What I Love About Self-Publishing

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valeriec80

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Am a self-pubber, not one of the people you mentioned, however, I thought I'd answer your questions:

1. How long have you been self-publishing?

About two years

2. Do you think self-publishing is right for every unpublished writer?

Nope. I think that's a decision writers should make for themselves.

2. What company do you use?

I have used Createspace for print books, but I am all ebook now. So only four of my books are also in print. The others are only available electronically. For me, print was not cost-effective. It cost too much money and time and made me very little. The books are still up, and occasionally I get a little money from them, but it's rare.

3. Do you use an ouside source to do your initial editing, and if so, how much do you pay for same? If you have illiustraions, how do handle same?

Honestly, I crowdsource editing. I'm lucky enough now to have some pretty talented fans and some other fellow indie authors. So I have a convoy of beta readers.

However, I'm starting to make a bit of money these days, so I may actually be able to afford an editor.

4. Besides being listed on Amazon, what else have you successfully done to promte and help maket your book?

Reviews, facebook, twitter, blogging, etc. Also, writing more books.

5. To date how many orders have you received (over how many months?)

I really don't know. I don't keep track, exactly. Judging from my Smashwords numbers, and adding up my Kindle totals for a blog post for another indie author, I'm guessing it's around 700-800.

6. To date how much money have you made or lost?

I've never lost money. My first year sucked because I only made $182. (I actually grossed more my first year, but the cost of putting out print books sucked up all my profits.) My second year was better, but I grossed less. My profit was $432. This year is the awesome year. Thus far, I've made $1050...but that's all gross. (Still it's more gross than I've made any other year, and it's only April!) I haven't figured out my costs for this year. My April sales on Kindle are on track to top my March sales. Every month I'm making more, so I hope it continues.

I also haven't ruled out trad publishing. Every time I finish a book, I run it through the query go round for about six months before I self-pub it. (The exceptions are books in a series, or books that clearly have no trad market, like 65,000 word books about 20-year-olds.) I'm not dumb enough to think that a trad deal wouldn't help increase my exposure, if I could get them to publish it under the same name I self-publish.

Additionally, I write erotic romance under another name. I have one novella out, which makes me less than $10 a month. I figure that name needs more books before it will be very lucrative, but I'm torn between pursuing an ebook publisher (like Samhain or Loose ID) for my romantic erotica and self-publishing it. EDIT: To be clear, the novella is published by Cobblestone Press, not me.

Honestly, I feel like everyone keeps treating self-publishing and traditionally publishing like they are mutually exclusive. You really only have to freak about it so much if you only plan on writing one book. I don't see any reason why you can't self-publish some books and not self-publish others. (You, of course, might have to do it under different names if your self-pubbing numbers are abysmal and the publisher doesn't want to associate the work they're publishing with the self-publishing name.)
 
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FocusOnEnergy

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I'll take a swing at the pinata...

1. How long have you been self-publishing?

This will be my first time. My (nonfiction) book is currently going through a highly technical read by three beta readers who take no prisoners.

2. Do you think self-publishing is right for every unpublished writer?

Absolutely not. In fact, I think that most writers will find it is not a good fit for them. It requires either a lot of money, or a lot of skills. And, they need to not have expectations of getting rich quick, that's never a good reason to do anything, unless you like to fail hard, that is.

2. What company do you use?

Createspace for the POD edition. I also plan to use Smashwords for the digital edition. In addition, I have a couple of bulk orders pending that will be fulfilled by a local printing company.

3. Do you use an ouside source to do your initial editing, and if so, how much do you pay for same? If you have illiustrations, how do handle same?

Editorial guidance is coming from the technical betas, one of whom has already provided considerable assistance in the overall narrative.

I have the skillset to do the cover art using my own photographs, and there are no illustrations other than that.

4. Besides being listed on Amazon, what else have you successfully done to promote and help market your book?

Fortunately, my book was written for a local market and I'm using my popular local blog, facebook, and plenty of word of mouth to generate demand for it, which appears to be working.

5. To date how many orders have you received (over how many months?)

It's not even released yet and I've received one bulk order for 6,000 copies and another for 600.

6. To date how much money have you made or lost

Book is not released yet, so unable to determine either.

Focus
 

kurzon

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A thread with three posts on-topic about what people love about self-publishing and how they got started, then derail. Inevitable.

