedback but no understanding of how they'd fit a market.

So many of us writers have let ourselves be bullied by the publishing establishment...sometimes into writing things we don't believe in or care about, sometimes into silence.

Pen and Ink said...

as far as I can figure out, all of these ebook assumptions are based on an author doing a lot of e publicity and being very prominent in the e-world community. If a traditional publisher does nothing else for you, they will at least send out ARC's to the reviewers and book stores. Putting your title up against 35,000 other titles? I am not sure how that translates into sales. You could do it, Nathan. Not so sure about an unknown. Pen and Ink may try it as an experiment and follow the results.

Anonymous said...

I would love it if further discussion of this topic addressed whether it is a necessary or good thing to publish a print copy of your e-book--if it helps w/ marketing efforts, if the money and hassle is worth it, how to get started, if you can go it alone or if it is strongly recommended to get professional help.

One problem I face is that my natural readership probably doesn't use e-readers to any extent, at least currently. I would probably be publishing e-books for a non-target market (which is still better than not publishing any book at all, I'm beginning to think!). Another problem I and I'm sure many other writers have is that what we write varies greatly, book to book. I have 3 books I'd like to e-publish, and they couldn't be more different, so building an audience won't be as easy for me as for genre authors, et al.

Thanks, Nathan, for your invaluable blog. It's so nice not to be condescended to in an agent's (former!) blog.

Kristin said...

Don't the publishing houses provide marketing though? I'm not against self-publishing, but don't you need to do a lot of your own marketing when you self-publish? Maybe you get more money from self-publishing (per copy) but with regard to sales and mass market- wouldn't that be through the publishing house?

Thanks for your very informative post! :)

thad said...

Interesting post. Self-publishing has certainly made good sense for me. I only have to sell a fraction of the books that a traditional publisher does in order to make good money. (roughly $25,000 last year by selling around 2500 books -- e-books not included.)

I really can't think of a good reason to go the commercial route anymore.

Marilyn Peake said...

This is a very exciting time! Thanks for posting such a balanced view of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. After your recent blog posts on the subject, I decided last week to self-publish a few novels and short stories on Amazon Kindle, to price them at 99 cents each and just see what happens. I’ve now sold more copies in one week than I normally do in six months. (That’s not a lot of books, but almost every day now at least one person buys one of my books, and I hope to grow those numbers by sending my books out to bloggers.)

I’ve also purchased self-published books by authors who are going the self-published route after having other books published by traditional publishers because some of their self-published books look fascinating. All the rules for publishing that existed as recently as one year ago have been turned upside down. I still plan to buy traditionally published books at full cost, but right now I cannot believe what I’m finding on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents. In addition to authors like Barry Eisler who are being discussed all over the Internet, there are a lot of self-published Amazon Kindle books – many for only 99 cents! – by award-winning authors and authors who have other books published by one of the "Big Six" traditional publishing houses. Some of their non-mainstream books that weren’t picked up by the big publishing houses are now being offered for 99 cents, and I love non-mainstream books. Finding these books on Kindle has been like finding treasure for me!

I hope to get an agent for my next book and to publish traditionally, but if I can’t interest an agent in my next book, I’ll most likely self-publish it for 99 cents on Amazon Kindle. It’s about creatures who appear to be aliens from outer space and a government brainwashing conspiracy, and I’m pretty sure I can find an audience for either of those two subjects through social networking.

Mira said...

One of the things I appreciate the most about you, Nathan, is you forthrightly take on the "elephant in the room" topics. You boldly go right there. Right on!

I also appreciate the breakdown in this post and all of the information. There was alot here I didn't know.

I do have to agree with Joe, though, that these figures are missing some important factors. These factors are, as I see it:

a. Advances are getting smaller and smaller. I've heard of advances as small as $25,000.

b. If the author locks in the 25% royalty rate, they stand to lose money once the:

1. Advance pays out.
2. Print sales continue to decline and e-book sales increase, an inevitable trend.

c. IMHO, the 25% royalty rate on e-books, and teensy tiny 5-10% on print are not acceptable. Authors need to stand up for themselves financially. If they start refusing to sign at those teensy tiny rates, publishers will be forced to increase royalty rates.

