PDA

View Full Version : Self-Publishing Success



Elwyn
08-24-2005, 07:37 AM
In the very short time that I’ve been a member of this forum, I must say that I’ve read a lot of opinions about self-publishing; both pro and con.

I ran across this information and wanted to share it with you. It’s about a young man who self-published his first book and now his work is listed as number one on Amazon. The link is at: http://www.teenreads.com/authors/au-paolini-christopher.asp

After reading this, I am somewhat convinced that self-publishing may be the only way for some of us to break into this game.

What say ya’ll?

Aconite
08-25-2005, 04:15 PM
After reading this, I am somewhat convinced that self-publishing may be the only way for some of us to break into this game.

What say ya’ll?
I think you're looking for support for something you've already decided to do, instead of analyzing the information you've been given. Elwyn, self-publishing makes sense only under a specific set of circumstances, and your situation does not fall into that set. I don't know how to be more explicit than that.

Elwyn
08-25-2005, 08:15 PM
Aconite – I’m teetering on the edge. Actually, I probably would've never put the work into this book that I did (tons of research) if I'd read about how difficult it is to get published – before I wrote it.

There’s a couple of reasons I’m considering self-publishing. One, I don’t have the patience of Job – life’s too short. Two, there’s a lot of hidden references to cutting edge technology in the story – and a couple of years from now it will probably be ancient technology.

I think that’s the dilemma sci-fi writers have today. If they want to be accurate to the laws of physics and biology, and propose technologies that actually could work, they are threatened by Moore's Law. Advancements are happening so fast that what was theory or “fiction” yesterday will be reality tomorrow.

Oh, one more thing. I haven’t read anybody’s ideas on how to promote books other than the traditional methods. Cannot the Internet be used more effectively for promoting self-published books?

PVish
08-25-2005, 08:59 PM
Oh, one more thing. I haven’t read anybody’s ideas on how to promote books other than the traditional methods. Cannot the Internet be used more effectively for promoting self-published books?

The Internet is but one method. People still have to know who you are and what your book is about—and what makes you qualified to write it.

I went to your website and was impressed by your graphic. But when I clicked on your chapter excerpt link, I got nothing. Your links don't work. If I can't read a sample or find out more about what the book is about, I won't be interested. Also, if I don't know what things you have already written—or what your qualifications are to write this book, I probably won't read much further than the first page of your site.

Info on your page says the book is for "10 to adult." Why not say 10 and up? Otherwise, it sounds as if adults wouldn't enjoy it. What niche does your book fill? Self-publishing and POD only work if you're filling a niche. If your target market is middle-schoolers, for instance, you need to do a lot of readings/appearances in the classroom and in various educational markets (library reading programs, book fairs, etc.). I assume you've already "test-driven" parts of your book with young people. If you haven't, why not? Can you write lesson plans that you can post on-line or give to teachers so they can use your book in class?

FYI—self-publishing is cost effective if you can sell at least 1000 copies. POD works best if you sell 200 to 999 copies. I have self-pubbed once—albeit my first press run was partially funded by an arts council— and PODed 3 times. My latest POD, for example, is pretty specific for my county and a couple of counties around me. It's designed for a specific age group in a specific regional area. You can take a look at how I debuted that book at http://home.infionline.net/~rmushko

brinkett
08-25-2005, 09:03 PM
Elwyn, if it was easy to self-publish and promote books and be successful doing it, everyone would be doing it. It isn't. Any "new" method you think you've come up with to make your book a bestseller is something somebody has already tried.

I'm not a rabid anti-self-publishing person, but at the same time, I think for fiction, it should be a last resort. If you think you've got a decent book and you can't find a commercial publisher, then yes, why not self-publish rather than have it sit in a drawer. But the key is to consider it only AFTER you've knocked on every publisher's door, not before.

maestrowork
08-25-2005, 09:11 PM
The Internet could be a good tool -- only if people know where to look and they care. Perhaps you write for an eZine? Or you blog and have a fan base, etc... but the Internet can only help so much -- there are literally millions of websites and blogs out there.

