Well, the world of books has somehow turned upside down! Even established literary agents now acknowledge that self-publishing is a viable, and possibly more lucrative, option for writers.
There is a surprisingly open-minded and encouraging post at Alan Rinzler’s “The Book Deal” blog. Here’s an excerpt:
What do you say to writers who are considering self-publishing?
Candice Fuhrman: In many cases I say GO FOR IT! It’s never been a better time for self- publishing; there are so many options for sell your own e-book. With most major publishers still only paying 25 percent of net for e-book sales, most writers can do better on their own. Of course they have to be marketing demons — but that’s the case no matter who publishes you. Although many agents are becoming “jacks of all trades” with self-publishing authors, we could be called something else — such as a publisher or a production person or a marketer.
Andrea Brown: Some authors we’ve worked with have also done indie self-published e-books but don’t seem to make any money with them. The market is overwhelmed with titles — many badly written or edited — and writers find it’s tough to market. We do tell writers that if their book will be difficult to sell the traditional way (or we do not think we can place it), to go ahead and self-publish — but they must do it well and plan to spend lots of time to market.
Andrea Hurst: For many authors, this is a very viable option today. Indie publishing, especially with e-books, offers a way to get your book directly in the reader’s hands. It is still important to have a high quality product and market your work. Many agents I know are diversifying what services they offer and how they will work with authors seeking nontraditional publishing options. Our agency consults with self-publishing authors through the whole process, offering professional editorial, design and evaluation services.
Bonnie Solow: Self-publishing is a viable option for many writers. There is no barrier to entry and authors can enjoy the satisfaction of maintaining full creative control with an accelerated release schedule. For authors who are entrepreneurial and who can access their readers through online marketing, speaking engagements, and so on, self-publishing can be the right route to take. In the long-term I do think agents will be more and more involved in helping clients self-publish… At this stage, however, authors who come to me are not interested in self-publishing. Instead, they want to enjoy the myriad benefits that come with being published by a major house.
Thanks to Alan for all the great information he shares with writers, and to these bold agents for giving us their perspective. Of course I had to add a comment advocating the vast superiority (and fun!) of self-publishing….
Go read the entire post on “The Book Deal” blog.
And thanks to The Passive Voice for leading me to Alan’s latest post.
M. Louisa Locke wrote a post last August that describes, in great and careful detail, the advantages that those of us who are self-published have attained in this rapidly changing industry. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from her piece, which is well worth your time:
“Once an author has been exposed to the liberating belief that all of their work can get in print, and all the work that is good, will get to be read, they will not go back to telling themselves that the gatekeepers were saving them from the awful mistake of publishing a bad book, and that the favorite quirky cross genre manuscript they wrote really is better off never being read by anyone.”
And one of the things that I would add to Ms. Locke’s admirable list is the inspiration that comes with knowing that your writing is finding an outlet — giving impetus to the very stream of creativity that begets more stories — unfettered productivity being great for writers and readers alike!
A very interesting survey designed to get some data on self-publishing straight from the source is described in today’s post on David Gaughran’s “Let’s Get Digital” blog. Answering the questions takes somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes, and it is, of course, anonymous.
The folks that put it together are trying to get 1,000 responses in order to make it statistically significant. So even if you’re new to this fascinating self-publishing journey, please consider participating. One of the best parts of this community of like-minded (brave, honest, thrifty, etc. — sort of like the Boy Scouts) writers is that so many are willing to reach out a helping hand.
So help us learn more about each other and how to sell books by sharing your own experiences.
Though I read over and over that we self publishers should be PATIENT… I am not by nature a very patient person! So when I had a fantastic result in late December with my best-selling political thriller RUNNING after using a single free day on Amazon’s KDP Select program (8,000 free downloads followed by 1,500+ sales in the next 10 days) I was elated. It lasted for quite a while, but by the end of January sales had settled down to about 5-10 copies a day. So I decided to do it again.
The exciting news is that I saw a torrent of downloads – 9,000 over the two days. The day after, I sold only 5 copies. Big letdown! Yesterday I sold 7, with 2 borrows. Oh well, that’s a little better. But this morning I wake up and RUNNING had sold 30 by 11:00 a.m. A significant improvement. I’ll take those numbers, I figured, particularly if they continue throughout the day. And a Tuesday morning doesn’t typically mean a huge rush to buy ebooks.
As several people have pointed out, the endgame in all this is visibility. Building your brand, and your fan base. Getting yourself higher up on the charts. Getting more reviews. All of this works toward a long-term career as a writer. A writer who writes books worth buying.
I should mention that my price point is higher than most self-publishers. My career plan includes being able to live on my income as a writer, so it’s important to me to price my novels up there with Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, and others who are published traditionally.
So what do I need to do now? GET MORE GOOD NOVELS WRITTEN. I met with my critique partner today to fine-tune the synopsis (before starting to write) of my next thriller, which starts with the abduction of the Secretary of State in some war-torn former Soviet satellite. Action, suspense, romance, sex, bombs, helicopters, international diplomacy, and a strong woman protagonist. I can’t wait!
Oh, and P.S. I sold 66 copies of RUNNING today. A fabulous result.
Do you have yours yet?