And that is good financial sense for the author.

And if agents really are an author's advocate, and want to stop the inevitable attrition of authors from print, they will start refusing to sign their clients for such low rates as well.

Mira said...

Sorry - weekly profile picture change.

Nathan, I was so invested in making my argument, that I really didn't give fair space to a thank you.

This must have been a huge amount of work, this post. And again, I appreciate your intellectual honesty and bravery in taking on these topics.

Thank you!

Richard Gibson said...

@Kristin - the way it looked to me, and it was a major factor in my decision to self-pub via POD and e-books, was that I would have to provide 95% or more of the marketing (the POD publisher gets it listed on Amazon, B&N, Ingram, etc. - and of course listing there means almost nothing without additional marketing). My perception - right or wrong - was that with a traditional publisher I would have to do at least 90% of the marketing and promotion anyway. Note of course that I was not and did not expect to be some hot property that everyone would be after. I had to (have to) make them want my book, whether self-pubbed or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Something I find very interesting about Amanda Hocking’s situation, and I wonder if anyone in the publishing industry will ever address this in a Blog, is that her books have the problems that were usually considered a major stigma against self-publishing: poor grammar, lots of typos and misspellings that include incorrect usage of words such as "its" and "it’s", etc. But, once her stories made her over a million dollars, big publishers had a bidding war over one of her future series, and she landed one of the biggest publishing deals ever offered any author. (I imagine the traditional publishing house will simply correct her writing errors, but keep the basic stories intact.) I’d say that her deal for over $2million completely and irrevocabally removes the stigma from self-publishing standing in the way of more authors going that route. Clearly, spelling, grammar, and typos are no longer problems standing in the way of attracting an agent and a traditional publishing company. I’m hoping someone in publishing will eventually address this on a Blog. Amanda Hocking has already mentioned online that she can’t edit effectively and will have professional editors for her books that are published traditionally.

lac582 said...

@Anonymous, regarding "Clearly, spelling, grammar, and typos are no longer problems standing in the way of attracting an agent and a traditional publishing company."

I don't think that's true, as evidenced by the fact that she was originally rejected when she attempted to go the traditional route.

Rather, poor editing (coupled with low pricing) doesn't necessarily stand in the way of attracting READERS, and if you've proven you can move sales, that trumps the original concerns over editing. And why shouldn't it, when the end goal is to make a profit?

But I also think that in Amanda Hocking's case, the fact that she writes YA has a lot to do with it. Her audience is likely going to be a lot more forgiving than the readership of other genres.

Also, the more saturated the market gets with poorly-edited works, I believe a good percentage of readers will get jaded and seek out books with publisher cred behind them, that pass the 'sniff test'.

Kinda like the evolution of search engines--the first wave of demand is to access a ton of information, then the second wave is filtering for quality.

Anonymous said...

NOT YOU, TOO!

"Traditional publishing" is the brainchild of Publish America's marketing strategy. They coined it. It's used to HURT UNSUSPECTING WRITERS.

IT'S NOT A REAL TERM.

Domino said...

I wonder what the breakdown is for different age groups. In my field, Middle Grade, I doubt that e-books have made much of a dent. Does anyone know this for certain?

Henry Baum said...

How does the term "traditional publishing" take advantage of writers?

Someone above wrote about advances being "as low as" $25,000. That's funny.

Re: Hocking and grammar problems. I wrote a post about this. Interesting comments here:

Bad Writing Doesn't Matter Anymore

There are many readers besides teenagers who don't care about or don't notice grammatical problems.

Mark said...

Great assessment Nathan!
I'd say, from an author's POV, to be successful, it all comes down to two things:

1. Storytelling - Can you write a fantastic story?

2. Marketing - Can you market your book?

90% of your success as an author depends on how good your writing is. Can you tell a great story?

After you've finished your book, you've only finished 10% of the work! Now you have to market it!

A great story will sell anywhere, but a terrible story is like a bad seed. It won't grow wherever you try to plant it.

- Mark O'Bannon :)
www.BetterStorytelling.Net

Transparent Mama said...

