If you aren't sure whether to self-publish, ask yourself what you want.

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Old Hack

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I've peeled all of the discussion about Splendad's user-title to a new thread in TIO, so that we can remain on-topic here.

Now, where were we?
 

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Commercial/trade publishers give few books any publicity, or at least succeed in getting none for the vast majority, even if they do send out ARCs for some and include all in catalogs. But they are vastly better at getting them on bookstore shelves (although those are vanishing even as we speak) than all but the most accomplished self-publishers.

My rather small niche consumer computer book publisher has been super about publicity. It's very different though in terms of the kinds of publicity publishers do for fiction.

Tables at trade shows. Direct emails to known customers with a coupon.

Priority placement in iBooks and other online bookstores.

Endcaps at Barnes and Noble. Features in Apple retail stores (now, alas, no longer carrying books in most stores)

Trade show placement.
 

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My rather small niche consumer computer book publisher has been super about publicity. It's very different though in terms of the kinds of publicity publishers do for fiction.

Tables at trade shows. Direct emails to known customers with a coupon.

Priority placement in iBooks and other online bookstores.

Endcaps at Barnes and Noble. Features in Apple retail stores (now, alas, no longer carrying books in most stores)

Trade show placement.
Few among the tens of thousands of commercial/trade books published annually get such attention. There are not that many end caps -- nor oodles of cash -- to go around. And priority, by definition, can apply to only a relative handful.

--Ken
 

Splendad

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Can't believe this thread has gotten this fat; I've missed quite a bit. I guess my last post for it is that I stand by my op, and I wish you self-pubbers the best of luck! (PS I got a recent article about the topic published with the self-publishing-coach... you can find the link on my fb page... PSS sold a few books in the UK! Next, Germany...).
 

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I was actually referring to the kind of derogatory comments being made here about how he'd never be published again and what not.... Did my post really read that wrong lol? I can fix that if I was unclear (or out of line for that matter).

It was clear to me, especially in context, that you were concerned about posts referring to him, not by him.
 

annetpfeffer

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A question for the group

So here's question: given that I've just begun to get the ball rolling on self-publishing (which includes publicizing to a small degree through this site and my own website), and given I just received a competely unexpected invitation from a big New York editor to see two chapters of my manuscript, what should I do?

Factors to consider:
1) my name and my book's name is already out on the web as a forthcoming book, but I haven't yet submitted the ms to Kindle

2) I love self publishing and having control of the process

3) my book's been rewritten several times, heavily edited by professional editors, and I believe is in pretty good shape

I'm right on the verge of submitting to the editor, with a full disclosure as to what I've been doing, and let the chips fall where they may.

Thoughts?
 

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As my own two cents, Anne, if you have the chance to skip the waiting line and you're confident that your book is good enough, send it to the editor.

Worse case scenario? He says no and you still self publish it ;)
 

annetpfeffer

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As my own two cents, Anne, if you have the chance to skip the waiting line and you're confident that your book is good enough, send it to the editor.

Worse case scenario? He says no and you still self publish it ;)

Frederick, your two cents are worth two dollars to me, but I would have to tell the editor what I've been doing, don't you think? One google search will reveal it anyway.
 

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. . . competely unexpected invitation from a big New York editor to see two chapters of my manuscript, what should I do?
. . .
Thoughts?
Send 'em. And look up AW member K.L. Brady. (Unfortunately, her own site is so larded up with flash-and-dazzle as to be difficult to use, but try it if you have the patience). She started as a self-publisher.

--Ken
 

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Anne: I'm not in the right position to counsel you about what you should or shouldn't tell him, unfortunately. In my opinion (of someone who has never published anything nor has ever submitted anything professionally) you should tell him that you had intended to self publish it and started doing some promotion on the web.