Eventually, you'll still need to advertise. And it costs money. Without a legit review or press exposure, it's difficult for people to know who you are and what you have to offer.

Most people succeed in self-publishing write non-fiction/niche. They already have their exposure (they're speakers or experts in some fields or special interest groups, etc.) and they can sell their books at seminars and conventions. It's tough for fiction...

Aconite
08-25-2005, 10:59 PM
Elwyn, try this: Go to your bookshelves, and see how many self-published books you yourself have bought. See how many books you bought because of Internet promotion. Probably none to very few, yes?

So why assume it will be different for other buyers and your self-published, Internet-advertised book?

Everything you're thinking about has already been tried, by lots and lots of people. It didn't work for them, and it won't work for you. Self-publishing only makes sense under certain circumstances, and you're not in those circumstances.

MacAllister
08-25-2005, 11:46 PM
Elwyn, we aren't trying to be killjoys--we're honestly trying to save you some money, grief, and head-butting-against-brick-wall.

Elwyn
08-26-2005, 12:27 AM
To be sure, I appreciate everybody's input. I'm here to learn.

If anybody else goes to my site and the links don't work, please let me know.

I had no idea that it was so difficult to get a book published by a major publishing house. A person could spend years of painstaking research and go through major rewrites, etc. just to have his or her work end up in the trash - because he or she can't get a break from a major publisher. That's the message I've gotten so far. It's a VERY big gamble.

pVish - I've sent an email to you from your site.

Aconite
08-26-2005, 12:38 AM
I had no idea that it was so difficult to get a book published by a major publishing house.
It's a cakewalk compared to the self-publishing experience.

Seriously, self-publishing is hard. Really, really hard. You will have to learn marketing and accounting, in addition to the details of publishing in general and self-publishing in particular. Self-publishing is not any easier than publishing with the established publishers; you're just trading one set of difficulties for another. You have to understand that, whether you decide self-publishing is right for you or not. You have to know what you're getting into.

Richard
08-26-2005, 01:12 AM
Other difference: The gamble with publishing is a few stamps and a stack of paper; with self-publishing, it's potentially thousands and thousands of pounds for something that may never sell outside of your family.

Richard
08-26-2005, 01:14 AM
Also: The links on your site don't work in Safari.

maestrowork
08-26-2005, 01:21 AM
I had no idea that it was so difficult to get a book published by a major publishing house. A person could spend years of painstaking research and go through major rewrites, etc. just to have his or her work end up in the trash - because he or she can't get a break from a major publisher. That's the message I've gotten so far. It's a VERY big gamble..

It's not a "gamble." It just takes time. And if your book is good, it will happen. It has happened to thousands of first-time authors.

I'm a first-time author. I got a contract. It could happen.

(but if your bool is bad, no amount of self-publishing effort is going to make it successful)

The problem is, an author spends years of painstaking research and rewrites... YEARS... then he expects acceptance and success in months! Talk about discrepency of expectation. There's probably some ego involved, too -- "hey, I spent so much time writing this, it has to be brilliant and everyone should fall in love with it immediately!"

Publishing is a slow business. Keep writing, keep polishing, keep revising while you wait. Like good wine, if your book is good, it deserves some time, patience, and TLC.

brinkett
08-26-2005, 02:02 AM
Elwyn, try this: Go to your bookshelves, and see how many self-published books you yourself have bought.

Actually, I have a fair number of self-published books on my bookshelf. But they're all non-fiction. I don't have any self-published fiction.

Aconite
08-26-2005, 03:51 PM
Actually, I have a fair number of self-published books on my bookshelf. But they're all non-fiction. I don't have any self-published fiction.
Then if you're interested in self-publishing nonfiction, you're probably a better candidate than most. I've got some self-pubbed nonfiction books, too, all on topics with a small, highly specialized audience. But of the thousands of novels on my shelves (and this is after severe pruning), only one was self-published, and that was only because someone else in the house ordered it out of pity.

maestrowork
08-26-2005, 06:29 PM
I have exactly one POD fiction on my shelf -- a friend of mine wrote it and went with iUniverse. Truth be told, the story wasn't bad, but I couldn't see it published by a traditional house (needed significant editing).
p.s. oh, and I also have Atlanta Night. :D

quackers2computers
08-26-2005, 11:43 PM
The marketing of any book be it through the usual channels or the self publishing route is the key to success.