Nathan- Thanks for this amazing run down. I just decided to self publish last week and feel such a sense of freedom. Authors now need to self-edit and self-promote anyway. Why not go "indie?" Especially, when it is essentially free.

Now, could you give us a list of editors who freelance for a good price?

Anonymous said...

Iac582 said: @Anonymous, regarding "Clearly, spelling, grammar, and typos are no longer problems standing in the way of attracting an agent and a traditional publishing company."
I don't think that's true, as evidenced by the fact that she was originally rejected when she attempted to go the traditional route.

Iac582, you and I are saying the same thing. I'm saying that, if you can sell enough books without even an apparent understanding of correct grammar or spelling, the publishing industry will come courting you after you sell enough book copies...and, in the end, spelling, grammar, and typos will not have mattered. You also said, "But I also think that in Amanda Hocking's case, the fact that she writes YA has a lot to do with it. Her audience is likely going to be a lot more forgiving than the readership of other genres." That's exactly what I was thinking. I've seen MANY, MANY, MANY YA writers enter so many agent contests and lose out because their grammar and spelling were incorrect. Well, there are a lot of YA books in desk drawers right now that can be dusted off and sold, without needing to hire a professional editor.

salima said...

This is a great post Nathan!! When you have time, would you consider doing a post on the value an editor/editorial team can bring to a book? I am so proud of and happy for Amanda Hocking, but there were still many typos and grammatical errors and some trouble with sentence structure in her books. A lot of us worry about quality of books in the self-publishing arena; could you break down what you foresee the editor's role will look like in a few years, if you think they will freelance, and whether the world will come back around to trying to guarantee that e-books available for sale will, if nothing else, have proper grammar and sentence structure and punctuation? I've been dying to know your thoughts on this.

Tana Adams said...

In the last two weeks I've had more than three of my longtime blogging buddies self pub their books. This stunned me, but now I see the dam has broken and there's not a lot that traditional publishers can do to stop it. I'm keeping an eye open for the .99 ebook deluge.

Thank you for the $ info!!!

Marilyn Peake said...

There’s an article in The New Yorker today that talks about Amanda Hocking’s success as being largely attributable to her having developed a kind of social networking commodity self in the same way that many people do in their personal social networking sites. Wow, yes, that’s similar to what I was trying to say on Nathan’s blog the other day when I described the Amazon Kindle discussion forums through which Amanda Hocking met bloggers and promoted her book. I described the experience this way: "The new world of indie and self-publishing seems visual, contextual, experiential, interactive." It’s a whole new experience. A book is not a "book". It’s an experience which does not even need to adhere to the old rules of "books" in which certain conventions of grammar and spelling were expected to be followed. If an author can write a book that sounds similar to a teenage girl’s blog and can promote it in the same way, that author stands to make a lot of money. (Unfortunately, I don’t write those kinds of books, although I do write sci fi and fantasy, and there are a lot of readers in those genres as well.)

M Clement Hall said...

There's the other issue of how long does it take before there are any sales? Today's Publishers Lunch refers to acceptance of manuscripts which will be published in Spring 2013. Money is always nice, but getting it out there has its attractions too.

Kitty Bucholtz said...

Thanks, Nathan! I'm a number cruncher so I loved your post! I think there are good reasons to go either route and I'm going to try both with different books. Worst case scenario, I'll be in business for myself again and I've missed running my own shop.

P.S. I suggest your blog to every new writer I meet. And when I get my own site going, I'll be thinking about how much value you bring to your blog readers as I try to think of ways to bring value to mine. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

JDuncan said...

Always fun to look at the numbers. Thanks, Nathan. Personally, I still fall on the Hocking side of things. At least at this point in time. I prefer getting paid to go into business with professionals who have an interest in seeing me succeed, even if I'm sacrificing profits over doing it myself. This of course, comes from the perspective of being a new author.

The chances for success are pretty slim regardless of which way you go, but I like my odds better on the legacy end. Besides, I have no resources to obtain editing, cover art, and the like. Even if they are available at reasonable prices, it's still above my pay grade at this point in time. It's a ton of effort to build a readership, and at least through legacy publishers you have broader distribution. I prefer to have some of the burden of my shoulders and be able to focus more on writing.