As I said, I don't have the experience to make accurate suggestions, this is just what I think would be the proper (transparent) way to do it ;)
 

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Send the manuscript. If the editor asks, tell the truth, of course. I don't think you need to complicate your submission with extra information. That website can morph into your own promotion for the book as published by someone other than yourself. They often ask what your plans are to help promote the book.
 

annetpfeffer

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Thanks, Frederick and Al

I think both approaches above are equally valid and appropriate. I suppose I will end up doing it my way, and complicating everything with an excess of honesty is just the way I roll!

Thank you both.
 

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Have you double-checked the bona fides of the agent? How did he/she know about your manuscript? Had you submitted to the agent?

I just worry, because of all the scams out there, and it's generally a red flag for an agent to contact an author "unexpectedly" (or is it just unexpected because you'd given up on a response?). It sometimes happens when the book has been self-published and hit bestseller lists, but not pre-publication.
 

James D. Macdonald

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Who's the editor? Which house? (It's okay to PM me.)

How did the editor find out about your manuscript?

A typical commercially-published book gets far more readers than a typical self-published book, brings in more money, and is a lot less work for the author.
 
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annetpfeffer

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To Jan and James

Thank you so much for your concern, but it's okay -- this a well known, reputable editor with a major publisher who happened to teach an online class that I took. We had to send in queries for critique as part of the class. I just wanted a professional opinion of my opening ---never, ever expected this person to ask for a partial ms.

But thank you..I am continually astonished by the kindness and generosity of the people who frequent absolutewrite.com. You guys--all of you -- are the bomb! :) :) :)
 
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c.m.n.

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I'm still asking myself, still debating on whether self pubbing my series is ideal for me.

I know I still want a traditional to go with trade-publishing some day. I have one stand alone that I'm hoping to sub soon. But I have book 1 of a series ready to go, that's burning to go!

I have fans, yes fans I've developed over 2 years of fandom writing, waiting for this book :)

And I've considered royalties via kindle and smashwords. Heck, I don't care if I'm barely making $20. Hey that pays my gas bill hehe.

It's a hard decision. One I've been debating for about 9 months. I'm about done wracking my brain though. I know a lot about self pubbing now than I ever did.
 
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JA Konrath

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Seems like you spent a long time looking at this, HapiSofi.

Wouldn't it have been quicker just to ask me directly about some of these things, don't you think?

Since you didn't, I'm happy to correct your many assumptions and leaps in logic.

Have you ever checked Konrath's famous Bedtime Story article against the Wikipedia article about him? I did, because so many of the details seemed unaccountably odd to me, and so few of them were checkable in their own right.

Do you know who wrote the Wikipedia article?

I do. It was the guy who formats my ebooks, Rob Siders. He came to me one day and said, "I'm going to do a Wiki page for you." And I said, "Cool. Thanks."

It's a very basic overview of my career, but you're looking at it a bit too hard.

So: Konrath writes nine novels that don't sell, then sells the tenth for $33,000, which is pretty good for a first novel, and quite a breakthrough for him. In the bedtime story version, that's the only book he sells to his first publisher. He busts ass promoting it, and it sells okay, but it doesn't sell enough copies to make his publisher happy, so they dump him.

I have trouble bringing that picture into focus in my head.

You could have read my many blog posts about this, or asked me to get the answer.

Hyperion dropped their entire mystery/thriller line, and all of their mystery/thriller authors. I was one of several. As a result, my last three books in the contract got no marketing or advertising support. Though two of them, Dirty Martini and Cherry Bomb, had second hardcover printings.

For the record, all six of my Hyperion books are still in print, and I've earned out the $265,000 advance for them and get very nice royalty checks. But they still dropped me.

A first novel means extra work for the publishing house. If you really believe in an author -- and $33,000 is a healthy amount of belief -- you want to continue publishing them, building audience and public awareness with each successive book. A first novel is unlikely to be terribly profitable all by itself. What you're aiming for is profitable sales levels on later books, and new readers going back to pick up that first novel they missed when it came out.

No, I don't think so. Those are weird numbers. That's a weird story.

Every publishing story is a weird story. Get used to it.

Might also be worth mentioning that Hyperion has world rights for that series, and has sold them to eight other countries. That also accounted for a nice chunk of change.

