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BarbaraKE
03-26-2011, 05:45 AM
From what I understand, no one in the publishing field can tell which books will catch the public's fancy and 'break out'. We've all heard stories about various best sellers that were rejected umpteen times by agents and/or publishers and vice-versa - authors paid big advances whose books didn't sell.

Maybe Amanda Hocking's signing with a traditional publisher (St. Martin) is how the publishing market will evolve.

Let's say an unknown author decides to self-publish their book electronically. If it doesn't appeal to readers, it doesn't sell many copies and eventually drops off the radar. But if it does, I believe it will start selling (through word-of-mouth and independent reader reviews).

Then it might make sense for agents and/or publishers to approach the successful authors (i.e. those authors whose books are selling). They'd be getting a proven commodity - an author whose books attract readers. And the author would gain the benefit of the publisher's 'stamp of approval' (plus whatever other benefits the publisher can provide).

What do you think??

amergina
03-26-2011, 05:54 AM
There have been some cases of self-published books breaking out and being picked up by commercial publishing for a very long time... since before the e-book revolution, in fact.

It happens on occasion. But the majority of new writers picked up by commercial publishers happen via the agent/submission to publisher route. I don't think this will change that much.

DeleyanLee
03-26-2011, 06:01 AM
I think it's a possibility. After all, from what I can see, that's how many musical artists/groups are getting contracts--by posting on YouTube, etc and getting a following going big enough to attract a major production company.

Odder things have happened.

thothguard51
03-26-2011, 06:29 AM
A possibility? Sure. It's also possible that we will one day live on Mars in dome cities.

The thing is, self publishing does not have any higher success rate than traditional publishing has. If anything, self publishing has limitations, especially in print because most stores will not stock self published books, plus their higher than average prices.

What I do think will happen is that more and more established commercial writers will experiment with self publishing e-books for some of their throw away stories, or backlist books that are no longer in print by their publisher. They may even self pub new work just to see if they can leverage their publisher.

But for new writers, self publishing is no more a sure road to success than with commercial publishing. Of course, everyone has a different view on what success means.

It's and interesting and scary time for new writers.

DeleyanLee
03-26-2011, 06:49 AM
I've just been remembering back about 15-20 years ago with Paranormal and then Erotic Romance.

Standard Romance publishing said there wasn't a market for it, wouldn't touch it. So small e-pubs (like Ellora's Cave) started buying it and putting it out there and--wow--there was a market for it. A growing market that proved to be huge. Suddenly, established Romance publishers were all over Paranormal, and then Erotic Romance like flies on leftovers because there was money to be made. They offered many of the bigger name ebook authors big money print contracts and got into that business.

Still, authors who can sell the ebooks have an easier path to standard publication (happened to a friend of mine a couple of years ago, actually).

That's why I think it's possible that small/self-presses might be the proving grounds of the future. I mean, people are getting book contracts from their blog posts. It's always possible, once there's a following. But that's always the challenge, regardless of where publication happens--getting that following.

The industry is changing because technology is changing it, as always. We live in interesting times, as the Chinese proverb says.

chevbrock
03-26-2011, 07:19 AM
I am one that agrees with you, DeleyanLee. It's been happening in the music business for ages - Remember that Canadian kid, what was his name? Something Beiber, when he posted a couple of things on YouTube. Now he's enjoying a modest yet comfortable living with a small cult fan base.

I think publishing houses these days would be a bit silly not trawling for potential best-sellers in these markets. It would seem to me a very safe and labour-light way of making some money.

KansasWriter
03-26-2011, 08:10 AM
I think we need to take a longer view here.

People have only been "traditionally" publishing mass-market books for a small fraction of human history. I remember a few years back there were murmurs of wonder over submitting work via e-mail, with the old guard saying it would never replace traditional snail mail. Right.

I might be biased because I run an ereader site, but I see ebooks and social networking as a very powerful combination. My friends and I regularly swap books and send each other links to good stuff. Ebooks have gained respectability with magazines such as The Atlantic offering up great short stories every month for a low price.

Imagine this scenario: you're a dedicated fan of ebooks and you come across a great sentence. With the press of a button you tweet the sentence to all your ebook-loving friends. Intrigued, a few of them download the book it came from for 99 cents. People are doing the math. A video game on an iPad costs about a buck, maybe three, or maybe free. To them, buying a book that will supply days of entertainment is nothing.

I don't see why you wouldn't self-publish your book first. If it begins to climb the ranks in Amazon that's a great thing to put in a query letter when finding an agent. If it gets a great fanbase then someone will notice.

Look for publishing houses to begin assigning dedicated staff members to surf the net, find ebooks that are exploding in popularity, and then snatch up the authors. In fact, is that already the case?

KW

FocusOnEnergy
03-26-2011, 08:26 AM
I think there will come a time that success will not be measured in how many print copies a book sells via a commercial publishing house, but by how many electronic copies that book sells for the author.

What we've been seeing lately is only the first step in that direction. First, ereaders have to reach the level of market penetration so that books, newspapers and magazines are all published for them as the primary delivery method-not the web, because there's no money in that delivery method-people expect their content free online. That will lead to print publications of all types becoming a niche market, eventually a luxury item-as printed materials once were, prior to the invention of the printing press.

There are many comparisons made to film industry, "indie" films being similar to self-published books, but what gets forgotten is how that industry already changed it's business model dramatically.

Once upon a time, if you wanted a script to become a movie, or you wanted to be an actor in films, there was only one way to do it.

The five major movie studios. They owned the movie theaters, the backlots where the movies were made, and controlled the entire process from script and screen test to the completed films. Actors were hired under contracts which paid them a salary, given roles in movies, and promoted to the point where their lives were heavily controlled.

The studio system no longer exists. Instead of owning the entire process, the studios operate as backers, distributors and leasers of movie studios.

Now, the theaters are independently owned, the actors are free agents who hire their own publicists, and are paid by the movie. Many actors operate their own production companies, who actually make the movies. Even Stephen King started his own, Castle Rock Films. Compared to the studio system, that's all indie.

New forms of distribution also exist. During the days of the studio system, the only way to see a movie was at a movie theater. Now, we can watch them on television, on DVD, on smart phones, and on the Internet.

The big publishing houses are analogous to the old movie studios in that they control the process from the time they get a manuscript until it hits the shelves. They are also dealing with new forms of delivery. At one time the movie industry had to decide between VHS, betamax and laserdisc. Ironically it was the adult film industry, who because Sony refused to deal with them, embraced VHS and it became the standard. And then someone came up with Cinerama, 3D and IMAX.

Sales figures and awards are what determine success and quality, not some cigar chomping studio owner's whims. A lot of terrible movies were made during the era of the studio system, as were many great movies.

The commercial publishing houses who embrace the change and alter their business model to suit the changes in the industry will survive. Only one of the original big five movie studios is gone, RKO, the rest are still in business.

Focus

gothicangel
03-26-2011, 12:59 PM
Could self-publishing FIRST be the wave of the future??

No.

gothicangel
03-26-2011, 01:42 PM
I think publishing houses these days would be a bit silly not trawling for potential best-sellers in these markets. It would seem to me a very safe and labour-light way of making some money.

Yeah, publishers have nothing else to do but wade through Amazon's Kindle store.

There is a reason why publishers stopped accepting unagented submissions.

RobJ
03-26-2011, 02:02 PM
Maybe Amanda Hocking's signing with a traditional publisher (St. Martin) is how the publishing market will evolve.
What do you mean by 'how the publishing market will evolve'? Do you mean, this will become the norm? If so, then I don't think so. Will we see successful self-publishers picked up by traditional publishers more often? Quite possibly. I don't think it'll be that much of a shift though.

BarbaraKE
03-26-2011, 03:31 PM
Yeah, publishers have nothing else to do but wade through Amazon's Kindle store.

There is a reason why publishers stopped accepting unagented submissions.

Gothicangel - I apologize if I wasn't clear. I meant that 'traditional' publishers would start seeking out those authors already selling well on Amazon (or B&N or whatever).

PulpDogg
03-26-2011, 04:10 PM
What do you mean by 'how the publishing market will evolve'? Do you mean, this will become the norm? If so, then I don't think so. Will we see successful self-publishers picked up by traditional publishers more often? Quite possibly. I don't think it'll be that much of a shift though.

What people tend to overlook is that Amanda Hocking is an extreme outlier. She sold about 800,000 books in the first two month of 2011 ... of course a big publisher would get interested.

There will be more who will be snacked up by publishers after they became bestsellers on their own. But that has happened before and won't become the dominant model.

I do think however that more people will publish on their own, be it as their first option or be it after they got rejected for a while by agents/publishers. Or be it with stuff they know from the start won't sell to agents/publishers - either because of content/genre or because of format (short stories/novellas).

EDIT: Oh .. btw Rob, I was agreeing with your post :), just adding to it.

gothicangel
03-26-2011, 04:20 PM
Gothicangel - I apologize if I wasn't clear. I meant that 'traditional' publishers would start seeking out those authors already selling well on Amazon (or B&N or whatever).

See TBE in the previous thread. If a self-published author hitting the headlines, then I would seek it out.

Otherwise I really don't have the time to seek out every author that sells 1000 copies a month on Kindle.

PulpDogg
03-26-2011, 04:38 PM
Otherwise I really don't have the time to seek out every author that sells 1000 copies a month on Kindle.

Actually .. why not? 1000 copies a month is a lot of books. Especially now, with the whole ebook market just 8-10% of the overall market ... Once that share increases significantly, say to 50%, 1000 copies a month are not that spectacular.

But right now ... selling 1000 ebooks a month would mean you could move a lot more in print, just because the reach you'd have in print is so much larger.

1000 copies a month on Kindle is still an outlier I think ...

gothicangel
03-26-2011, 05:01 PM
Actually .. why not? 1000 copies a month is a lot of books. Especially now, with the whole ebook market just 8-10% of the overall market ... Once that share increases significantly, say to 50%, 1000 copies a month are not that spectacular.

But right now ... selling 1000 ebooks a month would mean you could move a lot more in print, just because the reach you'd have in print is so much larger.

1000 copies a month on Kindle is still an outlier I think ...

Because chances are that it may only sell 1000 copies, and would it sell a thousand copies priced £7.99 rather than 50p?

For me, I suspect a good slice of the people buying self-published Kindle books are those who have/are self-publishing their books through Kindle. It's similiar to the online bookshops on Lulu.com or Authorhouse, the only market is the publisher's 'stable of authors.'

I also believe there is an element of the fanfiction market involved in Hocking's case. How many are going to pay for a full priced print copy from B&N or Waterstone's?

shadowwalker
03-26-2011, 06:28 PM
Imagine this scenario: you're a dedicated fan of ebooks and you come across a great sentence. With the press of a button you tweet the sentence to all your ebook-loving friends. Intrigued, a few of them download the book it came from for 99 cents. People are doing the math. A video game on an iPad costs about a buck, maybe three, or maybe free. To them, buying a book that will supply days of entertainment is nothing.

I don't see why you wouldn't self-publish your book first. If it begins to climb the ranks in Amazon that's a great thing to put in a query letter when finding an agent. If it gets a great fanbase then someone will notice.
KW

First (and I'm beginning to think I should make this the first sentence of every post) the success of ebooks is separate from self-publishing success. So I can definitely see the traditional publishers moving more and more into ebook territory. That only makes sense. Paying attention when an Amanda Hocking comes along? Sure. Trolling ebook releases for the Holy Grail? No. They've got enough authors submitting directly to them already.

I think ebooks are going to change traditional publishing and in a way that's better for authors, because publishers won't have all the expenses involved in taking a chance on an unknown, and because of self-publishing, there will be a better 'split', particularly with established traditional authors.

Why not self-publish first? Because not everyone is willing or able to spend the time and money needed to get their book up to speed (editing, cover, etc) and spread the word. And not everyone who does is going to end up an Amanda Hocking. The vast majority will not - and then what publisher is going to come knocking?

valeriec80
03-26-2011, 06:51 PM
I think yes. I've seen two literary agencies whose submission policies say they only want to see queries from established authors. I think that in the not-too-distant future, many literary agents may go to a model like this, and the prerequisite to getting an agent or getting a publishing deal may very well be that you've already proven yourself by selling lots of books.

From an agent and publisher standpoint, it makes sense, because they'd now only have to take on proven commodities. Plus, it would reduce slush piles to basically nothing. I don't think the agents and publishers would be hanging out on Amazon reading samples, of course. I think they'll wait for authors to approach them, but they won't give an author the time of day if they don't already have a certain level of success.

Why would successful authors approach agents and publishers? Probably for print distribution, foreign rights, etc. Amanda Hocking, the outlier, still wants that kind of visibility for her books.

I imagine there will still be agents reading slush and accepting queries from unknowns, but I think they will eventually be in the minority.

PopLit
03-26-2011, 07:23 PM
One way to predict the future is to look for analogies in the past. Winston Churchill said, "I could look farther into the future because I looked further into the past."

The Amanda Hocking signing is suggestive of RCA signing Elvis Presley to a contract in 1955-- which involved buying his rights from a tiny storefront operation in Memphis called Sun Records. At the time, the "Big Four" of the music industry, which included RCA, controlled 85% of the American music recording market.

Despite RCA taking for themselves the biggest star of the burgeoning rock n roll phenomenon, in the next few years the Big Four lost almost half of their market share to hundreds of DIY upstarts like Sun Records. Sam Phillips, who owned Sun, plowed RCA's money back into his little operation to expand it, and quickly had a national bestseller with "Blue Suede Shoes" at the same time RCA was breaking Elvis nationwide with "Heartbreak Hotel." It was a time of populist upstarts with a very crude new sound that, incidentally, was completely rejected by the critics.

Were there similarities to ebooks? Yes. The rock explosion came about in part because of new delivery vehicles-- inexpensive portable record players-- and inexpensive new products in the form of the 45 rpm record instead of the 33 rpm LP.

One could become a rock star, or a bigtime entrepreneur, with no previous background or training. Phil Spector recorded himself and two friends while in high school, then began recording others. In Detroit, Berry Gordy began Motown while laboring in an auto plant, with $600 borrowed from his sister.

Who's to say the same won't happen in literature and publishing right now? Can the Bigs compete with 99-cent books? What happens if their main distro system-- the big box stores-- close?

Sure, one of the giants ponied up two million for Amanda Hocking. Will they be able to do it for 100 writers or more?

Just asking, yo.

Have a great day!

-Karl Wenclas
www.americanpoplit.blogspot.com (http://www.americanpoplit.blogspot.com)
www.kingwenclas.blogspot.com (http://www.kingwenclas.blogspot.com)

Alitriona
03-26-2011, 08:17 PM
I think yes. I've seen two literary agencies whose submission policies say they only want to see queries from established authors. I think that in the not-too-distant future, many literary agents may go to a model like this, and the prerequisite to getting an agent or getting a publishing deal may very well be that you've already proven yourself by selling lots of books.



As far as I have learned from the boards here and other sites, when a literary agency say established authors they are not referring to the writer who has sold a one or two hundred copies on kindle. One or two hundred is a generous figure for the majority of kindle books from self-pubbed authors.

Self-publishing is a wonderful way to go for some people. But IMO it will never replace publishing houses. Some of us don't want to self publish, some of us have no interest in learning how to self-publish well. When I say well, I mean to the standard of traditionally published novels. We just want to write. I want to be an author, not a publisher and I believe people with that mindset are still in the majority. This includes the huge self-pubbing success, Amanda Hocking.

gothicangel
03-26-2011, 08:54 PM
As far as I have learned from the boards here and other sites, when a literary agency say established authors they are not referring to the writer who has sold a one or two hundred copies on kindle. One or two hundred is a generous figure for the majority of kindle books from self-pubbed authors.

Self-publishing is a wonderful way to go for some people. But IMO it will never replace publishing houses. Some of us don't want to self publish, some of us have no interest in learning how to self-publish well. When I say well, I mean to the standard of traditionally published novels. We just want to write. I want to be an author, not a publisher and I believe people with that mindset are still in the majority. This includes the huge self-pubbing success, Amanda Hocking.

For me an established author is always going to be one who has published the 'traditional' way with a good history of publication, awards and strong sales history.

One thing that will not change is agents and editors view that self-publishing isn't a legitimate publishing credit. Self-publishers will just have to learn to suck it up. It's the equivalent of myself publishing my dissertation on Lulu and putting it on an application for Tenure at Durham University.

shadowwalker
03-26-2011, 09:07 PM
One thing that will not change is agents and editors view that self-publishing isn't a legitimate publishing credit.

The fact that anyone can self-publish is both the joy and the curse for these authors. In the end, that's what it really boils down to.

scott4375
03-26-2011, 11:01 PM
Hello all... I'm a Newbie.
Just a little background. I self pub'd my first non-fiction book on rape prevention in 1990. It took 10 years to sell 5,000 books. This was before the Internet. The next book (in 2000) was a rewrite of the first with additional info and updated facts. It was picked up by Sourcebooks and they sold 5,000 books in the first two months, then the book dwindled and sold very few after the initial launch. Then they convinced me to do another update and rewrite in 2007. This book dwindled right from the start. As far as royalties go, it's very meager. I make less than $50 per year average. Now, I've launched my first work of fiction, a Spiritual Adventure Novel titled: The Jesus Factory. You can get more info about it from my website: http://www.thejesusfactory.com (http://www.thejesusfactory.com/)

The book has been out only a few months, and I'm torn as to whether to stick with self publishing via Aventine Press (a POD) or try to get an agent and mainstream publisher. I find that marketing a novel is much like trying to sell a painting. It's very subjective... you've got to read the story or it has to be strongly recommended by friend or press you respect to get you to try it out. Actually it was much easier to market the non-fiction, as people who wanted rape prevention information would easily pick it up and buy it because it contained the kind of content they were looking for.

I have sent info to a number of agents and some publishers, but am in the waiting process. If anyone has a suggestion, I'd be most grateful for your input. Thanks for reading... Scott

valeriec80
03-27-2011, 12:24 AM
As far as I have learned from the boards here and other sites, when a literary agency say established authors they are not referring to the writer who has sold a one or two hundred copies on kindle. One or two hundred is a generous figure for the majority of kindle books from self-pubbed authors.

Yeah, I was thinking more along the lines of steadily selling 1000 books or more a month for six months as the bar for saying you're "established" or marketable. And I don't think currently that those agents are looking for self-pubbers. I just meant that it's possible this is a sign that the doors are closing even further to slush. Few editors look at it now, if agents stop looking at it too, there's going to be little choice but to self-publish.

As for whether or not 200 copies is a generous figure for the majority of self-pubbers, I don't know anymore. Things are changing very fast.

Rhonda9080
03-27-2011, 12:46 AM
Because chances are that it may only sell 1000 copies, and would it sell a thousand copies priced £7.99 rather than 50p?

For me, I suspect a good slice of the people buying self-published Kindle books are those who have/are self-publishing their books through Kindle. It's similiar to the online bookshops on Lulu.com or Authorhouse, the only market is the publisher's 'stable of authors.'

I also believe there is an element of the fanfiction market involved in Hocking's case. How many are going to pay for a full priced print copy from B&N or Waterstone's?

Kindle downloads are the first things that come up in Amazon searches now. You have to then click a link to the hardcover or paperback format of the book. Looks like the powers-that-be at Amazon might be on to something? Or are they just delusional? You can search by author, but many people search by tags and keywords to find their reading niches. Why should they care if an author's some publishing house darling or a newbie? They just want a good read for their money.
***But Hey! I'm from the days of typewriter in smoky newsrooms and "typesetters" who transfered hard copy into big, huge monster Macs ( less than 20 years ago!) Now, we email stories to editors live-on-scene, which then go instantly to online news sites and the wire to supplement once-a-day hard copy. Can't imagine a new generation who lives on FB and tweets from their blackberries favoring online downloads over toting around a heavy tome ...

gothicangel
03-27-2011, 12:52 AM
Hello all... I'm a Newbie.
Just a little background. I self pub'd my first non-fiction book on rape prevention in 1990. It took 10 years to sell 5,000 books. This was before the Internet. The next book (in 2000) was a rewrite of the first with additional info and updated facts. It was picked up by Sourcebooks and they sold 5,000 books in the first two months, then the book dwindled and sold very few after the initial launch. Then they convinced me to do another update and rewrite in 2007. This book dwindled right from the start. As far as royalties go, it's very meager. I make less than $50 per year average. Now, I've launched my first work of fiction, a Spiritual Adventure Novel titled: The Jesus Factory. You can get more info about it from my website: http://www.thejesusfactory.com (http://www.thejesusfactory.com/)

The book has been out only a few months, and I'm torn as to whether to stick with self publishing via Aventine Press (a POD) or try to get an agent and mainstream publisher. I find that marketing a novel is much like trying to sell a painting. It's very subjective... you've got to read the story or it has to be strongly recommended by friend or press you respect to get you to try it out. Actually it was much easier to market the non-fiction, as people who wanted rape prevention information would easily pick it up and buy it because it contained the kind of content they were looking for.

I have sent info to a number of agents and some publishers, but am in the waiting process. If anyone has a suggestion, I'd be most grateful for your input. Thanks for reading... Scott

Hi Scott. I think you've prefectly demonstrated intelligent self-publishing. Marketing a novel is a very different beast to non-fiction.

Have you tried approaching Christian publishers?

Is the non-fiction title still in print? It's something I'd be interested in reading - I think I remember reading your piece in Cosmo.

Rhonda9080
03-27-2011, 12:59 AM
For me an established author is always going to be one who has published the 'traditional' way with a good history of publication, awards and strong sales history.

One thing that will not change is agents and editors view that self-publishing isn't a legitimate publishing credit. Self-publishers will just have to learn to suck it up. It's the equivalent of myself publishing my dissertation on Lulu and putting it on an application for Tenure at Durham University.

Law of averages - from one whose manned "Letters-to-editor" desk, if one person cares enough to write about it, there are 20 (or more) others out there thinking the same thing. If we get a flood of letters on a topic, that warrants story-exploration. I honestly think - like the music industry big-wigs, Publishing industry needs to come down off their lofty pedestal. Pablum for the masses is exceptable (and lucrative!) for a while, but one needs to know when its time to exit the gravy train, explore other options.
***I wonder how many are going to still be flooded with vampire-zombie romance trilogies in their slush piles two years from now? As a reader, except the upcoming season of True Blood (which better improve), I've hit the saturation point.
(Please note: no insult to vamp writers - I love you guys for keeping me curled up content this winter :) )

Rhonda9080
03-27-2011, 01:13 AM
The heart of the discussion here - the future impact of e-publishing, not current trends. Unless you're an antiquities dealer, how often do you buy a illustrated scroll? The printing press was the future, and now, lets face it, most of people's lives are spent on hand-held devises that link them to the world. Don't misunderstand - I don't think the "print" book will ever totally die-out. (Hey! My kid spends his days off in second-hand music stores searching for "antique" vinyl). But big names in music, books, all the arts, don't have as much meaning for the younger generation. That's why the term "Indy" has entered the popular lexicon.

Alitriona
03-27-2011, 01:33 AM
Yeah, I was thinking more along the lines of steadily selling 1000 books or more a month for six months as the bar for saying you're "established" or marketable.

As for whether or not 200 copies is a generous figure for the majority of self-pubbers, I don't know anymore. Things are changing very fast.

Regarding the 1st point, the number of previously unknown and unpublished self-published people selling 1,000 a month of 1 book for 6 months in order to make that one book marketable would be so low it won't replace sending manuscripts to agents and publishers any time soon.

As for the second point, there are a huge amount of new books every week and most won't sell more than a few dozen to friends and family.

There are a lot of people being led to believe self-publishing is a short cut to having a book out, an easier option and a good way to make a living. There is nothing about publishing that is easy regardless of route taken. E-books are getting more popular, it doesn't automatically mean self-publishing is taking over any time soon or ever.

PulpDogg
03-27-2011, 02:17 AM
Regarding the 1st point, the number of previously unknown and unpublished self-published people selling 1,000 a month of 1 book for 6 months in order to make that one book marketable would be so low it won't replace sending manuscripts to agents and publishers any time soon.

As for the second point, there are a huge amount of new books every week and most won't sell more than a few dozen to friends and family.

There are a lot of people being led to believe self-publishing is a short cut to having a book out, an easier option and a good way to make a living. There is nothing about publishing that is easy regardless of route taken. E-books are getting more popular, it doesn't automatically mean self-publishing is taking over any time soon or ever.

No matter the eventual result ... but the bolded part is a fact, at least when you are talking about ebooks. Once you have written the book, publishing it as an ebook is easier and way faster than getting it out through a publisher.

Making a living off of it is another matter entirely though ...

gothicangel
03-27-2011, 02:19 AM
***I wonder how many are going to still be flooded with vampire-zombie romance trilogies in their slush piles two years from now? As a reader, except the upcoming season of True Blood (which better improve), I've hit the saturation point.
(Please note: no insult to vamp writers - I love you guys for keeping me curled up content this winter :) )

I'm hoping that there is going to be a sudden interest in Historical fiction set in Stewart Scotland. :tongue

BarbaraKE
03-27-2011, 02:44 AM
Personally I'd love to see some historical fiction set in Stewart Scotland. I am so sick of Tudor England.

Alitriona
03-27-2011, 03:29 AM
No matter the eventual result ... but the bolded part is a fact, at least when you are talking about ebooks. Once you have written the book, publishing it as an ebook is easier and way faster than getting it out through a publisher.

Making a living off of it is another matter entirely though ...

Anybody can publish an e-book quickly. My son is 15 and autistic. He told me a few nights ago he's writing a novel and putting it on amazon. It will certainly be easier and faster than going through a publisher. More power to him I say. But I won't be holding it up and comparing it, quality wise, to any of the books in my local bookshop.

The only fact is that a good book takes time and many eyes to create. It is a lot more than writing. Publishing takes time, because producing a quality product takes time. Any self-publisher who wants to put out a quality book knows it involves the time for several rounds of edits and reviews, cover design and marketing and most of all cash investment.

I'm seeing a lot of a few clicks and you're published thinking from inexperienced writers about the internet these days. That's fine, but I won't be buying those books and I highly doubt a lot of others will either.

thothguard51
03-27-2011, 03:39 AM
Today's kids will more than likely download more ebooks than they will buy print books in the future. I believe this to be a fact...

But I also believe that the big six and other small independent publishers who are well established will control the majority of e-sales in the future. They have the money, the manpower, the marketing, and the ability. They will also get the books into the hands of reviewers who matter. For this reason alone, agents and acquiring editors will continue to exist...

This is not to say that new writers going it alone, will not be able to break out, just that I don't for a minute believe this will be the norm nor that they will be able to sustain any success over the long run...

Right now, ereaders are the hot new grown up toys, but those who use them will reach a point where they are selective about what they down load just because it is another expense that can quickly get out of hand. (Anyone ever have to pay a phone bill that a child ran up downloading every available ring tone in the world?)

Its been mentioned that ereaders are the savior for magazine and newspapers via paid subscriptions. I believe this to be a pipe dream as well. Most people on the Internet want free content, and that is a fact. Yes, some may want to subscribe to a niche magazine or newspaper for business or other reasons, but will those be enough to sustain these magazines and newspapers? I have serious doubts.

