>>Would it be more worth it to self-publish a book and build a fanbase manually,
Not unless you are independently wealthy.
People are always asking how I live the extreme lifestyle I live being a self pubbed author. They think I live off my book sales. No. It's call be married to a millionaire.
I succeed in book marketing because I've got a husband who thinks nothing of buying my a $5,000 30TB computer, spending $2,000 just on the wig for my CosPlay, spending $8,000 to buy 2.5million marbles for me to glue to my car, or paying $14,000 to buy advertising for my book. If I wasn't a YouTube gamer, an art car builder, and a CosPlayer known for my insanely over the top costumes, and taking my art cars and costumes to gammer cons... do you really think I'd have the sales or the fan base I have? And I wouldn't have the gamer and cosplaying ca supplies without a husband who can afford to buy that stuff.
Far too many people look at successful self publishers and think they started out with nothing.
Ergone was written by a 14 year old boy who had $20,000 in pocket change to buy a 1 day add in New York Times.
Wool was written by a man who had enough money to give away 1 million copies of his book.
John Locke took $24,000 and bought $24,000 worth of his own books to boost sales rank.
There is no such thing as a successful self publisher, who didn't already have the money to buy their way to the top.
Look at all the top selling self-published authors. Every one of them has a large financial backing to start out with, and used that money for some form of marketing.
And I'm not talking buying $100 FB ad and a $200 BookBub ad. I'm talking tens of thousands of dollars for massive large scale offline marketing.
>>or to try one's luck in being published and have the book rise from there?
No book ever rose on it's own. Not even in trade.
Do you know how a book gets on the New York Times Bestselling list? By a big house publisher buying 1 million copies of the book the first day, then tossing them in a shredder. That's how they get the big mega sized sales started. The first million sales never went to a reader.
A lot of authors and readers are shocked when they find out the Big 5 book publishers do that. But that's how they stay the Big 5.
It's called marketing. And most marketing is just like those million books shredded to get on the NYT list or John Locke buying his own books. It's underhanded, it's dirty, but it works, and in book publishing... it's he with the most money who gets to the top, not he who writes the best book. Sad, but that's the way it's been for a very long time.
Would it be more worth it to self-publish a book and build a fanbase manually, or to try one's luck in being published and have the book rise from there?
The real question is, how many tens of thousands of dollars do you have laying around? If you can afford to toss $20k-$30k out the window, go with self-publishing. If not, aim at trade publishing and let them toss the twenty grand out the door for you.
>>I think self-publishing is a great idea, but plagiarism is a huge concern.
You know... whenever I hear someone say they are scared of being robbed by thieves, my first response is also to assume they themselves are a thief and ask: "So who have you robbed?" An honest, none thief person, doesn't spend their time worrying about thieves, because honest people naturally assume others to be honest as well. In my experience, the only people who ever worry about being robbed are the very people who are going to rob you blind, thus why they think everyone around them is a thief, because they naturally assume everyone would do what they would do.
That's something to think about.
In my experience the average person is honest and wouldn't even consider stealing something, and also likewise has trouble comprehending why others would steal, given that they themselves would never think to steal something.
So, maybe the question is... WHY do you think people will steal your work? What have you stolen, that causes you to think, other people are naturally thieves?
If you are terrified of people stealing your book, you might want to do some deep soul searching to find out WHY you have that fear, because unless you are JKRowlings or Stephen King, pirates aren't interested in your book. They only go after books they can make money off of.
>>if a self-published book were to become popular, would they stand a similar chance as any other book in being traditionally published once noticed?
Again... how much money are you going to spend to make it popular? It ain't gonna happen on it's own.
As a general rule, you won't see trade pubs begging for your book until after it sells a million copies, and newsflash, there have been exactly THREE (3) self published authors who sold a million copies of a book: Amanda Hocking, John Locke, and Hugh Howey.
Three and only three.
And 2 of those three bought their own damned books!
John Locke bought the books and just kept them. Hugh Howey bought the books and gave them away for free. BOTH of the authors who sold a million copies, did so, by buying their own books!
READERS did NOT buy those first million copies sold!
And THAT happens all the time.
It's not uncommon for a self published author to put up their own money to buy 10,000, 20,000, or more copies of their own book.
Why do you think Amazon changed their system in July 2015? They ever said that's why they did it. Amazon said they found over 8million FAKE accounts, that were owned by some of the biggest names in Kindle publishing. The books being digital, the authors didn't have to worry about where to store the books after they bought them.
There was a HUGE boom in self publishers supposedly selling millions of copies of their books, almost instantly, throughout 2013 until July 2015 when Amazon cut off their ability to do so.