Again, this may all change down the road. I believe this is a very different debate when going from legacy publishing to self, compared to starting from scratch on the self end. Fact is, success is few and far between. I don't want to invest money for services with such low odds for success. Of course, if you haven't achieved any interest from the legacy folks, self may be the only route to take. It's a tough choice. I've been lucky so far, and am writing for a legacy publisher. Ask me again in a couple of years, and I might have a different response, but for now, for the new author, I can't recommend jumping into self-publishing out of the gate.

That said, I find the notion of $1 books, and the fact that editing and grammar doesn't much matter really disconcerting. For all of it's positives, I think the flood of cheaply priced, poorly written books is going to hurt self-publishing in the end. I think it will hurt publishing in general in the long run.

Sadly, like many other commodities, I think we may end up with a tiered market, where the higher end businesses sell better product at higher prices, but fewer products, and then we'll have the dollar store version of books, where you get what you pay for, which for the most part is junk, but you know, people buy it anyway. And for some, that works just fine.

So, I guess, for a while here, the market is going to be this confusing mash of quality, and everyone is going to scoop up on the cheap stuff because there's really little idea about telling the differences between products, but things will eventually sift out, and authors will probably be making money at either end.

All money issues aside though, I'd rather make a good product, and to me, good stories are worth a lot more than a dollar. And if self-publishing is taking us down that road to where public opinion is that stories are worth a dime a dozen, I don't ever want to go there, no matter how much money I can make from it.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Blogger won't let me post here anymore. :(

I'm going to try one more time, from a different computer.

Just ignore this post, if it takes, and move along.

Other Lisa said...

Wow.

Okay, I need to look at this later. But, wow. Amazing!

One question: what happens when you plug the 99 cent eBook into the equation, since there's that whole passionate argument going on too? I don't just mean the raw numbers (I should be able to do that, I figure) but obviously the proponents of this are betting that they sell, er, a metric crap-ton (to use the technical term) to make up for the smaller percentage.

Other Lisa said...

And...a further question...what do you consider "a really big way" in terms of print? Because Eisler I would think would qualify as going out in a big way in print.

Fascinating stuff.

Anonymous said...

I think by Hockings going with a NY publisher, she will drive up the sales of her self-published novels. She will also learn first hand, where a different set of editors will want her to change her work. She can take that knowledge and apply it to future books she decides to self-publish. This is a win-win given that I doubt she will earn out her advance.

Anonymous said...

Anon @6:12 PM, Also, it will be interesting to see if Amanda Hocking will lose some fans and gain some others. A few of her earlier fans have already said they won't buy her new books because they won't buy from the big publishing house that will be publishing her new series.

Anonymous said...

@ Marilyn:

Folks seem to forget that this amazing woman wrote nearly two dozen books. She obviously learned a lot from writing all those books, and she seemed to be receiving requests for partials and fulls. This tells me that she did a lot of hard work to earn her success. This isn't a story of a woman who wrote one book, self-published it, and made a million bucks.

Check out the book Outliers.

Melissa Romo said...

Nathan- Thanks for this, informative as always. I just blogged on Friday about my decision to seek an agent for my historical novel, The Orphan's Daughter. I have a masters degree in Marketing and 15 years managing business strategy and campaigns for large, established brands. If any author is a good candidate to self-publish, it would be me. And I gave enormous respect for self-published authors. What it came down to for me was the assumption of risk. No editor or book designer I pay out of pocket has any stake in my success and maturation as an author. But presumably (and I know I'm presuming a lot), an agent and editor who tie their brand to mine have more at stake. They don't get paid if I fail. Still, as people have said, this is a personal decision and not even a decision for many (and it may end up not being for me). Also, in your calculations above, don't forget the opportunity cost of going traditional. Writers who do are going to forfeit an average of 2 years of book earnings while they wait for the traditional publishing cycle to release their book. (Sorry for the length of this!)

Simon Haynes said...