It is a very interesting time for publishing and e-publishing is part of the reason. But, its to early to proclaim print dead, or count the big six and well established indies out yet...

Well, these are my thoughts, but what the hell do I know, I am still struggling to sell my first book... Oh, I could have published by now had I gone self published route, but the truth is, my book was not ready, and still may not be exactly right. I respect my writing a little more than just to throw out garbage and expect people to pay to read it... But that's just me...

Rhonda9080
03-27-2011, 06:55 AM
Regarding the 1st point, the number of previously unknown and unpublished self-published people selling 1,000 a month of 1 book for 6 months in order to make that one book marketable would be so low it won't replace sending manuscripts to agents and publishers any time soon.

As for the second point, there are a huge amount of new books every week and most won't sell more than a few dozen to friends and family.

There are a lot of people being led to believe self-publishing is a short cut to having a book out, an easier option and a good way to make a living. There is nothing about publishing that is easy regardless of route taken. E-books are getting more popular, it doesn't automatically mean self-publishing is taking over any time soon or ever.

For all my enthusiasm over e-publishing, I'm going the traditional route for now. It still makes sense. But I do think we all should have an eye on the future ;)

Rhonda9080
03-27-2011, 06:59 AM
Today's kids will more than likely download more ebooks than they will buy print books in the future. I believe this to be a fact...

But I also believe that the big six and other small independent publishers who are well established will control the majority of e-sales in the future. They have the money, the manpower, the marketing, and the ability. They will also get the books into the hands of reviewers who matter. For this reason alone, agents and acquiring editors will continue to exist...

This is not to say that new writers going it alone, will not be able to break out, just that I don't for a minute believe this will be the norm nor that they will be able to sustain any success over the long run...

Right now, ereaders are the hot new grown up toys, but those who use them will reach a point where they are selective about what they down load just because it is another expense that can quickly get out of hand. (Anyone ever have to pay a phone bill that a child ran up downloading every available ring tone in the world?)

Its been mentioned that ereaders are the savior for magazine and newspapers via paid subscriptions. I believe this to be a pipe dream as well. Most people on the Internet want free content, and that is a fact. Yes, some may want to subscribe to a niche magazine or newspaper for business or other reasons, but will those be enough to sustain these magazines and newspapers? I have serious doubts.

It is a very interesting time for publishing and e-publishing is part of the reason. But, its to early to proclaim print dead, or count the big six and well established indies out yet...

Well, these are my thoughts, but what the hell do I know, I am still struggling to sell my first book... Oh, I could have published by now had I gone self published route, but the truth is, my book was not ready, and still may not be exactly right. I respect my writing a little more than just to throw out garbage and expect people to pay to read it... But that's just me...

Hey! Well, these are my thoughts, but what the hell do I know, I am still struggling to sell my first book...
You're opinion's still interesting and valid. Adds to the discussion. If we all 100-percent agreed, what would be the fun of "discussion"?
Personally, as stated above, I'm like you. I believe e-publishing is a trend to watch, and may even be an option at some point, but for now, the print-route for me is still first choice as well.

PulpDogg
03-27-2011, 10:43 AM
Anybody can publish an e-book quickly. My son is 15 and autistic. He told me a few nights ago he's writing a novel and putting it on amazon. It will certainly be easier and faster than going through a publisher. More power to him I say. But I won't be holding it up and comparing it, quality wise, to any of the books in my local bookshop.

The only fact is that a good book takes time and many eyes to create. It is a lot more than writing. Publishing takes time, because producing a quality product takes time. Any self-publisher who wants to put out a quality book knows it involves the time for several rounds of edits and reviews, cover design and marketing and most of all cash investment.

I'm seeing a lot of a few clicks and you're published thinking from inexperienced writers about the internet these days. That's fine, but I won't be buying those books and I highly doubt a lot of others will either.

I am with you ... just wanted to point out, that when you get down to it self publishing is faster and easier - if you ignore a few steps and quality.

Rhonda9080
03-27-2011, 11:04 AM
Send your son over here: HarperCollins - (nothing to sneeze at), has a website for young writers: www.inkpop.com

Here's a good article about its launch: http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/harpercollins-adds-inkpop-a-teen-publishing-and-social-site_b336

I say - more power to him! I help my son (teacher) with some of his autistic students. They're often good writers!


Anybody can publish an e-book quickly. My son is 15 and autistic. He told me a few nights ago he's writing a novel and putting it on amazon. It will certainly be easier and faster than going through a publisher. More power to him I say. But I won't be holding it up and comparing it, quality wise, to any of the books in my local bookshop.

The only fact is that a good book takes time and many eyes to create. It is a lot more than writing. Publishing takes time, because producing a quality product takes time. Any self-publisher who wants to put out a quality book knows it involves the time for several rounds of edits and reviews, cover design and marketing and most of all cash investment.

I'm seeing a lot of a few clicks and you're published thinking from inexperienced writers about the internet these days. That's fine, but I won't be buying those books and I highly doubt a lot of others will either.

Alitriona
03-27-2011, 06:40 PM
Send your son over here: HarperCollins - (nothing to sneeze at), has a website for young writers: www.inkpop.com (http://www.inkpop.com)

Here's a good article about its launch: http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/harpercollins-adds-inkpop-a-teen-publishing-and-social-site_b336

I say - more power to him! I help my son (teacher) with some of his autistic students. They're often good writers!

Thank you. I have passed this information on to him. I'll be keeping an eye on him as he goes along, he likes to sit his laptop beside mine while I'm working. :-)

Mr Flibble
03-27-2011, 07:40 PM
A

The only fact is that a good book takes time and many eyes to create. It is a lot more than writing. Publishing takes time, because producing a quality product takes time. Any self-publisher who wants to put out a quality book knows it involves the time for several rounds of edits and reviews, cover design and marketing and most of all cash investment.


The trouble for me is that while there are selfpubbers who do take that time and make that effort and it shows in their book(I have one sitting on my shelf now)...my problem is finding them among the hordes of people who don't. How do you find them without wading through lots of dreck?

I'm not saying 'everyone who sp's is dreck'. I'm saying there is a lot there, and how do I find the little diamond in the sludge pile, except by happy accident? I don't have time to trawl through them all to find it. One reason I tend to go to certain e-publishers first before I go to amazon. I know the sort of stories that they put out, I know I like those sort of stories and I'm guaranteed a level of competence in editing/story etc. I may not like the book itself - it might not be my cup of tea after all, and you can say that about the best written book in the world - but it's got a better chance of being one I'll enjoy. And it takes a LOT less time to find it.

Thta would be my issue with selfpubbing, if I were to consider it. Much as I hate the word - branding. As a reader (not a writer) if I browse Waterstone's and pick up a book by say Gollancz, I know what sort of book it'll be. Same with Harlequin, or Angry Robot. The books are all different, and so is the writing, but there's a cohesion there. You know the sort of thing you'll be getting,and teh level of competence you can expect (this is disregarding say subject matter). And let's face it, consumers like to know what they are buying. You could look at sales, but then, well a book sale doesn't mean the reader liked it. It means they bought it. *eyes pile of DNFs*

But how does a selfpubber get round that - get that sort of inbuilt readership? That's one thing a pub can do for you that's really hard on your own, one reason among several I'd rather be with a professional publisher. I just wonder - how do the successful self-pubbers do that?

thothguard51
03-27-2011, 07:49 PM
They spam a lot of websites, blogs, social networks, etc etc etc. Oh, wait, they don't like the term spam. Let me rephrase...

They network and promote their work on a lot of websites, blogs, social networks, etc etc etc...

Mr Flibble
03-27-2011, 07:56 PM
They spam a lot of websites, blogs, social networks, etc etc etc. Oh, wait, they don't like the term spam. Let me rephrase...

They network and promote their work on a lot of websites, blogs, social networks, etc etc etc...


Yes, but that's not quite what I mean.


I wrote out a whole post here, but tbh I'm not sure (other than what was in the previous post) what I do actually mean....

If I am in the mood for a certain sort of story, I go to a publisher that I know puts out that sort of story. (More sort of...style I think than anything else. Maybe?) Or if I'm browsing and see a book is by publisher X I will be more or less likely to check out the cover copy and opener, based on whether I like their sort of books. Built in readership.

How do I get that, how can I find that among self pubbers when browsing amazon? How do self pubbers get round that?

Or maybe I should get my brain in gear and work out what I mean...

BarbaraKE
03-27-2011, 08:27 PM
The trouble for me is that while there are selfpubbers who do take that time and make that effort and it shows in their book(I have one sitting on my shelf now)...my problem is finding them among the hordes of people who don't. How do you find them without wading through lots of dreck?

I'm not saying 'everyone who sp's is dreck'. I'm saying there is a lot there, and how do I find the little diamond in the sludge pile, except by happy accident? I don't have time to trawl through them all to find it.

<snip>


You have a very good point. And - personally - I agree that much of what is self-published (either electronically or POD) is simply not well-written.

But how do you find books you enjoy now? You don't go to a bookstore and trawl through every book there, do you?

A friend recommends it or you read a good review. Or see it mentioned somewhere and think it sounds interesting.

I think the online booksellers will continue to refine their searching capabilities to make it easier to narrow down the list of books in which you might be interested.

I think the generally lower prices in epublishing will lead readers to experiment with unknown authors more than they do now.

And I think electronic-only publishers will make significant inroads on traditional publishing. Not necessarily because they're better but because they don't have the significant overhead print publishing has and can therefore offer better terms to authors.

thothguard51
03-27-2011, 08:36 PM
Is there any such beast as print only publishers left?

Even the big six and many of their imprints and small to medium publishers are going electronic.

Mr Flibble
03-27-2011, 08:52 PM
But how do you find books you enjoy now? You don't go to a bookstore and trawl through every book there, do you?

Often I'll go straight to a publisher I like and buy direct. Sometimes I browse the book store, but, and here's the but, no matter what I think of a book, every book in that shop had someone love it enough to pay money to the author to publish it. That, right there, is a indication. Okay I may not like it. But someone, in the business, loved it enough to pay money for. It's a basic benchline that browsing amazon/self pubbed books just doesn't have. After that benchline is crossed, it's all subjective anyway. Style, theme, subject etc.

I pick up new authors a lot, as it happens. I'd love to find more, self pubbed or not. BUT I don't have time to wade through the slush. So I generally don't go looking in self pub because I don't have the time. Plus it's quite depressing, looking at some of the samples. It gives me a certain empathy with slush readers...

gothicangel
03-27-2011, 10:10 PM
It gives me a certain empathy with slush readers...

When I was querying agents for my first book, I used to rail against agents. How could they be so stupid as to not recognise my talent!

Then I started working as an editor . . . :tongue

Rhonda9080
03-27-2011, 11:09 PM
Thank you. I have passed this information on to him. I'll be keeping an eye on him as he goes along, he likes to sit his laptop beside mine while I'm working. :-)

:Hug2:

BenPanced
03-27-2011, 11:12 PM
Send your son over here: HarperCollins - (nothing to sneeze at), has a website for young writers: www.inkpop.com (http://www.inkpop.com)

Here's a good article about its launch: http://www.mediabistro.com/ebooknewser/harpercollins-adds-inkpop-a-teen-publishing-and-social-site_b336

I say - more power to him! I help my son (teacher) with some of his autistic students. They're often good writers!


Thank you. I have passed this information on to him. I'll be keeping an eye on him as he goes along, he likes to sit his laptop beside mine while I'm working. :-)
There's a thread on them over in BR&BC for you to consider, as well:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=116374

Rhonda9080
03-27-2011, 11:12 PM
You have a very good point. And - personally - I agree that much of what is self-published (either electronically or POD) is simply not well-written.

But how do you find books you enjoy now? You don't go to a bookstore and trawl through every book there, do you?

A friend recommends it or you read a good review. Or see it mentioned somewhere and think it sounds interesting.

I think the online booksellers will continue to refine their searching capabilities to make it easier to narrow down the list of books in which you might be interested.

I think the generally lower prices in epublishing will lead readers to experiment with unknown authors more than they do now.

And I think electronic-only publishers will make significant inroads on traditional publishing. Not necessarily because they're better but because they don't have the significant overhead print publishing has and can therefore offer better terms to authors.
I've become so cautious with my book-budget, I always jot an interesting title down and go read reviews on web before purchase. Too many disappointing "McBooks" out there and buyer's remorse...

jnfr
03-28-2011, 01:07 AM
I use Kindle samples a lot. That and the blurbs/reader reviews usually tells me enough to know whether I want to buy something.

Though I have certainly been known to buy books on impulse, but that's a problem that started long before e-books.

rsullivan9597
03-29-2011, 03:37 PM
In the past - it was the rare occurance. But now that technolgoy has enabled writers to circumvent traditional publishing books have come to the reading public and its by their enthusism that authors are getting noticed.

Here are some recent deals I know of:

Michael J. Sullivan (my husband) - six-figure 3-book deal with Orbit (fantasy publisher of Big-six Hachette Books)

H.P. Malllory - six-figure 2 -book deal with Bantam Dell

D.B. Henson - 1 book deal that went to auction in Jan 2011 and is being fast-tracked for a July release. Brokered by Noah Lukeman.

If Michael had started by going to traditional publishing first - he would have spent a year or more getting an offer and received a standard $5,000 to $10,000 advance for the books. And waited 15-18 months for the first book release and the other 2 would have been scheduled for a year later.

Because he had a following - he went from making a proposl to having a six-figure deal in less than 3 weeks. What's more, they are fast tracking his releases and doing them back to back Theft of Swords due for release Nov 2011, Rise of Empire Dec 2011 and Heir of Novron 2012.

I agree in the past this was not a good approach but traditional publishers are starting to "farm" successful self-published authors because they are a "better bet" then an unknown.

rsullivan9597
03-29-2011, 03:43 PM
If anything, self publishing has limitations, especially in print because most stores will not stock self published books, plus their higher than average prices.

What I do think will happen is that more and more established commercial writers will experiment with self publishing e-books for some of their throw away stories, or backlist books that are no longer in print by their publisher. They may even self pub new work just to see if they can leverage their publisher.

If your goal is to be in the bookstore on the shelf, there is no question that self-publsihing is NOT an option. That being said, you can still reach thosands, and tens of thousands of readers through e-books and at LOWER prices then most traditional publishers. (Though I don't recommend the bargain basement pricing of $0.99 and $2.99)

I actually think more comercial writers will do more than just their "throw away" works - 3 NYT best sellers (Barry Eisler, Seth Godin, and Bob Mayer). After all they already have a following and readers know them so Traditional Publishing doesn't offer them any competitive advantage there. So why not get 70% of the sales price instead of 14.9%?

rsullivan9597
03-29-2011, 03:50 PM
What people tend to overlook is that Amanda Hocking is an extreme outlier. She sold about 800,000 books in the first two month of 2011 ... of course a big publisher would get interested.


When Michael J. Sullivan (my husband) was picked up by a big press he wasn't selling hundreds of thousands of books a month - he was selling 1,000 books a month (spread over 5 books) - that's only 200 books a month...Later he went on to sell 10,000+ books a month but Orbit didn't know that would happen when they signed him. And it wasn't because of the Orbit deal because that was announced in March.




1000 copies a month on Kindle is still an outlier I think ...



More than 60 people who sold 1000 books a month in February: N. Gemini Sasson, Lee Doty, MH Sargent, Michael E. Marks, Chris Grahm, Christopher Smith, Kenneth Rosenberg, Martin Sharlow, Michaelbreck Collings, Stacey Wallace Benefiel, Tom Godwin, Valmore Daniels, Mathew Bryan Laube, Steven L. Hawk, Matt Laube, Robert Dupree, Brian Kitrell, Sandy Night, Cara Marsi, William Thomas, Jess Scott, Mealine Niles, Bob Mayer, Joseph Nassie, Richard Phillips, Ellen O'Connel, David McAfeee, Katie Salidas, Michael Wallace, Eric Christophersen, Tim Frost, Ellen Fisher, Imogen Rose, Abagail Lawrence, Jason Letts, Saffina Desforges, Siebel Hodge, Jan Hurst-Nicholson, Lexi Revellian, Lucy Kevin, Sandra Edwards, Nathan Lowell, Juilie Christensen, Ralph Lolonde, J.R. Rain, Thomas Deprima, Black Crouch, Teri Reid, heather Killogh-Wilson, Monique Martin, Michael J. Sullivan, David Dalglish, J.A. Konrath, B.V.Larson, Bella Andre, Allan Guthrie, Beth Orsoff, H.P. Mallory, D.B. Henson, Tina Folsom, Victorine Lieske, Selina Kitt, Amanda Hocking, John Locke,



One thing that will not change is agents and editors view that self-publishing isn't a legitimate publishing credit.

And yet you have agents querying authors now - cases in point: Noah Lukeman with D.B. Henson and R.J. Jagger. And Kimberly Whalen from Tridan Meida Group who queried and signed H.P. Mallory and Lauren Saga.


Kindle downloads are the first things that come up in Amazon searches now. You have to then click a link to the hardcover or paperback format of the book. Looks like the powers-that-be at Amazon might be on to something? Or are they just delusional? You can search by author, but many people search by tags and keywords to find their reading niches. Why should they care if an author's some publishing house darling or a newbie? They just want a good read for their money.
***But Hey! I'm from the days of typewriter in smoky newsrooms and "typesetters" who transfered hard copy into big, huge monster Macs ( less than 20 years ago!) Now, we email stories to editors live-on-scene, which then go instantly to online news sites and the wire to supplement once-a-day hard copy. Can't imagine a new generation who lives on FB and tweets from their blackberries favoring online downloads over toting around a heavy tome ...

It is not kindles that come up first - the algorithm is based on what version sells the most. If you are seeing a link where kindle comes up first it is becaus - for this book they are selling more ebook versions then print. Which is quite telling in and of itself.

Terie
03-29-2011, 04:04 PM
In the past - it was the rare occurance. But now that technolgoy has enabled writers to circumvent traditional publishing books have come to the reading public and its by their enthusism that authors are getting noticed.

Here are some recent deals I know of:

Michael J. Sullivan (my husband) - six-figure 3-book deal with Orbit (fantasy publisher of Big-six Hachette Books)

H.P. Malllory - six-figure 2 -book deal with Bantam Dell

D.B. Henson - 1 book deal that went to auction in Jan 2011 and is being fast-tracked for a July release. Brokered by Noah Lukeman.

In the veritable ocean of hundreds of thousands of self-published books per year, the numbers of big successes, while growing, still qualify as 'rare'.

shadowwalker
03-29-2011, 04:13 PM
Again, I'm seeing anecdotal evidence, not hard numbers. A handful of names (most of which, in that one post, I could hardly read) who sell 1000 books a month (and how many of those have more than one book out - and how many of those have already been traditionally published?) does not make a trend or make it typical.

Again, I can see already traditionally successful authors going with self-publishing *if* they like wearing the publisher hat. But I can't see self-publishing first as any sort of 'leg up' for new writers.

Barbara R.
03-29-2011, 05:38 PM
I think yes. I've seen two literary agencies whose submission policies say they only want to see queries from established authors. I think that in the not-too-distant future, many literary agents may go to a model like this, and the prerequisite to getting an agent or getting a publishing deal may very well be that you've already proven yourself by selling lots of books. .

It's hard to see into the future, and everyone in the industry is trying to figure out how the rise of ebooks and decline of brick-and-mortar bookstores will affect publishing. But I think your scenario is extremely unlikely. It's feasible that a few agents may be so overwhelmed with work that they've closed the doors to new writers, not because new writers don't have a sales record, but because the agents lack the time and manpower to pan for gold in their huge slush piles . Most agencies, with an eye to the future, thrive on the rare, exciting discovery of publishable new writers. First-time novelists are a particular prized find, because first-timers have no sales records for publishers to hold against them. True, any self-published book that sells huge numbers is going to interest agents and publishers, but those are few and far between because of all the drawbacks of self-publishing. Agents will take great writing wherever they find it; but anyone who imagines that they have the time to trawl sites like Lulu is deluding himself.


My own cautious prediction is that standard publishing terms will continue to evolve, as sales of ebooks eventually surpass those of paper books, but the role of agents as gatekeepers will continue.

gothicangel
03-29-2011, 06:49 PM
And yet you have agents querying authors now - cases in point: Noah Lukeman with D.B. Henson and R.J. Jagger. And Kimberly Whalen from Tridan Meida Group who queried and signed H.P. Mallory and Lauren Saga.


Again, I'm seeing anecdotal evidence, not hard numbers.

What Shadow said. :)

quicklime
03-29-2011, 06:56 PM
More than 60 people who sold 1000 books a month in February: N. Gemini SassonLee DotyMH SargentMichael E. MarksChris GrahmChristopher SmithKenneth RosenbergMartin SharlowMichaelbreck CollingsStacey Wallace BenefielTom GodwinValmore DanielsMathew Bryan LaubeSteven L. HawkMatt LaubeRobert DupreeBrian KitrellSandy NightCara MarsiWilliam ThomasJess ScottMealine NilesBob MayerJoseph NassieRichard PhillipsEllen O'ConnelDavid McAfeeeKatie SalidasMichael WallaceEric ChristophersenTim FrostEllen FisherImogen RoseAbagail LawrenceJason LettsSaffina DesforgesSiebel HodgeJan Hurst-NicholsonLexi RevellianLucy KevinSandra EdwardsNathan LowellJuilie ChristensenRalph LolondeJ.R. RainThomas DeprimaBlack CrouchTeri Reidheather Killogh-WilsonMonique MartinMichael J. SullivanDavid DalglishJ.A. KonrathB.V.LarsonBella AndreAllan GuthrieBeth OrsoffH.P. MalloryD.B. HensonTina FolsomVictorine LieskeSelina KittAmanda HockingJohn Locke


of how many. I will guess hundreds of thousands. Maybe millions.


Very few traditional pub advocates are saying nobody can self-pub and make sales; a good number of self-pubbers clearly have done so. Conversely though, some in the self-pub group don't like to admit to the fact the odds are very poor, and pointing out a handful of success stories is like saying New Yorkers are filthy rich and citing Donald Trump and Bloomberg as proof, ignoring the disproportionate number who are not.

I'd like to see a meaningful tally of released titles versus titles that sold over 1000 books in a month for self-pub, e-pub, and traditional pub--I suspect if the 1000-book sales total was presented as a "percentage of the toal authors in each camp," that percentage value is worst for self-pub, and best for traditional. And me, I like to play the odds, not chase the flukes....


can it be done? Absolutely. By numbers though, I have no doubts the odds are far smaller for self-pub than traditional though, and I suspect some of the more religiously inclined know that perfectly well, and still try to wave their hands around it.

jnfr
03-29-2011, 07:21 PM
Most people never make it out of the slush pile. That's a fact that self-publishing doesn't change, except that now the slush pile's online for readers to pick through on their own. There will be good books there, and people will find them. Most are not and will never be.

I have been thinking a lot about this essay though, http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/blog/2011/03/25/bad-writing-doesnt-matter-anymore/ which makes an argument that bad writing doesn't matter any more, or at least not as much as most of us would think. The writer notes that a lot of self-published books that sell reasonably well are not particularly well-written, and suggests that a lot of readers aren't that sophisticated and don't care.

Over in the Novels forum, in the thread about that writer's meltdown yesterday, someone posted a sentence that supposedly came from Amanda Hocking's books, and it was gibberish. I haven't read her work, so I don't know if that sentence is even hers for sure, but if so it's clear that careful writing is not what drew readers to her.

So maybe more slush will find readers than we might expect.

quicklime
03-29-2011, 07:33 PM
i suppose that is a certain possibility (cough.danbrown.cough), but just being found is sort of an issue....

even if readers are less discriminating, theres a sea of self-pubbed "stuff"...talent, interest, or self-promotion, you gotta do something to elevate yourself above the rest, and while that's true in print also, I think the sea you have to rise above in self-pubbing is greater.

shaldna
03-29-2011, 08:23 PM
If I self publish all my trunked novels and first drafts, chances are I could see a couple of them each month. Let's say I publish 50 of them, and they sell 20 copies each (I have at least that many supportive friends) and there you go, that's 1000 sales a month.

I bet I could even rake those numbers up to 50 sales of each book if I pestered my family enough, so that's 2500 sales a month.

And what if I published ALL of my disguarded stuff? And I'm sure I could knock out a couple more over the next few weeks, let's say 100 novels, that's my whole back catalogue more or less. That's 5000 sales a month....and....



...and.....





.....and maybe we are seeing now how numbers like that mean nothing.

efkelley
03-29-2011, 09:01 PM
.....and maybe we are seeing now how numbers like that mean nothing.

My sarcasm filter might be set too high today, if so, my apologies.

5000 sales a month sounds like enough to live on, even if the individual works are only selling 20 a month.

gothicangel
03-29-2011, 09:20 PM
I have been thinking a lot about this essay though, http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/blog/2011/03/25/bad-writing-doesnt-matter-anymore/ which makes an argument that bad writing doesn't matter any more, or at least not as much as most of us would think. The writer notes that a lot of self-published books that sell reasonably well are not particularly well-written, and suggests that a lot of readers aren't that sophisticated and don't care.


Oh lovely. Just insult your readers why don't you? They're probably not intelligent enough to realise anyway.

gothicangel
03-29-2011, 09:31 PM
I just read that blog, I stopped reading at this comment:

[QUOTE=] My question is- why can’t a writer be capable enough to edit their own work?. I think calling yourself a writer means being competent enough to do so. I doubt classic writers like Shakespeare or Chaucer or Homer had someone correcting their typos! [/QUOTE.]

This is what I'm competing against in the slush?

Irysangel
03-29-2011, 09:32 PM
More than 60 people who sold 1000 books a month in February: N. Gemini SassonLee DotyMH SargentMichael E. MarksChris GrahmChristopher SmithKenneth RosenbergMartin SharlowMichaelbreck CollingsStacey Wallace BenefielTom GodwinValmore DanielsMathew Bryan LaubeSteven L. HawkMatt LaubeRobert DupreeBrian KitrellSandy NightCara MarsiWilliam ThomasJess ScottMealine NilesBob MayerJoseph NassieRichard PhillipsEllen O'ConnelDavid McAfeeeKatie SalidasMichael WallaceEric ChristophersenTim FrostEllen FisherImogen RoseAbagail LawrenceJason LettsSaffina DesforgesSiebel HodgeJan Hurst-NicholsonLexi RevellianLucy KevinSandra EdwardsNathan LowellJuilie ChristensenRalph LolondeJ.R. RainThomas DeprimaBlack CrouchTeri Reidheather Killogh-WilsonMonique MartinMichael J. SullivanDavid DalglishJ.A. KonrathB.V.LarsonBella AndreAllan GuthrieBeth OrsoffH.P. MalloryD.B. HensonTina FolsomVictorine LieskeSelina KittAmanda HockingJohn Locke

Sorry, I think this still needs to be treated as an outlier unless we have definite numbers of how many people are selling their books on Kindle. If there are 10,000 people selling on Kindle and only 60 are making 1000 sales a month, that is less than 1% of the total number of Kindle-published that sell 1000 a month. If it's 100,000 people selling on Kindle, it's less than 1% of 1%. Still an outlier. 60 people can win the lottery, but it doesn't mean that all of us can expect to. :)

And I'm not saying that it's not POSSIBLE. I see my Kindle sales trending and I like the way they're going, but I still look at this as an outlier rather than an average or an expectation.

rsullivan9597
03-29-2011, 09:47 PM
In the veritable ocean of hundreds of thousands of self-published books per year, the numbers of big successes, while growing, still qualify as 'rare'.