Again, you could have asked.

First novels don't have to sell all that many copies to achieve satisfactory sales levels. Profitability on the first book is not what it's all about. If Konrath's sales figures were the reason his publisher dropped him, his book didn't "sell well." It sold abysmally, and there were probably other problems.

Whiskey Sour has earned me over $65k, and it's still selling. As are all of my books.

The part about all the touring in support of the book is equally weird. That was a lot of traveling. It was expensive and time-consuming. It was also remarkably unsuccessful, given that Konrath says he hit at least 1,400 - 1,500 venues, and he still didn't sell enough copies to roll up respectable sales numbers for a first novel. At that rate, he's spending more money traveling than his readers are paying at the register for his book.

I take back my earlier comment about you spending a lot of time looking at this topic. Your research sucks.

I've visited about 1200 bookstores in my career. That spanned eight years. Nowhere did I ever use the number 1500, or say that was all for the first book. If you know my story, you'll know my publisher refused to tour me for my first novel.

On my website there's a For Writers page. You can download my Newbie's Guide to Publishing ebook, for free. It has a long autobiographical section about the early part of my career, including all the touring I did.

And I didn't pay for my tours. My publishers did.


This led me to wonder whether he should have been putting more of that time into writing the second novel. On the other hand:

Doesn't sound like it took long to sell it, and he got another nice advance for a first-time author, so the second book can't have been all that bad. The story's getting odder and odder.

Actually, your research is getting shoddier and shoddier.

I had two 3-book deals with Hyperion.

I don't think that's his third published novel he's talking about. I think it's his fifth, Fuzzy Navel, which was the last one published by Hyperion. Konrath's novels always get dinged a little bit by reviewers for their cliches and implausibility. However, if you look at the one-star and two-star reviews on Amazon, what you see are readers who liked the earlier books just fine, but are complaining that this book is a complete dud: no plot, no characterization, no real ending; just the same damned things happening over and over again.

Way to cherry pick a few reviews to make a half-assed point.

BTW--Fuzzy Navel was my fifth book, not my last. It purposely ended on a cliffhanger, which annoyed some people. And yet it has 72 Amazon reviews and an average of 4 stars.

Cherry Bomb was the last book I did for Hyperion.

That makes sense to me. After four successful books, Konrath's editor wouldn't start demanding pointless and arbitrary changes. I can easily believe that Fuzzy Navel needed a major rewrite, because it still needs one today.

Something needs a rewrite, but it isn't Fuzzy Navel. It's your poorly done post here. Just sayin'.

Why the sudden drop in quality? I don't know. I do have one theory: Konrath started putting a huge amount of effort into promoting his books. It has to have cut into his writing time. Here's Wikipedia's description of it:

Note, by the way, that Konrath's self-promotion jag started the year his third novel came out. The sales, marketing, and promotion that laid the foundation for his career was done by Hyperion.

Heh heh. First of all, there's not drop in quality. Have you read all 40 of my titles? You're assuming a drop because of some 1 star reviews? You do know that every author gets 1 star reviews, right? I'd say averages are a better indication. Out of 40 titles, and over a thousand reviews, I'm averaging 4 stars. Including on recent books.

Second, you seem to know a lot about the sales, marketing, and promotion that Hyperion did for me.

Oh, wait. You don't.

I was toured twice, for six books. I got no advertising for the last three, minimal advertising for the first three, and no coop for any of them. They had a booklaunch party for me at BEA.

That was what they did for me.

I visited 1200 bookstores, sent 7000 letters to bookstores and libraries, spoke at over a hundred book fairs, libraries, and conferences, went to 41 states, and began a blog that now gets several million hits a year. I was one of the first people to do a successful blog tour. All on my own.

So, let's see, who did more for my career, me or my publishers?

That would be me.

Back to the bedtime story:

Even if I hadn't checked Wikipedia, at this point I'd have known the story wasn't accurate. If his first novel earned out its $33,000 advance, no way would his publisher have dropped him for having inadequate sales.