We all know the writer who's been fiddling with the same damn manuscript for twenty years. Before you get to that stage, I'd consider self-pubbing as an ebook so you can clear the decks and move on to a second or third effort.

It usually takes more than one book to develop all the skills and put together a manuscript publishers won't reject within two pages.

McKenzie McCann said...

Wow, this is helpful. You just laid out all the facts for everyone. Thanks. I find this very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Anon @6:17 PM,

I know she wrote a lot of books. I didn't say otherwise. She never received an offer of representation from any agent or an offer of publication from any of the major publishing houses for any of her books, however, until after she made over $1 million on her self-published books. Many indie authors have written that many books and still have no offers from agents or big publishing houses. I know quite a few indie authors, published by indie publishers, who have written a rather astounding number of books. To have written that many books isn't at all uncommon for many authors who remain mostly unrecognized. Many have won awards and received excellent reviews; some have even hired professional editors.

Marilyn Peake said...

Somehow, I hit the Anonymous key when I meant to hit "Name/URL", and my post appeared immediately. I'll try posting again.

Marilyn Peake said...

Here we go, from me...

Anon @6:17 PM,

I know she wrote a lot of books. I didn't say otherwise. She never received an offer of representation from any agent or an offer of publication from any of the major publishing houses for any of her books, however, until after she made over $1 million on her self-published books. Many indie authors have written that many books and still have no offers from agents or big publishing houses. I know quite a few indie authors, published by indie publishers, who have written a rather astounding number of books. To have written that many books isn't at all uncommon for many authors who remain mostly unrecognized. Many have won awards and received excellent reviews; some have even hired professional editors.

Anonymous said...

People have touched on it briefly but doesn't genre matter in this equation? I worked at library and it seemed that people who read romance novels ate them like candy. One lady took out ten romance novels at a time the only difference between them was the picture of the hot guy on the front. To some extent, mystery junkies had similar tendencies that would lend themselves to the ninety-nine cent e-read all day long. But Middle Grade, Picture Book and to some extent younger YA readers may not even own e-reading devices. Do people who read actual print books have such different tastes that your particular book may make a difference on your decision between self publishing or not? If your book appeals to AARP'ers does that make a difference?

To me (and apparently to Ms. Hocking as well) the question comes down to legitimacy. What makes you a writer of repute- book sales or great writing? They aren't equal.

Marilyn Peake said...

Anon @6:17 PM,

I hope I haven't given the impression that I don't think Amanda Hocking worked very hard or accomplished some rather amazing feats in her writing career. Amanda Hocking was actually the first person to write about how her sales started with networking inside the Amazon Kindle forums and bloggers then writing about her books. I find that really fascinating because I know a lot of writers who have written a lot of incredible books, but I don't know anyone who networked inside the Amazon Kindle forums, discovered book bloggers there, OR has had the success of Amanda Hocking. Writing a large number of books, for most writers, leads to little more than having written a large numbers of books, even when those books are incredible.

Anonymous said...

@ Marilyn:

If the book is cheap enough, I think people will take a risk and try the book out. If they like it, they will tell their friends.

But most people just need to know that the book exists in the first place before making a leap.

Of course, if you write a book that is only accessible to a small number of people because of its content, then it's tough to sell it no matter how good it is.

Mira said...

Henry Baum, when you're right, you're right.

I accidentally added a zero.

I meant: I've heard of royalty rates as low as 2,500.

Although later today, I heard of one as low as 1,500.

Shell said...

Wow, Nathan, thank you for this post. This is the big question looming in front of me, and though I still haven't made the decision, you presented it very nicely. I do have a question, though, that I see in the comments has already been asked, but I'm adding my voice in hopes of getting some kind of an answer at some point. The book I'm trying to get published is a middle grade novel. My eleven-year-old reads middle grade, and not only does he not have an e-reader, I'm not likely to get him one while he's still at an age where middle grade is what he's reading. Do all of those numbers only apply to adult novels, or at the very least, YA? Should middle grade authors (and younger) still go with a publisher or do it on their own?

Marilyn Peake said...