To post on-topic, I got started because I submitted for a long time, until the negativity of the process outweighed the benefits for me personally. I like the control over my own books, my covers, the lessening of negativity, and reading people's responses to my books. I'm not yet into profit (not surprising given I started out completely unknown), but from the slow uptick of sales I'm on track to do so within my initial three-year time frame.
 
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FocusOnEnergy

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A thread with three posts on-topic about what people love about self-publishing and how they got started, then derail. Inevitable.

What I love about self-publishing is that it's all about choices. Making your own choices and deciding what is best for you and your book.

It's not for everyone, but it was my choice that it be for me.

What I love best is that the timeline is compressed, which because my own book is time-sensitive, is the main reason I chose that direction. As long as the oil spill is still on the front page of the local paper (as it was today), I'm still good, but two years from now...it will be history and not news. Self-publishing allows me to strike while the iron is hot.

What I don't like about self-publishing is that the topic is such a battleground. People arguing over numbers and the semantics of terminology, while perpetuating stereotypes.

Focus
 

scope

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Yes, and I mistakingly thought you would make the differentiation

I'm sorry but I have no idea what you're talking about.

It was a pretty simple question: How long have you been self-publishing? In your case your answer should have been something like "I have't yet begun to SP."

*******************************************

I'm still working on my book. But, when it's ready, I will self-publish instead of trying to find an agent. (Please notice the 'when it's ready' part.)

I assume you are saying that the books of most people who self-publish are not ready when they do so.

You know what they say about 'assume', don't you?
I'm perfectly capable of saying exactly what I mean. Please don't read more into it than what's there.

Then why not tell us exactly what you are implying?

*******************************************

What company do I use? To do what? Please be a little more specific.

To self-publish your book, which doesn't apply to you. But who have you researched and who are you considering?

I'll probably do it myself (with the possible exception of the cover).

Can you explain how?
*************************************
I disagree that 'all writers need that objectve (sic)', (i.e. an editor to look for 'mis-spellings, grammar problems, etc.').

I don't.

I've been in the publishing business for 40 years and this is the first time I heard anyone make such a statement.
 

scope

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Valerie and Focus:

Thanks for your candid, to the point replies.
 

zpeteman

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You didn't ask me specifically but . . .

1. How long have you been self-publishing?

About two years.

2. Do you think self-publishing is right for every unpublished writer?

Absolutely not. I'd say it's a good idea for about 1% of them.

2. What company do you use?

I don't use a company in the sense that you are asking. I personally contract all the work that needs to be done.

3. Do you use an ouside source to do your initial editing, and if so, how much do you pay for same? If you have illiustraions, how do handle same?

Yes, my work goes through professional editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders (at least two rounds at each level - and it's never enough, imo). I spend about $1500.00 per book on editorial work.

I don't have illustrations in my books (except for the cover). Cover work is commissioned and I work closely with a local artist to develop the design.

4. Besides being listed on Amazon, what else have you successfully done to promte and help maket your book?

Distribution through Ingram and several library services, direct distribution to several indie bookstores across the country, ad space in some online magazines and industry newsletters, lots of reviews, interviews, and other little ways to generate word of mouth. Without a doubt, word of mouth is the most effective marketing.

5. To date how many orders have you received (over how many months?)

Physical books: around 3500
E-books: not sure, I've never added it up, but several thousand.

6. To date how much money have you made or lost?

I certainly haven't lost any money, but if you do the math on 3500 books you can figure it out. About half are direct sales so that nets about a $10 profit, anything distributed nets about a $4 profit.
 

BarbaraKE

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A thread with three posts on-topic about what people love about self-publishing and how they got started, then derail. Inevitable.

Kurzon, you're right. And I apologize for letting myself veer off topic. (It happens all too easily. :) )

Getting back on topic...

I also like the control an author retains with self-publishing.
 

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Is it my imagination, or is there a bit of snippiness to this thread?

To answer the original posters question. I have now self-published 1 children's book and 2 Spanish learning audiobooks.

In terms of the decision, I use the analogy of a woman who approaches the age of 40 still very single who wants to be a mother. She knows the many advantages of having two parents, BUT..... it just isn't happening for her. So after careful consideration of the impact to her life, she decides to be a single parent.

I had been writing for children for several years and had a lot of positive feedback from editors, but I was never getting a match, a publisher that wanted to publish what I sent them (and yes, I pored over all the publishing house info, joined SCBWI, etc).