His advances weren't keeping up with his expectations. Dog bites man. Film at eleven. Et cetera.

I hope you're feeling rather silly by this point. To repeat, my publisher dropped me right after I signed my second 3 book deal with them, because they dropped their mystery line. So my last three books were pretty much put out there with no support other than what I did on my own.

Nice big advances. Attractive unified-format packaging on his series. Miscellaneous evidence I won't go into that to me says "well-published books, well-published author."

As for his editor asking for rewrites, assuming that's what really happened? That's not mistreatment. The easiest thing to do with a bad book delivered under contract is to throw it into production and forget about it. It'll be bad, the readers will be unhappy, and the author's reputation will take a permanent hit, but it'll be the least amount of trouble for the in-house staff. Actually editing the book is a lot more work and bother.

Wow. More poor research on your part.

Look at my novel Trapped on Amazon. It has 148 reviews, a 4 star average. I've sold about 50,000 copies of it.

I wrote this book as the second of a two book deal with Hachette. My editor wanted major changes. I made those changes. She still rejected it.

The version of Trapped I self-pubbed has both versions in it. Fans are divided over which they prefer.

So I wrote a third book for Hachette (the third in a two book deal) called Endurance. Look it up on Amazon. It has 145 reviews and a 4 star average.

Again my editor wanted changes. I wasn't playing that game again, so I told her no way and pulled the book. It too has sold about 50,000 copies That's $200k I've made on Trapped and Endurance in 15 months.

BTW, the contract with Hachette was for $20k a book. They were foolish not to publish Trapped, and foolish to insist on edits with Endurance. They lost a whole lot of money.

False, misleading, and disingenuous. When Konrath started self-publishing, he already had a readership and a reputation because his publisher had put a lot of work into building them. If he'd started from scratch, he wouldn't have more than a fraction of whatever readership he enjoys today. He might still have mailed out 7,000 letters to libraries and bookstores -- self-published authors do that sort of thing all the time -- but few of the recipients would have been interested, because he wouldn't have had Hyperion to give him credibility.

More really bad research and lousy conclusions on your part.

My self-pub books outsell my traditionally published ebooks 20 to 1. People are reading my print backlist because my self-pubbed stuff leads them to it, not vice-versa.

I'm selling well because of good covers, low price point, and fun reads. Not because of any so-called readership I had in print. There have been quite a few successful ebook authors who have followed my example and had huge sales without any former print deals.

It's not about the name. If "Konrath" is popular because of his huge readership, why is my pen name more popular? If you read my blog, you'd know that.

I will now skip over a bunch of Konrath's alleged sales figures.

With those "alleged" screen shots of my "alleged" Kindle numbers that I posted regularly on my blog. LMAO.

At best, you're a misguided fool who did lousy research.

At worst, you're a complete idiot with some agenda.

Either way, you got it all wrong.

Tentative translation: "I've made a hash of my career, and I think you should do the same."

I've made about $300k from the 8 novels I published with Hyperion, Hatchette, and Berkley, since 2002.

I've also made $300k in the last 8 months, by self-publishing. By the end of the year I'll break $400k.

Do I think other people should self-publish?

Of course.
 
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MacAllister

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At best, you're a misguided fool who did lousy research.

At worst, you're a complete idiot with some agenda.

Hapisofi is a grownup, a publishing-industry professional, and can certainly take care of herself.

But this is my house, Joe, and you're not going to call people names here -- I really don't care how provoked you feel.

Take a week off and think about whether or not you care to continue your participation on AW, okay? Certainly you've a huge audience on your own blog, clamoring for your attention and self-publishing advice -- I'm sure we can muddle through without you, if need be.
 
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mscelina

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I almost hate to mention this, but the star averages on Amazon are about as reliable as the weight I give the DMV to go on my driver's license. What's 20 lbs more or less? And, of course, when one is the leader of the Greek chorus, it's fairly easy to run those reviews up. Content farmers do it all the time, to mask the sincere and very serious 1 star ratings people gave their "book."

Just sayin'...