Anon @8:55 PM,

I agree 100%. After reading Amanda Hocking's blog posts about how she went about publishing her books, I'm trying out her approach. I put a number of my novels and short stories on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents each and plan to submit them to bloggers for review. They're not YA books, so I don't expect anywhere near the amazing success that Amanda Hocking's had, but I figured why not try it and just see what happens.

Anonymous said...

“Something I find very interesting about Amanda Hocking’s situation, and I wonder if anyone in the publishing industry will ever address this in a Blog, is that her books have the problems that were usually considered a major stigma against self-publishing: poor grammar, lots of typos and misspellings … etc.”

This seems to be the elephant doing yoga poses on the coffee table, Anonymous. I find it very curious as well; even as I write this, I feel like the child in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” pointing out the obvious. That’s going to take some serious man hours, if not a ghostwriter, to get in shape. That’s precisely why I wonder if the folks at SMP have gone barking mad. More curiously, I’m actually glad that Hocking got the money … from somewhere. I probably would have bought her books, even if I had no intention of reading them. She seems like a genuinely sweet person who didn’t have the easiest paper route in town.

Marilyn Peake said...

Last comment for the day from me or I’ll wear out my welcome, if I haven’t already. The internet seems to be clearly buzzing about self-published books today, and I thought this might be of interest in this discussion. On Twitter, I read that a self-published book is a Finalist in the "Fantasy Novels" category of the coveted Aurealis Awards. Here’s the list: Aurealis Awards finalists.

Melissa said...

@Henry Baum

I am in awe. Yours is the most insightful blog I've read about this topic to date. Consider yourself Twittered, FB shared, etc.

Marilyn Peake said...

Whoa. I wasn’t going to post anymore today, but this is a follow-up I cannot resist. I looked up the self-published novel that’s shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards. I wanted to buy it, but figured it would probably be expensive. I’m shocked. It is only $2.99 on Kindle and only $9.95 in paperback. I’m amazed. And I bought a copy. :)

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zenpoole said...

My big question about self publishing vs traditional publishing is not necessarily about how much money you can/will make, but your credibility. Does traditional publishing give you more credibility than if you self publish? After all, ANYONE can self publish, right?

Victoria said...

Marilyn, I'd love to hear what you thought of the self-published book shortlisted for an Aurealis award. Here's an interesting point about those awards; you can self nominate. The judges then make the short-list from there. One would hope it would be relatively good to get to shortlisted.

Here's the thing though, I'm reading all this information on self-publishing and I've read J Konrath's blog and that conversation Nathan referenced (thanks for the frog link boys, I'm still suffering. My eyes!) and I've visited Amanda Hocking's blog. I think they are fascinating discussions and arguments but I just don't see their success as easily repeatable by aspiring authors.

I can see the way of the future will be ebook, but for me that's going to be an ebook published by a traditional publisher who has filtered out all the other crap. I've read some of the self-published work on the internet and it makes me want to run screaming to the hills.

(And imploding self-published authors who can't edit or take criticism aren't helping the s-p cause;
http://booksandpals.blogspot.com/2011/03/greek-seaman-jacqueline-howett.html)

There's a reason it is so difficult to get published via traditional publishing houses... they have high standards. Unfortunately, too often, self-publishers don't.

Anonymous said...

Traditional houses have high standards, all right . . . they only accept the story ideas that are the very, very closest to whatever sold well last year!

Robin Sullivan said...

My husband, (author of the Riyria Revelations Michael J. Sullivan) just recently agreed to a 3-book six-figure deal from Orbit books. Pretty good for a first time published author. But...we've figured that he'll loose $200,000 - $400,000 by taking the deal. I know this sounds crazy but look at it this way. Through "self publishing he has earned between $25,000 - $45,000 a month...each month since November that's $160,000 for just 4 months! His six-figure advance does not look so impressive when compared to that.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Robin Sullivan said...

TiffanyD said...
This was fascinating. The thing that I do not understand about self-publishing is this: how do you "market" your book? Oh well. If you're the sort of person who can figure that out, it certainly looks like self-publishing is worth a try.


Unless you are one of the premier books being relased by the publishing house I think that the author will bare the same responsibility for marketing in self-publishing as they would in traditional publishing. Just my 2 cents worth.