You are exactly right - I would venture to say they have the same amount of scarcity as the books published from the hundreds of thousands of queries submitted.

quicklime
03-29-2011, 09:59 PM
You are exactly right - I would venture to say they have the same amount of scarcity as the books published from the hundreds of thousands of queries submitted.


good, this i can agree with.


the issue then is that books queried does not mean books sold to publishers. You're comparing full, ripe apples to orange blossoms.


Since most books queried do not get taken by a publisher, if the statement above is at all accurate then your odds of succeeding with a traditional publisher are orders of magnitude greater, once you land one.


after all, you're giving equal odds between a finished self-pub book and a traditional book at the query stage, one side being 100% sale-ready and only a fraction of the other ever getting accepted.

BarbaraKE
03-30-2011, 02:45 AM
I just read that blog, I stopped reading at this comment:


My question is- why can’t a writer be capable enough to edit their own work?. I think calling yourself a writer means being competent enough to do so. I doubt classic writers like Shakespeare or Chaucer or Homer had someone correcting their typos!

This is what I'm competing against in the slush?

Gothicangel - I'm missing something. Why would you stop reading at that quote?

rsullivan9597
03-30-2011, 02:50 AM
I'd like to see a meaningful tally of released titles versus titles that sold over 1000 books in a month for self-pub, e-pub, and traditional pub


Getting figures for traditional publishers I don't have access to. But a place where self-publishers and traditional authors compete is the Amazon 100 List, now granted these are the upper end (not the "typical" mid-list self-pub author - but its interesting to note that last year there were NO self-published authors on the list and now they comprise almost half of it. And most of those don't have traditional platforms. As of 3/19/2011 there were:

64 titles in fiction (once non-fiction, games, magazines, and newspapers were removed)
29 were from self-published authors (45%)
2 were from small presses (3%)
33 were from big traditional presses (51%)
Of the 29 titles from self-publishers there are 14 authors represented that break down as follows:

11 that have had no prior traditional publishing experience
1 - (Joe Konrath) who only publishes self now
1 - (Debbie Mack) who has one from a small press one from self-publishing - I don't know which came first
1 - (Julianne McLean) who has many traditional titles and published the Color of Heaven after it was repeatedly turned down by traditional publishing...she earned more in 2 weeks from that single book than a typical advance she normally gets (three-book deal with a sixty-thousand dollar advance). As to whether she will publish more books traditionally or through self-publishing she said... "I will think very carefully about the next contract I sign."

rsullivan9597
03-30-2011, 03:22 AM
Since most books queried do not get taken by a publisher, if the statement above is at all accurate then your odds of succeeding with a traditional publisher are orders of magnitude greater, once you land one.



I guess a lot comes from which side of the following question you land on.
Are there a significant number of books submitted to traditionally publishing that are good enough to find an audience but still get rejected?

If the answer is no....any book rejected is a book not worthy of an audience then the that is one thing.

If the answer is yes...publishers only have so many slots so they have to pass on good work...then those the authors of those books should self-publish.

The Riyria Revelations has sold over 50,000 copies through self-publishing. That to me says it is "worthy" of an audience as it obviously has started to find one. Now it has been picked up by a big-six publisher. Again another validation. But the books are the same in both cases so why is it "unworthy" as self-published but suddenly "worthy" once Orbit puts their logo on the spine? The book itself remains the same.

Most books don't earn out their advance and the Riyria Revelation has a pretty nice six-figure advance so it probably won't either. But it also earned more than that advance in just 4 months so going with traditional publisher will lose us money. That being said...money is not always what it is about and I recognize the power of traditional publishing to contribute to the development of an authors brand and provide validity. I'm just saying that in the past you would certainly not self-publish first to get to traditional...but nowadays I see a higher percentage of people that I know doing this then by getting contracts through querying.

efkelley
03-30-2011, 03:43 AM
Are there a significant number of books submitted to traditionally publishing that are good enough to find an audience but still get rejected?

If the answer is no....any book rejected is a book not worthy of an audience then the that is one thing.

If the answer is yes...publishers only have so many slots so they have to pass on good work...then those the authors of those books should self-publish.

The answer is a qualified yes (as you know). The trouble (as most of us also know) is determining the value of your own work.

When I started out, I thought my work was really good. Simply, it wasn't as good as I thought. It showed promise, but was not up to snuff. I was young enough and callow enough to assume that THE MAN just wasn't 'getting it'. (Yes, I had the Golden Word Syndrome). All my friends liked it, right? (Alas, none of my friends were even semi-pros). A few hundred rejections later (exaggerating) I started to wonder if it was actually me.

Yes, Eric, in fact, it was just you. (And your love/hate relationship with commas.)

I would probably have figured this out eventually by self-publishing. Yet, when my work didn't sell and I got reviews like this trainwreck (http://ereads.com/2011/03/greek-seaman-runs-aground-on-treacherous-typos.html) (shipwreck?) I might have fallen into the horrible trap of responding to negative criticism. Or I might have given up entirely (I did for a while there).

My point is that for fast-learners and those prepared for the realities of self-publication, it's not a bad route. For those unlikely to ever find an incredibly useful (and truthful) forum like this one, self-publication has just as many mines as traditional. More, in fact, as there is never anyone to tell you exactly why your book is horrid. (Not that any of those traditional rejections detailed my many war crimes against the written word, but when you can almost always get a MS request and never get an acceptance, the problem becomes apparent.)

Evidently it's parenthesis day. :ROFL:

Terie
03-30-2011, 09:22 AM
Getting figures for traditional publishers I don't have access to. But a place where self-publishers and traditional authors compete is the Amazon 100 List, now granted these are the upper end (not the "typical" mid-list self-pub author - but its interesting to note that last year there were NO self-published authors on the list and now they comprise almost half of it. And most of those don't have traditional platforms. As of 3/19/2011 there were:

64 titles in fiction (once non-fiction, games, magazines, and newspapers were removed)
29 were from self-published authors (45%)
2 were from small presses (3%)
33 were from big traditional presses (51%)
Of the 29 titles from self-publishers there are 14 authors represented that break down as follows:

11 that have had no prior traditional publishing experience
1 - (Joe Konrath) who only publishes self now
1 - (Debbie Mack) who has one from a small press one from self-publishing - I don't know which came first
1 - (Julianne McLean) who has many traditional titles and published the Color of Heaven after it was repeatedly turned down by traditional publishing...she earned more in 2 weeks from that single book than a typical advance she normally gets (three-book deal with a sixty-thousand dollar advance). As to whether she will publish more books traditionally or through self-publishing she said... "I will think very carefully about the next contract I sign."


The number you keep leaving out, as if it's not important, is the sheer number of self-published books. Without that, these numbers are meaningless.

If there were 2,000 these numbers would look decent.

When you consider that last year, there were over 500,000 (I've seen the number 800,000, but I can't cite a source for that; I'm sure, however, that we can agree on 'over 500,000'), it shows how teensy-tiny these numbers are.

Virtually all commercially published authors make money. Even those with reputable micropresses that don't pay advances will still make some money.

Let's stop talking about the tiny tip of the iceberg for a moment and start comparing the middle. The average mid-list author earns an advance of $10,000 to $20,000; the average number of volumes sold of a self-pubbed book is 75, which, if the author earns as much as $3 per copy (which is probably on the high side), is $225.

If you really want to keep talking about outliers, let's compare the top earners in both categories.

Amanda Hocking has earned (according to the interview with her that you posted about yesterday) around $1.3 million in the past 6 months, and I think we can safely assume she'll break $2 million for the year with her self-pubbed books, and $3 million wouldn't surprise me (again, talking only about her self-pubbed books here, not her new commercial deals).

James Patterson earned $70 million last year.

PulpDogg
03-30-2011, 11:37 AM
When you consider that last year, there were over 500,000 (I've seen the number 800,000, but I can't cite a source for that; I'm sure, however, that we can agree on 'over 500,000'), it shows how teensy-tiny these numbers are.

Is there a number on how many commercially published books there were in comparison?

Terie
03-30-2011, 01:22 PM
Is there a number on how many commercially published books there were in comparison?

I'm not sure, and maybe someone will step in, but I'm thinking around 250,000 commercial ISBNs, although many of those are for tech publications (such as those produced by the government) that aren't produced for actual sale in the marketplace.

I hope someone else has more firm figures.

But the bottom line is this.

In past years, maybe one or two self-published fiction authors plus another handful of non-fiction authors got a commercial agent/publisher on the strength of their self-pubbed book's success. That is, I'm not talking about someone who happened to self-pub a book, and later, with no reference or mention of the self-pubbed book, gets a commercial deal.

With the rise of self-publishing success stories, this number is increasing but is still in the low two digits.

At the same time, commercial publishers pick up hundreds (maybe over a thousand?) of debut authors who don't have self-pub success behind them every year.

So, if you self-pub, there's a fraction of a 1% chance that you'll sell enough books to get commercial interest, and that doesn't matter how good your book is. There are excellent self-pubbed books that don't, for whatever reason, end up being top-sellers.

Now let's look at the slush pile at commercial publishers/agents. 90% of it is crap that will never have a chance of success, ever. Another 95% is close but not quite there. Of the last 5%, about half will get a commercial deal. The general wisdom is that if your writing is actually literate, your stuff is somewhere in the top 10%.

Therefore, if your writing is good and you self-pub, you have less than 1% chance of getting a commercial deal, whereas if you go through the commercial route, there's an approximately 20-30% chance of getting a commercial deal.

IOW, to rise to the top in self-publishing, you're competing against the entire canon of self-pubbed books, whereas in the slush pile, you're really only competing against the top 10%.

Of course, looking at percentages is actually an exercise in crazy-making. In the commercial world, if you write a good book, you have a pretty good chance of selling it, whereas if you write a crummy book, you have zero chance. In self-publishing, despite increasing numbers of successes, you can write an absolutely grand book still that gets drowned in the rubbish.

In the end, what we have is 10, 20, 30 self-publishing-to-commercial successes compared to a several hundred commercial-only ones every year.

PulpDogg
03-30-2011, 02:31 PM
Well to be honest ... I think you shifted the argument there. It wasn't about how many self pubbed authors get a commercial deal because of their successful selfpubbing.

The original argument was about the viability of selfpubbing in making a living as a writer. And even with the greater number of selfpubbed works out there, I don't think the percentages are that far apart in that regard.

Totally anecdotal and all (and a different market/country/continent to boot) ... but I recently read/heard that the average published author in Germany makes around 3,000€ a year. Which is not enough to live on.

Doesn't the average author in the US who gets a publishing deal get like a $5,000 advance on average? So when they don't even earn out their advances and write like 1 or 2 books a year, they also don't make a living from their writing.

EDIT: And now I have read the Threadtitle and opening post again and ... yeah, disregard what I said about you shifting the argument. The point I made afterwards still kinda stands, but wasn't really relevant to the discussion. I think I am getting confused with like 3 or 4 threads basically dealing with the same topic.

Terie
03-30-2011, 03:35 PM
Doesn't the average author in the US who gets a publishing deal get like a $5,000 advance on average? So when they don't even earn out their advances and write like 1 or 2 books a year, they also don't make a living from their writing.

Not quite. The average annual income of US authors is $5,000 (although this figure is a few years old now, and I'm not sure whether it's higher or lower now). That's not the same thing as the average advance per book. Some writers might put out only one book in five or six years; others manage several per year. But yes, you're right: the vast majority of authors whose books you see on bookshop shelves have day jobs or some other means of support.

And of course, the top and bottom of the curve skew the numbers (regardless of what you're talking about). 'Average advance per book' would include the massive advances the best-selling authors get, while 'average income' includes the mega-stars' income, which is why I couched my earlier post in terms of 'average mid-list advance'.

I think the entire discussion about 'what you can make from writing books' is more reasonable and, actually, more interesting when we look at the middle instead of looking at the big numbers. Many more writers (whether self-pubbed or commercial, whether looking at advances or annual income) will fall into the middle of the pack.

So I'd rather look at the issues and consider, 'Since it's most likely I'll be in the middle, which middle would I rather be in? The one bringing in $225 per book or the one bringing in $10k-20k per book?'

But this is once again moving the topic away from the original question, so I'll stop there. :)

gothicangel
03-30-2011, 04:15 PM
Not quite. The average annual income of US authors is $5,000 (although this figure is a few years old now, and I'm not sure whether it's higher or lower now).

I was told in a publishing seminar a few weeks ago that the average was £7,000.

Terie
03-30-2011, 04:29 PM
I was told in a publishing seminar a few weeks ago that the average was £7,000.

Yes, that's in the UK. The last US figure I saw was $5,000. That was about 4 or 5 years ago. At that time, the UK was £7,000, so if the UK number hasn't changed, perhaps the US one hasn't, either. (Or maybe everyone is still using the numbers from 4 or 5 years ago.)

BarbaraKE
03-30-2011, 06:16 PM
If you really want to keep talking about outliers, let's compare the top earners in both categories.

Amanda Hocking has earned (according to the interview with her that you posted about yesterday) around $1.3 million in the past 6 months, and I think we can safely assume she'll break $2 million for the year with her self-pubbed books, and $3 million wouldn't surprise me (again, talking only about her self-pubbed books here, not her new commercial deals).

James Patterson earned $70 million last year.

Amanda Hocking sold her first book less than a year ago.

James Patterson has been selling books for in 33 years.

Give the girl a chance. :D

Terie
03-30-2011, 06:31 PM
Amanda Hocking sold her first book less than a year ago.

James Patterson has been selling books for 33 years.

Give the girl a chance. :D

Self-publishing has existed for hundreds of years, and its probable best-seller ever is on track to make sales of a couple million dollars this year. And James Patterson still beats her by a factor of 35-1 (if she makes $2mil) or 23-1 (if she makes $3mil).

And the day Harry Potter 7 was released, on which JK Rowling made something like £25 million in ONE DAY???? Do you honestly think that could EVER happen for a self-pubbed book? It doesn't happen often in commercial publishing, but it does on occasion. Self-publishing? Not a chance.

movieman
03-30-2011, 06:50 PM
'Average advance per book' would include the massive advances the best-selling authors get, while 'average income' includes the mega-stars' income, which is why I couched my earlier post in terms of 'average mid-list advance'.

It also includes the numerous people who make pretty much nothing. The 'Uncle Jim' threads in the Novels forum have a number of posts on why these numbers aren't really meaningful to anyone who wants to make a living as a writer.

Terie
03-30-2011, 07:01 PM
It also includes the numerous people who make pretty much nothing. The 'Uncle Jim' threads in the Novels forum have a number of posts on why these numbers aren't really meaningful to anyone who wants to make a living as a writer.

Yep. Which is why I also said:


Of course, looking at percentages is actually an exercise in crazy-making.

gothicangel
03-30-2011, 07:38 PM
Yes, that's in the UK. The last US figure I saw was $5,000. That was about 4 or 5 years ago. At that time, the UK was £7,000, so if the UK number hasn't changed, perhaps the US one hasn't, either. (Or maybe everyone is still using the numbers from 4 or 5 years ago.)

I was actually surprised she said it was as high as 7k. I would quite happily sign a contract for £500 - or even royalties only.

ColoradoMom
03-30-2011, 07:49 PM
It wasn't about how many self pubbed authors get a commercial deal because of their successful selfpubbing.

The original argument was about the viability of selfpubbing in making a living as a writer.

Even though you backtracked a little, isn't this what people really care about? This really IS the argument.

I'm a self-pub author and I make a living. Yes, I do have a part-time day job, but last year I made MORE from self-pubbing than I did at that job and it pays about $23 a hour. Plus, once I put a book out the work is over - but I can collect money for years to come. It's a a nice passive income.

Three years ago when I heard the words self-published I pictured garages full of books you had to buy upfront. Last year when I heard those same words I thought Lightening Source or LuLu.

Today, I picture Kindle..and man has the world been tipped upside down since Christmas. Publishing as we know it is gone but that doesn't mean that books are on the wayside. People LIKE books - some people like me collect books. The book isn't going anywhere.

But the people who want to make money in the book business had better wake up because things are moving at the speed of light in publishing. All authors will have to e-publish in the future so why wouldn't a new writer explore this format from the get go?

Self-published authors don't need to take sides either. Take the money when it feels right, turn it down when it doesn't.

Amanda Hocking is a genius. She made a ton of money using her own ingenuity and tenacity and then she took what the publishers offered for a little more time and security.

Good for her.

Can people repeat what she's done. Sure. Can people repeat what Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did. Yes. And that's why you see start ups all over the place. But do all of them create companies like Apple and Microsoft? Nope. But some will.

Not being able to be the next Amanda Hocking should not stop you from trying.

movieman
03-30-2011, 07:53 PM
And the day Harry Potter 7 was released, on which JK Rowling made something like £25 million in ONE DAY???? Do you honestly think that could EVER happen for a self-pubbed book?

If it was Rowling's, yes. But she was only so popular because she'd built up her massive readership through conventional publishing and mass marketing.

I think the real question is how a new writer gets from nowhere to being popular, even if only to the point where they can pay the bills by writing. You can go the traditional route of convincing a publisher that they should publish your book, or you can put it up as an ebook and try to convince people that they should buy it, or some combination of the two. Most people are going to be screwed either way, and few people will be making Rowling's income through either route.

As I see it the benefit of ebook self-publishing is that whatever you write is out in the market looking for readers without going through years of submissions and waiting for a publisher to get it on the shelves, and it stays there forever without going out of print. The downside is that it doesn't get the associated marketing (and being on the shelf in the book store is a huge step up from being just another ebook on Amazon.com) so many people who would like it probably won't even hear about it. I'm not sure that anyone can say that one of those is objectively better than the other, if you're writing something that people will want to read.

shadowwalker
03-30-2011, 09:02 PM
I think we also need to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction in these discussions.

gothicangel
03-30-2011, 09:41 PM
If it was Rowling's, yes. But she was only so popular because she'd built up her massive readership through conventional publishing and mass marketing.

I think the real question is how a new writer gets from nowhere to being popular, even if only to the point where they can pay the bills by writing. You can go the traditional route of convincing a publisher that they should publish your book, or you can put it up as an ebook and try to convince people that they should buy it, or some combination of the two. Most people are going to be screwed either way, and few people will be making Rowling's income through either route.

As I see it the benefit of ebook self-publishing is that whatever you write is out in the market looking for readers without going through years of submissions and waiting for a publisher to get it on the shelves, and it stays there forever without going out of print. The downside is that it doesn't get the associated marketing (and being on the shelf in the book store is a huge step up from being just another ebook on Amazon.com) so many people who would like it probably won't even hear about it. I'm not sure that anyone can say that one of those is objectively better than the other, if you're writing something that people will want to read.

It's the same issue yet again. Marketing. A traditionally published book benefits from author interviews and book reviews in the trade press who won't touch a self-published book with a barge pole, those publishers can get your book into Waterstone's shelves and window display, they can organise author talks and book signings - even sample chapters at the end of books by other authors they publish. So objectively, I go for the marketing expertise of a publisher than the speed of production any day.

Alitriona
03-30-2011, 10:59 PM
Today, I picture Kindle..and man has the world been tipped upside down since Christmas. Publishing as we know it is gone but that doesn't mean that books are on the wayside. People LIKE books - some people like me collect books. The book isn't going anywhere.

But the people who want to make money in the book business had better wake up because things are moving at the speed of light in publishing. All authors will have to e-publish in the future so why wouldn't a new writer explore this format from the get go?




If you mean the world at large, yes. If you mean publishing. No, there is no upside down. Amanda Hocking is not signaling the end of publishing. She just isn't and no amount of saying she is makes that any different.

Self-publish and e-publish are not the same. Authors can embrace e-book technology without self-publishing. That includes new writers.

jnfr
03-30-2011, 11:25 PM
I have a lot of friends who are authors and one of the biggest complaints I hear from them, all the time, is that their publisher does very little marketing for them. I know there is always some, and for a big name there will be a lot, but it seems for your average mid-lister there is not often a lot of support.

gothicangel
03-30-2011, 11:57 PM
I have a lot of friends who are authors and one of the biggest complaints I hear from them, all the time, is that their publisher does very little marketing for them. I know there is always some, and for a big name there will be a lot, but it seems for your average mid-lister there is not often a lot of support.

If a mid-lister is expecting 'bestseller' treatment [i.e ads at bus stops or newspaper adds] they are going to be deeply disappointed. Word of mouth still remains the strongest marketing too. I don't mind getting my hands dirty, I just don't want to end up like Hocking and spend 12 hours a day marketing.

TMarchini
03-31-2011, 12:36 AM
I think plenty of authors in the future won't be asking if they should self-publish or traditionally publish, but rather should I self-publish or traditionally publish this book in particular.

I just put out an ebook edition of a dictionary for writers, wherein I compiled all the terms I'd learned from working at a literary agency. It's about 400 terms, but still only 100 pages. It's geared to a niche market (aspiring and established authors) and it's a reference book. To me, it made the most sense to publish the work on my own. Not because it was a small idea, but because it might be considered a "small book" that traditional publishers might not be able to make work with the cost of production, etc.

But for my picture books and novels, I'm still seeking a traditional publisher.

Either route though, the most successful authors are the ones that know how to market their book. A traditionally published book (on average) sits on a bookshelf for three months before it's returned to the warehouse or publisher. It's the authors that can keep the buzz growing on their books that can keep their books on the shelves.

ColoradoMom
03-31-2011, 12:41 AM
If you mean the world at large, yes. If you mean publishing. No, there is no upside down. Amanda Hocking is not signaling the end of publishing. She just isn't and no amount of saying she is makes that any different.

Self-publish and e-publish are not the same. Authors can embrace e-book technology without self-publishing. That includes new writers.

I think you're wrong. Most readers won't know if the e-pub book is self published or has a traditional publisher. And most won't look either. If they are anything like me - they look at the Amazon reviewers who take the time to actually give a thoughtful review, then decide this this is something they are interested in. Then they downlaod the sample and then they make a decision.

Publishing is upside down right now - MAJOR transformation going on. And honestly - those who don't acknowledge it will simply fall behind.

(It's like when iTunes came along and Metallica and the Beatles said - Noway man, no 99 cent songs for us! They lost out on billions of dollars in revenue. But hey, they are Metallica and The Beatles, so like they care.)

ColoradoMom
03-31-2011, 12:43 AM
If a mid-lister is expecting 'bestseller' treatment [i.e ads at bus stops or newspaper adds] they are going to be deeply disappointed. Word of mouth still remains the strongest marketing too. I don't mind getting my hands dirty, I just don't want to end up like Hocking and spend 12 hours a day marketing.


And isn't this the beauty of her story - that she did all that grungy foot-work and it paid off for her. If everything works out she won't be doing all that work herself anymore.

movieman
03-31-2011, 12:54 AM
I think plenty of authors in the future won't be asking if they should self-publish or traditionally publish, but rather should I self-publish or traditionally publish this book in particular.

Agreed. My thought is that I'll self-publish ebooks of any novels or short stories that I want to write and think someone might want to read but don't think I'd sell to a traditional publisher, and try the traditional route for the rest.

BarbaraKE
03-31-2011, 01:21 AM
There's another point. Will I (as a someday, prospective, debut author) have a better chance of getting readers to buy my book if it's $2.99 or $4.99 rather than $24.99 (or $9.99 for a mmpb)?

Rhonda9080
03-31-2011, 01:50 AM
And isn't this the beauty of her story - that she did all that grungy foot-work and it paid off for her. If everything works out she won't be doing all that work herself anymore.

I admire this woman! Regardless of what anyone might feel personally about e-publishing, here's someone who had a goal in mind, and went for it! So, her path wasn't the traditional - kind of makes me want to read her book!

Rhonda9080
03-31-2011, 01:53 AM
Seven-figure book deal? What's not to like? http://content.usatoday.com/communities/entertainment/post/2011/03/author-amanda-hocking-signs-seven-figure-four-book-deal-/1

Rhonda9080
03-31-2011, 02:12 AM
Another very interesting blog/article - former NY Times Bestselling author opines on epublishing: http://rickbutts.com/seth-godin-to-stop-publishing-books/

gothicangel
03-31-2011, 01:27 PM
And isn't this the beauty of her story - that she did all that grungy foot-work and it paid off for her. If everything works out she won't be doing all that work herself anymore.


I admire this woman! Regardless of what anyone might feel personally about e-publishing, here's someone who had a goal in mind, and went for it! So, her path wasn't the traditional - kind of makes me want to read her book!

:Headbang:

AmsterdamAssassin
03-31-2011, 01:32 PM
:Headbang:

Lighten up - you can bring a horse to water, but you can't make her drink...

I'm sure the s, l, and f just dropped off... :D

Rhonda9080
03-31-2011, 10:07 PM
I think (personally) this will be happening more and more. After all, if a book is written well enough to hook readers, isn't that what they search their "slush piles" for?

From what I understand, no one in the publishing field can tell which books will catch the public's fancy and 'break out'. We've all heard stories about various best sellers that were rejected umpteen times by agents and/or publishers and vice-versa - authors paid big advances whose books didn't sell.

Maybe Amanda Hocking's signing with a traditional publisher (St. Martin) is how the publishing market will evolve.

Let's say an unknown author decides to self-publish their book electronically. If it doesn't appeal to readers, it doesn't sell many copies and eventually drops off the radar. But if it does, I believe it will start selling (through word-of-mouth and independent reader reviews).

Then it might make sense for agents and/or publishers to approach the successful authors (i.e. those authors whose books are selling). They'd be getting a proven commodity - an author whose books attract readers. And the author would gain the benefit of the publisher's 'stamp of approval' (plus whatever other benefits the publisher can provide).

What do you think??

AmsterdamAssassin
04-01-2011, 12:33 AM
Why do you think you can enter ABNA free of charge?
- 5,000 people react. Their pitches are read by volunteers. The best pitches are selected to go through to the next round.
- 1,000 excerpts are read by volunteers, the best 250 are selected to have their whole manuscript read.

The 250 who remain are read by a selection of judges and Publisher Weekly and receive a PW review - 50 go through for the final round.

From a business POV, very smart - lots of publicity and 95% of the dreary going-through-the-slushpile-work is done by volunteers...

ColoradoMom
04-01-2011, 04:30 AM
I admire this woman! Regardless of what anyone might feel personally about e-publishing, here's someone who had a goal in mind, and went for it! So, her path wasn't the traditional - kind of makes me want to read her book!

I have to admit - I bought one! :) It's totally not my style of book as I am more of a science fiction person than paranormal romance, but it was entertaining.

I think Amanda's popularity has a lot to do with her...prolific writing strategy. People love a series and if they read the entire book and are the least bit attached to the characters on the last page they WILL download the second one for 99 cents. It's such a low investment it's almost impossible NOT to purchase the others.