You know when I REALLY decided to self-publish? I attended a first pages conference. The concept was that you could submit the first page of your manuscript. A conference organizer would randomly select from the pages selected. The conference person read your first page out loud and then 3 editors said if that first page was submitted to her would they read any further, why or why not.

Mine was selected. Two sentences into it the audience laughed, really laughed. A little later, another round of chuckles. OMG!!! To use the overused quote, "they liked me. They REALLY liked me." I had not thought my story was laugh-out-loud funny. But the sound of my words making people laugh was electrifying.

They finished reading my page and the editors were favorable, though not as favorable as the audience reaction. Still, surely if I sent it to the editor whose needs most closely matched the genre and reminded them of the positive audience response, SURELY this would get published, right?

No.... long-story short, despite the personal cover letter, despite the audience reaction, a form rejection MONTHS and MONTHS later.

And I knew it was time for me to either
1) quit writing
2) go directly to the readers instead

My story that made the audience laugh (out loud) was/is

Poster Girl

Did I have it professionally edited? Yes

Professionally illustrated and printed? Yes

How much have I spent? A lot more than I've made -- I don't know the exact number. Here is the thing though. I've gotten a lot out of publishing that book other than $.

People will bemoan the old days when editors used to sign promising young authors and not worry if their first book or two lost money. If the writer had talent and was signed with their house, they figured it was an investment that would pay off. Similarly, my investment in my writing career through self-publishing will eventually outearn the financial investment (even when I include my own time).

The details of that story are too long to include here.

Best of luck to everyone in reaching their writing and publishing goals, whichever route you take. There is more than one path through the woods that comes out on the other side you know.
 

scope

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zpeteman,

Thanks for the info. You seem to have you stuff together.
 

TrickyFiction

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A thread with three posts on-topic about what people love about self-publishing and how they got started, then derail. Inevitable.

:( Sorry about that. I just HAD to know, you know? Curiosity got the best of me. But I will post on-topic now.

What I like about self-publishing is that it gives more power to the readers themselves. Readers aren't told what they like and don't like by people who get paid to figure it out. Instead, writers ask by writing the books, and the readers answer by what they choose to read. It seems a far simpler relationship to me.
 

Old Hack

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Is it my imagination, or is there a bit of snippiness to this thread?

No, it's not your imagination.

Uh, did you actually *read* my post?

Yes, and I mistakingly thought you would make the differentiation

I'm sorry but I have no idea what you're talking about.

Barbara. I assume you've read the newbie guide, and know about the whole Respect Your Fellow Writer thing that we have going here. You're perilously close to breaking that rule. Watch your tone.

I disagree that 'all writers need that objectve (sic)', (i.e. an editor to look for 'mis-spellings, grammar problems, etc.').

I don't.

Yes you do.
 

shadowwalker

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You bring up a very good point. I never considered all the time spent researching agents and composing query letters.

How does that compare to the time spent promoting? Not being facetious, but seriously - is the time spent on this equal, greater or less? My instinct says that researching agents and composing query letters would not take as much time overall, but perhaps I'm wrong.
 

BarbaraKE

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Barbara. I assume you've read the newbie guide, and know about the whole Respect Your Fellow Writer thing that we have going here. You're perilously close to breaking that rule. Watch your tone.

My apologies if my statement came across as 'snippy'. My original post made it clear that I am in the process of writing my book, yet I was asked (by name) to answer questions regarding my self-publishing experience.
 

Old Hack

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How does that compare to the time spent promoting? Not being facetious, but seriously - is the time spent on this equal, greater or less? My instinct says that researching agents and composing query letters would not take as much time overall, but perhaps I'm wrong.

Also, you don't have to continue searching for an agent once you've got one: whereas if you self publish, that work continues. The two can't really be compared at this level.
 

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My apologies if my statement came across as 'snippy'. My original post made it clear that I am in the process of writing my book, yet I was asked (by name) to answer questions regarding my self-publishing experience.

You're right, you were. But there was no need for you to respond in the way you did, and an apology which goes "I'm sorry, but..." isn't a very good one.

Now: back on topic, please.
 

kurzon

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My apologies if my statement came across as 'snippy'. My original post made it clear that I am in the process of writing my book, yet I was asked (by name) to answer questions regarding my self-publishing experience.