Robin | Write2Publish | Michael J. Sullivan's Writings

Maya said...

Thanks for doing the math for us, Nathan! A few of us writers are allergic. Excellent post.

Anonymous said...

For 15 years I have been a happy self published historical novelist, doing better financially than I ever envisioned. In the black after the first 6 weeks, despite a big print run, I've been paying the mortgage, ranch expenses, house remodeling, buying cars, etc, while running a small publishing house with warehouse -- hiring good professional editors, artists, interior designers and marketeers.

I made 2 good decisions early on. 1. Turned down a contract by a major NY house in '99 (they'd heard of my sales), hence my first novel is still in print and selling well (along with subsequent novels) -- not out of print and out of mind as they all would have been. 2. Took the plunge into big print runs on new titles and reprints (no online/POD printers), so my retail prices are competitive and my books are distributed by the major companies.

Now comes the ebook question. Readers of all ages sadly tell me to get on Kindle etc, and I will. Their reasons leave no room for argument. Reformatting the backlist will be costly and will require 8 times the number of sales at the low ebook prices to make up the difference. I doubt that will ever happen. My income will plummet as paper books disappear. (Don't assume the printers will stay alive.) Nathan, you have underscored what I'm hearing from other sources about the loss of income in ebooks, especially for a publisher like me accustomed to 50% direct sales to readers. It's maddening to hand over the publisher's right to set retail price to Amazon etc (bookstores), but this is the brave new world. Thanks to this blog and other articles, at least I'm walking into that world with open eyes.

author Scott Nicholson said...

Others touched on it, Nathan, but it's not as simple as straight math in a vacuum, because you haven't calculated the time value of the money. Joe Konrath mentioned the long tail, but there's also the year of waiting (though successful self-pubbers seem to be getting rushed through the production process) and the time after the print sales slow down. For most of the life of copyright, the "traditional" writer will be earning a small fraction of an overpriced ebook. It's just hard to picture any scenario where a massive print run is going to offset the writer's loss of almost all the e-book's lifetime revenue.

There's also no proof that publishers are going to drop their prices to $2.99 for authors who succeeded there, or that these authors' fans will pay $14.99 for what they used to get for $1 to $3. It's just hard to make predictions when everything is changing so fast.

It's going to be an interesting year, but new stars are being minted almost faster than they can be gobbled up by all those sharks smelling blood in the water. Agents, I mean. Agents, not sharks.

Scott

Peter Donaldson said...

Great post, thank you! I'd like to add XinXii as a free-of-charge platform in "E-distribution". They are already established in Europe, but they have started their internationalization recently.

XinXii revenue share for self-published authors

Priced higher than $2.49: 70%
Priced between $1.49-$2.48: 40%

J. T. Shea said...

How to make money! Easy! You just need lots of green ink, a printing press, and a connection to distribute the results on the street. Just like self-publishing really, apart from the ink color.

Seriously, Nathan, I don't see how your percentages relate to the PW link at all. I must be missing something. Caffeine, maybe.

In any case, the PW figures are very incomplete, omitting categories comprising 2/3rds of all print sales. All print Children's, YA, Educational, Professional, and Religious sales are omitted.

Check out the original press release on the Association of American Publishers site. Total sales exceeded $800,000,000, down about 2% on January 2010. E-books at $70,000,000 are still under 9% of the total. Impressive, but a long way from 20% to 30%.

Anonymous 1:12 pm, interesting point, which I've made before. 'Traditional Publishing', 'Legacy Publishing' and 'New York Publishing' are all deliberately loaded terms.

Mandi Kang said...

Your articles are always so helpful, because you think in terms of "data" and "numbers." Thanks for a great post. I know this has nothing to do with your post, but it seems like self published eBook authors are landing deals from their popularity on Amazon and B&N ... and that could be the next wave of publishing.

E. A. Provost said...

@ Henry Baum, my nine year old is saving her pennies for a Kindle and my twelve year old for an iPad. Get ready to publish your middle grade books in ebook format because the market is going there!

Rachel Ventura said...