Rhonda9080
04-01-2011, 06:36 AM
I have to admit - I bought one! :) It's totally not my style of book as I am more of a science fiction person than paranormal romance, but it was entertaining.

I think Amanda's popularity has a lot to do with her...prolific writing strategy. People love a series and if they read the entire book and are the least bit attached to the characters on the last page they WILL download the second one for 99 cents. It's such a low investment it's almost impossible NOT to purchase the others.
I was wondering too - after seeing royalty payments offered by epublishers (up to 50 to 60%) - and keeping in mind that the self-published e-author is getting all of their $.99 - $1.99 download money, how does that compare to the miserable 8% or so the author gets from "ligit" publishing houses? I've seen a few friends get about 3% after agent gets cut, etc. Do they even get as much per sale with royalties as these e-authors?
Anyone know the answer to this?

Rhonda9080
04-01-2011, 06:40 AM
Why do you think you can enter ABNA free of charge?
- 5,000 people react. Their pitches are read by volunteers. The best pitches are selected to go through to the next round.
- 1,000 excerpts are read by volunteers, the best 250 are selected to have their whole manuscript read.

The 250 who remain are read by a selection of judges and Publisher Weekly and receive a PW review - 50 go through for the final round.

From a business POV, very smart - lots of publicity and 95% of the dreary going-through-the-slushpile-work is done by volunteers...

Coming in on this one cold - what's ABNA?

Rhonda9080
04-01-2011, 06:44 AM
I'm not sure, and maybe someone will step in, but I'm thinking around 250,000 commercial ISBNs, although many of those are for tech publications (such as those produced by the government) that aren't produced for actual sale in the marketplace.

I hope someone else has more firm figures.

But the bottom line is this.

In past years, maybe one or two self-published fiction authors plus another handful of non-fiction authors got a commercial agent/publisher on the strength of their self-pubbed book's success. That is, I'm not talking about someone who happened to self-pub a book, and later, with no reference or mention of the self-pubbed book, gets a commercial deal.

With the rise of self-publishing success stories, this number is increasing but is still in the low two digits.

At the same time, commercial publishers pick up hundreds (maybe over a thousand?) of debut authors who don't have self-pub success behind them every year.

So, if you self-pub, there's a fraction of a 1% chance that you'll sell enough books to get commercial interest, and that doesn't matter how good your book is. There are excellent self-pubbed books that don't, for whatever reason, end up being top-sellers.

Now let's look at the slush pile at commercial publishers/agents. 90% of it is crap that will never have a chance of success, ever. Another 95% is close but not quite there. Of the last 5%, about half will get a commercial deal. The general wisdom is that if your writing is actually literate, your stuff is somewhere in the top 10%.

Therefore, if your writing is good and you self-pub, you have less than 1% chance of getting a commercial deal, whereas if you go through the commercial route, there's an approximately 20-30% chance of getting a commercial deal.

IOW, to rise to the top in self-publishing, you're competing against the entire canon of self-pubbed books, whereas in the slush pile, you're really only competing against the top 10%.

Of course, looking at percentages is actually an exercise in crazy-making. In the commercial world, if you write a good book, you have a pretty good chance of selling it, whereas if you write a crummy book, you have zero chance. In self-publishing, despite increasing numbers of successes, you can write an absolutely grand book still that gets drowned in the rubbish.

In the end, what we have is 10, 20, 30 self-publishing-to-commercial successes compared to a several hundred commercial-only ones every year.
Excellent comment! Shows how "e-pub" might be bigger in future, but for now, tradition route still best bet?

thothguard51
04-01-2011, 06:49 AM
The Amazon contest to find the next unknow author. Winner gets a publishing contract...

No SF or Fantasy author has ever won... Boooo Hssssss.

Rhonda9080
04-01-2011, 07:01 AM
If it was Rowling's, yes. But she was only so popular because she'd built up her massive readership through conventional publishing and mass marketing.

I think the real question is how a new writer gets from nowhere to being popular, even if only to the point where they can pay the bills by writing. You can go the traditional route of convincing a publisher that they should publish your book, or you can put it up as an ebook and try to convince people that they should buy it, or some combination of the two. Most people are going to be screwed either way, and few people will be making Rowling's income through either route.

As I see it the benefit of ebook self-publishing is that whatever you write is out in the market looking for readers without going through years of submissions and waiting for a publisher to get it on the shelves, and it stays there forever without going out of print. The downside is that it doesn't get the associated marketing (and being on the shelf in the book store is a huge step up from being just another ebook on Amazon.com) so many people who would like it probably won't even hear about it. I'm not sure that anyone can say that one of those is objectively better than the other, if you're writing something that people will want to read.
Actually, this is also being explored by the entrepreneurial community. I have a friend whose business is completely devoted to e-marketing for e-published or print books. Just like the mss-writing seminar type businesses and consulting sevices springing up. (yes! Will cut your 300k novel down to 100k - for $5,000.... )
One nice thing my friend told me (because he is a friend, and honest). He said for me to try the established print market, exhaust the top level publisher possibilities first, but he'd very happily take my book on for e-publish if other avenues fail.

***E-publish can be a solution to the novel that's good, but won't have a prayer on "pop" market due to word count, "Un" P.C. subject matter, other market flaws.

jnfr
04-01-2011, 08:44 AM
I don't think the question for writers should "Will I be a break-out star?" so much as, "What gets me the best income (most readers) in an average year?" E-pubs can earn regular small income forever, potentially. Traditional publishers might get you more up-front. It's a tricky equation, and not all about the obvious.

Rhonda9080
04-01-2011, 08:53 AM
Okay! Thanks! I know about this one!

The Amazon contest to find the next unknow author. Winner gets a publishing contract...

No SF or Fantasy author has ever won... Boooo Hssssss.

gothicangel
04-01-2011, 10:25 AM
I don't think the question for writers should "Will I be a break-out star?" so much as, "What gets me the best income (most readers) in an average year?" E-pubs can earn regular small income forever, potentially. Traditional publishers might get you more up-front. It's a tricky equation, and not all about the obvious.

Firstly, all e-publishers aren't self-publishers.

Secondly, you do know 'traditional' publishers release e-book editions too, yes?

FocusOnEnergy
04-01-2011, 10:37 AM
How about this as a question:

What is my primary focus? What is my skillset?

For people who just want to write and keep writing, then the commercial publishing route is clearly for them.

This would be the same for people whose skillset doesn't include graphic design, marketing, public relations, etc., unless they can afford to hire skilled professionals to do that work for them.

Ditto for people who don't have the time to devote to anything other than writing, unless they can afford to hire the rest out.

Also for those people who aren't good writers, because (as a number of posters have stated during the many discussions that have taken place on the subject) it forces them to improve their craft because they need to reach a certain level of skill before their work will be accepted by agents/publishers.

For those who want to do more besides just writing, who have the appropriate skills (or the money to hire people who do) and who are competent wordsmiths, self-publishing can be a good choice.

As long as you are realistic about your expectations, and don't think that you are going to become the next Amanda Hocking without being as savvy as she is-and working as hard as she has. She didn't become a star overnight or by magic. She worked very hard, not only generating plenty of product, but by determining the best way to sell it, setting just the right price points and marketing the crap out of it.

While people were busily arguing over whether or not she was a traitor to the true way, or a fluke, all I could see what all of this media coverage has done for her ebook sales. Announcing the 4-book deal before the contract was inked was pure genius.

All of that press has got to be benefiting her ebook sales. I'd love to see a comparison of the numbers before and after the rush of media and all the controversy and discussion.

My own editor (whose policy is that we don't review books not published by a "real" publisher) posted a link to an article about her on facebook the other day, and talked about changing the policy. One of our sister papers has a different policy, they provide extensive coverage to people who publish through a local vanity press.

There has been much discussion about how self-publishing is going to generate so many bad books that the good ones will be lost in the shuffle, but quite frankly, unless the authors aggressively market them, nobody will notice any of them.

Think about how people buy books on Amazon.com (using them as an example because I've bought all of my books on Amazon for over 10 years and because the popular self-publishign service CreateSpace is an Amazon company). NOTE: I may be atypical because I read mostly non-fiction about whatever topic I'm currently researching, and I never read fiction that isn't by one of my favorite authors.

Amazon uses very sophisticated technology to recommend things you might be interested in. When I visit the site, suggestions pop up on my front page based on what I've bought before. These are usually new books by my favorite fiction authors, or non-fiction books on a subject that I have an interest in.

If I'm looking for something, I'll either search by the name of the author to see if they've written something new, or I'll search by subject to find a non-fiction book. I may also be looking for a specific book that I've heard about or has been personally recommended. Usually non-fiction, though.

When I click on a link on that search, I glance at the cover, read the "product description" for the synopsis, and then read the excerpt. I prefer books with excerpts so I can see how stodgy it is. If there isn't one, unless it's been personally recommended, I give it a pass, and go on to the next one on the list returned by my search query.

Usually, I make my decision on the synopsis, but sometimes the excerpt will turn me off-academics, engineers, etc., don't always make engaging writers-no matter how well polished their grammar and syntax is. I never read the reviews on a product on Amazon, unless I'm buying some new piece of electronic gear and I want to see what problems people have had with it. Too many reviews are written by people as if they were writing a book review for a newspaper, only not as well. Writing just to hear themselves write, in other words.

Sometimes I'll buy the books recommended on that page, either as "people who bought this book also bought..." or "if you buy this book and that one, it's X dollars". Only if the other book passes the same test.

I never notice who published the book. I don't care.

So, in my case, the only self-published books I'll ever see when I'm shopping are going to be by authors who I've been reading everything they write for years, and nonfiction books that show up in a search or an Amazon recommendation and they've got to have a well-written synopsis and excerpt.

Will I occasionally get a crappy self-pubbed book that shows up on my search? Of course. I also get crappy commercially published books by academics on my searches as well. They are crappy in different ways, but still crap.

Because I don't read fiction by unfamiliar authors, I'll never see the dreck that people fear will bury the good fiction.

My question to you, is how do you choose your books when shopping online at Amazon? Will you see the self-published novels of unfamiliar authors that I don't?

Focus

Terie
04-01-2011, 12:12 PM
For those who want to do more besides just writing, who have the appropriate skills (or the money to hire people who do) and who are competent wordsmiths, self-publishing can be a good choice.

Yes, this. Exactly this.


As long as you are realistic about your expectations, and don't think that you are going to become the next Amanda Hocking without being as savvy as she is-and working as hard as she has. She didn't become a star overnight or by magic. She worked very hard, not only generating plenty of product, but by determining the best way to sell it, setting just the right price points and marketing the crap out of it.

The only issue I take with this is that working as hard as Amanda Hocking did doesn't mean another writer will have the same success as she did. Lots of self-published authors work as hard as she did and, if possible, even harder, and they haven't had her success.

Her books chimed with a huge number of readers, and that's what made them take off. The number one most effective promotional tool is still word of mouth, and no amount of self-promotion can force someone to tell someone else how great your book is.

Hocking, like Rowling and Meyer before her, hit the exact right note at the exact right time. If she'd written different books, or written them three years ago or three years from now, there's no guarantee she would've had the same success. That's where luck comes into play.

Lots of people have written better books than Hocking, Rowling, and Meyer with similar story lines, and those books haven't taken off. What element made those three so incredibly successful? If someone knew, they'd be doing it, too. (And so would the rest of us...LOL!) That is the ephemeral nature of block-busting success: no one knows why something works for the mega-masses and something else similar (and often better written) doesn't.

Anyone who thinks that all they have to do is write as much as Hocking did and promote as much as Hocking did, with the result that they'll have the same mega-success that Hocking did is simply self-deluded.

shaldna
04-01-2011, 01:10 PM
Okay, once again, as there seems to be some confusion on the subject

NOT all e-books are self published.
NOT all self-published books are e-books.

Most traditional publishers have e-books, they account for about a quarter of the traditional publishing market.

Self publishing via ebook has really taken off in the last year or two through things like Kindle, which make it much easier for people to upload their books, it's an instant thing, rather than somewhere like Lulu or Createspace, where there is a short wait for your book.

Terie
04-01-2011, 01:22 PM
Self publishing via ebook has really taken off in the last year or two through things like Kindle, which make it much easier for people to upload their books, it's an instant thing, rather than somewhere like Lulu or Createspace, where there is a short wait for your book.

So easy that now there's The Kindle Swindle (http://www.publishingtrends.com/2011/03/the-kindle-swindle/) for professional spammers to junk up the Kindle boards. And at a much more personal level, look what happened to this guy (http://sksperry.livejournal.com/tag/thief).

I daresay Amazon is going to have to make it rather less easy to just chuck any ol' thing up onto their servers. The only question is whether they'll clue up before a copyright infringement suit gets slapped on them or after.

ETA: This isn't meant to take the mickey out of legitimate self-publishing writers. I don't think Amazon should make it hard for folks to legitimately post their own material. :) But it does speak to how much crap is in the Amazon Kindle Store for readers to sort through trying to find the gems. And when one does find a gem, how can one be sure the money will go to the person who wrote it and not some thief? Sigh.

shaldna
04-01-2011, 04:02 PM
So easy that now there's The Kindle Swindle (http://www.publishingtrends.com/2011/03/the-kindle-swindle/) for professional spammers to junk up the Kindle boards. And at a much more personal level, look what happened to this guy (http://sksperry.livejournal.com/tag/thief).

.

I can';t access livejournal because of the settings. Can someone fill me in, i'm intrigued now.

Library4Science
04-01-2011, 05:38 PM
So easy that now there's The Kindle Swindle (http://www.publishingtrends.com/2011/03/the-kindle-swindle/) for professional spammers to junk up the Kindle boards. And at a much more personal level, look what happened to this guy (http://sksperry.livejournal.com/tag/thief).

I daresay Amazon is going to have to make it rather less easy to just chuck any ol' thing up onto their servers. The only question is whether they'll clue up before a copyright infringement suit gets slapped on them or after.

ETA: This isn't meant to take the mickey out of legitimate self-publishing writers. I don't think Amazon should make it hard for folks to legitimately post their own material. :) But it does speak to how much crap is in the Amazon Kindle Store for readers to sort through trying to find the gems. And when one does find a gem, how can one be sure the money will go to the person who wrote it and not some thief? Sigh.

Why do you think Amazon might get hit with a copyright infringement suit? I've published one book via KDP and they seem to do a pretty good check of the rights you claim. They didn't believe me when I claimed rights to an historical series called 'America' which was published in 1925 and I had to send them a copy of my contract with the VFW (original publishers) before they would let it go live.

I don't think they will change their acceptance policies but I do think they will change the 70% royalty rate once they have seduced the traditionally published mid-list authors into self-publishing.

shadowwalker
04-01-2011, 06:02 PM
Okay, once again, as there seems to be some confusion on the subject

NOT all e-books are self published.
NOT all self-published books are e-books.

Most traditional publishers have e-books, they account for about a quarter of the traditional publishing market.

I'm beginning to think this will never sink in... :deadhorse

PulpDogg
04-01-2011, 06:10 PM
I can';t access livejournal because of the settings. Can someone fill me in, i'm intrigued now.

http://www.amazon.com/Darkside-ebook/dp/B004SY5S2E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=A12MGAGPLUJEQK&s=digital-text&qid=1301666850&sr=1-1

The author didn't put this one up. It was self published before, but for free on his website. Someone took it and put it up on Kindle. The author is now trying to get Amazon to take it down ... no luck so far.

And this is actually something I hadn't even thought of. 'Normal' piracy is something you can't avoid ... there will always be people who will torrent your book and they'd never pay in the first place.

But this is something else entirely ... I wonder how many more of these stolen books are out there.

shaldna
04-01-2011, 06:30 PM
Wow. that's insane.

Sheryl Nantus
04-01-2011, 06:45 PM
But this is something else entirely ... I wonder how many more of these stolen books are out there.

Probably quite a few. I do see a lot of public domain books up on B&N (because I have a Nook) for sale by people who obviously aren't who they say they are...

But the system's overwhelmed right now. There was a case on Smashwords of the same abuse. It takes time and effort to track down the offenders and to figure out what's been offered first for free and now has been stolen from the author.

Obviously Amazon's not checking everything that goes up on Kindle because they just can't. Same with B&N, I suspect - when you're getting thousands of submissions almost hourly, there's only so much you can check on.

It's a sad situation all around.

efkelley
04-01-2011, 10:01 PM
The computer can vet a lot of things (Smashwords seems to have a pretty good screening system, generally) but spammers are incredibly innovative sometimes. It may be something as simple (heh 'simple') as an account authorization like PayPal does.

MartinD
04-01-2011, 10:51 PM
In regards to Hocking's success, did I miss the part where we discussed her pile of rejections from every publisher and agent she approached prior to going on her own?

If she didn't self-publish, she'd still be making $18,000 a year working in the mental health biz and none of us would know her name.

rsullivan9597
04-02-2011, 04:56 PM
Let's stop talking about the tiny tip of the iceberg for a moment and start comparing the middle. The average mid-list author earns an advance of $10,000 to $20,000; the average number of volumes sold of a self-pubbed book is 75, which, if the author earns as much as $3 per copy (which is probably on the high side), is $225.


I think where have a disconnect is I see (because I study it a lot) there are more than just a few self-published authors earning a living writing where the mid-listers that are getting 10,000 to 20,000 advances can't live on that. I recently did a comparision between Jim C. Hines (traditional) and David Dalglish (self published) - neither of these guys are "top of iceberg" they are both "average publishable" writers.

You can read the full comparision here. (http://write2publish.blogspot.com/2011/04/midlist-authors-traditional-or-self.html)

The point is...that in the old days self-publishing was a dead-end path but since November 2010 it has literally changed the lives of many "new and struggling authors" who never thought it was possible to quit their day jobs who now can.




With the rise of self-publishing success stories, this number is increasing but is still in the low two digits.

At the same time, commercial publishers pick up hundreds (maybe over a thousand?) of debut authors who don't have self-pub success behind them every year.



On this we can agree, but let's not forget the point that getting picked up by a commerical publisher in many cases does not mean the ability to make a living off of your writing. A $10,000 - $20,000 advance and books put out every 15 months to a year is not going to pay the bills unless you live in a very low-cost environment.

I campaign so heavily for this path because it is the route we did with success. I think most here will agree that a six-figure 3-book deal from a big-six is what they would consider "making it". If Michael would have continued trying the "query-go-round" I would still be supporting him with my "day job" (He quit his day-job a number of years ago). But now...BECAUSE he self-published first and WAS able to get a big signing - not only is he living off his writing wages but I am to. Michael is not an Amanda Hocking or Joe Konrath - he is not an "outlier" and it worked for him.


I don't think the question for writers should "Will I be a break-out star?" so much as, "What gets me the best income (most readers) in an average year?" E-pubs can earn regular small income forever, potentially. Traditional publishers might get you more up-front. It's a tricky equation, and not all about the obvious.

This brings the discussion back to the "non-outliers" which I think is the imporant point. If we keep it in the "midlist" category than a $10,000 - $20,000 advance up front is not a living wage. The fact that you get SUCH a higher percentage in self-published (70% verses 14.9% for ebook) makes it much easier to make a living while selling the same number of books. Since 35% of the Top 100 are indie authors and since they are getting 70% it is a path that can lead to a living wage.

shadowwalker
04-02-2011, 06:06 PM
Since 35% of the Top 100 are indie authors and since they are getting 70% it is a path that can lead to a living wage.

Emphasis mine. Do you have sales figures (ie, number of ebooks sold) for any of these authors? And do you have sales figures for the self-published who are not in the top 100? Amazon lists 267,876 e-books in fiction alone. How many of those e-books are by self-pub, and how many of those authors are living off their writing, or are on that path?

jnfr
04-02-2011, 07:24 PM
Take a look at the blog post Robin mentioned in 127 where she lays out some numbers in detail. It's very interesting stuff.

CaoPaux
04-02-2011, 07:26 PM
Take a look at the blog post Robin mentioned in 127 where she lays out some numbers in detail. It's very interesting stuff.We have (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=209717), and the numbers are suspect, at best.

efkelley
04-02-2011, 08:31 PM
We have (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=209717), and the numbers are suspect, at best.

Given that this is the second thread I've seen you say this, Cao, I'd say your axe is already sharp.

The numbers are accurate for those two authors. I don't think anyone could compare their traditional numbers and call either of them slow performers or big names. They're solidly midlist in the traditional game.

The big problem is that two authors isn't a big enough sample size to draw a trend. Give me ten, fifteen, twenty midlisters now making a living off their e-sales alone, and we're starting to prove the point. Give me a hundred, and it's becoming a trend. Give me a thousand, and I'd call that a good point.

Terie
04-02-2011, 08:38 PM
Given that this is the second thread I've seen you say this, Cao, I'd say your axe is already sharp.

So jnfr can post pointers to the blog in multiple places, and a moderator can't point out in response to jnfr's posts that the numbers are questionable without it being an axe?

efkelley
04-02-2011, 09:56 PM
As a matter of opinion, I think a moderator is well within their rights to point out redundant threads. Calling the data shaky and questionable each time seems like grinding, yes, especially when the data and numbers are not questionable. The conclusions might be fallacious, but one can't argue with the actual numbers presented. Not unless you're Jim Hines or David Dalglish.

jnfr
04-02-2011, 10:17 PM
I apologize for pointing out the post here. I didn't realize there was already a thread for it.

Rhonda9080
04-03-2011, 12:43 AM
As an avid Amazon shopper, and one who reads and writes reviews, I do have this different approach. Product research (non-books) has saved me a bundle - even on toys that are going to break after five mins on Christmas morning. Really, same concept with books. Now, when I see a potential book at book store I might like to read, I jot down title and author, then go look up on Amazon. Whether the book gets 2 stars or five - I don't care, but reading excerpts and customer reviews helps e decide whether I want to shell out my hard-earned $$$ on something I'll hate and never read.
****On research - I confess to cheating some times. Youtube, google books, and those "keyword" searches within books have helped me find the info I need sometimes w/o purchase. I feel bad about it, but hey! Starving artist here :)

How about this as a question:

What is my primary focus? What is my skillset?

For people who just want to write and keep writing, then the commercial publishing route is clearly for them.

This would be the same for people whose skillset doesn't include graphic design, marketing, public relations, etc., unless they can afford to hire skilled professionals to do that work for them.

Ditto for people who don't have the time to devote to anything other than writing, unless they can afford to hire the rest out.

Also for those people who aren't good writers, because (as a number of posters have stated during the many discussions that have taken place on the subject) it forces them to improve their craft because they need to reach a certain level of skill before their work will be accepted by agents/publishers.

For those who want to do more besides just writing, who have the appropriate skills (or the money to hire people who do) and who are competent wordsmiths, self-publishing can be a good choice.

<remainder snipped>

Rhonda9080
04-03-2011, 12:59 AM
GUYS! If you're really interested in this subject, I urge you to follow link in this post below. A wealth of info, fairly treated, by someone in the know!!! Thanks for this rsullivan!!!

I think where have a disconnect is I see (because I study it a lot) there are more than just a few self-published authors earning a living writing where the mid-listers that are getting 10,000 to 20,000 advances can't live on that. I recently did a comparision between Jim C. Hines (traditional) and David Dalglish (self published) - neither of these guys are "top of iceberg" they are both "average publishable" writers.

You can read the full comparision here. (http://write2publish.blogspot.com/2011/04/midlist-authors-traditional-or-self.html)

The point is...that in the old days self-publishing was a dead-end path but since November 2010 it has literally changed the lives of many "new and struggling authors" who never thought it was possible to quit their day jobs who now can.

Rhonda9080
04-03-2011, 01:03 AM
How much more fair can you possibly be with an article like that? We have the information presented, and she does a fair job. No one,at this point, is all knowing about where this will lead, but it adds to discussion. I found the article very helpful. She obviously has some knowledge and even personal experience in both camps.
***Sorry! Promise I'm not nitpicking with you specifically. :Hug2: I'm just up for any information that helps me sort these tough marketing issues for first-time novelist. My foot's not in either camp - but I do want the research! As a journalist, I can tell you, not all facts are available on this subject. One must do the best one can to muddle through. This is at least a comparable and fair comparison.

We have (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=209717), and the numbers are suspect, at best.

rsullivan9597
04-03-2011, 01:28 AM
Emphasis mine. Do you have sales figures (ie, number of ebooks sold) for any of these authors? And do you have sales figures for the self-published who are not in the top 100?

For people in the top of the top 100 - I consider these outliers but if you want numbers I do have them:


John Locke sold 350,000 books from Jan 1 - March 8 which netted him $122,500 /67 days = $1,828 a day or $54,840 a month
Victorine Lieskie sold 28,000 books in Feburary - $9,800 a month
Amanda Hocking Sold 500,000 from Feb 1 - Mar 23 she has a mix of $0.99 and $2.99 so (so income on that was between ($175,000 - $1,045,000)/ 51 days = $104,656 - $624,950 a month
On March 13th Joe Konrath reported he sells $1726 in books a day (which is consistent with the number of titles he has for sales and the rankings they are at). That is $22,143 a month (20+ books - so with co-authors)
AGAIN those people are outliers - so I don't really look at THEIR numbers.

As for people NOT in the top 100....Yes I think those are the more important ones. None of these people are in the top 100 - most have rankings in the 300 - 2,000 range.

The following are for MARCH 2011. The number in ( ) indicate number of books they have for sale. When 2 numbers are presented it indicates a range they could have made based on their book prices (i.e. if all books sold at lowest price or all books sold at highest price). If only one number is listed then it indicates that numbers were given for each book and combined with the price per book exact income could be calculated.


MARCH SALES 2011


Mel Comley (2) $1,295 - $7,822
Ellen Fisher (6) $3,915
Michael J. Sullivan (5) $19,915
Imogen Rose (4) $2,038 - $16,428
Siebel Hodge (3) $15,425
Nick Spalding (1) $1,198
Martin Sharlow (5) $1,766 - $10,666
N. Gemini Sasson (3) $4,222
David McAfee (5) $6,085
Matt Laube (2) $1,399
J. Carson Black 3 $369
David Dalglish (8) $12,132
Teri Reid (3) $2,426 - $14,655
William Esmont (2) $1,097
Suzanne Tyrpak (2) $1,201
Blake Crouch (6) ($4,893 - $39,443)*
Michael Wallace (7) $2,990 - $24,098
Sandra Edwards (5) $6,995 - $21,154
Eric Carpenter (2) $1,040 - $6,279
Ann Marie Novak (6) $1,473 - $8,899
J. L Bryan (5) $852 - $5,149
Paul Clayton (3) $1,590
Jan Hurst Nicholson (5) $1,204 - $7,273
*indicates "self published" numbers but he also has been traditionally published as well

PopLit
04-03-2011, 01:42 AM
An interesting discussion. I'll recommend again that people study business history. All businesses go in cycles. No business remains static forever-- that publishing has for a long time simply means that the upheaval will be greater.

To compare the top ebook author with James Patterson isn't what you should be doing. More important is the trend. What are the trends? What's up? What's down?