I advise you not to self publish if you don’t have the promotional money to back your publishing route effectively. I work hard at my promotions. My web site novel supported by six of my sites including www.keithhoare.com (http://www.keithhoare.com) are at the top of the search engines and my book is sold by the big names on the web. This is a lot of effort and doesn’t come cheap both in time, effort and money I even give away goodies to attract callers.

And no it’s not about good or bad books, many professional books are poorly written as well, thousands of them consigned to the bargain basement shops.

So yes get it self published the rejection stamps could cost more believe me.

:Clap:

logos1234567
08-27-2005, 02:09 AM
Quackers - No offence but you are yet to make any ranking on amazon at all - while I know amazon rankings are not the be all and end all, where exactly are your sales? If you have six websites pointing to amazon what's going wrong? Your book seems reasonably priced and quite interesting.

logos1234567
08-27-2005, 02:14 AM
ps. what are gazelle distributors like?

James D. Macdonald
08-29-2005, 07:38 PM
Not a sole seemed to be around as she walked slowly down the aisle of this ancient church. The gun in her right hand pointed to the ground.

Karen came to a halt at the alter, a lump had formed in her throat, her religious upbringing suddenly overwhelming her as she realized she was stood, gun in hand ready to kill, at the same time facing her God. Her eyes wondered over the gold framed icons surrounding the huge cross, glowing and flickering with the large number of candles, placed by worshippers on racks either side of the alter.

Surely you meant soul, altar, and wandered?

Aconite
08-29-2005, 09:31 PM
Karen came to a halt at the alter, a lump had formed in her throat, her religious upbringing suddenly overwhelming her as she realized she was stood, gun in hand ready to kill, at the same time facing her God. Her eyes wondered over the gold framed icons surrounding the huge cross, glowing and flickering with the large number of candles, placed by worshippers on racks either side of the alter.
Aside from the grammatical problems with this portion (run-on sentences, misplaced modifiers and punctuation, "was stood," and so on), um...I'm going to put this as delicately as I can...are you personally familiar with the faith of the church you're describing, and have you much experience with the layout and practices of churches of that faith?

Sheryl Nantus
08-29-2005, 09:34 PM
Surely you meant soul, altar, and wandered?





ow...

Maryn
09-26-2005, 03:57 AM
A person could spend years of painstaking research and go through major rewrites, etc. just to have his or her work end up in the trash - because he or she can't get a break from a major publisher.I haven't seen your manuscript, of course, but I've looked at the first page of your website. Besides nonworking links, the two errors in so little text was really off-putting.

You only get the one chance to make that favorable first impression. The website hasn't done that. Will the manuscript?

Perhaps it's not so much that novice authors can't get a break but that the work doesn't yet deserve a break? It might be better to spend your time honing your skills as writer, editor, researcher, and proofreader than in looking into self-publishing a book that's not yet as good as it can be.

Maryn, not happy to deliver negatives

Writer2011
09-26-2005, 05:12 AM
Elwyn...I too have considered POD because you don't have to worry about all those fees and such. Plus there are some POD's that don't require you to pay anything. There's one here in the state I live in (North Carolina)...actually it's not too far from where I live

Epicman
09-26-2005, 06:24 AM
"
Oh, one more thing. I haven’t read anybody’s ideas on how to promote books other than the traditional methods. Cannot the Internet be used more effectively for promoting self-published books?
"

There are numerous things I have and am trying:

I put press releases out at Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, and as many local newspapers I could Google. I Google about 1 major city a night getting e-mail addresses and names of the editors and personalize a heading for each one.

At my university - there are three major and over a dozen smaller universities in my area - I received permission from the office of student life to post flyers (8X14) about my book and any signing events (the first is Thursday so I'll report on the new Diggory thread on that). I also printed up several hundred 8X11 flyers to insert in the school newspaper - the one with the article about me. The flyers all in full color equaled about $40 in ink and $12 in paper (500 8X11 and 500 8X14) They are allowed to remain for 1 month on boards and doors and so they advertise the book as well as the signing event. I will also post on how many sales I think the flyers brought in.

