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Thread: When Is It Best To Unpublish Your Book?

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW Pearl's Avatar
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    When Is It Best To Unpublish Your Book?

    I was reading the blog Catherine, Caffeinated where she talks about unpublishing her novel after disappointing sales. I admire her honesty in this post:

    http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/...ublished-novel

    But it also got me thinking: when should a self-published author withdraw their book(s) from Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo and all the rest? What is the real measurement of success?

    I ask because I have been concerned about the sales of my book, which is my first. Although sales have been scant, I had over 500 downloads during my two free days on Kindle. Some readers liked what I wrote, others thought it was OK. I released my book this past September and I'm working on its follow-up. When should I admit that its no longer worth it and unpublish my book?

  2. #2
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    You can unpublish at anytime but bear in mind that it will still be on readers devices and maybe even pirate sites if you have sold or given any away. You can not call those copies back.

    This is one of the reasons I always, always, suggest that writers sit and think long and hard on if they are ready, if the book is really ready, and what they expect when they hit the, go live, button. As a lot of self published writers are finding out, its not all as easy as the self publishing pundits make it sound...
    Knowledge is learned while wisdom is earned.

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  3. #3
    Holding out for a Superhero... Sheryl Nantus's Avatar
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    I guess the question is - why do you want to unpublish your book?

  4. #4
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    If you're getting out of "self publishing" entirely and don't otherwise have non-wage income, definitely before the end of the year, otherwise you'll be filing self-employment for the 2013 calendar year.

  5. #5
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    You can't unpublish your book. You can withdraw it from sale, but it's already been published and that's something you can't change. There will still be copies of it out there, as others have said.

  6. #6
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    I think if I was getting a lot of negative reviews and comments on poor editing or writing I'd pull it, particularly if I knew I was going to release something new later on. I know a lot of people say you build up a following self-publishing by having a lot of books out, but if I had a book with poor reviews about things like quality and editing, I wouldn't want that out there while trying to promote a new release. I'd worry that it could weigh me down.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW Pearl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katie Elle View Post
    If you're getting out of "self publishing" entirely and don't otherwise have non-wage income, definitely before the end of the year, otherwise you'll be filing self-employment for the 2013 calendar year.
    No, I already have a job and I'm not relying on my book for income.

    I guess those of you who pointed out that once the book is published its out there, have a point. So no need to unpublish any book.

    I just felt affected by Catherine's post because she echoed something I had been wonderng about when it comes to success.

    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    Not selling much is normal for self-published works, so I don't see any benefit in beating yourself up over it. I'd only remove something for sale if I decided it wasn't publishable quality after all and I feel embarrassed that anyone read it. Or if someone offered me a lot of money to take it down, but that's more unlikely.

    The linked example, it sounds like the book was polished and got good reviews. I'd have left it up.
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  9. #9
    Writing! Writing! Writing! Requiescat In Pace
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl View Post
    I was reading the blog Catherine, Caffeinated where she talks about unpublishing her novel after disappointing sales. I admire her honesty in this post:

    http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/...ublished-novel

    But it also got me thinking: when should a self-published author withdraw their book(s) from Kindle, Smashwords, Kobo and all the rest? What is the real measurement of success?

    I ask because I have been concerned about the sales of my book, which is my first. Although sales have been scant, I had over 500 downloads during my two free days on Kindle. Some readers liked what I wrote, others thought it was OK. I released my book this past September and I'm working on its follow-up. When should I admit that its no longer worth it and unpublish my book?
    Pearl, I can really relate to your question. There is one title I self-published this year that I do not feel was my best work. It was the end of a four-title series, although each of the books in the series was complete in itself. I'm still trying to figure out what my next move should be with it.

    I think you are brave and wise to be asking the question about unpublishing. No one really talks about this part of self-publishing. We talk a lot about a book being ready, but it is not easy to make that decision. It may seem ready when it really isn't.

    Sometimes it feels like we're in a vacuum trying to make these big decisions. There is no leader to direct our paths and all we have is ourselves to rely on. We can watch what so-and-so did, but we're all at different levels with different skills and experiences.

    My suggestion would be to try to look at where this particular title fits in your "big picture" of self-publishing. Does the follow-up title need the first book to succeed or can it be tweaked to survive on its own? Do you believe you need to separate yourself from the first book (use a pseudonym) so you can start over fresh or do you believe the effort of self-publishing is simply not something you want to spend the time/energy on anymore?

    I have asked that last question of myself a lot lately. Being employed almost full-time (along with other responsibilities) has made carving out writing time a real challenge for me. That doesn't mean I want to quit by any means, but there are only so many hours in a day.