My guess overall, though, would be that a writer who uses terms like "stupid" or "foolish" or "sucks" in reference to a fellow professional in the industry is probably better off self-publishing. *shrug* Just a guess.
 

tim290280

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I almost hate to mention this, but the star averages on Amazon are about as reliable as the weight I give the DMV to go on my driver's license. What's 20 lbs more or less? And, of course, when one is the leader of the Greek chorus, it's fairly easy to run those reviews up. Content farmers do it all the time, to mask the sincere and very serious 1 star ratings people gave their "book."
I disagree.

Average review is likely to be more representative. When I'm choosing a title to read I usually inspect the outliers and the middle reviews. The low reviews can usually be classed as either stupid reviewers (this book has words in it, I don't like words) or people who honestly hated the book. High reviews can usually be classed as being turned on by tap water or they really enjoyed the book.

For example, I have seen reviews that complain about constant use of poor spelling. This was an American reader complaining about an Australian author's correct use of English. I have also seen 5 star reviews by people who haven't even read the book. It is safe to reject both of these ratings and look at the average, as Konrath suggested.
 

kaitie

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I've had mixed experiences with star ratings. I've seen a lot that, to me, clearly read as something likely written by someone the author knew. I'm not sure if the average person would think the same (I tend to be a little hyper-analytic about things), but to me they come across that way. Similarly, product reviews that look like they were paid. I've not heard one way or the other but I swear this happens. It has to. I've seen too many cases of "wow this product is the greatest thing ever!" followed by "This is a piece of garbage" to suspect otherwise.

I've seen some books where people intentionally give it low ratings for an arbitrary reason (price point, annoyed with author, etc) without having ever read the book. I've read books that I bought because they had high star ratings and I absolutely despised the book (only to discover after that the few one-star ratings were the ones I agreed with).

When it comes to looking up books, though, I rarely read the reviews anymore because I've found that for the most part they're unhelpful. I only check them when it's something I'm really uncertain about and I need something to push me one way or the other. So much of reading is subjective that it's just hard to use them a lot of the time (unless it is pretty much overwhelmingly negative).

Self-published books are a little different in terms of ratings because I obviously would pay attention and look for things like "needs an editor" or what not, or if all the reviews are five-star by friends and family or something I'd avoid it. But even then it's iffy because I've read reviews for some very popular self-published works and seen "Wow this book needs an editor it's filled with mistakes," etc., so obviously it can't really be that bad.
 

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I'd say Konrath's success speaks to the fact that he clearly writes books that are read, and enjoyed by many people. I'm glad he was able to come in and set the record straight.

One can hardly blame him for getting his back up. He is a member on this board, so it would have been simple doing for someone to PM him and see if he would have been willing to come to the thread to answer questions, rather than speculating.
 

BenPanced

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I almost hate to mention this, but the star averages on Amazon are about as reliable as the weight I give the DMV to go on my driver's license. What's 20 lbs more or less? And, of course, when one is the leader of the Greek chorus, it's fairly easy to run those reviews up. Content farmers do it all the time, to mask the sincere and very serious 1 star ratings people gave their "book."

Just sayin'...

My guess overall, though, would be that a writer who uses terms like "stupid" or "foolish" or "sucks" in reference to a fellow professional in the industry is probably better off self-publishing. *shrug* Just a guess.

I disagree.

Average review is likely to be more representative. When I'm choosing a title to read I usually inspect the outliers and the middle reviews. The low reviews can usually be classed as either stupid reviewers (this book has words in it, I don't like words) or people who honestly hated the book. High reviews can usually be classed as being turned on by tap water or they really enjoyed the book.

For example, I have seen reviews that complain about constant use of poor spelling. This was an American reader complaining about an Australian author's correct use of English. I have also seen 5 star reviews by people who haven't even read the book. It is safe to reject both of these ratings and look at the average, as Konrath suggested.
But if most of the sample can't be relied upon as valid since it's so easy to game the system, how can the average be reliable? I would think the average would be just as invalid and unreliable since it's derived from inaccurate data.
 
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