I am going to repeat the above at the other two major universities first and then the minor ones. Since I also have relatives in Little Rock I will set up interviews with the local and college newspapers there and repeat the above.

In the meantime events tied to my topic are happening frequently: the Kansas Board of Education, the 38 Nobel Prize winners challenging them, the Pennsylvania case, etc. Everytime something new develops in the Creation/Evolution/Intelligent Design debate I tailor a new press release and get it to all the media outlets. Now that I have all the e-mail addresses this only takes a few hours and sooner or later I believe it will pop. (sounds a lot like submitting and resubmitting a manuscript doesn't it?) anyhow when it pops I stand to get between 60% and 75% royalties rather than 7%-12% like most traditional publishers pay.

Keep in mind what everyone here says though - You do have to have the 'just right' kind of book for this to work. In your case Elwyn I think any cutting edge technology can be converted into a non-fiction format and put out in a 130-200 page book at a very reasonable price with a real focused and catchy title. That sounds kind of radical - but its just an idea.

MadScientistMatt
09-26-2005, 11:21 PM
Elwyn...I too have considered POD because you don't have to worry about all those fees and such. Plus there are some POD's that don't require you to pay anything. There's one here in the state I live in (North Carolina)...actually it's not too far from where I live

Going with POD to avoid fees? That's kind of like going to Louisiana because you don't like corrupt politicians.

Really, what sort of fees were you trying to avoid with POD? Was that as compared with other sorts of vanity presses?

NicoleJLeBoeuf
09-27-2005, 12:14 AM
...kind of like going to Louisiana because you don't like corrupt politicians.Ouch.

Writer2011
10-12-2005, 06:51 AM
I apologize...i'm not familiar with actual publishers and if they charge anything or if you are charged ANYTHING to publish a book, hire an agent, ect. With some POD's you have to buy so many books, ect...with LULU.COM you don't have to do that.

There are corroupt politcians everywhere...what about Washington D.C? I could go on forever about this but will be civil and shut my mouth.

Mike Coombes
10-13-2005, 02:04 AM
Two, there’s a lot of hidden references to cutting edge technology in the story – and a couple of years from now it will probably be ancient technology.

If your book has that short a shelf-life, your marketing opportunities are limited anyway.


I think that’s the dilemma sci-fi writers have today. If they want to be accurate to the laws of physics and biology, and propose technologies that actually could work, they are threatened by Moore's Law. Advancements are happening so fast that what was theory or “fiction” yesterday will be reality tomorrow.

I disagree. The number of writers doing 'hard' sf that is totally reliant on scientific accuracy is small, as is the readership. SF is a far broader church.


Oh, one more thing. I haven’t read anybody’s ideas on how to promote books other than the traditional methods. Cannot the Internet be used more effectively for promoting self-published books?

The internet is just an advertising medium. If you can produce a product that people can't live without, you don't need the internet, you need an agent. If you can't, thn the internet is as good a way of selling snake-oil as any other.

Look at it this way - your website is your first and only introduction to a potential buyer. Broken links, bad spelling and grammar - what does that say about you?

8thSamurai
05-11-2009, 07:44 PM
Can we bust the Paolini myth again?

Not self or vanity pubbed. His parents ran a small press for years. When their darling son wrote a book of his own, they gave their entire lives over to promoting and touring his book (which as editors/publishers already, they had experience doing).

So, if you have a relative that is already a pro editor, publisher, and marketer, who is willing to give up tens of thousands of dollars and years of their life promoting your book - go for it.

The fairy story makes for great PR, but has little to do with the facts. If you plan on being your own publisher, the facts are what you need.

mercs
05-12-2009, 11:44 AM
Samurai, spot on! I keep reading this too. But it's not as if he wasn't helped greatly! His parents were effectively a small sized publishing house that gave him a huge leg up and then spent three years giving 100% of their time to his book! I think very few (if any) 18 year old, debutants get that sort of package! In fact I think many established and hard working authors would love a three year promotional tour and 100% of the publishers time to get across...

sure, the story has to be good to carry it forward, but it would be like me picking up a guitar and wandering onto the main stage at Glastonbury. there was no struggle or heartache to that point!