Have you noticed that SINCE July 2015, you are no longer seeing self publishers getting 100K+ books sales every month? It was a damned scam and any one who watched the news reports knows that.
Amazon took some 17,000 self published authors to court over it, Sued their asses off, deleted their author accounts.
The whole "Kindle Millionaire" hype going on in 2013 and 2014 was nothing but a massive scam of wealthy authors buying their own books to boost sales rank.
That's the reality of the Kindle Millionaire and that's also why Amazon released their tax records to the public, complete with all the names of every single self published author and how many books they REALLY sold and how much money they made.
And those numbers were alarming.
According to Amazon's tax records, there are ONLY 3 self published authors to EVER sell a million copies of their books, and 17,000 frauds who lied about their sales.
According to Amazon's tax records, the next highest amount of sales for a self pubbed book was 300,000 copies. Not even half a million.
Also according the Amazon's tax records 83% of all authors published on Kindle have earned under $5,000, most of them earning under $100 per year, meaning that 83% of self published authors are selling fewer then 50 books a year. MILLIONS of authors, have YET to sell 100 copies of their books.
And when you consider that and then you look at the amount of work authors like me put into marketing and to get sales. I mean think about it... I have 170+ novels, novellas, and short stories on Kindle right now, across my 15 pennames, and only one of those books has ever reached 7,000 copies. Three of them ,made it to 3,000, a few made it to a thousand. All of them have reached at least 200 sales, and many are at 500... AND I'm considered one of top selling self publishers in terms of how many books I've sold across all titles. I think all together I've not yet reached 20,000 total sales from all titles combined. It's not easy, and it takes a lot of money put into travel to cons and buying business cards and making CosPlays....I've spent more then I've made and like I said, if I didn't have a husband who was paying for all this, I dought I'd have the sales I do.
>>How do publishing houses deal with work that has been self-published/around on the internet before?
In the case of Eragon, Scholastic Books knew they could get a movie deal and market the book through their Weekly Reader Program that sells several hundred million copies of children's books at classroom book fairs.
In the case of Harry Potter, once again, Scholastic Books knew they could get a movie deal and market the book through their Weekly Reader Program that sells several hundred million copies of children's books at classroom book fairs.
In the case of Hunger Games, oh there they are again, Scholastic Books knew they could get a movie deal and market the book through their Weekly Reader Program that sells several hundred million copies of children's books at classroom book fairs.
Do you see a pattern here?
A trade publisher is only going to pick up a self pubbed book that they think they can get a movie deal out of, so that they can use the movie as a marketing tool to sell insane amount of millions of books after the movie's release.
It's very, very, very difficult for a self pubbed book to get picked up by a trade publisher
>>If you want to write a lot and publish a lot and market a lot, self publishing might be for you. There won't be "the" book. You'll want to put out a lot of books. It sucks because you have to do everything yourself.
So few newbie author believe this even after dozens of long time self-pubbed authors tell them this too. They have to learn the hard way. They they boo-hoo "Why did no one tell me I had to publish a new novel every single month for 3 years in a row before I'd start selling books?" We did. You didn't listen.
Self pubbing is not an easy road. People think it's easy, because, yeah, it's easy to slap any old book up on Amazon. Sure. But try making a sale. With out the determination, dedication, and motivation to be pumping out books every few weeks, you ain't gonna make it very far in self publishing.
It takes a certain type of personality to stick with it and succeed and, let's face it, not many authors have what it takes. Most authors want to write a book and let someone else do the work. You can't do that in self publishing. You either gotta be damned good at editing or hire a good editor, you got to be damned good at art or hire a good cover artist. Then you gotta know how to market and sell that book. I was a door to door salesmen for 16 years. I know EXACTLY what it takes to get my foot in the door and make a sale. I dare the average author to make it even 16 days in a door-to-door sales job. And you know what, if you can't succeed as a door to door salesman, you'll never make it as a self-publisher, because you need the exact same people and retail skills to do both.
>>There is no stigma. There are self pub authors on Amazon calling themselves "published" despite no trad contract. No one calls them on it as far as I know. Why would they? It doesn't matter. If people are enjoying the work, who is anyone to judge?
probably because self publishing has existed for 2,000 years, while trade publishing and contracts was invented in 1952 :P
You know, self-publishing didn't have a stigma until the 1980s, and that was largly due to the vanity press boom, scamming authors at the time. Now that people have started to realize vanity press is a scam, the self-pubbing stigma is fading again.