You also can't deny the law of supply and demand, reflected in price. I have yet to see the advocates of big publishing explain how they're going to compete, in the long run, with 99 cent books. They have a great deal of overhead. What was Amanda's?

Okay, she wasn't good at self-editing. Believe me, there are many writers out there who can credibly self-edit and self-market, and will take the time to do so.

A separate but related subject is that of delivery systems. Bookstores versus e-readers, which become ever more affordable. I've only begun to see the appearance of e-reader knockoffs. Their price has gone down and will continue to go down.

In other words, bookstores as we know them are doomed.

When an industry is under stress, when there's threatening new competition which greatly undersells the standard giants, then eventually everyone starts cutting costs. In the same frantic way much industry (think steel and automobiles) have done for years (or in the way governments are doing now), with the largest companies such as General Motors moving too slowly. Ford Motor was the only one of the U.S. "Big Three" which didn't go bankrupt. It moved faster because it was still family controlled, and so was able to make the tough decisions much faster. Cutting, and cutting, and cutting.

Anyone who believes this won't happen to big scale publishing is dreaming. I don't know the UK, but I know enough about publishing in New York. Staffs, office leasing rates, salaries-- start adding it up. There's a reason why they can't pay their writers 35% of the book price. One can't deny basic economics. I'm sure to publishing editors and such this sounds harsh. Not the kind of thing anyone wishes to confront. Then again, the city of Detroit and its industries refused to confront reality. (Detroit lost 25% of its population in the last ten years.)

There are certainly too many ebook and self-published writers out there. There will soon be many more of them. This just means that after the Empire collapses and we're in a feudal world, a fragmented world of micro-micro-marketing (we're nearly there now), someone will figure out how to change the model again. The next step after the ebook revolution. There will be ways to reconsolidate-- which will involve new ways of selling, marketing, and promotion.

-Karl Wenclas
www.kingwenclas.blogspot.com (http://www.kingwenclas.blogspot.com)
www.americanpoplit.blogspot.com (http://www.americanpoplit.blogspot.com)

AmsterdamAssassin
04-03-2011, 02:39 AM
I'd be slow to call any business doomed - there's a market even for those who make 180gr new vinyl LPs - and self-publishing isn't as easy as it sounds. Not only do you have to wear many hats, you also have to be able to distance yourself from your 'baby' and see your book as a product - writing a product description, getting other people to endorse it [independent reviews] and savvy promotion [not spam!] will eventually help you turn a profit, but only if your product is up to par with what's already commercially available.

shadowwalker
04-03-2011, 05:17 AM
The following are for MARCH 2011. The number in ( ) indicate number of books they have for sale. When 2 numbers are presented it indicates a range they could have made based on their book prices (i.e. if all books sold at lowest price or all books sold at highest price). If only one number is listed then it indicates that numbers were given for each book and combined with the price per book exact income could be calculated.

Okay - the number of books they have for sale, that's easy to verify. But the range they "could have made"... what they made should be based on actual sales. Could you tell me where you find the numbers for the "one number" authors (if I'm reading that correctly, the actual sales per book were listed somewhere)?

Rhonda9080
04-03-2011, 07:51 AM
An interesting discussion. I'll recommend again that people study business history. All businesses go in cycles. No business remains static forever-- that publishing has for a long time simply means that the upheaval will be greater.

To compare the top ebook author with James Patterson isn't what you should be doing. More important is the trend. What are the trends? What's up? What's down?

You also can't deny the law of supply and demand, reflected in price. I have yet to see the advocates of big publishing explain how they're going to compete, in the long run, with 99 cent books. They have a great deal of overhead. What was Amanda's?

Okay, she wasn't good at self-editing. Believe me, there are many writers out there who can credibly self-edit and self-market, and will take the time to do so.

<remainder snipped>

As I pointed out (way back there somewhere???), there are not only many e-pub writers, but readers. My 20-somethings all MOSTLY do their reading on Kindle. Their friends also do. For me, I'd still rather curl up with a "real" book, but on that rainy day, when I'm out of new material, don't want to get in the car and fight traffic to the bookstore, I head for Amazon or one of the e-book sites. I think anyone that can't see is fooling themselves and not paying attention to the handwriting on the wall.
Also consider environmental concerns. Even at the office, we're fast heading for the "paperless" society.
***Note - I'm not saying I'm for this. I'm saying, train's already in the station...

Rhonda9080
04-03-2011, 07:56 AM
For people in the top of the top 100 - I consider these outliers but if you want numbers I do have them:


John Locke sold 350,000 books from Jan 1 - March 8 which netted him $122,500 /67 days = $1,828 a day or $667,350 a year (7 books)
Victorine Lieskie sold 28,000 books in Feburary - $127,750 a day (1 book)
Amanda Hocking Sold 500,000 from Feb 1 - Mar 23 she has a mix of $0.99 and $2.99 so (so income on that was between ($175,000 - $1,045,000)/ 51 days = 1.25M - 7.5M (9 books)
On March 13th Joe Konrath reported he sells $1726 in books a day (which is consistent with the number of titles he has for sales and the rankings they are at). That is $629,990 a year (20+ books - so with co-authors)
AGAIN those people are outliers - so I don't really look at THEIR numbers.

As for people NOT in the top 100....Yes I think those are the more important ones. None of these people are in the top 100 - most have rankings in the 300 - 2,000 range.

<remainder snipped>
***Wow! An eye-opener! I read John Locke. That's all he made? Maybe my non-fic a/i doesn't look so bad after all!!!

Terie
04-03-2011, 09:48 AM
How much more fair can you possibly be with an article like that? We have the information presented, and she does a fair job. No one,at this point, is all knowing about where this will lead, but it adds to discussion. I found the article very helpful. She obviously has some knowledge and even personal experience in both camps.
***Sorry! Promise I'm not nitpicking with you specifically. :Hug2: I'm just up for any information that helps me sort these tough marketing issues for first-time novelist. My foot's not in either camp - but I do want the research! As a journalist, I can tell you, not all facts are available on this subject. One must do the best one can to muddle through. This is at least a comparable and fair comparison.

Sorry, but no. Robin's numbers are completely skewed to support her opinion. It's not 'fair' at all. Go read the thread she started that CaoPaux linked to, and you'll see some of the flaws in her methodology.

To sum up that thread: Robin self-defined the 'mid-list' of self-e-pubbed authors to mean somthing like the top 95-99 percentile of self-e-pubbed authors, and compared one guy on her list to someone who everyone accepts is a mid-list commercial author. She looked at two cases and is making sweeping generalisations about both types of publishing based on a two-case study.

That is, as someone in Robin's thread pointed out, junk science.

And it is misleading to newbies. Which is what I care about. A completely unknown writer who posts a novel to the Kindle Store today is not likely to see the numbers being sold by the 95-99 percentile writers.

Rhonda9080
04-03-2011, 10:47 AM
Sorry, but no. Robin's numbers are completely skewed to support her opinion. It's not 'fair' at all. Go read the thread she started that CaoPaux linked to, and you'll see some of the flaws in her methodology.

To sum up that thread: Robin self-defined the 'mid-list' of self-e-pubbed authors to mean somthing like the top 95-99 percentile of self-e-pubbed authors, and compared one guy on her list to someone who everyone accepts is a mid-list commercial author. She looked at two cases and is making sweeping generalisations about both types of publishing based on a two-case study.

That is, as someone in Robin's thread pointed out, junk science.

And it is misleading to newbies. Which is what I care about. A completely unknown writer who posts a novel to the Kindle Store today is not likely to see the numbers being sold by the 95-99 percentile writers.
***Newbies should do their own homework. I'd never base such an important decision on one bit of research (or dogmatic opinions).
That said - all your point - well-taken. But I want the discussion to continue. This is fascinating (and informative) debate! Certainly relevant to today's writer, whichever path they ultimately decide is right for them.

Terie
04-03-2011, 11:08 AM
***Newbies should do their own homework. I'd never base such an important decision on one bit of research (or dogmatic opinions).

Yes, that's right. And when doing their homework, they're going to find blog posts like Robin's. That's why those of us using our critical thinking skills need to keep challenging the phony numbers, since those producing the phony numbers show no signs of stopping.

Surely it would be better for people like Robin to take a more honest approach and not post misleading junk science-y numbers in the first place, wouldn't it?

Personally, I prefer to be honest. When people have asked me about getting into children's writing to make buckets of money, I don't trot out the sales figures of the 95-99 percentile of kids' writers and tell them to go for it. I tell them it's a long hard slog that will at best supplement their current income unless they're very VERY lucky to break in to that top rank. I tell them that they should spend great wodges of their limited free time writing only if writing is what they want to do, not to get rich. Because the chances of getting rich are very VERY small. It could happen, sure, but it's highly unlikely.

The same is true for self-e-publishing (and self-publishing print, too, for that matter). There are a number of excellent reasons to choose that path. 'Making a good living' is NOT one of them, because the chances are so incredibly small.

RobJ
04-03-2011, 12:01 PM
For people in the top of the top 100 - I consider these outliers but if you want numbers I do have them:


John Locke sold 350,000 books from Jan 1 - March 8 which netted him $122,500 /67 days = $1,828 a day or $667,350 a year (7 books)


Again, you need to be careful with what you're doing here with the numbers because it will open you up to ridicule, which can destroy your argument and your message gets lost as a result. You don't have a number here that represents yearly sales. Chances are there'll be some kind of curve involved for each book during which sales will peak and then drop off, and that could happen in less than a year. You also have to consider the size of the market. Taking an extreme example, if the market for these books is 350,000, yearly sales will be the same as already identified for Jan 1st - Mar 8th, which would be way, way below the $667,350 figure you've posted. The real figure could be lower or higher than $667,350, but what you can't reasonably do is take the figures for two months and assume a yearly figure. Best to stick to the actual figures.


Victorine Lieskie sold 28,000 books in Feburary - $127,750 a day (1 book)

You need to look again at what you've posted and see if it makes sense. You're saying Victorine Lieskie was making $127,750 a day during February. Is that what you intended?




Amanda Hocking Sold 500,000 from Feb 1 - Mar 23 she has a mix of $0.99 and $2.99 so (so income on that was between ($175,000 - $1,045,000)/ 51 days = 1.25M - 7.5M (9 books)


Just for clarity, do you know how much Hocking has actually made over that period? We have four figures from you - $175,000, $1,045,000, $1,250,000 and $7,5000,000. Are you projecting for the year again?




On March 13th Joe Konrath reported he sells $1726 in books a day (which is consistent with the number of titles he has for sales and the rankings they are at). That is $629,990 a year (20+ books - so with co-authors)


See previous point: it is if you sustain it for a year. It's not if you don't.


AGAIN those people are outliers - so I don't really look at THEIR numbers.

Not only did you look at them, you posted them.

brainstorm77
04-03-2011, 05:07 PM
I have been lurking and I don't understand the numbers being tossed around, or what context they are being tossed in.

AmsterdamAssassin
04-03-2011, 05:58 PM
I think the numbers are well-intended but essentially flawed, as are all statistics...

I think a better argument is to look at successful self-publishers and see what commonalities have led to their success - such as professional editing and covers, as well as strong writing. If you're serious about self-publishing, you'd do well to make sure your writing is as strong as possible, mimic your formatting on examples of professionally formatted books, accept criticism gracefully, get positive reviews from independent sources, promote yourself without spamming, publish your books with attractive covers, use the right tags to get noticed, etcetera...

shadowwalker
04-03-2011, 06:18 PM
I think a better argument is to look at successful self-publishers and see what commonalities have led to their success - such as professional editing and covers, as well as strong writing. If you're serious about self-publishing, you'd do well to make sure your writing is as strong as possible, mimic your formatting on examples of professionally formatted books, accept criticism gracefully, get positive reviews from independent sources, promote yourself without spamming, publish your books with attractive covers, use the right tags to get noticed, etcetera...

I don't think I'd call that a better "argument" but definitely very good advice.

Sheryl Nantus
04-03-2011, 06:39 PM
I think the numbers are well-intended but essentially flawed, as are all statistics...

I think a better argument is to look at successful self-publishers and see what commonalities have led to their success - such as professional editing and covers, as well as strong writing. If you're serious about self-publishing, you'd do well to make sure your writing is as strong as possible, mimic your formatting on examples of professionally formatted books, accept criticism gracefully, get positive reviews from independent sources, promote yourself without spamming, publish your books with attractive covers, use the right tags to get noticed, etcetera...

All excellent points the prospective self-pubber needs to consider!

rep point incoming!

kaitie
04-03-2011, 09:11 PM
I think the numbers are well-intended but essentially flawed, as are all statistics...



I agree wholeheartedly with your last statement, but I had to come back and say that I don't think this is entirely true. All statistics have a built in degree of uncertainty, but for a well-constructed study it's going to be much less than 5%, potentially even .001% with enough data. While there is a chance the results aren't accurate, there is such a high chance of it being right that it's worth drawing some conclusions. A more accurate statement, IMO, would be to say that statistics are often misused and manipulated.

Personally, I've felt lately a bit like self-publishing for kindle is the latest get-rich-quick scheme. Please don't get me wrong--I'm not saying that everyone here is just trying to get rich. I'm speaking more from the uneducated public standpoint. There is so much highly popularized news right now about Amanda Hocking and JA Konrath that even non-writers are starting to become aware of this. I've had non-writer friends who know nothing about publishing sending me articles advising this for a couple of months now. I've heard other people saying they're going to write books and get in on this.

Will they follow through? I have no idea, but I am concerned that a lot of uninformed people will be making poor decisions because they're only seeing one side (and generally what they want to see, which is "I can write a book and make a million dollars").

As for e-publishing first, something that's had me wondering is how many people even read the low-priced books they buy. I read a blog post somewhere recently where an author talked about the kind of people buying books for less (don't remember where) and the fact that most of them struck her as ungrateful, rude, and many never even read the books--they just bought them en mass because they were cheap. She said that, in her opinion, when people paid so little they had lower expectations (self-fulfilling) and didn't have the same customer loyalty as someone who paid more for her books. As such, she's raised all of her prices and is just taking the hit in sales because for her it's worth it to build a more loyal base.

Which has me thinking: Okay, if everyone is saying the way to sell the most books is to price at $.99~$2.99, but the readers buying those books aren't as likely to be loyal to the author or find value in the work or often even never read the book, then how is this kind of following going to translate into more sales later on even if you're selling commercially?

I can see a situation where a person self-publishes first, sells 100,000 copies and then gets a good commercial publishing deal based on that, but then sells a much smaller percentage because books are more expensive and the original readers never developed a loyalty to the author.

In fact, from the sounds of things, many people are buying books at lower costs simply because they seems discard-able. I'm trying to think of how to put this. I guess the idea is if you want someone to pay $10, or even $5, people are less willing to part with their money unless they are more certain they'll enjoy the work. We're more discriminating. However, a dollar can buy you a can of soda. It's nothing. It's easy to say, "I'll just buy a few books at this price and if they aren't any good, I'll just delete it." You don't feel like you're really out that much, you know?

If that's really what's going on here, a person could have a lot of sales for a book that isn't even necessarily read.

I don't know if this is what's really going on, but I'm basing this all on what I'm reading on author blogs or agent blogs, etc. I think we might be getting to a point where high sales in one medium won't necessarily translate into high sales in another.

ETA: Sorry for another long post. :/

rsullivan9597
04-03-2011, 09:16 PM
Okay - the number of books they have for sale, that's easy to verify. But the range they "could have made"... what they made should be based on actual sales. Could you tell me where you find the numbers for the "one number" authors (if I'm reading that correctly, the actual sales per book were listed somewhere)?

All the numbers are based on actual sales. Some will post an aggregate number like....1,204 over 4 titles (that is why there is a low and a high because if there are some books at $2.99 and some at $3.99 I show numbers if they were ALL sold at the lower number or all at the upper number so we have the "worst" and "best" case scenarios.

There are others that post how many sales for each title, so for them I can get an exact number.

BTW, I compare the numbers reported based on rankings and to date I've never seen anyone report anything that didn't mesh with their rankings.

The numbers are posted once a month at the kindle board writer's cafe: Here is a link (http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,60199.msg1002163.html#msg1002163).

kaitie
04-03-2011, 09:23 PM
I just wanted to say, too, that if I saw correctly that you were extrapolating data for a time period based on sales in a particular period, that's not likely to be very accurate. Sales fluctuate and reach a peak. It's possible that Amanda Hocking is about at the peak of her audience and the current books out will start selling slower than before. It's also possible that someone will see drastic increases for a few months and then taper off. We can't assume that a person will be able to hold their peak rate for a full year. They might be able to, but it's a little misleading. A more accurate thing to do would be to just check back in a year and find out what their sales actually are rather than what you expect. I might have misread what you were doing there, though.

Also, please keep in mind that self-report is a very iffy thing. Many people exaggerate sales, and people who do poorly are much less likely to report at all (or to give misleading reports). I'm not saying everyone is a liar, just that in terms of research, self-report has long been considered to have a higher rate of discrepancy, and that's why whenever you sees research based on such data, etc., it generally reports not only the given amount, but the estimates of what the true amounts are when the discrepancy is taken into account.

I'm not sure if it's true, but I've even heard stories of major publishers misstating advances for book deals because they know that a bigger advance implies the book is going to be bigger than they really think.

rsullivan9597
04-03-2011, 09:26 PM
To sum up that thread: Robin self-defined the 'mid-list' of self-e-pubbed authors to mean somthing like the top 95-99 percentile of self-e-pubbed authors, and compared one guy on her list to someone who everyone accepts is a mid-list commercial author. She looked at two cases and is making sweeping generalisations about both types of publishing based on a two-case study.



Please show me where the people I mention fall into the 99% percentile - and how in the world did I "find" so many people at the top of their game?

Again - I'm not studying "all writers" I'm studying all "writers" with the "right stuff" - think of it as all writers who could get published. For those that have no chance of success (either self or traditional) i.e. the hundreds of thosands of people who have a desire - but no skill or talent they ARE NOT included in the demographic I'm talking about. I'm not sure how many times I have to point this out.


Again, you need to be careful with what you're doing here with the numbers because it will open you up to ridicule, which can destroy your argument and your message gets lost as a result. You don't have a number here that represents yearly sales. Chances are there'll be some kind of curve involved for each book during which sales will peak and then drop off, and that could happen in less than a year.

Actually, I think they will be releasing more books before a year is out so their sales will increase but point taken so I've adjusted all the figures to be "monthly" sales.



You need to look again at what you've posted and see if it makes sense. You're saying Victorine Lieskie was making $127,750 a day during February. Is that what you intended?


OOps sorry, that was a yearly number for Victorine - I adjusted. Thanks for catching my mistake.



Just for clarity, do you know how much Hocking has actually made over that period? We have four figures from you - $175,000, $1,045,000, $1,250,000 and $7,5000,000. Are you projecting for the year again?

On January 31st she hit 500,000 in sales on March 23rd she hit 1,000,000 so that is in deed 500,000 sales in those 51 days. She two books at $0.99 and 7 at $2.99 I did not try to take %'s of them as the $0.99's almost certainly sell more than the $2.99. My guess is she sells about 50/50 but my numbers assumed ALL at $0.99 (unlikely) and ALL at $2.99 (equally unlikely). I also adjusted her numbers to indicate a monthly income.


I think the numbers are well-intended but essentially flawed, as are all statistics...

Def: A branch of applied mathematics concerned with the collection and interpretation of quantitative data and the use of probability theory to estimate population parameters.

My numbers are not "estimates" they are based on actual reported sales. The "ranges" are because I took their "least expensive" book and their "most expensive" books and assumed that all sales were in one category then the other. Of course their actual income will fall somewhere between those two numbers.

Saul Tanpepper
04-03-2011, 09:46 PM
I think what's more interesting to contemplate is what the shifting dynamics mean regarding readers and how they acquire books. The lower price point of ebooks is certainly attractive- all issues aside regarding paper vs plastic, convenience, ease of lending... etc- and it allows more people to sample, which is important for creating buzz. If a reader is already on-line while reading, they're more likely to stay on-line to discuss what they've read. What Hocking did was establish a digital brand by building her web presence along with her ebooks.

A second consideration is the time it takes to publish a traditional book vs ebook. If I finish a novel today, I can essentially start earning on it tomorrow if I go digital, whereas a book may not see first earnings for 2-3 years. Every day my book isn't on the "shelves" is another day of loss for me. Publishers will need to rethink their time-to-market strategies to keep up with digital. Finally, the whole author royalty structure is heavily in favor to the publisher for digital books. There are several discussions and reports of traditional publishers going self because of that. Roughly 14% (on a 25% royalty) on a ebook from a publisher doesn't stack up wel with 70% royalty for a self-pubbed ebook through Amazon.

I think we'll be seeing a lot of experimentation in new models centered around ebooks and digital content over the next few years, but once it settles out, both traditional and self will probably flourish.

kaitie
04-03-2011, 09:53 PM
Please show me where the people I mention fall into the 99% percentile - and how in the world did I "find" so many people at the top of their game?

Again - I'm not studying "all writers" I'm studying all "writers" with the "right stuff" - think of it as all writers who could get published. For those that have no chance of success (either self or traditional) i.e. the hundreds of thosands of people who have a desire - but no skill or talent they ARE NOT included in the demographic I'm talking about. I'm not sure how many times I have to point this out.

You answered your question right there. It's a well-stated fact, from numerous sources, that only about the top 1~2% of books written are good enough to be published. She's actually being generous by giving you 5%.

If self-published books are of the same quality as a slush pile at an agent or publishing house (which is also essentially true), then only the top percent of those books would have been good enough to be published commercially, and thus you are discussing the top few percent of books.

The problem here is that the only way of knowing an author is "good enough" (I said this yesterday elsewhere) is to only be discussing authors who have been offered publishing contracts or been previously published and have now turned to self-publishing. The latter is going to skew results and shouldn't be included because those people already have an existing fan base from prior publications.

You can't just arbitrarily decide what you think is good enough to have been published commercially based on your opinion. You could argue Amanda Hocking was close--she had several manuscript requests and very close calls getting an agent, so clearly her work was in the top percent, but you should have an objective way of showing this.

Here's an interesting question: What do you think the percentage of self-published authors good enough to be published is, and how have you determined that, and how many randomly chosen books have you read from beginning to end to determine that percentage?

kaitie
04-03-2011, 10:05 PM
Def: A branch of applied mathematics concerned with the collection and interpretation of quantitative data and the use of probability theory to estimate population parameters.

My numbers are not "estimates" they are based on actual reported sales. The "ranges" are because I took their "least expensive" book and their "most expensive" books and assumed that all sales were in one category then the other. Of course their actual income will fall somewhere between those two numbers.

I think you're missing the point of statistics. Yes, you are using actual data, but so do all statistics. The estimates come from trying to draw conclusions from that data. So let's say I took 100 published authors and tried to determine how much a random author will sell based on the data.

The numbers I take from those 100 authors are fact. They are accurate. But then I look at averages, apply formulas, etc., to try to determine trends. Maybe I find that those 100 authors sell, on average, 10,000 books a year. Based on the calculations, I can determine to within a 99% chance of certainty that the mystery author will sell somewhere around 10,000 (this would probably be given as a range, like between 8,500 and 11,500).

This is just an estimate. It's possible that the author will fall into the 1% and sell 5,000 books, or a million instead. It's also possible that, by sheer chance, the authors chosen all happened to have had greater success (or failure) than usual. Or maybe the market for the year the data was taken was huge, but then there's a major recession and people stop buying books as often and everyone's sales go down the following year.

There are a ton of external factors that are impossible to account for. That's why it's an estimate. That's also why you have to try to account for as much of that as possible, and the more random and accurate the reporting methods used, the more accurate the data will become.

In this case, you aren't using accurate reporting methods or data collection and that's the problem. You say that you're only using those who could be commercially published, but you have no indication of how you've determined that to be the case. You are also using self-report data that's notoriously suspicious as people tend to underestimate their failures and exaggerate success. I'm not saying they are, but it happens, which is why it's better to use something concrete, like royalty statements.

Finally, if you really want to do research, you should be making certain that your method of calculating the data into something meaningful is as accurate as possible. What type of calculations are you running? How have you determined your subjects? What's your research method?

kaitie
04-03-2011, 10:07 PM
I think what's more interesting to contemplate is what the shifting dynamics mean regarding readers and how they acquire books. The lower price point of ebooks is certainly attractive- all issues aside regarding paper vs plastic, convenience, ease of lending... etc- and it allows more people to sample, which is important for creating buzz. If a reader is already on-line while reading, they're more likely to stay on-line to discuss what they've read. What Hocking did was establish a digital brand by building her web presence along with her ebooks.



I actually think this is going to be a more important factor. Anyone can self-publish, but it's going to be harder to get your name out the more people are doing it. I imagine the ones who will become successful at it will be the ones who are able to manage this factor.

Terie
04-03-2011, 10:19 PM
Please show me where the people I mention fall into the 99% percentile - and how in the world did I "find" so many people at the top of their game?

Again - I'm not studying "all writers" I'm studying all "writers" with the "right stuff" - think of it as all writers who could get published. For those that have no chance of success (either self or traditional) i.e. the hundreds of thosands of people who have a desire - but no skill or talent they ARE NOT included in the demographic I'm talking about. I'm not sure how many times I have to point this out.

You did it, right here. Your distinction is arbitrary. You decided on it; it's not something that the publishing industry at large has defined.

I looked at the rankings of a random sampling of authors on your lists and calculated where they stand based on the number of books listed as 'Fiction' in the Kindle Store. All of them were in the 95-99 percentile.

I realise that you personally want to exclude the 98% of self-e-pubbed books that are rubbish, but you can't, not in this context. People trying to decide whether to move into self-e-publishing don't know if they have the right stuff. People who do have the right stuff have to fight with 100% of the self-e-pubbed works to be found --and often drown in the rubbish anyway.

Therefore, I don't think you can exclude 98% of the self-e-pubbed authors just so as to make your numbers work out.

It's exactly like the example I gave in the other thread. You are like someone looking at annual income excluding the lowest 98% of wage-earners so as to make a point about earnings, just because those lower wage-earners will disprove their contention.

Hence, you are skewing your numbers to reach a favourable result.

This is misleading and dishonest.

kaitie
04-03-2011, 10:26 PM
I agree with Terie. I think the reports you're giving are misleading and not well analyzed generally speaking, but the thing that worries me most is that I feel like it should be very obvious that you're only discussing the top few percent.

If you started out by saying something like, "Don't get me wrong, not everyone can do this. I'm only referring to the top 5% of writers who are good enough to have been published commercially, and if you aren't one of those, then you can't expect these results," then I wouldn't mind so much, but I'm not seeing that.

Your initial statements have all made it sound as though you were comparing middle-of-the road authors in both categories, which is inaccurate and misleading. And again, without a clear and evident caveat in there that a) this is not meant to be taken as more than an informal survey and b) that it applies only to a VERY select group of authors, I would even call it potentially dangerous.

Your husband has had amazing success. I don't doubt that and I think it's awesome. But not everyone is going to get there. Even Amanda Hocking says that she thinks she's the exception and a lot of it has to do with luck.

shadowwalker
04-03-2011, 10:30 PM
All the numbers are based on actual sales. Some will post an aggregate number like....1,204 over 4 titles (that is why there is a low and a high because if there are some books at $2.99 and some at $3.99 I show numbers if they were ALL sold at the lower number or all at the upper number so we have the "worst" and "best" case scenarios.