JosephR
05-14-2009, 10:02 PM
By your reasoning, 8th, if I’ve run a small, independent publishing business for a few years (which would apply to many, many self publishers), then publish and market a book written by my daughter, her book would be considered commercially published rather than self-published. Technically I’m inclined to agree with you, but would anyone in the publishing industry actually see it that way?

Hydrangea
05-18-2009, 09:02 PM
I think that for anyone who has done extensive research, they know that traditional publishing and self or subsidiary publishing have their pros and cons over the other.

Pros and cons:

Pro (trad): They will take care of the marketing and promotion of your book
Con (trad): Some may want such creative control that the book is no longer "yours" or communicates the message u intended.

Pro (self): You get full creative control over your book to communicate the message u intended. But you must remember that you need to find an EDITOR (maybe $0.45 per word) and learn what to give or take back. Some things will likely have to shift a little, but you're going to have to decide where to be stubborn and where not to.

Con (trad): You will most certainly get less than 50, 40, and under percent of your book sales.
Pro (self): Whatever you make, you keep! Now you have the task of making sure you MAKE enough. Time for the business savvy and the cross-fingers, and the links, and the good luck, and the prayers.

Pro (trad): Traditional publishers have MUCH better access in getting your book on shelves if they accept u.
1st con (trad): They can't guarantee it will LEAVE shelves.
2nd con(trad): It may take you forever, or never, or at least until Jesus returns--and by then it doesn't matter, now does it?--to get your book accepted by a publisher.
3rd con (trad): A publisher who is taking on several projects may accept your book for publication, but not promote or sell it with as much gusto and passion as he/she may another project they feel will sell better and appeal more to the masses.

Pro (self): You get to have creative and financial control of your book, possibly making 100% royalties INSTEAD of possibly 50 cents off each book you sell with a publisher.
Con (self): Marketing a self-published book is difficult. It's possible like the writer of Joe Black, the Eragon kid, and plenty others, but very hard. If you're not willing to put in the energy, if you don't have financial backing, and if you do not have appropriate "links", you may find yourself getting 100% royalties on only 75 books sold, or less.

Con (self): Many people look down upon self-published books, assuming you think your work is something magical text sent down from the heavens upon a cloud from God.
Pro (self): You can try to prove them wrong . . . if you can.

ADVICE: I think it's important to first of all PERSONALLY determine exactly WHAT YOU EXPECT TO GET OUT OF YOUR WRITING PROFESSION, AND WHAT YOU DETERMINE AS "SUCCESS". Is it just a book you want family and friends to read? Is success for you having ur book sell as many copies as Harry Potter? Or is it that you want the people who will respect and embrace your book to have access to it, even if it may be just a specific audience? Is success for you possibly changing your book to an extent that it no longer communicates what you intended just for the sake of sales, or do you want to keep the message but still be able to have it sell well? What are YOU willing to do to make sure your book is promoted well like those other success stories u have heard about?

Its a tough one, but I hope you all go to where you need to go. I'm still weighing out my options.

MickRooney
05-19-2009, 05:47 PM
ADVICE: I think it's important to first of all PERSONALLY determine exactly WHAT YOU EXPECT TO GET OUT OF YOUR WRITING PROFESSION, AND WHAT YOU DETERMINE AS "SUCCESS". Is it just a book you want family and friends to read? Is success for you having ur book sell as many copies as Harry Potter? Or is it that you want the people who will respect and embrace your book to have access to it, even if it may be just a specific audience? Is success for you possibly changing your book to an extent that it no longer communicates what you intended just for the sake of sales, or do you want to keep the message but still be able to have it sell well? What are YOU willing to do to make sure your book is promoted well like those other success stories u have heard about?

Terrific post, Hydrangea. I think your last section above is the most critical piece of advice for any author whether they are self-publishing or using the traditional channels to be published.

