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MMcDonald64
06-28-2011, 06:13 PM
I found this article and thought it very interesting. It's not just Hocking, Konrath and Locke who are the only success stories. There are many more who are quietly successful.
http://publishingperspectives.com/2011/06/self-published-ebook-authors-earn-living/

shadowwalker
06-28-2011, 06:22 PM
Yeah, somehow I had a feeling...

MMcDonald64
06-28-2011, 06:45 PM
Yeah, somehow I had a feeling...

About what? The mid-listers? Victorine Lieske and I both uploaded our first books within a few months of each other. At the time her's took off, she PM me and encouraged me to make my book 99 cents too, because she knew I was frustrated. I had good sales, but not like what she had, and I chickened out and raised my price back to $2.99 at the time. I tried it again in Feb, had a couple of good months, but then it slowed. I was literally days away from raising it back to $2.99 again, but was just waiting until a paid ad I'd purchased two months prior to run. After it was done, I was going to give up on my book being 99 cents. Then Amazon made it free and changed the whole ballgame.

Capital
06-28-2011, 07:44 PM
'ere it goes again...

shaldna
06-28-2011, 07:49 PM
I just knew, before I even clicked the link.

Ari Meermans
06-28-2011, 07:52 PM
Yeah, well, I guess I'm a bit slow today; I didn't catch on 'til I saw the photo.

brainstorm77
06-28-2011, 08:01 PM
About what? The mid-listers? Victorine Lieske and I both uploaded our first books within a few months of each other. At the time her's took off, she PM me and encouraged me to make my book 99 cents too, because she knew I was frustrated. I had good sales, but not like what she had, and I chickened out and raised my price back to $2.99 at the time. I tried it again in Feb, had a couple of good months, but then it slowed. I was literally days away from raising it back to $2.99 again, but was just waiting until a paid ad I'd purchased two months prior to run. After it was done, I was going to give up on my book being 99 cents. Then Amazon made it free and changed the whole ballgame.

They're referring to the poster of the article.

shadowwalker
06-28-2011, 08:06 PM
Yeah, for my own part, let's just say there are credibility issues. So I won't be commenting further on her post.

Terie
06-28-2011, 08:06 PM
There are many more who are quietly successful.
http://publishingperspectives.com/2011/06/self-published-ebook-authors-earn-living/

Now that's what I'd call a pretty interesting use of the word 'quietly'.

MMcDonald64
06-28-2011, 09:20 PM
I'm confused. This is a self-publishing board of this site, and here are success stories of self-pubbed authors. I know most of those people from various sites and have seen rankings, followed their success for months. Publishers Weekly even linked to the article, so I'm just extremely confused by the hostility shown towards the article.

I've been a member here for a few years now. I had my opening pages critiqued, my query letters, have critiqued others, have used the Agent Beware board to get info on dozens of agents before querying, etc, so I'm not exactly a drive by poster eveno if I hadn't been around for awhile. When things didn't work out for me for me by going the traditional route, and I decided to self-publish, naturally, I sought out information about that option. It took me away from these boards because there was very little info here. All I'm trying to do is provide some information so others can have as much information available to them so they can make informed decisions about their writing careers. While some may have a personal vendetta against the writer of the article, the data she has gathered could be valuable to other authors. I don't know what exactly the issue some have, and I don't want to get involved, I just want to share some self-publishing success stories that haven't made the news.

If I've broken some unwritten rule here, then please let me know, and I'll just refrain from posting here in the future. I may still lurk to get writing info, but at least I'll know what is against the rules and what isn't.

James D. Macdonald
06-28-2011, 09:37 PM
... so I'm just extremely confused by the hostility shown towards the article.

The hostility isn't to the article.

AP7
06-28-2011, 09:40 PM
M.P.,

Congratulations on your success. Amazon "Made your book free?" How does that work? Is it just chance that you were selected? Do you still receive royalties?

Thanks in advance for the info.