There are others that post how many sales for each title, so for them I can get an exact number.

BTW, I compare the numbers reported based on rankings and to date I've never seen anyone report anything that didn't mesh with their rankings.

The numbers are posted once a month at the kindle board writer's cafe: Here is a link (http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,60199.msg1002163.html#msg1002163).

Interesting to read through that link - mainly because there seem to be quite a few people with much less than 1000 sales in March (and quite a few with less than 100) even with more than one ebook out, and several comments about expecting sales to "continue to slow". Now, as others have stated about your inferences, I can't make any either, because this data is just not sufficient for that. But it is something that people should also be hearing about...

rsullivan9597
04-03-2011, 11:08 PM
The problem here is that the only way of knowing an author is "good enough" (I said this yesterday elsewhere) is to only be discussing authors who have been offered publishing contracts or been previously published and have now turned to self-publishing. The latter is going to skew results and shouldn't be included because those people already have an existing fan base from prior publications.



So someone who has never submitted to traditional publishing but makes $65,000 - $120,000 in self-publishing sales is not "good enough"?

So Michael's books only became "good enough" when Orbit made the offer? Until that time they weren't? If the books were the same in both instances - why the shift?

I totally agree that those who were once traditionally published and are now self-published skew the numbers because they have a fan base. I think on the list of people I presented only 2 or 3 of them fall into that category - Blake Crouch for sure. But...and this is an important point. If people who HAVE THE CHOICE to be tradional or self-published are choosing self-published that probably says something about the ability to make more.

But since we are talking about "wave of future" - why isn't it a reasonable strategy to self publish - build an audience - attract a publisher - and get published. That's exactly what Michael did and it seems to be working out well for us.

kaitie
04-03-2011, 11:22 PM
I didn't say that. Have you studied research? I studied psychology, which is arguably one of the softest sciences there is, but we still had to document everything and find ways to make objective determinations. For instance, you want to prove that a baby is showing interest in something. You can't just watch and say, "Well that baby looked interested!" You actually set up cameras and measure eye movement and the amount of time the baby spends directly focused on the object, etc., and that's the data you use.

There are a lot of authors out there who are good enough to have been commercially published. Obviously your husband is one, and probably even many of the people on your list. The problem is that without a concrete, objectively measured definition of "good enough," it's subjective. Now, if you've spent years at an agency or publisher reading slush piles, then I'm more willing to give your subjective opinion more weight, but it would still be subjective.

If you are saying that you're looking at those people good enough to be published commercially, there needs to be an objective way of proving that those people were. If you can think of a better one, I'm open to hearing it, but unfortunately opinion doesn't count as an indicator.

Also, no one is saying that your husband's path isn't a valid strategy for some people. There have always been people who pulled this off. Look at the Celestine Prophecy.

I still think you're biased by your husband's success. The difficulty is that for years people have said, "I'm going to self-publish and get a huge following and then I'll attract a commercial publisher!" The problem is that unless you're selling thousands, most commercial publishers aren't interested, and the vast majority will never make it that far because, again, only the top few percent are going to be good enough to pull it off. The problem is that there are success stories out there, and everyone always says, "Well so-and-so did it, so can I!" Then they come to find out that not only is their book not a success, but that ever having that book commercially published is going to be more difficult because they don't have those major sales.

Your husband is an exception to the rule. It worked for him and that's awesome, but there are plenty of others who it hasn't worked for. Unfortunately, many many more people, actually. If you assume that for everyone like your husband, 99 people fail...well, you can see why we want people to have ALL of the information and be well informed and not base decisions on, "Because so-and-so did it."

I have no problem with taking your strategy. I'm not brave enough to chance it myself, but some people like to try, and as long as they have the necessary info and are making a good, informed decision, that's awesome. Unfortunately, things like your comparison make it more difficult because it's presenting flawed data as fact.

Now, the more interesting question that has me scratching my head is if you really believe an author will make more money through self-publishing, why is your husband signing a deal with Random House?

shadowwalker
04-03-2011, 11:24 PM
So someone who has never submitted to traditional publishing but makes $65,000 - $120,000 in self-publishing sales is not "good enough"?

If I'm not mistaken, you're the one who started the idea of "good enough" when you chose the writers to include in your conjectures.

rsullivan9597
04-03-2011, 11:32 PM
Here's an interesting question: What do you think the percentage of self-published authors good enough to be published is, and how have you determined that, and how many randomly chosen books have you read from beginning to end to determine that percentage?

If you are taking the "entire population" of those desiring to be a writer the number who "have the right stuff" to succeed is incredibly small - probably a fraction of a fraction of a %. Now as I said before it is this small number I'm addressing -- because sad to say, the others don't matter as they will fail regardless of which path they take.

There are some that say publishing is the gatekeepers that keep the junk from the market. There is certainly some truth to that. But I think that a lot of great books are never published just because there is only so many slots available. The number of books that CAN be put out by traditional publishing is insufficient to handle he number that SHOULD be released as they would gain an audience that would be beneficial to both the readers and the writers.

So, over time technology changes, ebooks emerge, POD comes into being such that now ... for the first time ... it is possible for many of these good books to find an audience on their own. I think that this opens a door of opportunity for these authors.

Now through that door of opportunity will also come the "dreck", and yes that can make it more difficult for the gems to be found but it does make them shine all the brighter. The books that were "good enough" (but there was no open spot for them - due to limited bandwidth) can find a nice following on their own and earn their authors a good income in the process. And this is what I think is happening with the people I've mentioned. Some didn't bother trying to submit ... they just started on their own ... but that doesn't change the fact that they have the "right stuff" to write a book that others are willing to pay for.

As for my reading experience...well I run a small press and to date I've selected only one of thousands of submissions from the "slush pile". I've read only a few of these from begining to end as most are discared by the first 3 pages - some in the first page. (BTW, I typically get my authors by finding those that started off self-publishing and I approched them - after reading their books all the way through).

I hope this answers your question...if not I'd be more than happy to further clarify.

Terie
04-03-2011, 11:36 PM
So someone who has never submitted to traditional publishing but makes $65,000 - $120,000 in self-publishing sales is not "good enough"?

So you've read all the Kindle books that are selling low numbers and know for a fact that every single one of them is not 'good enough'?

I'm sure there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of low-selling books that are quite excellent. And yet you've decided that they're not good enough (without having read them) and therefore are to be excluded.

This is yet another flaw in your analysis. A proper analysis doesn't assume a one-to-one relationship with 'quality' and 'quantity'. You're making a huge assumption that all good books are in the upper ranks with absolutely no proof of that.

Robin, it's an undeniable fact that there is a group of folks making good money with self-pubbed e-books. No one is disputing that.

We are disputing the validity of your arbitrary exclusion of 98% of the batch. Your facts are, quite simply, unsupportable.

rsullivan9597
04-03-2011, 11:43 PM
I think you're missing the point of statistics. Yes, you are using actual data, but so do all statistics. The estimates come from trying to draw conclusions from that data. So let's say I took 100 published authors and tried to determine how much a random author will sell based on the data.


If I gave the impression that I was trying to say what a "random author" could expect then there is a disconnect. I was reporting what I've seen others accomplish who are not the Hockings and the Konraths of the world as I think to look at them is complete folly. Eight months ago there was no one I knew (despite many connections in the industry) so now that I personally know dozens that are I thought it was noteworthy to mention them.

Of course, each author's results are going to vary and I by no means am saying ... look here this is the gold rush ... it's easy money for the taking. I'm saying that where once there was none there are now some and tomorrow I predict there will be more. I'm merely trying to point out that changes in the industry has opened an opportunity that writers should be aware of.


You can't just arbitrarily decide what you think is good enough to have been published commercially based on your opinion. You could argue Amanda Hocking was close--she had several manuscript requests and very close calls getting an agent, so clearly her work was in the top percent, but you should have an objective way of showing this.

My "objective" way of showing this is because they have found an audience. For traditional publishing, the aquisitions editor is the one who places the stamp of approval. For the self-published author the readers place the stamp through the number of sales made and the $'s paid.



If you started out by saying something like, "Don't get me wrong, not everyone can do this. I'm only referring to the top 5% of writers who are good enough to have been published commercially, and if you aren't one of those, then you can't expect these results," then I wouldn't mind so much, but I'm not seeing that.


On my blog where I compared two authors side by side I stated....


Let me be very clear about this post. I’m not talking about the “typical writer”. I’m sorry to say, just based on sheer numbers, the “typical writer” is someone who will never really make it regardless of which way they go. Nor am I talking about outliers such as Stephanie Meyer or Amanda Hocking. What I’m focusing on this post is someone who has the “right stuff” for a good “middle of the road” writing career, in other words they write well enough that they could land publishing deal with one of the imprints of a big-six publisher.


I've also repeated this quote several times on this board, so I thought I had stated it many times.

kaitie
04-03-2011, 11:51 PM
I agree wholeheartedly that good books can fall through the cracks, but I don't think self-publishing them will guarantee success, either. I mean, look at the amazing books published by small presses that sell only a few thousand. There are some great books that come out that just don't sell particularly well because of the economy, or trends, etc. I mean, a couple of years ago a vampire book might make you more likely to sell a ton of copies, right? But as vampires wane and people get sick of them, it might actually hurt you and cut into sales, even if you do have a commercial-quality book. There are factors outside of the author's control in every circumstance.

Also, how does an author know if he/she is "good enough?" The impression that I tend to get is that an author should just go for it and you'll find out. The idea that a book is better out there than in a trunk.

The book I wrote before the one that got me an agent was good. I thought it was good, my beta readers liked it. I was constantly being told it was better than most of what was on the shelf, etc. I knew my beginning was weak and had an editor friend help me with the first few chapters and really cleaned it up some. I spent months editing and improving it.

The thing is, I did that based on the fact that my book didn't get that far when I was querying. I got a few requests (9), but they were turned down pretty quickly overall. I knew there had to be a reason and asked for more advice and had more eyes look at it. As a result, that book is now much better than it was originally, and while I'm sure it would need another rewrite or two before it could go off to a publisher, I know it's better than it was.

Why do I mention this? Because my beta readers liked it. The overwhelming responses I got were positive. However there was something that was just being overlooked that it took a specific person seeing it to point out. Now, I could have said that the book was too long and that was the problem (~120k at the time), or that it just wasn't being noticed. I could have decided that because the responses I had were positive, I should go ahead and self-publish it because I was clearly one of your "good enough" writers. I might have even found success with it.

But I know that the product I have now is much stronger than it was, and that's because I went back and fought for areas to make it better. Also, how was I supposed to determine whether or not I was an author who had legitimately fallen through the cracks, or if there were underlying flaws (which there were)? I mean, I'd done everything you were supposed to do. Even the agents complimented my writing, but there was just something wrong.

Again, I'm not saying that it's a bad idea. I'm just saying that I am concerned about people jumping into something they aren't ready for and potentially harming their chances to succeed. It's an individual choice, but one that should be based on skill, time, ability, knowledge about everything involved and marketing, etc. It's not a decision that should be simplified.

AmsterdamAssassin
04-03-2011, 11:53 PM
I'm preparing to put Reprobate, the first book in the Amsterdam Assassin Series, up on Kindle. The content is ready, I'm waiting for the cover and I'm getting reviewers interested to generate some pre-publication buzz. I'm more than happy to give a week by week account of how I fare, but there's still so much to consider: I've been writing and honing my craft since 1992, Reprobate [then known as Peccadillo] participated in the ABNA 2010 and reached the quarterfinals, which resulted in a very positive Publisher Weekly review.

And several people who read my work expressed dismay that I'm choosing the 'self-publishing' route - they think my writing is strong enough to land me a print deal. If they're right about my skill, what will people say if I succeed with self-publishing? "He succeeded, but if he had the fortitude to stick with querying, he would've landed a print deal eventually?"

Whatever happens, I write because I have to. Because I have stories in me that need to get out, and find an audience. I never started writing dreaming I'd become wealthy, I'm too grounded for those fantasies. I just hope to find readers who enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy writing them. And some extra money is always welcome.

Sheryl Nantus
04-03-2011, 11:55 PM
Now, the more interesting question that has me scratching my head is if you really believe an author will make more money through self-publishing, why is your husband signing a deal with Random House?

I'm wondering about that as well...

kaitie
04-04-2011, 12:00 AM
On my blog where I compared two authors side by side I stated....

I've also repeated this quote several times on this board, so I thought I had stated it many times.

I know. I read the post. The reason I mentioned it is that early on in the discussions here, that element was left off. It wasn't until several pages in that it was mentioned.

And I still am concerned by the fact that anyone can say "Of course that's me!" I guess that's the biggest problem. James said in another thread I read earlier that the last person to know their writing is bad is the author himself.

I also think that your explanation of "atypical" isn't indicative of the level of atypical. Meaning, I read your comments and it makes it sound as though a larger percentage of people could do this (which makes sense if that's what you're seeing), but I suspect that the increase has less to do with the actual number of people capable of this increasing as it has to do with more people trying and the fact that the people you know are more knowledgeable about what they're doing.

You also stated at the beginning of your post that you thought everyone here was biased and thought that self-publishing success is extremely rare and atypical in and of itself, and the way you said it implied that you disagreed with that statement and found it a fault of these forums.

Maybe so, and maybe I'm just a reaction to that, and maybe this is all just an issue because to you this isn't as atypical as some of us believe it is.

I just don't want to see people getting hurt or making uninformed decisions. The fact of the matter still stands that the data you used is flawed, and thus might be wrong. Hell, it might even be wrong in your favor, but I would still recommend that people not use it as an indicator of what to expect even for the "good enoughs" because of those flaws. It's just not very good research, and you can't draw conclusions from it.

kaitie
04-04-2011, 12:02 AM
And several people who read my work expressed dismay that I'm choosing the 'self-publishing' route - they think my writing is strong enough to land me a print deal. If they're right about my skill, what will people say if I succeed with self-publishing? "He succeeded, but if he had the fortitude to stick with querying, he would've landed a print deal eventually?"


If you find success, you find success. I think people would be happy for you if you did. I know I'm totally proud of the authors on here who have done it. :) Now, if you didn't find success, we'd be saying "If he'd just stuck out the querying..." :tongue

Sheryl Nantus
04-04-2011, 12:05 AM
I just don't want to see people getting hurt or making uninformed decisions. The fact of the matter still stands that the data you used is flawed, and thus might be wrong. Hell, it might even be wrong in your favor, but I would still recommend that people not use it as an indicator of what to expect even for the "good enoughs" because of those flaws. It's just not very good research, and you can't draw conclusions from it.

This.

Junk science is junk science.

And, again, to what end?

If your husband is happy signing up with a commerical publisher, why post your "facts" that he's making a horrible mistake? Why keep promoting self-pubbing when he's getting out of it, and you as well?

What's the end game here?

rsullivan9597
04-04-2011, 12:30 AM
The problem is that without a concrete, objectively measured definition of "good enough," it's subjective. Now, if you've spent years at an agency or publisher reading slush piles, then I'm more willing to give your subjective opinion more weight, but it would still be subjective.

If you are saying that you're looking at those people good enough to be published commercially, there needs to be an objective way of proving that those people were. If you can think of a better one, I'm open to hearing it, but unfortunately opinion doesn't count as an indicator.


My "objective" reason is that they found an audience and are making real money from their writing. It's the people who have given them the thousands of sales that gave the stamp of approval - I just reported the ones that have reached that level.



Now, the more interesting question that has me scratching my head is if you really believe an author will make more money through self-publishing, why is your husband signing a deal with Random House?

Well first, it's not Random House it is Hachette Book Group (or more specfically the fantasy division of HBG, Orbit books). We fully expcet to make less money in this deal. Several hundred thousands less in fact. Now before everyone goes, "Yeah, sure." Let me put out some information on this.

Currently he has five of six-books released - the series is expected to "go balistic" at the release of the sixth book. When we released book #4 sales went from 200 a month to 1,000 a month. After book #5 sales went from 1,000 a month to more than 11,000 a month. Now much of that was also boosted by Xmas but even after the X-mas season is over the average sales per month remain 5,000 - 7,000 which is significant more than our 1,000 'steady state' when at 4 books.
Without a contract I could release book #6 right now and catapult our sales for the rest of the year.
With the contract the books will come out Nov 2011, Dec 2011, and Jan 2012 - now this is an accelerated schedule and we are glad they feel this strongly about the series to bump others to get on the schedule, but it still means our book #6 won't see the market until January 2012 rather than April 2011 and that is many months of "lost sales".
In 4 months (Nov - Feb) we made more (considerably more) self-publishing then the entire six-figure advance. Since most authors don't earn out the advance (especially large ones) we would have made less money if we had signed in November and were not able to continue selling the books as we have been.
ebooks sales will probably be much fewer as Orbit will raise the prices from $4.95 to $9.99 and we'll be making $1.48 per book instead of $3.47. Even if they are more because of their marketing push the less per book makes it less likely to earn more in the new model.
So back to the original question. Why sign if you will make less money? It's pretty simple. My husband didn't start writing to get rich. (I doubt that few do). He receives enjoyment out of having a lot of people read his books.

We are constantly bombarded by people who are frustrated because they can't get the books at their library or bookstore. Traditional publishing will open those venues. With the reach of their marketing department and placement in stores, he'll reach a larger audience even though the per book sales will be less.

We aren't going to "starve" by taking the Orbit offer. We already have socked away his self-publishing surplus, his payouts for Orbit will not be spread over "years" like many multiple book deals, and we have received 3 five-figure foreign rights deals. As long as we can still live comfortably, it's not a problem to lose money that quite frankly I don't need in the first place.

Because of the accelerated production schedule, Orbit is almost done with the full production of the books (editing, cover design), heck there are already pre-order pages for Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron even though we don't have a signed contract yet. They have been great to work with and it's been interesting for me to see how things work in the "big-six" publishing companies. We only received the official contract about a week ago. And that has been an eye-opening experiene. I don't anticipate "not signing" but there is some boiler plate wording about future books that is not in line with what he expected so our agent will need to hash that out with them.

While people think I'm all "pro self-publishing" I actually have a foot in all three areas:

self publishing
small press publishing
big-six publishing
I think there are valid reasons to select any of them - but it depends on the author. My posts here related to self-publishing are more slanted that way to show the change that has occurred and that what was not really a valid option in the past is now.

rsullivan9597
04-04-2011, 12:33 AM
If I'm not mistaken, you're the one who started the idea of "good enough" when you chose the writers to include in your conjectures.

Yes...I still contend that people making good money have obviously found and audience and therefore have proven their work is 'good enough'. But it was someone else here that said ONLY those who have been offered and turned down (or published and now self-published) who were 'good enough' and that is what I was responding to.

rsullivan9597
04-04-2011, 12:49 AM
So you've read all the Kindle books that are selling low numbers and know for a fact that every single one of them is not 'good enough'?


Not at all, there may be...there may not be. The only thing I can address is those that HAVE an audience and that's why I've been focusing on them. They have proven themselves through their sales. I migh read one or two of them and not like them but my "opinion is subjective" their sales numbers indicate that they have found a following - word of mouth has been spread so they obviously have proven their legitmacy.




I'm sure there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of low-selling books that are quite excellent. And yet you've decided that they're not good enough (without having read them) and therefore are to be excluded.

I think we can all agree to be civilized and not place words in people's mouths that they never said, can't we? I make no claims for or against books I've not read. Nor even books I have read as that is subjective. But I think that "objectively" that sales in the thousands are finding an audience probably generated by reviews, word of mouth recommendations, or good marketing. We are not arguing "good books" over "bad books" we are arguing over whether a book can gain an audience - which obviously books selling at this level have indeed proven that even though they haven't been vetted by a traditional publisher.



This is yet another flaw in your analysis. A proper analysis doesn't assume a one-to-one relationship with 'quality' and 'quantity'. You're making a huge assumption that all good books are in the upper ranks with absolutely no proof of that.


I'm not making an "analysis" I'm reporting some figures to show what is possible by non-outliers (i.e. not Konrath, Locke, or Hocking)




Robin, it's an undeniable fact that there is a group of folks making good money with self-pubbed e-books. No one is disputing that.

But many people on this forum have done just that. They have said that it is complete BS that ANYONE is making money with self publishing.



We are disputing the validity of your arbitrary exclusion of 98% of the batch. Your facts are, quite simply, unsupportable.

All successfully published authors (self or traditional) are going to be in the top 2%. I excluded the 98% because there is no path for them self or traditional. So for the 2% there are two paths ... actually 3. That's all I'm saying.

kaitie
04-04-2011, 12:57 AM
Yes...I still contend that people making good money have obviously found and audience and therefore have proven their work is 'good enough'. But it was someone else here that said ONLY those who have been offered and turned down (or published and now self-published) who were 'good enough' and that is what I was responding to.

First, sorry for getting the publisher wrong. Misremembered. Second, this was me, and it was the first obvious way to objectify the answer.

I'm also not a hundred percent sure this is true, though. I mean, on the surface it does seem to hold true, and it's true that any of these people could now get a deal, but I think it really depends.

I've heard people say that readers will pay for lower quality at $.99 Is that true? If so, does it mean that they're willing to buy books with lots of grammatical errors or a poor plot? An author could, conceivably, sell thousands of copies of a book that wouldn't be picked up by a commercial publisher because it was just too much work.

I'm not saying that is the case, just pointing out why having an objective way of determining this is important. Let's look at something else.

Here's another factor: People with commercially published books often sell less than the people you're listing. Does that mean that their books aren't as good or as worthy? Or what about someone with an amazing book that should be a bestseller, but the author knows nothing about marketing and does a bad job establishing a following because she's not good with social media, etc? That person might have a commercially publishable book that just fell through the cracks, but she wouldn't be on your list, either. Should she be excluded?

My method is probably not the best, but what you're essentially saying is "Because you had success, you're one of the ones I'm talking about and therefore you're going to be included in my results." Essentially, you're choosing your group by who is already successful, which is of course going to skew your results.

You can't say "well if you weren't a success you weren't good enough" because that's not true, either. There are too man factors at play. Maybe it's timing, market, etc. Maybe someone with a great book had a crappy cover, or a bad title that turned off readers. Maybe they wrote a middle grade book and 10 year olds just don't have Kindles yet. And again, many people published with small presses commercially make less than you're listing, which is essentially means that they would have been excluded from your sample as not be an example of a "good enough" book, doesn't it?

Do you understand what I'm saying? This is why you establish a sample before you collect results, and you do that through objective means. That could mean randomly, or it could mean that you have a clear definition of who the sample will be and how you will determine it. Then you follow the sample and analyze the results.

What you're doing is using the results to pick the sample. That just doesn't fly.

kaitie
04-04-2011, 01:01 AM
I think we can all agree to be civilized and not place words in people's mouths that they never said, can't we? I make no claims for or against books I've not read. Nor even books I have read as that is subjective. But I think that "objectively" that sales in the thousands are finding an audience probably generated by reviews, word of mouth recommendations, or good marketing. We are not arguing "good books" over "bad books" we are arguing over whether a book can gain an audience - which obviously books selling at this level have indeed proven that even though they haven't been vetted by a traditional publisher.

But here is the quote from your post:


What I’m focusing on this post is someone who has the “right stuff” for a good “middle of the road” writing career, in other words they write well enough that they could land publishing deal with one of the imprints of a big-six publisher.

Terie's point is the same that I'm making. There are a LOT of books that are well-written enough to be commercially published that don't sell this many copies, period. What we're saying is that there are people with books that well written that may not show this kind of success, and they're being eliminated from your results because of the way you're choosing who to look at.

rsullivan9597
04-04-2011, 01:09 AM
I agree wholeheartedly that good books can fall through the cracks, but I don't think self-publishing them will guarantee success, either. I mean, look at the amazing books published by small presses that sell only a few thousand. There are some great books that come out that just don't sell particularly well because of the economy, or trends, etc. I mean, a couple of years ago a vampire book might make you more likely to sell a ton of copies, right? But as vampires wane and people get sick of them, it might actually hurt you and cut into sales, even if you do have a commercial-quality book. There are factors outside of the author's control in every circumstance.

Sigh. When did I ever say that self-publishing will guarantee success?



Also, how does an author know if he/she is "good enough?" The impression that I tend to get is that an author should just go for it and you'll find out. The idea that a book is better out there than in a trunk.


Now, finally something new to sink our teeth into. How indeed. I honestly don't have a good answer for this. I read tons of submissions and hate more than anything saying "sorry you're not ready". When Michael had 108 rejections from agents (back before self-publishing) someone asked me the same question - how can you keep submitting if so many people have told you its not good enough? Again - no good answer here. For those that are submitting regularly that have had "near misses" I say there is some validation there. For thoes that write in a niche market - I think self-publishing may be their only choice. Beyond that....it's just one of those pit of your stomach, take no prisoners kind of thing.

As for letting it sit in the trunk. Michael tried for years to be published and he got discouraged and quit for 10 years. He vowed never to write creatively again. Then our daughter who suffered from dyslexia was struggling with reading so he wrote some books "just for her" no intention on publishing them and that is what eventually became the Riyria Revelations and has now made us hundreds of thosands of dollars spread over tens of thousands of sales. If he didn't "keep at it" none of hat would have happened.



The book I wrote before the one that got me an agent was good. I thought it was good, my beta readers liked it. I was constantly being told it was better than most of what was on the shelf, etc. I knew my beginning was weak and had an editor friend help me with the first few chapters and really cleaned it up some. I spent months editing and improving it.

The thing is, I did that based on the fact that my book didn't get that far when I was querying. I got a few requests (9), but they were turned down pretty quickly overall. I knew there had to be a reason and asked for more advice and had more eyes look at it. As a result, that book is now much better than it was originally, and while I'm sure it would need another rewrite or two before it could go off to a publisher, I know it's better than it was.

Why do I mention this? Because my beta readers liked it. The overwhelming responses I got were positive. However there was something that was just being overlooked that it took a specific person seeing it to point out. Now, I could have said that the book was too long and that was the problem (~120k at the time), or that it just wasn't being noticed. I could have decided that because the responses I had were positive, I should go ahead and self-publish it because I was clearly one of your "good enough" writers. I might have even found success with it.

But I know that the product I have now is much stronger than it was, and that's because I went back and fought for areas to make it better. Also, how was I supposed to determine whether or not I was an author who had legitimately fallen through the cracks, or if there were underlying flaws (which there were)? I mean, I'd done everything you were supposed to do. Even the agents complimented my writing, but there was just something wrong.

Again, I'm not saying that it's a bad idea. I'm just saying that I am concerned about people jumping into something they aren't ready for and potentially harming their chances to succeed. It's an individual choice, but one that should be based on skill, time, ability, knowledge about everything involved and marketing, etc. It's not a decision that should be simplified.