Dear Mr. Bransford:

I'm so very happy for Amanda. She seems like a really nice person, really smart and funny and I applaud her for finding a way to channel her dream despite having so many closed doors.

But with regards to that question -
1) can you write
2) can you market

I'm only 50% of the way there. Sure, I can write, I write very well. But I can't market because I'm very, very shy and can't do the social-networking thing that everyone else is doing. To paraphrase Tom Petty, the writing's not the hardest part. It is, as Mel Brooks said in Spaceballs..."Merchandising!"

It looks like, unfortunately, the doors of the big names are closed to us relative unknowns. The onus is entirely on us to "make a big splash" when some of us have never even seen the water -- let alone understand how deep it is. Social media scares me, to tell you the truth. Amanda must be quite fearless if she's out there on those Kindle forums and stuff. She sure is braver than I am. :)

I wish there was some way to "self publish" a printed book that didn't go through scam sites like Published America. I don't like those e-book readers but sadly, it seems to be the way the market is going.

Any advice for people who may be considering the SP route but recoil in horror when it comes to this whole "author platform"?

And in truth, is it possible to ever have a Twilight on your hands if you go the self-route, long considered the last bastion of rejects and unpolished literary lepers for whom the gates of Random House heaven have already closed? Does one really attain any credibility or is it actually points off?

Word Verif: "Dinglo." Either a hybrid mixture of a Dingo and the Lorax or the marvelous sensory experience realized from acquiring a $2M book deal -- a "ding-glow." :)

Barry Lyons said...

Well, my story is that I self-published "Letter to a Prohibitionist" on Amazon because I've come to accept the publishing fact, as demonstrated by numerous works on the subject before mine, that books on the War on Drugs don't sell -- and therefore agents don't ask to see the manuscript. But I feel like the author who cried wolf: what if someone came along and wrote a damning book on the War on Drugs that's funny? But without the muscle of a traditional publisher my book is likely to go nowhere. On to the next project!

Rese said...

oi, i'm awful with numbers! nevertheless, this was definitely an interesting post. to self-publish or not to self-publish, that is definitely the question.

i am currently Struggling to get published the traditional way, collecting all sorts of horror stories along the way. but self-publishing scares me, to be honest. it seems like amanda hocking's the exception, which is why it's been made into such a huge deal. of course, i haven't completely ruled it out, but it's just hard to get away from the longstanding industry stigma against self-publishing. any advice?

tlrese said...

oi, i'm awful with numbers! nevertheless, this was definitely an interesting post. to self-publish or not to self-publish, that is definitely the question.

i am currently Struggling to get published the traditional way, collecting all sorts of horror stories along the way. but self-publishing scares me, to be honest. it seems like amanda hocking's the exception, which is why it's been made into such a huge deal. of course, i haven't completely ruled it out, but it's just hard to get away from the longstanding industry stigma against self-publishing. any advice?

Me said...

I wish I could just decide, should I self-publish or publish "traditionally". Until I have an offer from a "traditional" publisher, there is no decision to be made. If I get an offer from a traditional publisher, I don't see myself turning it down. I self-published my book because my 40 year old friends are dying and getting cancer. I'm 41. I want to see my books on the market in my lifetime and I grew tired of waiting on a big house to pick me up. I won't say I made the "choice" to self-publish though--it was my only option if I wanted to see my book out this year. I am going to keep trying for a publisher with my next book because, even if the money is worse, the exposure is better. The big houses do publicize the books and garner reputable reviews. If I can land a deal for one book, it will help me sell all my books in the long run.

Mark at Verse said...

Is there any evidence of agents and publishers scanning the self-published landscape to look for talent which has somehow not made it into the industry's net?

CL Parks said...

I love it when someone does the math for me. I've been researching the self-publishing options, but had no idea how to distinguish the royalty differences. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Vince Stead said...

I just got done reading your article, and really enjoyed it, thank you. I have over 200 self published books so far. You can see some fun self-published books at Fun2ReadBooks.com where they are in paperback, digital and audio also now. all of them are indie and self published, any questions or help, please ask me, I do this full time and would love to help anyone that needs help or advice, thank you, Vince Stead.

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