MMcDonald64
06-28-2011, 09:59 PM
M.P.,

Congratulations on your success. Amazon "Made your book free?" How does that work? Is it just chance that you were selected? Do you still receive royalties?

Thanks in advance for the info.


It was kind of by accident. I'd heard they might make it free if you make your book free on Smashwords and then at other outlets via their premium catalog. At the time I made mine free, I'd also reuploaded to correct a chapter link error Smashwords had generated. However, doing that upload made my file no longer eligible for the catalog without corrections. I was busy and didn't get to the corrections for a few days so I didn't think the price change would go out to the premium affiliates (where it had been for months prior to my reuploading, if that makes sense.)

When I made the corrections a few days later, I chickened out and put my price back to 99 cents, the same as it was on Amazon. I forgot about it until May 26th, when my book was suddenly free on Amazon. I wasn't sure what to think about that because, no, I didn't get royalties on it. They used to do that, but they recently changed that policy. If they are price-matching, you get the 35% royalty of that price, which in this case, was nothing since they matched the free price. However, I have two books, and this was the first in the series, so I hoped it would at least generate some sales of that book, which is priced at $2.99.

In a week, my book was downloaded 45,000 times! (don't I wish I got royalty on that!) All the blogs with free books had it listed, and that brought attention to my second book as well. Even the first day, that book sold about 20, and I know people couldn't have all read the free book that day.

Anyway, after it was made paid again, I thought that would be it, but instead, my book shot up the Amazon charts, reaching #15 in the Kindle store. (It was so awesome seeing it ahead of books like The Help and a couple of the Hunger Games books!) For three weeks it remained in the top 100, before falling out. I can't complain though because I've sold over 18,000 of that book this month and about 4700 of my second book.

This won't happen for every book made free. I had really great timing in that my book had accumulated some really positive word of mouth and ratings prior to that. I had also changed my cover a few times, and the current one is much better than previous ones. If this had happened to me last August, for example, it wouldn't have been nearly as successful.

So, lesson of the experience is that for a new author, don't try to engineer a free book as soon as you publish it. Let it gather some momentum on it's own, get some great reviews, etc. After it's been out awhile, then you can try to do it--there's no guarantee that Amazon will match either, even if you do all the Smashwords things. It's at their discretion.

My sales are not nearly what they were a few weeks ago, so it's fleeting, however, I have a really solid reader base now of potentially close to 70,000. Of course, not all who grabbed the freebie will read it or like it enough to buy the second, but even if only 20% do, I'll count it as a huge success. I have two more books in the series planned, and a good start on an unrelated book.

Capital
06-28-2011, 10:26 PM
I'm confused. This is a self-publishing board of this site, and here are success stories of self-pubbed authors. I know most of those people from various sites and have seen rankings, followed their success for months. Publishers Weekly even linked to the article, so I'm just extremely confused by the hostility shown towards the article.

I've been a member here for a few years now. I had my opening pages critiqued, my query letters, have critiqued others, have used the Agent Beware board to get info on dozens of agents before querying, etc, so I'm not exactly a drive by poster eveno if I hadn't been around for awhile. When things didn't work out for me for me by going the traditional route, and I decided to self-publish, naturally, I sought out information about that option. It took me away from these boards because there was very little info here. All I'm trying to do is provide some information so others can have as much information available to them so they can make informed decisions about their writing careers. While some may have a personal vendetta against the writer of the article, the data she has gathered could be valuable to other authors. I don't know what exactly the issue some have, and I don't want to get involved, I just want to share some self-publishing success stories that haven't made the news.

If I've broken some unwritten rule here, then please let me know, and I'll just refrain from posting here in the future. I may still lurk to get writing info, but at least I'll know what is against the rules and what isn't.

I don't think you've broken any rules. My understanding of situation with the article's owner (RS) is that she heavily "promotes" SP by citing successes of her husband and her company's clients.