>>Self-publishing is rarely a good route into trade publishing. That's because, like you, most writers underestimate what it will take to built a fanbase manually. Most self-published books sell less than 100 copies
^ THIS ^
I get THOUSANDS of emails from self-pubbed authors, ALWAYS asking the exact same question:
"How are you selling thousands of books? I published my book 6 months ago and I've barely sold 10 copies. What am I doing wrong?"
I ask them: "How are you marketing it?"
They'll say: "Well I put a link on my FB..."
Honey, if you want to sell thousands of copies like I do, then you gotta market like I do. That means getting off ya ass and being at every single convention, every single carnival, every single festival, every single weekend. It means getting a booth and signing up to give lectures. It means writing a curriculum and teaching workshops. It means printing up thousands of business cards and handing them out to total strangers on the beach.
Yes, my self-pubbed books sell thousands of copies, while most struggle to reach 100.... but it's because I work my ass off every damned day, doing massive amounts of offline, personal, face to face marketing.
I have a fanbase of 300,000 email subscribers, and took me 20 years to build that list. I have 7,000 fans that I can rely on to be there day one of a new book publication to buy it in rabid frenzy, and they didn't get find me by browsing Amazon or FaceBook... they found me, from the convention circuit.
A lot of people who buy my books, do so because: "Hey, I remember her, that's that author who gave that class I went to at the comic book convention. She was CosPlaying as ___. We took selfie together. She signed my con program. I'm gonna buy her book."
>>most writers underestimate what it will take to built a fanbase manually.
Years of grueling hard work.
>>Most self-published books sell less than 100 copies
Without insanely levels of offline marketing, extreme motivation and determination... self-pubbed books rarely even reach 100 copies sold total in their lifetime and they make take 10 or 12 years just to do that.
You look at the self-pubbers who are selling lots of copies, they are doing the same thing I am. No self-pubber ever reached thousands of books sold without getting off their ass and doing hella extreme marketing offline, where they can meet readers face to face.
You want to sell books, you literally have to be where the fans are, shaking their hands, in person. That means buying a motorhome and hitting the road.
>>Getting to that level often means self-pubbing a heap of books - not just one. It could take you years and many releases to build that kind of audience, if at all.
Yep. I've been self-publishing since the 1970s. There's 40 years of work, gone into it. And not one book either... I've self published 130+ novels, 2,000+ short stories, 30+ nonfiction books, and a few dozen stage plays.
Far too many newbies look at my books sales, and think they can slap a book on Kindle and be set for life. They forget to look at how many years I've been doing this, how many books I've published, and what kind of offline marketing goes into it.
And you know what? The most any of my books has ever sold was 7,000 copies. I'm considered a top seller in the self-publishing field, and my sales aren't even close to the sales a trade pubbed book will see. And that there is something to REALLY think about.
7,000 books ain't a lot of books, when you stop and really think about it, a trade pubbed book will sell that many copies it's first week, without the author working their ass off for the sales, but in comparison to the average self-pebber, 7,000 copies of one title sold is a HUGE amount.
I love the lifestyle that comes with self-publishing. I thrive on being at conventions and hugging fans and talking with people... but a lot of authors don't have that personality and don't want a life on the road lifestyle.
People are always asking me, why, if I self publish, and I love it so much, why am I always telling people NOT to self publish?
I tell newbie writers to not self publish, because 90% of the time they are not cut out for the lifestyle. Not many authors have wjat it takes to make a sale. 90% of authors have no clue what is involved in succeeding in the self-publishing scene, and even when they find out they say: "It won't be that way for me. I'll be successful without all the work these other guys do." No, no you won't. You'll fail miserably, never reach 100 copies sold, and then be crying in my inbox "Oh boo hoo, why is my book not selling like yours are, I write better then you, and I can't get any sales."
In self-publishing, it's NOT the best written books that sell the best... it's the most dedicated authors who are willing to put their nose to the grindstone that sell the best.
I've done both. Self publishing and trade. And you know what? Trade's easier. It's a lot easier. But trade also bored the hell out of me. I LIKE the high stress of working con circuits, I like CosPlaying, I like signing up as a featured guest, if you want to succeed at self publishing you have to like those things and get used to writing a curriculum, getting over phobias of speaking in public (I had those), getting used to the grueling schedule of packing, unpacking, setting up, dodging fans, signing books, posing for pictures, never getting to a bathroom because there are 2,000 people between you and the bathroom and they ALL want a hug and a selfie, carrying anything you can find to eat with you all day long, because you'll never have a free second to have a meal, dealing with crazy fans (bad fans, not good fans) which often requires police involvement and happens more often then most cons would like to admit, (a church group somehow got into one Con, and stormed into the Yaoi workshop chanting we were going to Hell, one year) ... it's a fast paced, hectic life on the road (you'll need to buy a motorhome and get used to RV lifestyle and paint your name and books covers on the side). I also appear at car shows, autism events, festivals, fairs, carnivals, pretty much anything that let's me set up a booth, you are gonna see me at.