    I don't believe there is any failure in deciding that self-publishing isn't right for you. We start out with the cards stacked against us. It is a dreamer and a fool who believes they will be "the one" to make it big in self-publishing. I'm a smaller dreamer/fool, I just want to make a living at it.
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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW Pearl's Avatar
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    I'm re-considering unpublishing my book, even though it is already out there. I am no where near having the funds to self-publish its sequel, and it will be a while before that happens because my rent has gone up.

    I thought about trying to get a small publishing house to print the sequel, but because my first book is getting mixed reviews, it is very unlikely that anyone would want to bother.

    I'm annoyed with myself and regretting everything now. It all seems to have been a big waste of time. It just seems to be wise and humble move to bow out gracefully and try to forget I ever did this.

  11. #11
    Not all who wander are lost SamanthaLehane's Avatar
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    The reviews on kindle aren't bad and it sounds like a cool story. Maybe you should give the book time and just step away for a bit. Revise the manuscript but don't rush to unpublish completely.
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  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW
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    I agree the reviews aren't bad. Give it more time unless it's causing stress in some way.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW patskywriter's Avatar
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    Are we writers more sensitive than musicians? I think we can use them as role models, in a way. Bad reviews don't seem to stop them from recording and putting out new product. Even those who are on the receiving end of poor reviews know how to appeal to their fans while seemingly ignoring the rest.

    I don't think you should give up. Acknowledge your fans and invite them into your world via blogs, tweets, etc. Don't worry if the whole world doesn't love your work. I don't think that ever happens to anyone, LOL.

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW Pearl's Avatar
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    I do have a Twitter account and a blog, as it says in my signature.

    I also have a link to my Goodreads account where its clear my book is getting mixed reviews.

    But I am not thin-skinned and unable to handle criticism. I truly am unable to afford to publish my sequel because, as I said, my rent has gone up. I can't have that book come out in 2 or 3 years when anyone who liked my first book forgot about it. Therefore, I should get a small publishing house. But since they only want bestsellers and books that have glowing reviews across the board, they wouldn't want my book at all.

    So I should consider this a failure and unpublish the book. I should've been more careful about this whole venture. No, I never once thought I would be the next Amanda Hocking. I was simply too intrigued by the idea of being my own boss. Clearly, I was silly.

  15. #15
    Learning About New Fish Trevor Z's Avatar
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    I might be a total dolt here, but you keep saying you can't afford to self-publish your next book.

    Are you referring to potential lost sales from not having all 5 star reviews on your last book? Or... are you paying someone to publish the book for you? I don't think I spent any money at all (save for the hundred bajillion hours in work) when I self-published.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl View Post
    I also have a link to my Goodreads account where its clear my book is getting mixed reviews.
    So what?

    But I am not thin-skinned and unable to handle criticism. I truly am unable to afford to publish my sequel because, as I said, my rent has gone up.
    I don't understand this. Why do you have to pay to self-publish?

    I read the first few pages of your book. If you want to "unpublish" because you've realized you can do much better and you have a ways to go as a writer, I think that would be a wise decision, but I don't understand doing it on the basis of not getting rave reviews. You're getting 3 and 4 star reviews (which is kinder than I would give it). Clearly some people like it.

  17. #17
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    [QUOTE=patskywriter;7799605]Are we writers more sensitive than musicians? I think we can use them as role models, in a way. Bad reviews don't seem to stop them from recording and putting out new product. Even those who are on the receiving end of poor reviews know how to appeal to their fans while seemingly ignoring the rest.

    I think writers are more sensitive than musicians about their work simply because we usually are more personally invested in the product of our labors. A musician who writes a bad song can simply sit down and write another song. With novels that is much more difficult.

    Sincerely,

    Theo K. Sly

  18. #18
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    You can't unpublish your book. You can withdraw it from sale, but it's already been published and that's something you can't change. There will still be copies of it out there, as others have said.
    I had a similar problem with one of my earlier attempts. I think I got around it by retitling it, then splitting it into three volumes. I like to think so, anyway.

    Sincerely,

    Theo K. Sly

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW Pearl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor Z View Post
    I might be a total dolt here, but you keep saying you can't afford to self-publish your next book.

    Are you referring to potential lost sales from not having all 5 star reviews on your last book? Or... are you paying someone to publish the book for you? I don't think I spent any money at all (save for the hundred bajillion hours in work) when I self-published.
    What I mean by that is paying for an editor and paying for the graphic designer to make my cover.

    Mixed reviews is OK for some, but I'm a total perfectionist so that's the case here. And truly, what small press would want to pick up a book that is just OK?