Not to detract from the successes of said authors, which are nothing short of incredible, but my understanding is that many on this board had gotten a little uneasy about RS's arguments, and consider them either a) a subtle promotion of her clients and a form of publicity concealed by claimed informational nature b) sometimes unfair and often not fully supported claims which are not always beneficial to new authors who don't have the full grasp of the game just yet. I know I, as a newbie, often flap eyelashes at all the info being passed around, and then spend hours trying to make out everything from the basics I actually understand. When you're new, it's easy to be confused amd misled.

As to the merit of the article: while one can hardly argue with the numbers RS lists, it's difficult to judge value of her findings. The total numbers of SP authors, their sales figures, the average type, quality and expenses of their work are largely unknown. Her providing under a hundred samples of authors making over X amount of money is hardly indicative of SP industry as a whole. Furthermore, the sensationalist language she often uses further dilutes learning value... a lot of her information gathering feels like sales talk. And here at AW, as I understand, it's all about clarity, support, transparency and thorough understanding rather than shouting big slogans.

That's my understanding of common perception of RS and her articles this side of the internet.

Ava Glass
06-28-2011, 10:43 PM
My understanding of situation with the article's owner (RS) is that she heavily "promotes" SP by citing successes of her husband and her company's clients.

There's Michael Sullivan and Nathan Howell, but most of her examples are actually from the Writers' Cafe at Kindle Boards.

Just saying she's not only talking about Ridan authors.

DerekJCanyon
06-28-2011, 11:04 PM
Starting from no publishing history and no fan base, I've grossed over $7000 in the last 9 months from self-publishing ebooks. (Profit is about 3 grand).

So, it's definitely possible to earn a living from SP. It might take a few years for folks like me without a backlog of books, but I prefer controlling my own career.

Irysangel
06-28-2011, 11:46 PM
Starting from no publishing history and no fan base, I've grossed over $7000 in the last 9 months from self-publishing ebooks. (Profit is about 3 grand).

So, it's definitely possible to earn a living from SP. It might take a few years for folks like me without a backlog of books, but I prefer controlling my own career.

But to play Devil's Advocate, you just said that you profited 3 grand. 3 grand in 9 months does not mean a living to me.

The term 'midlist' is inherently deceiving anyhow, and has been even with traditional publishing. There is bestseller, and then there is midlist (everyone else). Whether you sell one book or 20,000, you are midlist until you hit an official list. So that pretty much makes like, 99.99% of the people self-publishing automatically midlist, even if they only bring in $5 a month.

To provide my own numbers, I've netted at least the same as you in a similar timeframe, and would not call mine a living at all. I think the phrase 'making a living' needs to be tossed out the window entirely.

Can you make money at self publishing? Yes.
Can you make over a certain dollar amount self publishing? Yes.
Can you make a 'living'? Living is undefinable, because there are so many caveats. Like someone else said in another thread, 'how long is a piece of string'?

Sorry to seem argumentative. :) I totally agree with what you said about being able to control your career. Career freedom + money = win all around.

Irysangel
06-28-2011, 11:55 PM
Also, I did want to say that Robin does have some really interesting things to say about e-publishing and Ridan in general over at the podcasts listed on the Ridan thread:

http://deadrobotssociety.com/2011/06/15/episode-179-looking-at-the-publishing-industry-with-robin-sullivan/

I listened to the entire thing and thought she was very well spoken and smart, and had some really interesting things to say. Which is interesting, because I've had private conversations with Robin and she came across the same - thoughtful and smart. But whenever I see the blog posts and the self-published midlist screed, my back goes up.

So perhaps it's the tone of the arguments? I don't know. I'm still trying to figure it out myself.

MMcDonald64
06-29-2011, 12:47 AM
But to play Devil's Advocate, you just said that you profited 3 grand. 3 grand in 9 months does not mean a living to me.

The term 'midlist' is inherently deceiving anyhow, and has been even with traditional publishing. There is bestseller, and then there is midlist (everyone else). Whether you sell one book or 20,000, you are midlist until you hit an official list. So that pretty much makes like, 99.99% of the people self-publishing automatically midlist, even if they only bring in $5 a month.