As to your own writing - we'll never know if it was 'good enough' in its original incarnation. Part of the problem is you can polish and revise until the cows come home. Is it better? I have no doubt that it is. But a book can always be incrementally better. One of the secrets to success in publishing is multiple books and if each book takes 10 years to produce then chances are less likely to make a living then if you have 10 books in that same time period. Part of the equation then is when to stop .... when is it "good enough" and again I don't have a good answer to this.

rsullivan9597
04-04-2011, 01:11 AM
I'm preparing to put Reprobate, the first book in the Amsterdam Assassin Series, up on Kindle. The content is ready, I'm waiting for the cover and I'm getting reviewers interested to generate some pre-publication buzz. I'm more than happy to give a week by week account of how I fare, but there's still so much to consider: I've been writing and honing my craft since 1992, Reprobate [then known as Peccadillo] participated in the ABNA 2010 and reached the quarterfinals, which resulted in a very positive Publisher Weekly review.

And several people who read my work expressed dismay that I'm choosing the 'self-publishing' route - they think my writing is strong enough to land me a print deal. If they're right about my skill, what will people say if I succeed with self-publishing? "He succeeded, but if he had the fortitude to stick with querying, he would've landed a print deal eventually?"

Whatever happens, I write because I have to. Because I have stories in me that need to get out, and find an audience. I never started writing dreaming I'd become wealthy, I'm too grounded for those fantasies. I just hope to find readers who enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy writing them. And some extra money is always welcome.

And I think you are a perfect candidate for this path. I congratulate you.

Alitriona
04-04-2011, 01:31 AM
I saw somewhere in the last day or so a member asking why an editor is required when writers should be capable of self-editing. No one set of eyes can edit as well as two or three. Even the best writers miss things in their own writing. This view is another reason why the ease of self-publishing will lead to more poorly edited and bad quality books than it does good. Which is sad for those who do put out quality books.

In the blogging community reviewers are becoming more and more reluctant to take on self-published books, many simply won't, because of the attitude of the writers if they receive a less than glowing review. I'm not talking bad reviews. I've seen bloggers receive a verbal bashing from authors for honest, average reviews.

In my opinion there are a two reasons behind this kind of behavior, one is the author honestly can't see flaws in their own writing. Sometimes the work is not publishable quality or the flaws would have been pointed out in decent editing but the writer decided they didn't need it. The other main reason for these meltdowns is that there is no one there to pull the author back. No publisher or agent to tell them enough is enough. That is becoming a problem for reviewers.

This is making self-publish look bad to a lot of reviewers. It's casting a shadow over the good authors who are serious about self-pub and come at it from a professional stance. Many blogs are not willing to make the distinction.

So promoting self-pub as a holy grail for those with the 'right stuff' is damaging to self-pub over all. 99% of writers believe they have the 'right stuff' when only a tiny percent do over all.

Honestly about sales numbers, expected standards, real possible earnings for the average self-pub writer and the amount of books that tank is essential if self-publish is to continue to grow in the marketplace.

Amadan
04-04-2011, 02:02 AM
If I gave the impression that I was trying to say what a "random author" could expect then there is a disconnect.

There is a disconnect, but it's between what you are saying you're trying to do and what you're actually doing. I've read this whole thread, and everyone keeps pointing out the essential dishonesty of your assertions, and you kind of tap-dance around that, as you have studiously avoided addressing the repeatedly-pointed-out fact that you are comparing the top 2% of self-e-published authors with mid-list print-published authors and implying they are comparable. Every time someone points this out, you post another wall of text with a bunch of names and some cherry-picked figures and long paragraphs about the pros and cons of self-publishing and how wonderfully it's worked out for your husband and oh by the way it might not work for everyone. I think you are really testing the presumption of good faith, here.


I'm preparing to put Reprobate, the first book in the Amsterdam Assassin Series, up on Kindle. The content is ready, I'm waiting for the cover and I'm getting reviewers interested to generate some pre-publication buzz. I'm more than happy to give a week by week account of how I fare, but there's still so much to consider: I've been writing and honing my craft since 1992, Reprobate [then known as Peccadillo] participated in the ABNA 2010 and reached the quarterfinals, which resulted in a very positive Publisher Weekly review.

And several people who read my work expressed dismay that I'm choosing the 'self-publishing' route - they think my writing is strong enough to land me a print deal. If they're right about my skill, what will people say if I succeed with self-publishing? "He succeeded, but if he had the fortitude to stick with querying, he would've landed a print deal eventually?"

I must admit, I am curious -- why are you choosing this route instead of seeking an agent/publisher?

rsullivan9597
04-04-2011, 02:04 AM
I've heard people say that readers will pay for lower quality at $.99 Is that true? If so, does it mean that they're willing to buy books with lots of grammatical errors or a poor plot? An author could, conceivably, sell thousands of copies of a book that wouldn't be picked up by a commercial publisher because it was just too much work.

I personally don't think this is true. Bad quality is bad quality. If anything, self published books are hit harder for bad editing. There are many who will point at a single typo of proof of a self-fullfilled prophecy that self-published books are junk. The reality is any book of several hundred thousand words is not going to be perfect. I found 14 errors in the last Harry Potter book - nits happen.

I do think, that at $0.99 there are a lot of "impulse" buys where people collect low-priced books like pebbles and never read them. But...those that are selling thousands over multiple copies they are the ones that are being read, and talked about, and have word of mouth sales, and are more likely to get noticed if presented to a publisher.



Here's another factor: People with commercially published books often sell less than the people you're listing. Does that mean that their books aren't as good or as worthy? Or what about someone with an amazing book that should be a bestseller, but the author knows nothing about marketing and does a bad job establishing a following because she's not good with social media, etc? That person might have a commercially publishable book that just fell through the cracks, but she wouldn't be on your list, either. Should she be excluded?

Whether sales are good or bad, a traditional published author makes the list because they made it through the vetting gauntlet. A self-published author doesn't have that gatekeeper so sales decided. But in both cases the list is a small, small subset of the publishing world at large. Others are not excluded because they are "unworthy" they just can't be easily classified.



My method is probably not the best, but what you're essentially saying is "Because you had success, you're one of the ones I'm talking about and therefore you're going to be included in my results." Essentially, you're choosing your group by who is already successful, which is of course going to skew your results.

But I'm really not trying to "make results" - I'm really just plucking some people that I know that are doing well to show that its not just one or two people who have done it. I'm not saying it's just these people who have made it I'm saying here are some examples of people who have made it.



You can't say "well if you weren't a success you weren't good enough" because that's not true, either. There are too man factors at play. Maybe it's timing, market, etc. Maybe someone with a great book had a crappy cover, or a bad title that turned off readers. Maybe they wrote a middle grade book and 10 year olds just don't have Kindles yet. And again, many people published with small presses commercially make less than you're listing, which is essentially means that they would have been excluded from your sample as not be an example of a "good enough" book, doesn't it?

I never meant to imply those that were not a success were not 'good enough' - Again the group was not exclusive it was just a list of some people I had data on to prove it wasn't just a "limited few".



Do you understand what I'm saying? This is why you establish a sample before you collect results, and you do that through objective means. That could mean randomly, or it could mean that you have a clear definition of who the sample will be and how you will determine it. Then you follow the sample and analyze the results.

What you're doing is using the results to pick the sample. That just doesn't fly.

Kinda. But I'm really not trying to "collect results" which is where we are getting wrapped aound the axle as it were. I'm obviosuly not making myself very clear. I think there is a prevailing opinion that:

a) self-publishing is not a viable alternative if you want to make money.

b) it works only for peple who were traditionaly published before and can leverage their fan base.

c) only a VERY FEW people can make it work for them.

I was merely trying to counter those points by showing that there are more than a few people who are not "big names" that have made it work for them.

The original post topic was "Could self-publishing be the wave of the future". And because of RECENT changes experienced by my husband's sales, and authors that I associate with, I think the answer is that it CAN be an alternative, not a guarantee, not an easy road. Just an alternative to a system where there was only one choice in the past.

rsullivan9597
04-04-2011, 02:18 AM
There is a disconnect, but it's between what you are saying you're trying to do and what you're actually doing. I've read this whole thread, and everyone keeps pointing out the essential dishonesty of your assertions, and you kind of tap-dance around that, as you have studiously avoided addressing the repeatedly-pointed-out fact that you are comparing the top 2% of self-e-published authors with mid-list print-published authors and implying they are comparable. Every time someone points this out, you post another wall of text with a bunch of names and some cherry-picked figures and long paragraphs about the pros and cons of self-publishing and how wonderfully it's worked out for your husband and oh by the way it might not work for everyone. I think you are really testing the presumption of good faith, here.


My first post was at #51 - Where I mentioned 3 people I know of who started out self publishing and then were picked by traditional publishing. - Seems very germane to the subject.

Then someone mentioned selling 1,000 copies a month was an outlier so I posted 60+ names of people who are all selling more than 1,000 a month. To show that they are not outliers.

Then Shadowalker posted...
Do you have sales figures (ie, number of ebooks sold) for any of these authors? And do you have sales figures for the self-published who are not in the top 100?

So I posted 40 or so people (not in the top 100) andshowed data for them.

Then people started bringing up that there are hundreds of thousands that don't make it and I tried to explain that I'm not talking about "generalities" I'm merely citing examples of people who have been successful.

Why people are trying to "read more into" this I don't know. I've never said this is what you can expect, I've never said this is a get rich quick fix, I've just said what was once not an option now appears to be and cited data to back my assertion....period.

shadowwalker
04-04-2011, 02:20 AM
My whole take on this discussion is that some are talking possibilities and others are talking probabilities. Well, anything's possible. I could publish my very first commercial novel and win the Pulitzer. It's possible.

Just not probable.

If I were trying to decide whether or not to self-publish, I would want to see more than a "short list" of names and supposed earnings based on unverified facts. Why? Because I'm planning on investing my time (which would otherwise be spent on writing) and money (which would otherwise be spent living better) into this venture and like any good businessperson, I want to know with more certainty what my chances of success are (however I define 'success'). Like any good businessperson, besides making sure my product is as good as I can make it, I'd want to perform a form of market analysis - look at the competition and see what works and what doesn't work. And that doesn't mean only looking at the 'companies' I want to be like. It means looking at the companies that are comparable to my proposed 'company'. And I want to look at cold hard facts.

Now - this does not mean that I only pick the 'successful' businesses. I cannot look at what they are doing and say, Okay, they're doing "A" which is the reason for their success and so I should also do "A". Why? Because other businesses could also be doing "A" and failing (or, not being as successful). And if more businesses doing "A" are failing than are succeeding, the probability is that "A" is not what I want to do. So then I have to look at other factors, including what are the successes doing that the failures are not? What are the failures doing that the successful ones are not?

All of this means being objective. Choosing 'companies' and 'facts' that only support one alternative does not help me to succeed. It's more likely to guarantee that I will fail.

Amadan
04-04-2011, 02:35 AM
Then someone mentioned selling 1,000 copies a month was an outlier so I posted 60+ names of people who are all selling more than 1,000 a month. To show that they are not outliers.

Do you know what "outlier (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outlier)" means?

If 60 people out of tens of thousands sell 1,000 copies a month, then yes, they are outliers.

This point has been made to you repeatedly. You continue to willfully elude it.


Why people are trying to "read more into" this I don't know. I've never said this is what you can expect, I've never said this is a get rich quick fix, I've just said what was once not an option now appears to be and cited data to back my assertion....period.

Your data no more backs your assertion than data showing a list of past lottery winners shows that buying a lottery ticket is an option as a retirement plan.

rsullivan9597
04-04-2011, 02:36 AM
Shadowwalker - That's all very reasoned. In 2006 when I furst contempalted self-publishing I was in 'research mode' and found very little on the subject and what I did find was not the least bit encouraging. Even so, we had already wasted enough time on the query-go-round so decided to "give it a try" as sitting in the drawer was producing nothing.

But before I got going one of the small presses we submitted to made an offer so we went with them. Our experience could best be described as succeeding despite them. Not because they were bad people, but because they were in constant financial problems. We never did receive any of our royalties and there were many times when the books went "out of print" because they warehouse was not being paid and they were holding back shipments. We even bought some books ourselves directly from the warehouse so they had money to ship outstanding orders that were on hold. When the first print run sold out we got our rights back because the publisher couldn't afford a second print run.

This was March of 2009 and I went back into self-publishing out of necessity (we had people waiting on the second book that the publisher now admitted they could not afford to print and so it also reverted). I chose self-publishing not becasue I thought it was the "right business decision" but because it was the only way to meet the deadline expectations that had alerady been placed with the readers.

I give lectures on the various paths to publishing, and up until recently (last 5 - 6 months) I said, over and over that self-publishing really wasn't a good path to make a living....because it wasn't. All the data I had told me that was true. I saw no one who was "making it".

But that is not the case now, there are many people I can point to. And maybe 40 - 60 is not enough to make you decide to go that way - and maybe in six months it will be 200 or maybe it wll be 20 but I guess what I can't figure out is why you would rather have no data then some data.

I don't know of too many other people who are watching this as I do. I'm just trying to disciminate some information that I've come into contact with and what I'm still baffled by is why this is such a terrible, terrible thing that I've done.

rsullivan9597
04-04-2011, 02:39 AM
Your data no more backs your assertion than data showing a list of past lottery winners shows that buying a lottery ticket is an option as a retirement plan.



You know...I really really really tried but okay, fine - you've done it. I'm beaten. You've all won. Forget I ever was here. Over and out.

BarbaraKE
04-04-2011, 03:14 AM
You know...I really really really tried but okay, fine - you've done it. I'm beaten. You've all won. Forget I ever was here. Over and out.

rsullivan - I do hope you'll reconsider. I, for one, have read your posts with great interest and I'm sure others have too. But I do understand your frustration and feelings of being besieged.

Personally, even though I started this thread, I've become very disappointed with the tone it has taken on.

brainstorm77
04-04-2011, 03:18 AM
rsullivan - I do hope you'll reconsider. I, for one, have read your posts with great interest and I'm sure others have too. But I do understand your frustration and feelings of being besieged.

Personally, even though I started this thread, I've become very disappointed with the tone it has taken on.

What tone?

Personally, my head is whirling. All I have got from this thread is that some are doing well self-publishing, and others are not. :Shrug:

jnfr
04-04-2011, 03:48 AM
And some are doing well trying for commercial publishing, while many/most are not. This is my own view of the situation, as I've said. Most people who write will never have commercial success at it, no matter what path they take.

shadowwalker
04-04-2011, 03:50 AM
But that is not the case now, there are many people I can point to. And maybe 40 - 60 is not enough to make you decide to go that way - and maybe in six months it will be 200 or maybe it wll be 20 but I guess what I can't figure out is why you would rather have no data then some data.

Because "some data" can lead to a lot of misunderstanding and false impressions - like the results over 2-3 months meaning years of the same thing. And apparently more than a few people got the impression that you were not just pointing out 'a few people you knew who...' - you were making it sound like it was not only possible, but probable.

Anyone making a claim of this nature (predicting the future, as it were) would be expected to back it up - and if their data was less than stellar, they'd also be called on it, and it wouldn't matter if it was self-publishing or the consequences of a new law. It happens all the time here.

BarbaraKE
04-04-2011, 04:18 AM
Because "some data" can lead to a lot of misunderstanding and false impressions - like the results over 2-3 months meaning years of the same thing. And apparently more than a few people got the impression that you were not just pointing out 'a few people you knew who...' - you were making it sound like it was not only possible, but probable.


Since 'full data' is impossible to get and 'some data' can lead to 'misunderstandings and false impressions', I assume you think no one should post any data at all?

(Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

Personally I think 'some' data is better than 'no' data.

shadowwalker
04-04-2011, 04:38 AM
Since 'full data' is impossible to get and 'some data' can lead to 'misunderstandings and false impressions', I assume you think no one should post any data at all?

(Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

Personally I think 'some' data is better than 'no' data.

I don't think one should be inferring "probabilities" when there is no adequate data to back it up. If the data isn't available, it's only conjecture and should be stated as such.

kaitie
04-04-2011, 05:37 AM
Kinda. But I'm really not trying to "collect results" which is where we are getting wrapped aound the axle as it were. I'm obviosuly not making myself very clear. I think there is a prevailing opinion that:

a) self-publishing is not a viable alternative if you want to make money.

b) it works only for peple who were traditionaly published before and can leverage their fan base.

c) only a VERY FEW people can make it work for them.



First, my point was never that you were trying to show that JUST those people had made it. My point was that because you only picked those already successful, you aren't taking into consideration the fact that there might be a percentage, perhaps even a large percentage, of people with good books who haven't found that level of success.

Here's the problem: You have done nothing to refute any of those three claims. Now personally, I think some people can make good money self-publishing, and there is no doubt in my mind that there are people who have made it work without a publishing background. I can't tell what percentage that is at the moment, but I do doubt that the vast majority of self-published authors will never experience that success just because the majority don't have books that are of high enough quality to pull it off.

What have you shown to indicate otherwise? You've done what numerous others before you have done: Given an example of some successes. Unfortunately, you also made comparisons and statements that make it sound as if there is something more behind your assertion to make it more than just opinion.

That's where the problem is coming in. We've already shown you reasons why your assertion concerning the comparison is not actually indicative of anything. If you presented your opinions as, "Here's what I've been seeing and maybe you can make it work," then that would be fine, but you aren't. You're stating things as fact when they aren't. Since your comparison doesn't actually show anything, and your examples don't actually prove anything other than some percentage of people have done it, there is no way of knowing if this actually is going to be a good choice or a bad choice for your average author (or your average author who already has the writing thing down).

You say that you're trying to address these false opinions, but you either need to address them as opinion, personal experience, or you need to put together some research that could actually be used to draw conclusions. If you don't think you can do the latter, then pick one of the first two.

Amadan
04-04-2011, 05:37 AM
Since 'full data' is impossible to get and 'some data' can lead to 'misunderstandings and false impressions', I assume you think no one should post any data at all?

(Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

Personally I think 'some' data is better than 'no' data.


No, some data is not better than no data, when a misleading conclusion based on some data is worse than saying "We don't know."

It's really very simple: rsullivan presented a list of authors who have made pretty good money with self-published ebooks. She presented it in a way that implied they were, if not a representative sample, something that the average person considering jumping into self-publishing could regard as a realistic, achievable goal. When multiple people questioned this assertion, she continued to offhandedly concede that these authors might be atypical, but continued citing them as evidence that you (meaning "you," the average person who is considering self-publishing) can make real money at it because these people did. Which, devoid of any comparative figures, is like saying that you can make millions writing children's books because JK Rowling did. Everything she posted was very similar to one of those late-night infocommercials pushing a brilliant, easy, and common-sense plan to quit your day job by selling things on the Internet or getting into real estate.

kaitie
04-04-2011, 05:51 AM
Since 'full data' is impossible to get and 'some data' can lead to 'misunderstandings and false impressions', I assume you think no one should post any data at all?

(Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

Personally I think 'some' data is better than 'no' data.

I just want to clarify that this isn't an issue of data. It's an issue of information being presented as fact when it's simply observation or opinion.

Of course having some data is informative and good, but it needs to be presented in as honest a way possible. I don't think Robin is trying to be dishonest at all, but I think the presentation of the material can come across that way to someone who doesn't know better, and that's the issue.

I'm sorry if we've hijacked your thread, and that wasn't the intent, but there are good points that have been made here as well. I think everyone, especially those considering self-publishing, need to be aware of what information is being presented and know how to analyze it.

BarbaraKE
04-04-2011, 08:58 AM
From now on, I think every post should be prefaced with 'In my opinion' or 'Based on my experience'.

I also think that, instead of using the words 'can' or 'might', the poster should be required to provide specific percentages (with independently verifiable proof) so that there is no possibility of anyone misunderstanding anything.

Of course, this is just my opinion.

Terie
04-04-2011, 10:23 AM
I'm not making an "analysis" I'm reporting some figures to show what is possible by non-outliers (i.e. not Konrath, Locke, or Hocking)

The title of the blog post and the thread you started begins with the word 'comparison'. The structure of the blog post is analytical. Many people will, therefore, assume it is an analysis.

ETA: Also? There's this here where you described your blog post as 'an analysis':



We hear a lot about the "outliers" in the self-publishing world (Amanda Hocking, John Locke), and those with traditional publishing backgrouns (Joe Konrath). So I thought I would do an analysis between two "ordinary authors" - i.e. those not at the top or the the bottom butin the midlist. I selected Jim C. Hines (because he is one of the few authors I have found that is willing to share his income money) and David Dalglish (who is the same genre and has the same number of boos released as Jim)


But many people on this forum have done just that. They have said that it is complete BS that ANYONE is making money with self publishing.

Since Robin has said she's leaving us, can anyone point to a single post stating that NO ONE is making money with self-publishing? (At least in a thread to which Robin has replied.) Because I've read these threads and I don't remember anyone making such a ridiculous claim. I suspect that here we have Robin once again throwing a red herring into the pot.

There have always been a handful of people making money with self-publishing, and I imagine everyone in this forum knows that. Right now, that handful is larger than it's been for a long time, although 60 or 70, or even a few hundred, compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who are writing is still a pretty small handful.

gothicangel
04-04-2011, 12:45 PM
Since Robin has said she's leaving us, can anyone point to a single post stating that NO ONE is making money with self-publishing? (At least in a thread to which Robin has replied.) Because I've read these threads and I don't remember anyone making such a ridiculous claim. I suspect that here we have Robin once again throwing a red herring into the pot.


I remember I called BS on a ridiculous assumption a few days ago. But that no-one is making money with self-publishing? No.

I called BS on the idea that all mid-list self-published authors are making 'a living wage.'

shaldna
04-04-2011, 02:27 PM
I don't want to pick a fight here, and it's really none of my business, but do you really think bemoaning your husbands new deal and declaring that he'd have made much more money somewhere else (in this case self publishing) is a very sensible thing to do on a public board?

Just saying.

shadowwalker
04-04-2011, 04:16 PM
From now on, I think every post should be prefaced with 'In my opinion' or 'Based on my experience'.

I also think that, instead of using the words 'can' or 'might', the poster should be required to provide specific percentages (with independently verifiable proof) so that there is no possibility of anyone misunderstanding anything.

Of course, this is just my opinion.

If those posts are stating opinion, agree they should say so. Where posters make statements as though they were facts, and those statements are questioned, they should definitely be able to back them up. That's the basis for most of this particular discussion.

gothicangel
04-04-2011, 05:17 PM
From today's Bookseller:


A publishing executive familiar with the deal told Crains: "[Amazon] has less than 65% share of the e-book market and dropping, and 20% to 30% of the print market.

So in ebooks Amazon have the lion's share of ebook sales, but that is dropping. So that means the customers are starting to look elsewhere for ebooks.

Also, they only have a 20-30% share of the print book trade. So the majority of print books are still being bought in brick and mortar stores [giving an allowance to B&N and Waterstone's Online etc.]

Sheryl Nantus
04-04-2011, 05:31 PM
I don't want to pick a fight here, and it's really none of my business, but do you really think bemoaning your husbands new deal and declaring that he'd have made much more money somewhere else (in this case self publishing) is a very sensible thing to do on a public board?

Just saying.

To be fair, Robin did state that she wasn't coming back to the board... so you may not get an answer here.

AmsterdamAssassin
04-04-2011, 06:41 PM
I must admit, I am curious -- why are you choosing this route instead of seeking an agent/publisher?

I posted a message on my blog concerning this issue, I don't want to derail this discussion, so if you're curious, check my blog.

AmsterdamAssassin
04-04-2011, 06:45 PM
So in ebooks Amazon have the lion's share of ebook sales, but that is dropping. So that means the customers are starting to look elsewhere for ebooks.


I'd be careful re-quoting quoted quotes, and to interpret the quotes without having all the facts. Not that I have all the facts, but I try to be careful to distinguish between fact and my opinion.

kaitie
04-04-2011, 06:46 PM
From now on, I think every post should be prefaced with 'In my opinion' or 'Based on my experience'.


I know you're mocking me here, but the irony is that I do this. I actively go back and edit things I've said when I realize that I'm giving myself more authority than necessary. I also try to not speak in absolutes and to give consideration to the fact that while something might often be true, it is rarely always true.

So yeah, actually I would advocate the whole stating opinion as opinion when it's necessary thing. *Shrugs*

In any case, I think I've made my point regarding the statements made before, and I stand by those points.

Sheryl Nantus
04-04-2011, 06:54 PM
From today's Bookseller:



So in ebooks Amazon have the lion's share of ebook sales, but that is dropping. So that means the customers are starting to look elsewhere for ebooks.

Also, they only have a 20-30% share of the print book trade. So the majority of print books are still being bought in brick and mortar stores [giving an allowance to B&N and Waterstone's Online etc.]

Let's not forget that Amazon is not *just* a bookstore. They sell thousands of other items and books are only part of their overall inventory.

Which is why I tend to push my business towards actual BOOKSTORES, online and off. Amazon can afford to lose money offering cheap books, actual bookstores can only do so much.

As for losing part of the market share, that was due to happen with the introduction of other ebook readers. The Color Nook is becoming *very* popular and with the iPad and other tablets becoming common there's more than just the Kindle option being offered.

kaitie
04-04-2011, 07:32 PM
Also, as more people are getting onto the ebook bandwagon, it makes sense that Amazon will lose the sales and it will even out. They were the ones who pioneered it, and as ipads and nooks, etc., gain traction, not to mention small publishers selling on their on sites, of course Amazon is going to start having a smaller percentage of sales.

As a reader, I'm kind of glad for it. Amazon is a little too scary powerful at the moment, IMO.

gothicangel
04-04-2011, 09:05 PM
I'd be careful re-quoting quoted quotes, and to interpret the quotes without having all the facts. Not that I have all the facts, but I try to be careful to distinguish between fact and my opinion.

Eh?

The fact comes from a publisher at St Martin's Press [Hocking's new publisher.] I did no interpretation, if the percentage of total sales is going down at Amazon, then ergo it means people are going to the booksellers Waterstones/B&N.com or direct to the publishers.

It does kinda burst the Konrath/Hocking folklore bubble though.

gothicangel
04-04-2011, 09:08 PM
Let's not forget that Amazon is not *just* a bookstore. They sell thousands of other items and books are only part of their overall inventory.

Which is why I tend to push my business towards actual BOOKSTORES, online and off. Amazon can afford to lose money offering cheap books, actual bookstores can only do so much.

As for losing part of the market share, that was due to happen with the introduction of other ebook readers. The Color Nook is becoming *very* popular and with the iPad and other tablets becoming common there's more than just the Kindle option being offered.

I have a Sony Reader and always purchase my ebooks from Waterstones.com. I hate Amazon with a passion, and haven't bought from them in a year. Anyone who lets the wind of their sales - even slightly - is a hero in my eyes. :tongue

AmsterdamAssassin
04-04-2011, 09:28 PM
Eh?

The fact comes from a publisher at St Martin's Press [Hocking's new publisher.] I did no interpretation, if the percentage of total sales is going down at Amazon, then ergo it means people are going to the booksellers Waterstones/B&N.com or direct to the publishers.

It does kinda burst the Konrath/Hocking folklore bubble though.

Or people are buying fewer books? There's always a peak during holiday season, and a low between the holiday season and the pre-summer holiday sales. You work in a bookseller and you don't notice that sales fluctuate? From week to week, month to month, and year to year? A lot of people bought books, maybe they're no putting a stop to buying books and are simply reading what they bought.