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Theo K. Sly View Post
    I think writers are more sensitive than musicians about their work simply because we usually are more personally invested in the product of our labors. A musician who writes a bad song can simply sit down and write another song. With novels that is much more difficult.
    I do not think most musicians would agree with you that they are less invested in the product of their labors, or that writing songs is easy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl View Post
    Mixed reviews is OK for some, but I'm a total perfectionist so that's the case here. And truly, what small press would want to pick up a book that is just OK?
    They wouldn't. Why would you want to publish anything that is just okay?

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW Pearl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post

    They wouldn't. Why would you want to publish anything that is just okay?
    That is the point I'm trying to make.

  22. #22
    Learning About New Fish Trevor Z's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearl View Post
    What I mean by that is paying for an editor and paying for the graphic designer to make my cover
    Ah, gotcha.

  23. #23
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    Just to put a spin on this - I feel like removing the book from sale is a little bit like giving up.

    Why not try different kinds of marketing? Lower the price. Change the book cover. Edit the manuscript and upload a new version.

    If you can't afford a cover designer then learn how to do it yourself. Pearl, I'm not sure if you've properly shopped around for a graphic designer but I found mine over on Kindleboards Writer's Cafe and she was really good value. I expected to pay over 200 but ended up paying less than half of that. It's not always expensive as you might think, but I totally understand if you can't afford it at all. You're not the only one feeling the pinch at the moment

    Pearl, I don't want to jump to conclusions but it feels like the only thing holding you back is you. I had a quick look at your reviews and they are totally fine! The only way you're going to get used to criticism is if you put yourself out there and receive it. I want to be the positive one here - it's not costing you anything to keep the book on Amazon, your book has already been ENJOYED by the 4 people who left you a review and could be enjoyed by many more and you are in control of your own publication. It's up to you to make is succeed.

    Have you sent your book to bloggers for reviews? That might be your next step.

    (If you want any help please PM me)

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW Pearl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarahdalton View Post
    Just to put a spin on this - I feel like removing the book from sale is a little bit like giving up.

    Why not try different kinds of marketing? Lower the price. Change the book cover. Edit the manuscript and upload a new version.

    If you can't afford a cover designer then learn how to do it yourself. Pearl, I'm not sure if you've properly shopped around for a graphic designer but I found mine over on Kindleboards Writer's Cafe and she was really good value. I expected to pay over 200 but ended up paying less than half of that. It's not always expensive as you might think, but I totally understand if you can't afford it at all. You're not the only one feeling the pinch at the moment

    Pearl, I don't want to jump to conclusions but it feels like the only thing holding you back is you. I had a quick look at your reviews and they are totally fine! The only way you're going to get used to criticism is if you put yourself out there and receive it. I want to be the positive one here - it's not costing you anything to keep the book on Amazon, your book has already been ENJOYED by the 4 people who left you a review and could be enjoyed by many more and you are in control of your own publication. It's up to you to make is succeed.

    Have you sent your book to bloggers for reviews? That might be your next step.

    (If you want any help please PM me)
    I'm going to be very honest here, and not everyone will be pleased. Maybe I did not make myself clear enough in this thread, so here goes. I may sound bitchy but I am a little annoyed now.

    Yes, I shopped around for a graphic designer. I didn't do my cover myself. The designer was very reasonable and I have no problem using her again. But editors are very expensive, and did I not mention my rent has gone up?

    I've read and reread my posts and I fail to see where I give the impression that I want to unpublish because of mixed reviews. Maybe AW has seen so many whiny first time authors complaining about poor reviews that people think I'm another one.

    That is not the case.

    Here I go again: I can't afford the self-publish my sequel because it will be a very long time before I have the money for it. Therefore I think going to a small press would be the better option. But that won't work out because of my mixed reviews. Again, I am not whining about the whole world not loving my book. I am simply stating the obvious from a business perspective.

    So therefore it is best to unpublish. This is a business venture that is not working out. Call it giving up, but sometimes it is best to raise the white flag when there is no future.

    Maybe it will be best if the mods closed this thread. I thought it would be a good discussion on whether unpublishing is necessary, but it turned into a disaster. I feel like people are looking at my posts and picking and choosing what they want to read, and ignoring everything else. I know I could be banned from AW for what I've said just now, but I had to make myself clear.

  25. #25
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    Pearl - I know it can feel like people pick on small phrases in your posts but I think people are trying to help rather than argue with you. If you want to withdraw your book from sale that's your choice. I was only trying to offer some words of encouragement based on my own experiences.

    I don't know why you started the thread if you didn't want to discuss your own decision.

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