I left trade publishing, because the lifestyle bored me. I returned to self publishing, because it's lifestyle I like.
But MOST authors are self-absorbed, shy, quiet, people who like to hole themselves up and never meet a fan face to face. And if you are that type of person, then self-publishing is not for you.
Far too many people think they can slap up a book and be done with it. Once you've published that book, the easy part is over, the hard part has yet to start, and you've only just begun.
>>Unless you're Hugh Howey or Andy Weir, it just isn't going to happen.
I actually know Hugh Howey, knew him before he was famous... and I know for a fact, he didn't just get lucky. He worked his ass off to get those sales.
There's a man with an astounding level of dedication to marketing his book on levels most self pubbers can't even begin to imagine. He wasn't an overnight success. It took him years of dedication to marketing a book that never made one penny on. He gave it away for free. He spent his life savings to give away a million free copies of Wool.
It was not by accident he made it to the top and it certainly wasn't luck.
>>Has anyone here had success with self publishing?
I think it depends on how you define success.
I've had some self-pubbers tell me I'm a failure because I haven't reached whatever level they were at yet, and others say they could only dream of reaching my level of success. I think most would say I'm somewhere in the middle... just successful enough to be seen as successful by some, while not successful enough to be seen as a success by others. :P
My top 3 selling self-pubbed books in order are:
The Night of the Screaming Unicorn
Into the Swamp of Death
Each of these volumes, were reprints of older, previously published books, that had a large already there, fan following. Each of these books had fans who had previously read them years ago, waiting to read them again. Thus, when their re-release was announced, each of these 3 books, sold:
1,000+ copies the first day of publication, with-in the first hour of going live.
Each of these books got a few hundred more copies the following day.
Each got a few hundred more copies the following week.
After the first month, MOST of the fans had bought copies, and sales dried up near completely within 60 days of the release date.
For the first 6 months of publication, each title continued to see 10 or 12 sales a week.
After that each title saw fewer than 10 sales per month.
Now 3 years after the publication date, each title receives 1 to 4 sales per month.
Though 1 of these books ranks as the #1 bestseller for one of it's categories, each of these 3 titles has a sales rank of the low millions. It was around 2 million when I last checked and it's probably around 3 million by now.
Of all my self pubbed books none has sold more then 7,000 copies, a few reached 3,000 copies, some reach 1,000, most have not yet reaches 1,000 but are slowly getting there at a rate of 10 or 12 copies a month, some fizzled out at 100 copies.
In all I've 170+ novels, novellas, and short stories on Amazon spread across 15 different pennames.
So how does this translate into income?
Novels (150,000 to 300,000 words): The ebooks editions sell for $7.99, the paperback editions sell for $14.99.
After Amazon takes their cut, I make $3+/- per copy sold (for both print and ebook editions).
3,000x$3 means that my top selling titles will bring in a grand total of no more then $9,000 in their lifetme
1,000x$3 means that MOST of my titles have yet to reach bringing in a lifetime total of $3,000
10x$3 means that MOST of my titles will earn me around $30 income per month.
Short Stories: ebook editions .99c (1,000 words), $1.99 (7,000 words), or $2.99 (30,000 wods); Print editions are collections of 10 or more stories and are $14.99... so earnings from shorts varies from .35c to $3 per copy sold)
Most months the Quaraun series brings in less then $200 a month income.
Meaning that my yearly income from sales of the Quaraun series comes to around $2,000 per year (my yearly income from Monster Porn sales is less income then a WalMart cashier earns each MONTH. If you are looking to earn money fast, get a job a WalMart, it less work, for more pay, for fewer hours worked. :P )
But that's my numbers. If that translates to success or not I'll leave for others to decide.
My books are self-pubbed via Amazon Kindle and Amazon Kindle Paperbacks(Beta).
On a side note... each of my books goes through 7 to 12 edits and revisions before publication, and the book covers are professionally made, averaging $150 to $300 for each cover (I have hired actual Fantasy art painters to do many of my covers, so they REALLY stand out and are not what most people expect to see on self-pubbed books) . I have to sell a few hundred copies before I reach a break even point.
My uncle did the same thing. He wrote 5 books, and ended up $200,000 in debt, because of a vanity press he got hooked up with. In the end he only sold about 12 copies of 1 book, and I don't think he sold any of the rest at all. This was back in the 1980s, before the rise of ebooks too, so he had 10s of 1,000s of his books in storage units because he couldn't fit them in his house.