To provide my own numbers, I've netted at least the same as you in a similar timeframe, and would not call mine a living at all. I think the phrase 'making a living' needs to be tossed out the window entirely.

Can you make money at self publishing? Yes.
Can you make over a certain dollar amount self publishing? Yes.
Can you make a 'living'? Living is undefinable, because there are so many caveats. Like someone else said in another thread, 'how long is a piece of string'?

Sorry to seem argumentative. :) I totally agree with what you said about being able to control your career. Career freedom + money = win all around.

Yes, it all depends on someone's situation. While I did really well *this* month, I'm in no danger of quitting my day job. In fact, it would take several consecutive months of my book sales at least equaling my day job pay before I would even consider going part-time. Luckily for me, if I do go part-time, I'm in a field where I can almost always pick up extra shifts if sales slow down, and I can get insurance as a part-timer, I just have to pay more. My dh is not working currently as his job laid him off for the summer, so I can't take a chance on going part-time and then having sales come to a crashing halt.

Cloud Eight
06-29-2011, 01:02 AM
Hey, I'm adding to your June tally. Your book cover/description and reviews impressed me enough to buy. ;)

Irysangel
06-29-2011, 01:21 AM
Yes, it all depends on someone's situation. While I did really well *this* month, I'm in no danger of quitting my day job. In fact, it would take several consecutive months of my book sales at least equaling my day job pay before I would even consider going part-time. Luckily for me, if I do go part-time, I'm in a field where I can almost always pick up extra shifts if sales slow down, and I can get insurance as a part-timer, I just have to pay more. My dh is not working currently as his job laid him off for the summer, so I can't take a chance on going part-time and then having sales come to a crashing halt.

I'm the same - it's nice to have the money but it's definitely not a replacement income! Plus, I had a flip-flop in May where my sales went down, and that taught me a valuable lesson - what goes up does not necessarily stay up. :)

DerekJCanyon
06-29-2011, 02:11 AM
Irysangel, I didn't claim to be making a living SP yet. Perhaps I was not precise enough in my statement.

What I meant was, with no experience I've grossed $7000 in 9 months and now earning $1k a month. In my first 15 months I'll have made $15k.

Not enough to live on now, but as I get more books for sale, that number will rise. The outlook is good enough at this rate that I think in four or five years I'll be making enough from SP that I can quit my day job.

brainstorm77
06-29-2011, 02:22 AM
Irysangel, I didn't claim to be making a living SP yet. Perhaps I was not precise enough in my statement.

What I meant was, with no experience I've grossed $7000 in 9 months and now earning $1k a month. In my first 15 months I'll have made $15k.

Not enough to live on now, but as I get more books for sale, that number will rise. The outlook is good enough at this rate that I think in four or five years I'll be making enough from SP that I can quit my day job.

This is a bit off topic, and feel free to PM me if you don't mind answering this. What have you done to promote? That is one aspect of self pubbing that makes me wonder. As an e pub author I promote my books along with the publisher, but I'm always looking for new ways to do so.

Mr Flibble
06-29-2011, 02:23 AM
/hesitant

It seems to me that RS has toned down the rhetoric in that post a tad. And that's a good thing, because while some of what she had to say was (at times) good to know, it was bound up in a lot of hyperbole and 'Well my husband did so you will' and... (on AW, I don't know about elsewhere). It wasn't so much what she said, as how she said it.

At the least, she's acknowledging that the big numbers are outliers, not 'anyone/everyone can do this'.

MMcDonald64
06-29-2011, 02:46 AM
Irysangel, I didn't claim to be making a living SP yet. Perhaps I was not precise enough in my statement.

What I meant was, with no experience I've grossed $7000 in 9 months and now earning $1k a month. In my first 15 months I'll have made $15k.