Mr. Anonymous
05-19-2009, 11:23 PM
Elwyn,

I'd like to point out that

1) Christopher Paulini and his parents put a tremendous amount of time and energy into selling the book. The kid did readings at schools, dressed up like a knight, etc.

2) Despite all those efforts, he only became a bestseller after he was picked up by a traditional publisher.

3) The only reason he was picked up by a traditional publisher was because a young relative of Carl Hiassen's, a fairly well known author, happened to read it. Hiassen notified his publisher, and Paulini was offered traditional publication.

MickRooney
05-20-2009, 12:18 AM
The thing with so many claimed 'self-publishing successes' is that often the 'success' came after the author was picked up by a traditional publisher.

So often you hear GP Taylor, author of Shadowmancer cited in these self-publishing successes, but Taylor only sold a few thousand before he was signed up by Faber.

But to be fair, for self-publishing, a few thousand copies sold of a book could be deemed a self-publishing success.

8thSamurai
05-27-2009, 06:50 AM
By your reasoning, 8th, if I’ve run a small, independent publishing business for a few years (which would apply to many, many self publishers), then publish and market a book written by my daughter, her book would be considered commercially published rather than self-published. Technically I’m inclined to agree with you, but would anyone in the publishing industry actually see it that way?


Yes. Through a small press, and commercially published. Had your daughter's book been the ONLY book that you published, that would still be self publishing.

Hope that helps.

ResearchGuy
05-27-2009, 08:49 AM
. . . Had your daughter's book been the ONLY book that you published, that would still be self publishing. . . .
I beg to differ. It might not qualify as arms-length commercial publishing, but by definition, if the author is not the publisher, it is not self-publishing.

If the person then goes on to publish books by unrelated people, would (in your view) the daughter's book retroactively cease to be 'self-published'?

If John Doe has published a dozen works by other authors and then publishes his own memoir, is his memoir not self-published?

If the author is also the publisher, then the book is self-published. Publishers own the ISBN and manage the publishing process.

That's how I see it after years of involvement with an organization of independent publishers (many of whom are self-publishers, some with sales well into the tens of thousands) and after becoming a publisher myself (on a very small scale).

--Ken

JosephR
05-27-2009, 08:35 PM
Thanks, 8th, and you too, Ken. I find this all very interesting...and informative.

TooJoyful00
06-27-2009, 03:52 AM
Great information to pass on, truly inspiring. Self-publishing may be a bit of a headache but the reward is worth it.

mercs
07-06-2009, 11:52 AM
Jeremy Robinson -pretty much the only non-self help/specialist IT book permanently in the top 100 of all time on lulu- has just signed a three book deal with St Martin's Press...

shouldn't be surprised, as seriously the chap's book routinely sells by the bucketload and he must have something going for it -either that or a lot of loft space!

It can happen, but you need a solid product and proven sales figures to boot...

kayleamay
07-29-2009, 07:23 PM
I'm new to the board, but not to life. I am currently in the process of publishing a book with iUniverse. I have to say, I have enjoyed every step of the process. Do I think I will find myself ranked highly on Amazon or on bestseller lists? Magic eight-ball says my chances are slim to none. BUT, that's not why I write and not why I went POD. I write because I really love to write. I went POD because a number of people wanted bound copies of my story and I figure if my friends can spend their money on boats and ATV's (hobbies) then why can't I spend a little on publishing a book? I have a house full of kids, a full-time job and very little interest in beating down agents doors to get recognized. My bills are paid and I write for the joy of it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you you're only writing to get rich, you would be better off investing in real estate. If your book is good and has a wide appeal, get it into peoples hands. Your best tool will be word-of-mouth. (Try that go-to-the-bookshelf thing and see how many books you own because a friend recommended them? I did, and it accounted for nearly half of my collection.)

Carry on good people. Carry on.

8thSamurai
07-31-2009, 04:36 AM
And how is anyone going to hear about it? Who's going to spend more on a book they have to buy online without viewing first?

There's enough misinformation in that post to make one's head spin.