>>The kboards (Kindle forum) Writer's Café
Be careful there... a LOT of predators stalk that place. In 2013, 73 authors, myself included, had our accounts hijacked by a raving lunatic who used our accounts to start attacking other authors and writing wild crazy shit.
On my own account, the guy posted THOUSANDS of wild posts in a matter of hours, then erased all my actual posts and replaced them with this freaked out stuff (really bad stuff)
Then he went offline and started attacking the authors at their homes. 3 authors (myself included) were crippled (I was paralyzed for 5 months and had to relearn to walk) 2 authors got killed (one by having her face stabbed with a broken bottle)... all because of an anthology we did. Of the 101 authors in the Kboards anthology, 73 of us got attacked by this madman, and all 101 of us left Kboards because of it, because when we contacted the admins for help, they just ignored the situation... people are DEAD.... and the owners, admins, and mods ignored it.
The FBI got involved, they are still trying to find out who did it.
Nears as any one could tell it was a Kb member who was mad because they didn't get published in the anthology, given the way they attacked only members who were in the anthology.
It was a nightmare.
Turns out... the KB forum, is hosted on an insecure server (does not have the green https padlock) and because of that, it was easy for the hacker to get into their system and just take full control over dozens of accounts.
I've never trusted any website without the green padlock https in their url since.
The FBI agent in charge is in constant monthly update with those of us who got attacked and he hasn't caught the guy who did it yet, so be careful over there. Somewhere on KB there is a member wanted for 2 counts of murder, 3 attempted murders, and a lot of identity theft.
Yep. What crowqueen said.
>>The problem is that experimental work, with a smaller market
If you want to succeed in a small market with self-publishing, you got be CONSTANTLY marketing OFFLINE at conventions, book signings, giving lectures, anime cons, gamer cons, comic cons.... You really have to have the ability to be right where your readers are and selling to them in person, or at least handing out lots and lots of business cards.
I write/self publish Dark Fantasy Yaoi and if I just slapped my books on Kindle and waited for sales, I'd wouldn't have sales. I have to be constantly on the road, setting up booths and lectures at any con open to having a Yaoi author as a guest. That kind of hard work is a MUST if you have a small market genre and you want to self publish it and be successful at it.
>>I actually went with Lulu.com for my third book but the process was exhausting and cost $$$
Oh my! Have they changed something? It's been about 2 years since I last published a book with them, and back then it was free and they have never tried to sell me anything.
I did see someone post on FB a while back though saying they were taking their stuff off Lulu because of changes to the company. Perhaps that's what they were referring to?
>>I know the chance of me writing a book and getting it published and selling extremely well is low enough, and the chance is even lower for someone at my age,
Publishers do not ask your age. Plenty of children and teens get published all the time.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini is a good example. He wrote it when he was 12, published it at 14. Was a millionaire from the movie and toy franchise of his book by the time he was 16. And that was a NaNoWriMo book that he self-published.
>>I'd like to start somewhere else while I work on getting published.
If you are really serious about a career in publishing, don't put it aside for later. As soon as you do that, it'll snowball, and before you know you'll be like millions of other 40 year olds looking back and wondering why you never found time to write that book. Don't wait. Write it now. You're never too young to start.
As I said in my response to another comment on this thread...
>>Fucking hell. 15? When I was fifteen I didn't know which end of a sentence got the period.
When I was 15, I already had 3 books, 100+ short stories and 5 stage plays published. I published my first book when I was 8. Of course at 9 years old I was removed from public school because I was too far ahead of the rest and too young to attend high school. So I enrolled in college. I got my first college degree at 16.
Age has nothing to do with it.
If you are driven to do something, you will do it regardless.
>>This all depends on what type of writing you are doing, and where you are located. I'm from the US, and if you are as well, I can say with almost 98% certainty, if you wanted to freelance write for people, that would be a no-go because freelancing is all about contracts, and legally, a minor cannot sign a contract.
The parents can act as the child's representatives and sign for them. Mine did.
>>from what I've read from authors who have been through both traditional and self publication, self pub nets you a much larger percentage of each sale (70% vs 5-15% depending on your deal)
4% is pretty standard royalty for most first time authors in trade publishing
Kindle publishing pays 70%, unless you are selling to countries that have added fees (India and Japan for example), then it's 35%
Crosspost & Embed Features Are Now Live & Out Of Beta! Yay! (I've Been Beta Testing Both For The Last 6 Months Or So Now Everyone Can Use Them! Go Ahead And Share Any Post You Make or Find Here Via Embed and/or Crosspost! Have Fun!) from StorylWritersGroup