Sheryl Nantus
04-04-2011, 09:34 PM
Or people are buying fewer books? There's always a peak during holiday season, and a low between the holiday season and the pre-summer holiday sales. You work in a bookseller and you don't notice that sales fluctuate? From week to week, month to month, and year to year? A lot of people bought books, maybe they're no putting a stop to buying books and are simply reading what they bought.

Which sort of confirms the lack of reliable data for the arguments presented in this and other threads...

It's impossible to extrapolate from a few weeks or even a few months what will be successful or not in ANY industry.

I do assume, however, since Amazon was unable to secure the auction even with bidding more than the other bidders that there was some actual documentation in the agent's hands to show this drop in market share to be true. It would be irresponsible to not have something standing behind his recommendation to Hocking to pass on the higher bid otherwise.

AmsterdamAssassin
04-04-2011, 09:45 PM
I do assume, however, since Amazon was unable to secure the auction even with bidding more than the other bidders that there was some actual documentation in the agent's hands to show this drop in market share to be true. It would be irresponsible to not have something standing behind his recommendation to Hocking to pass on the higher bid otherwise.

Oh, I believe that Amazon had a drop in market share, but that could be due to a lot of possibilities. People could be buying their books elsewhere, but they could also have become disenchanted with e-readers and are now sitting in front of the telly with their PlayStation. People are fickle, so any interpretation of human data should account for this fickleness by asserting that the conclusion can be wrong.

I'm not saying GothicAngel's conclusion is wrong, but it's still an assumption, not a fact, so I'd put an 'I think' in such a statement, instead of stating an assumption like a fact.

Lesley S. King
04-04-2011, 10:19 PM
I'm a newbie so this thread has been a great help. When I look at the publishing climate right now I see a reflection of what's happening in certain places of the world such as North Africa and the Middle East. There is a revolution going on in which the reader is looking for a broader spectrum of entertainment and information--maybe more consciousness, less negativity. For years the NY publishing business has been a dictatorship of sorts and now that business is suffering because they're not really delivering what the reading public wants. The self-publishers who do get the attention of NY are showing NY that they may not have the market figured out as they've thought they did. Meanwhile, more and more avenues are opening up. These are exciting times for both readers and writers.

Amadan
04-04-2011, 10:31 PM
I'm a newbie so this thread has been a great help. When I look at the publishing climate right now I see a reflection of what's happening in certain places of the world such as North Africa and the Middle East. There is a revolution going on in which the reader is looking for a broader spectrum of entertainment and information--maybe more consciousness, less negativity. For years the NY publishing business has been a dictatorship of sorts and now that business is suffering because they're not really delivering what the reading public wants. The self-publishers who do get the attention of NY are showing NY that they may not have the market figured out as they've thought they did. Meanwhile, more and more avenues are opening up. These are exciting times for both readers and writers.

ORLY?

Yeah, my Spidey-sense tingles when an introductory post is all about the "dictatorship" of publishing houses and trying to link self-publishing to the "glorious revolution" happening in North Africa and the Middle East. (Really, are self-publishers fighting a battle to retake cities and advance on New York amidst shelling from the Big Six? Overweening metaphor, much?)

Rhonda9080
04-04-2011, 11:27 PM
ORLY?

Yeah, my Spidey-sense tingles when an introductory post is all about the "dictatorship" of publishing houses and trying to link self-publishing to the "glorious revolution" happening in North Africa and the Middle East. (Really, are self-publishers fighting a battle to retake cities and advance on New York amidst shelling from the Big Six? Overweening metaphor, much?)

***Or maybe just a dissatisfied reader? Perhaps you should read some of the book club forums and amazon comments, boards, etc. This also happened in the music industry by the way. I covered it in the music mags. Formula pablum - "McMusic" and books, may satisfy a few (for a while), but avid readers and fans know when they're being taken to the cleaners.
I'm just sayin'... :idea:

gothicangel
04-04-2011, 11:43 PM
I'm not saying GothicAngel's conclusion is wrong, but it's still an assumption, not a fact, so I'd put an 'I think' in such a statement, instead of stating an assumption like a fact.

It isn't an assumption, its statisical. There can only ever be 100% right? Now, if Amazon's percentage share drops by 2%, it means those people have been purchasing their ebooks elsewhere.

If the number of book sales dropped, that would actually increase Amazon's percentage share.

Sheryl Nantus
04-04-2011, 11:46 PM
***Or maybe just a dissatisfied reader? Perhaps you should read some of the book club forums and amazon comments, boards, etc. This also happened in the music industry by the way. I covered it in the music mags. Formula pablum - "McMusic" and books, may satisfy a few (for a while), but avid readers and fans know when they're being taken to the cleaners.
I'm just sayin'... :idea:

And yet there are small publishers who do darned good work and sell plenty of copies without being the big NYC six...

:Shrug:

Rhonda9080
04-04-2011, 11:55 PM
ORLY?

Yeah, my Spidey-sense tingles when an introductory post is all about the "dictatorship" of publishing houses and trying to link self-publishing to the "glorious revolution" happening in North Africa and the Middle East. (Really, are self-publishers fighting a battle to retake cities and advance on New York amidst shelling from the Big Six? Overweening metaphor, much?)
***Ah heck - just realized - are you actually from one of the "stans"? I get you're point that analogy is well out of proportion to life-endangering issues. Hyperbole... I've got friends in Pali, Lebanon, Iran... Get it. I think - maybe the poster was comparing the cultural rebellion, which also has a more subtle western version. An Iranian artist friend told me, "I just want to walk down the street in the clothes I want to wear, listening on my ipod to the music I want, and kiss my girlfriend without someone taking a stick to us."
So - no sticks here (not yet), but there's much pressure and even ostracization of writers, artists, etc. who don't go with the flow, deviate from "P.C.", or don't fit in neat little "marketable" molds.
Example: Try selling a piece of writing that doesn't portray an Arab as an evil, Jihad-spouting terrorist. Even now, if what they say doesn't sound like stock middle-east cardboard character from TV and movies, its a hard go. Is this "censorship"? Maybe no sticks? Its getting easier, as the average American gets more exposure to other "average" world citizens, but still - a hard sell! (Which I manage, but, just sayin').

Another example: would an 18 year-old Arab guy really say, "Yo'borni! Helo jesmek shu esmek’! (Leb dialect - Your body rocks, what's your name!). You tell me? I've been called on it before. Yet I heard it all the time (or similar) in Pali camps, on streets of Amman, Beirut... Are 18 year-old boys really all that different the world over?

Rhonda9080
04-04-2011, 11:57 PM
I concur :) I'm not against "big six" even. But I worry about the neat little "marketable" molds were all being forced into. Its happening with all the arts. Should we be alarmed?

And yet there are small publishers who do darned good work and sell plenty of copies without being the big NYC six...

:Shrug:

Sheryl Nantus
04-05-2011, 12:06 AM
I concur :) I'm not against "big six" even. But I worry about the neat little "marketable" molds were all being forced into. Its happening with all the arts. Should we be alarmed?

Piffle.

Take a look at my books. I'd never have thought anyone would be interested in superhero novels. And yet someone was...

And I don't think it's happening with "all the arts" - or that you have to portray an Arab as a terrorist to get published. You might as well say that all African-Americans have to be car thieves or drug dealers to get your story out there.

Rhonda9080
04-05-2011, 12:09 AM
rsullivan - I do hope you'll reconsider. I, for one, have read your posts with great interest and I'm sure others have too. But I do understand your frustration and feelings of being besieged.

Personally, even though I started this thread, I've become very disappointed with the tone it has taken on.
I love the discussion - what we MUST have in a free society :)
I've gleaned some facts here, and relevant opinions from both sides! ***Who has the magic-mirror into the future? Look at the world situation... Even economists and political "think-tankers" can't agree. I've seen scientists in the same lab almost come to blows! :e2fairy: I think I'm gonna go read my tarot cards and see if I'll get a sale today!

AmsterdamAssassin
04-05-2011, 12:10 AM
It isn't an assumption, its statisical. There can only ever be 100% right? Now, if Amazon's percentage share drops by 2%, it means those people have been purchasing their ebooks elsewhere.

If the number of book sales dropped, that would actually increase Amazon's percentage share.

And how is SMP doing?

Rhonda9080
04-05-2011, 12:24 AM
Piffle.

Take a look at my books. I'd never have thought anyone would be interested in superhero novels. And yet someone was...

And I don't think it's happening with "all the arts" - or that you have to portray an Arab as a terrorist to get published. You might as well say that all African-Americans have to be car thieves or drug dealers to get your story out there.
I can tell I'd love your books! I'm sure not against marketable fiction either! Heck - my evil confession: I'm listening to Nickelback right now :e2shower:
And - ah, damn it! I love them (just don't tell my snotty "music-degree" kid), ok? I want to be entertained, and that's an art, baby! No diss here!

***On selling middle-eastern stuff: its true (been covering non-fic for almost 30 years- shamefully true...). BUT! Climate has changed drastically over past decade. People are more open-minded and curious. Guess like African-American actors no longer have play "mammy" role or tap-dance to win Oscars. Alhamdillah (hallelujah, oh yeah, etc.), baby! Free-at-last!

That's not to say there aren't "evil" jihadi sorts in every culture. Heck - people aught to see the police reports in their average American town... But that's another whole subject :)

BarbaraKE
04-05-2011, 12:51 AM
We're just going around in circles here.

The fact is, none of us here knows (how many/what percentage of) people are *successful* in epublishing (however you wish to define 'successful').

And the same is true for traditional publishing.

For posters to dismiss certain numbers because 'they don't tell the whole story' is missing the point.

There's no way for us to know the whole story.

For any author (no matter whether traditionally- or self-published), we have no way of knowing how much they actually made on a given book unless they self-report it.

Personally, I feel bad for rsullivan. She posted some numbers related to epublishing and was dismissed because 'they were self-reported numbers' or 'only reflect her experience' or they 'apply to only a handful of authors'.

Yet I haven't seen anyone come up with anything better.

When I read the paper or listen to the news, I don't accept everything as absolute truth. Everyone has their own agendas and numbers can be slanted to *prove* almost anything. And when I read posts here (or on any other forum), I know that they reflect one person's opinion. I don't dismiss a post just because they didn't preface it with saying "This is my opinion" or "This is based on my experience". That's understood.

Irysangel
04-05-2011, 01:05 AM
I know on the Kindleboards, a lot of authors share their numbers. If I had a free afternoon (she says while posting on AW) I could parse them into a spreadsheet to give a better picture of what was shared, but the truth of the matter is that all results will be skewed unless reported by Amazon or B&N themselves. For every person that steps up to share their numbers, there's going to be another that won't.

Plus, there are a million factors to be taken in to context. How many books does someone have up? How much are the books? What genre? How many reviews? Is the author a good self-promoter? Etc. Everything plays a part in how successful (or not) your ebooks are.

I will say that in indie/self/whatever publishing, you do have more control. You can try to affect sales as much as possible - change the cover, change the price, change the blurb - and hope for better results. With traditional publishing, you just have to hope a distributor falls in love with your cover and puts in a big order.

Amadan
04-05-2011, 01:26 AM
***Or maybe just a dissatisfied reader? Perhaps you should read some of the book club forums and amazon comments, boards, etc. This also happened in the music industry by the way. I covered it in the music mags. Formula pablum - "McMusic" and books, may satisfy a few (for a while), but avid readers and fans know when they're being taken to the cleaners.
I'm just sayin'... :idea:


So books from the big publishers are "McBooks," really?

For every Winsome Tattooed Paranormal Hottie with a Magical Boyfriend on the racks at Barnes & Noble, I'll show you fifty gazillion of the same thing (but without editing or spellchecking) being posted to Amazon by self-publishers.

The notion that this self-publishing "revolution" is producing innovative literature that totally different than what mainstream publishers are printing is hogwash.

shadowwalker
04-05-2011, 01:29 AM
Yet I haven't seen anyone come up with anything better.

No, you haven't. Which is why only a few people have been making the kinds of claims she was and why those claims were disputed. There simply is not sufficient data at this time to make such claims. Are people supposed to just ignore that? That's one of the reasons this whole forum exists - so that information can be shared, discussed, disputed, and eventually, truly useful information for writers will come out of it.

Some people will prefer to believe in fairy tales. Others will prefer to have as much realistic information as possible before making their decisions.

Amadan
04-05-2011, 01:38 AM
***Ah heck - just realized - are you actually from one of the "stans"?

No, I'm a whitebread American, but I still think comparing violent revolutions and protests in the Middle East in which people are being deprived of life and civil liberties to electronic self-publishing is silly and borders on offensive.

Also, it's nonsense that it's hard to publish books nowadays in which Arabs are not depicted as evil terrorists.


We're just going around in circles here.

The fact is, none of us here knows (how many/what percentage of) people are *successful* in epublishing (however you wish to define 'successful').

No, but we know the percentage is small.



And the same is true for traditional publishing.


This is true, but it's a false equivalency. The assumption behind it is that you've got a more-or-less equal chance of making money by self-publishing or by going through a professional publisher, so you may as well self-publish and have complete control (and more royalties). This sounds perfectly logical until you apply reality and spend a few seconds thinking about it. (Or browse through any random assortment of self-published ebooks.)


Personally, I feel bad for rsullivan. She posted some numbers related to epublishing and was dismissed because 'they were self-reported numbers' or 'only reflect her experience' or they 'apply to only a handful of authors'.

No, she was dismissed because she was making disingenuous claims about what her numbers indicated.

Amadan
04-05-2011, 01:48 AM
And Jim Hines (one of the authors Robin uses as an example) responds here (http://jimhines.livejournal.com/564976.html).

gothicangel
04-05-2011, 02:14 AM
And how is SMP doing?

I don't have a clue what you're talking about.

kaitie
04-05-2011, 08:58 AM
Is there any way that several of us could put together some kind of hopefully useful study including things we've discussed here? I'm sure we could collect data and between us we'd have enough knowledge to at least have a potentially reputable study, even if it wasn't perfect. The hardest part would be finding participants. If there's potential interest, maybe I could start a new thread somewhere and we could toss ideas around.

Terie
04-05-2011, 09:03 AM
And Jim Hines (one of the authors Robin uses as an example) responds here (http://jimhines.livejournal.com/564976.html).

That's the link to Jim's LiveJournal (where I haven't read the comments yet).

Here's the same post (http://www.jimchines.com/2011/04/sullivans-author-comparison/) on his site, with comments from David Dalglish (with whom Robin compared Jim), Tobias Buckell (whose survey Robin points to), and Scott Nicholson (another successful self-e-pubber appearing on Robin's lists), among others.

Some interesting quotes:


What proof or statistical background does she use to say Dalgish is a midlist (or average) example?

The average example for a novel is more like $100/month per book in earnings over a one year span, from all the data I’ve got (50 sources). She’s doing a crap comparison, putting an outlier up against Jim.


As for comparing two “mid-list” authors, it is kind of difficult because we have so little information. Plus, how do we reach even the idea of me as a mid-list? I don’t know. I’m certainly not top tier (not when you compare me to the sales/income of someone like H.P. Mallory, John Locke, or Amanda Hocking). I think in “concept” I’m closer to a mid-lister. I’m by no means famous, and I don’t make money equivalent to the big dogs, but seemingly unnoticed I’ve made a steady stream of sales, and developed a core fanbase I can survive on. Honestly Jim, I think it’d be tougher to pull off what you’ve done than what I have, but maybe that speaks to the ease and benefits of self-publishing.


I know people making more in indie than John Locke and JA Konrath that you never hear about, because they don’t talk about it. I know awesome writers who can’t sell a copy of their own work to save their lives.

AmsterdamAssassin
04-05-2011, 04:26 PM
I don't have a clue what you're talking about.

St. Martin's Press.

Advance of 2 million to Hocking?
Eisler walked away from 0.5 million, because he figures he can do better with self-publishing than through SMP?

So, how is SMP doing?

I get that you're rabid anti-Amazon, as you've claimed in another thread, but are Traditional Publishers doing so much better?

Sheryl Nantus
04-05-2011, 04:35 PM
St. Martin's Press.

Advance of 2 million to Hocking?
Eisler walked away from 0.5 million, because he figures he can do better with self-publishing than through SMP?

So, how is SMP doing?

I get that you're rabid anti-Amazon, as you've claimed in another thread, but are Traditional Publishers doing so much better?

Now *I* don't know what you're talking about.

:)

shaldna
04-05-2011, 04:47 PM
So, how is SMP doing?



I would venture that if they are able to offer £2m advances then they are doing quite well thank you very much.

BarbaraKE
04-05-2011, 05:11 PM
This is true, but it's a false equivalency. The assumption behind it is that you've got a more-or-less equal chance of making money by self-publishing or by going through a professional publisher, so you may as well self-publish and have complete control (and more royalties). This sounds perfectly logical until you apply reality and spend a few seconds thinking about it. (Or browse through any random assortment of self-published ebooks.)


Amadan, I have no idea where you came up with this. All I said is that none of us know how many people are successful in publishing *and* the same is true for traditional publishing (ie we don't know how many are successful).

gothicangel
04-05-2011, 05:21 PM
I would venture that if they are able to offer £2m advances then they are doing quite well thank you very much.

:ROFL:

Terie
04-05-2011, 05:41 PM
Amadan, I have no idea where you came up with this. All I said is that none of us know how many people are successful in publishing *and* the same is true for traditional publishing (ie we don't know how many are successful).

While it's true that everyone defines successful differently, I think one generalisation is safe to make:

Commercially published authors all start out in the plus column when it comes to income. (Please note that I'm leaving out shady outfits here and only speaking of reputable commercial publishers.) That is, commercial authors either have been paid an advance or if not paid an advance, immediately begin earning royalties. All.

The same simply can't be said of self-published authors. With the new ease of self-e-publishing, many don't have any costs, but if they didn't pay for editing and cover art, income will likely be minimal. If they did pay for these services, they start in the minus column with no guarantee they'll earn back their costs. We don't know how many are in the plus column, and we know that number is growing every day, but we can safely say it isn't all.

Amadan
04-05-2011, 05:48 PM
I get that you're rabid anti-Amazon, as you've claimed in another thread, but are Traditional Publishers doing so much better?


Er, Amazon is dipping their toe into "Traditional Publishing," and meanwhile, most of the books they sell are by "Traditional Publishers."

I love how skepticism about the pot of the gold waiting at the end of the Self-Publishing Rainbow = "Rabidly anti-Amazon."

Sheryl Nantus
04-05-2011, 06:05 PM
While it's true that everyone defines successful differently, I think one generalisation is safe to make:

Commercially published authors all start out in the plus column when it comes to income. (Please note that I'm leaving out shady outfits here and only speaking of reputable commercial publishers.) That is, commercial authors either have been paid an advance or if not paid an advance, immediately begin earning royalties. All.

The same simply can't be said of self-published authors. With the new ease of self-e-publishing, many don't have any costs, but if they didn't pay for editing and cover art, income will likely be minimal. If they did pay for these services, they start in the minus column with no guarantee they'll earn back their costs. We don't know how many are in the plus column, and we know that number is growing every day, but we can safely say it isn't all.

Exactly.

When I sign a contract I'm not asked to lay out money for cover art or for editing or for distribution costs or anything - that's up to the publisher to arrange and INVEST in my book and my skill. What I do to promote the book is up to me but there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes that is easily dismissed by those with no knowledge of what a commercial publisher actually does.

And we're not talking about pennies here. We're talking about hundreds of dollars invested in something that's not guaranteed to return a single dime.

Any author who signs with a commercial publisher is automatically ahead of the game financially than a self-pubbed author who invests in editing and cover art. That's a fact.

ColoradoMom
04-05-2011, 06:56 PM
Any author who signs with a commercial publisher is automatically ahead of the game financially than a self-pubbed author who invests in editing and cover art. That's a fact.

Not if you do it yourself and get sell a few thousand copies 12 months before a publisher even considers taking on your project. ;)

Look, some people like to play it safe and others like to take a risk. Some people follow the rules, and others work around them. If you're the first type of person, then maybe self-publishing isn't your thing. If you're the latter, then hey - just go for it.

CaoPaux
04-05-2011, 07:04 PM
Is there any way that several of us could put together some kind of hopefully useful study including things we've discussed here? I'm sure we could collect data and between us we'd have enough knowledge to at least have a potentially reputable study, even if it wasn't perfect. The hardest part would be finding participants. If there's potential interest, maybe I could start a new thread somewhere and we could toss ideas around.If I read his comments (to Jim Hines' post) correctly, Mr. Buckell is putting together just such a study. Could contact him, too.

Sheryl Nantus
04-05-2011, 07:09 PM
Not if you do it yourself and get sell a few thousand copies 12 months before a publisher even considers taking on your project. ;)

Look, some people like to play it safe and others like to take a risk. Some people follow the rules, and others work around them. If you're the first type of person, then maybe self-publishing isn't your thing. If you're the latter, then hey - just go for it.

Which is fine for nonfiction - it's sort of hard to pre-sell that many copies of fiction unless you're J.K. Rowling.

There's a difference between taking a calculated risk and being lured into a false sense of security. What I see a lot of self-pub gurus tossing out the best case scenario as the USUAL and promising that money will be made no matter what.

Informed decisions are the best ones. Tossing half-baked statistics around as fact is the best way to lure people into purchasing services that they may not be able to cover in the long run.

Stating that commerical publishers are BAD and all self-pub authors will make more than if they went with a commercial publisher is just hyperbole. But it's hyperbole that can lead plenty of authors to invest beyond their means.

*points to Tate Publishing and PublishAmerica threads*

AmsterdamAssassin
04-05-2011, 07:26 PM
I love how skepticism about the pot of the gold waiting at the end of the Self-Publishing Rainbow = "Rabidly anti-Amazon."

I was referring to a post by GothicAngel in another thread that he "hated Amazon" and "bought his books elsewhere", because he didn't want "Amazon to get his hard-earned money".

His skepticism versus self-publishing is probably warranted.

Sheryl Nantus
04-05-2011, 07:31 PM
I was referring to a post by GothicAngel in another thread that he "hated Amazon" and "bought his books elsewhere", because he didn't want "Amazon to get his hard-earned money".

His skepticism versus self-publishing is probably warranted.

That makes no sense.

You can self-pub without going through Amazon.

AmsterdamAssassin
04-05-2011, 07:38 PM
I admit to stupidity in entering this discussion and allowing myself to be drawn into a pointless debate.

So I'm bowing out before I'm accused of being 'pro' or 'anti' anything, while in reality I don't care what people do to get their writing to their readers.

Terie
04-05-2011, 07:39 PM
Not if you do it yourself and get sell a few thousand copies 12 months before a publisher even considers taking on your project. ;)

If you go back and look at my post, I explicitly specified at the beginning. I was talking about the only point at which there are verifiable facts: all commercially published authors start in the plus column by virtue of an advance or a direct move into royalties without paying a penny. The same is not true of all self-published authors. 'If you sell a few thousand copies' isn't a sure thing and is therefore unverifiable. I was talking about what's verifiable.


I was referring to a post by GothicAngel in another thread that he "hated Amazon" and "bought his books elsewhere", because he didn't want "Amazon to get his hard-earned money".

Or it could be that HER objection to Amazon has nothing to do with self-publishing and has everything to do with Amazon's corporate ethics and multiple fails in that arena. I won't speak for her and say that IS her reason, but there are a lot of folks who won't patronise Amazon for reasons to do with ethics.

gothicangel
04-05-2011, 07:44 PM
I was referring to a post by GothicAngel in another thread that he "hated Amazon" and "bought his books elsewhere", because he didn't want "Amazon to get his hard-earned money".

His skepticism versus self-publishing is probably warranted.

She.

gothicangel
04-05-2011, 07:45 PM
Or it could be that HER objection to Amazon has nothing to do with self-publishing and has everything to do with Amazon's corporate ethics and multiple fails in that arena. I won't speak for her and say that IS her reason, but there are a lot of folks who won't patronise Amazon for reasons to do with ethics.

Exactly. :tongue

ColoradoMom
04-05-2011, 07:54 PM
Which is fine for nonfiction - it's sort of hard to pre-sell that many copies of fiction unless you're J.K. Rowling.

There's a difference between taking a calculated risk and being lured into a false sense of security. What I see a lot of self-pub gurus tossing out the best case scenario as the USUAL and promising that money will be made no matter what.

Informed decisions are the best ones. Tossing half-baked statistics around as fact is the best way to lure people into purchasing services that they may not be able to cover in the long run.

Stating that commerical publishers are BAD and all self-pub authors will make more than if they went with a commercial publisher is just hyperbole. But it's hyperbole that can lead plenty of authors to invest beyond their means.

*points to Tate Publishing and PublishAmerica threads*

Look, it is convenient to say that because I sell non-fiction, but like I said earlier - it's actually harder to sell my products because there are no HUGE markets to sell on. I sell workbooks at an online homeschool mall. I've built up customers over the past 3 years, and yes I have a market so when I release something new, it sells. So, no - it actually isn't EASY for me to sell my products - but selling them is my JOB. So I do it.

And it's not pre-selling - I don't know where you got that idea - but selling a few thousand copies in the 18 months it takes to get a book out isn't all that hard.

I didn't just wake up one day and say "Hey, I think I'll sell 800 books this month" and no one - not a self-published author, not Amanda Hocking, not the Harry Potter chick, not Stephanie Meyer - woke up one day and said "I think I'll be a best-selling author". Well, maybe Stephanie Meyer did...

You have to put in the work and for MOST people the work will include more than just writing the book - whether that be blogging, making a website, giving online radio interviews, making guest posts to the blogs of others, reviewing other books, creating a press release, making covers, editing, whatever...success requires work.

And, there are plenty of people making money at self-publishing - those of you who have no interest in doing it - DON'T. Just walk away.

But the reason people come to this part of the forum is because they are thinking of it and if I were someone who had 9 books (or whatever the number was from AH when she had her revelation) sitting around collecting dust I'd put those things on Kindle so fast your head would spin.

You've got nothing to lose.

Now, if you're got one book and it's your baby and you're having some sort of relationship with it, then probably self-publishing isn't your thing. No biggie.

But anyone who comes in this section to tell others they have no chance, or minimal chance, of making a living off self-publishing e-books, hardcovers, spiral-bound, or paperbacks, regardless of genre or if it is FICTION or NON-FICTION, is WRONG.

Because some of us already do it and yes - I invest my money into my business - whether that be covers (which I don't but it is a legitimate business expense) or a new website, or a better piece of software - but one thing's for sure - you're investing time in to WAITING for those "other people" to do what you need done in "traditional publishing".

Time IS money.

So, my BEST advice to people who want to self-publish is to try to do everything yourself. Think up ways to get things done in a different way - be different. Save money whenever you can, but when you do have to shell it out, invest it wisely.

And why anyone would go to Tate Publishing when they could just do Smashwords, Createspace, LuLu, or Lightning Source is beyond me. I'm certainly NOT talking about those types of huge upfront cost vanity presses when I say the words self-publish. I'm talking about SELF publishing. As in I am the publisher.