Not enough to live on now, but as I get more books for sale, that number will rise. The outlook is good enough at this rate that I think in four or five years I'll be making enough from SP that I can quit my day job.

It's a heck of a nice little sum to pay some bills though, isn't it? :-) I think that is really good, actually. Congrats!

MMcDonald64
06-29-2011, 02:47 AM
Hey, I'm adding to your June tally. Your book cover/description and reviews impressed me enough to buy. ;)

I'm not sure if this was meant for me or Derek, but if it was for me, thank you. :-)

Cloud Eight
06-29-2011, 03:33 AM
I'm not sure if this was meant for me or Derek, but if it was for me, thank you. :-)

Yes, meant for you. ;)

DerekJCanyon
06-29-2011, 03:42 AM
This is a bit off topic, and feel free to PM me if you don't mind answering this. What have you done to promote? That is one aspect of self pubbing that makes me wonder. As an e pub author I promote my books along with the publisher, but I'm always looking for new ways to do so.

Brainstorm, no problem at all. I have done very little promotion. Here is my most recent blog post about my advertising/promotion efforts: How do I market my ebooks? (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-do-i-market-my-ebooks.html)

The most obvious marketing for one of my ebooks was serendipitously provided by JK Rowling. When she announced Potter books would be available as ebooks from her own website, sales of my kindle DIY book, How to Format Your Ebook for Kindle in One Hour (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HZX7W2?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004HZX7W2), skyrocketed* in Britain.

*Skyrocketed being a relative term. ;) I usually sold 0-2 copies of the book per day in the UK. I sold 7 the day of her announcement, and sales are still much better.



It's a heck of a nice little sum to pay some bills though, isn't it? :-) I think that is really good, actually. Congrats!

MM, in case it hasn't come across in my posts so far: I am overjoyed at the success** I'm having at self-publishing my ebooks! Originally I had hoped to gross $3000 in my first year. If things don't slow down, I'll gross $13000 in twelve months! Woot!

**Success is, of course, a relative, subjective state.

Cloud Eight
06-29-2011, 03:58 AM
Congrats Derek!

brainstorm77
06-29-2011, 05:12 AM
Brainstorm, no problem at all. I have done very little promotion. Here is my most recent blog post about my advertising/promotion efforts: How do I market my ebooks? (http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-do-i-market-my-ebooks.html)

The most obvious marketing for one of my ebooks was serendipitously provided by JK Rowling. When she announced Potter books would be available as ebooks from her own website, sales of my kindle DIY book, How to Format Your Ebook for Kindle in One Hour (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HZX7W2?ie=UTF8&tag=derjcan-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B004HZX7W2), skyrocketed* in Britain.

*Skyrocketed being a relative term. ;) I usually sold 0-2 copies of the book per day in the UK. I sold 7 the day of her announcement, and sales are still much better.






Thanks. I will take a look.

dondomat
06-29-2011, 08:00 AM
Furthermore, the sensationalist language she often uses further dilutes learning value... a lot of her information gathering feels like sales talk. True, but since this is a new 'wild west' type of business arena which is being shaped by various adventurers and opportunists, we'll just have to live with stuff like "I'm a gonna bite the head of this here grizzly if you don't sell more than 700 books a month by this here method, folks..." It's kinda interesting too.

shaldna
06-29-2011, 11:32 AM
I'm confused. This is a self-publishing board of this site, and here are success stories of self-pubbed authors. I know most of those people from various sites and have seen rankings, followed their success for months. Publishers Weekly even linked to the article, so I'm just extremely confused by the hostility shown towards the article.

There is a lot of good, accurate information out there, sadly, very little of it comes from Robin Sullivan.

Terie
06-29-2011, 12:41 PM
My biggest problem with RS (despite her undeniable success with Ridan) is that she redefines terms in totally non-standard ways, but isn't explicit about this in her discussions. Any figures she presents, therefore, are misleading to someone who doesn't know how she defines the words.

For example, there's this extraordinarily limited definition of who's qualified to call themselves 'writers':


But for purposes of my posts when I refer to a "writer" I mean someone who can earn $45,000+ a year or more from writing. Which will disqualify all but a few (I think).

She also has an extremely exclusive definition of 'self-publisher'. I can't find the post where she said this, so it's your choice to believe me or not since I can't substantiate it, but she also excluded the bottom 95% of self-publishers from consideration as legitimate 'self-publishers'.

This means that when she talks about the self-publishing mid-list, she's talking about the middle of the top 5%...that is, by extrapolating from her own redefinitions, she's talking about folks in the top 5 percentile of self-publishers when she talks about the 'middle' of self-publishing.

Until she starts using terms in their widely accepted definitions and stops abusing numbers, anything she says ought (IMO) to be taken with a pinch of salt.

dondomat
06-29-2011, 04:50 PM
But if we take the gist of the statement, which, in my interpretation is "self-publishing can allow one to have a minor to medium income even if one is not an indie bestseller - here are the following examples" - then the statement is fine.

MMcDonald64
06-29-2011, 05:54 PM
But if we take the gist of the statement, which, in my interpretation is "self-publishing can allow one to have a minor to medium income even if one is not an indie bestseller - here are the following examples" - then the statement is fine.

That is how I took the article. For instance, there are hundreds of successful actors working in Hollywood, making a living doing guest roles, commercials, etc, and they aren't all big names. There are thousands of others who seek stardom, but can't make a living at acting and need to work at day jobs. Same with self-publishing.

HapiSofi
06-30-2011, 02:12 PM
My biggest problem with RS (despite her undeniable success with Ridan) is that she redefines terms in totally non-standard ways, but isn't explicit about this in her discussions. Any figures she presents, therefore, are misleading to someone who doesn't know how she defines the words.
My feelings exactly. Her definitions are all over the place, and the ways in which they're mutable serve her arguments. Her numbers, when she gives them, don't make nearly enough sense -- and again, they all lean in the direction of whatever points she's making. This is not a style of rhetoric one falls into by accident.


For example, there's this extraordinarily limited definition of who's qualified to call themselves 'writers':


Originally Posted by rsullivan9597
But for purposes of my posts when I refer to a "writer" I mean someone who can earn $45,000+ a year or more from writing. Which will disqualify all but a few (I think).

It's a unique definition that has no reason to exist. IMO, it's an affront to all the hardworking writers and industry pros who in many years get by on considerably less than that.


She also has an extremely exclusive definition of 'self-publisher'. I can't find the post where she said this, so it's your choice to believe me or not since I can't substantiate it, but she also excluded the bottom 95% of self-publishers from consideration as legitimate 'self-publishers'.

Oh, I've noticed. I've also seen her write about how self-publishing could "provide the best revenue potential" (as opposed to conventional publishing), all in airy generalities with next to no numbers attached, and in the process just sort of absentmindedly forget to include income from hardcopy editions in the reckoning. Since the majority of books sold are still hardcopies, that's a rather significant omission.

The other interesting maneuver she pulled in that piece was accounting sales of foreign rights as income from self-publishing, which of course it isn't. Foreign rights are bought by conventional publishers in other countries.


This means that when she talks about the self-publishing mid-list, she's talking about the middle of the top 5%...that is, by extrapolating from her own redefinitions, she's talking about folks in the top 5 percentile of self-publishers when she talks about the 'middle' of self-publishing.

She's doing her level best to differentiate herself and her husband from the hoi polloi self-publishers and hardscrabble pros.

Her husband's sold an epic fantasy series to Hachette. Someone should warn her that if she wants to be taken seriously by the genre community, she'll have to bear in mind that there's a strict (if unspoken) division between major pros, and the sort of impecunious writer who spends conventions hanging out with fans.


Until she starts using terms in their widely accepted definitions and stops abusing numbers, anything she says ought (IMO) to be taken with a pinch of salt.
I doubt she's going to change much. That isn't a temporary situational response; it's a worldview.