Don't worry BarbaraKE - your responses read as quite unexceptional to me. The predictable snark at your typo, and the urgent need to "correct misinformation", is the usual tone of this forum. The forum rules are to be polite to and about other writers, and it's best just to strive for that in your own communication, rather than get caught up defending yourself from what at times feels like overt hostility.
 
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Old Hack

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Don't worry BarbaraKE - your responses read as quite unexceptional to me. The predictable snark at your typo, and the urgent need to "correct misinformation", is the usual tone of this forum.

Kurzon: where did anyone snark at any of Barbara's typos? I'd like a link, please. Because I've not been able to find it here. Yes, we do try to correct misinformation because otherwise writers will be misled; and if you don't like the tone here, there's no need for you to stay.

As for whether or not Barbara's comments read as snippy to you: they did to me, and I'm the moderator for this forum. If you have problems with the way I run things then the best way for you to go with that is to tell me so in a PM, or let Mac know of your concerns. Prolonging a negative discussion like this is not constructive.

The forum rules are to be polite to and about other writers, and it's best just to strive for that in your own communication, rather than get caught up defending yourself from what at times feels like overt hostility.

I'm glad you know the rules: I was beginning to wonder. If you consider any of the posts here to be hostile, whether overtly or covertly, then I encourage you to use the "report post" feature which will bring it to the mods' attention.
 

BySharonNelson

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2. To me its not about seeing my book in a book store its about getting my book to people who will enjoy it.

To accomplish this what have you done or plan to do to promote and market your book (beyond Amazon, B&N.com, and Smashwords)? And we course can't family and friends.



2. What company do you use?
I do not use a company for any aspects of publishing.

I am referring to a company you might be using to print your book in paper or e-book format

3. Do you use an ouside source to do your initial editing, and if so, how much do you pay for same? If you have illiustraions, how do handle same?

I happen to have a friend who is an editor and she has been tremendously helpful. (I'm sure she has been. But is she a professional book editor?)

There are probably still mistakes in my book but that is true of almost every published work I have ever read.
This I don't get. How can you knowingly accept mistakes? As far as Im concerned it has nothing to do with other books.

Cover art is all done by me which is something that causes me more headaches and stress than I care to think of at the moment.

This doesn't sound too good. Writing is hard enough.

4. Besides being listed on Amazon, what else have you successfully done to promote and help maket your book?

My book is available on Amazon, BN.com, and Smashwords as well as all of the companies they distribute to. The most effective thing I have done so far is to find blogs that will review my books.

I think it's fine to use blogs, but I don't think they or Twitter or Facebook, generate very many sales. What more could you do?

5. To date how many orders have you received (over how many months?)
In the month and a half or so since publishing my books I have sold aprox. 50 copies overall. I had a giveaway for two weeks in march where I gave away a few copies. Sales have been fairly steadily rising for the last week so I hope that is a good sign.

I hope so. I imagine--hope not--that some of these 50 went to famly and friends.

6. To date how much money have you made or lost?
I have not lost anything at all as I do not pay for any publishing services. I have made probably 30 or 35 dollars.

You don't pay for any publishing services? Could you please expound upon this?

[/QUOTE

ss

I began to answer your questions but then saw that most of them were already answered in my previous answers. I had debated answering your questions at all in the first place because it seemed as if perhaps you were being a bit snarkey. This thread was started by someone who is embarking on self publishing and wanted to share their experience and has turned into something entirely different. I know that there are those who think self pubbing is not a valid form of publishing but that opinion is not shared by everyone. I may be reading the situation entirely wrong but I don't want to answer questions that are being asked to prove a point. If you have a point just make it.

In reply to the comments about how much time we spend on our writing, publishing etc. I think it is all relative. We spend hundreds of hours on things that we love without any expected return on our time investment. So if I love writing why should I not expend the energy on it? When I was querying work to publishers and agents I spent almost as much time as I do now working on queries, doing rewrites for agents and publishing houses, researching places to send my books too. The list is endless but the bottom line is simple; not everything is about money, some things are about love.
 

scope

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Frankly, I am overwhelmed by what I perceive to be a defensive, snarkey attitude from most who have been kind enough to answer my questions. Am I trying to be snarkey? Absoltely not. I have been in the traditional publishing business for many, many years, but when it comes to self-publishing, I know very little. Nevertheless, I have a completed manuscript for a niche market and I am thinking about self-publishing it rather than go the trafitional route. So, the reason I began this thread was to get some ideas and feedback about self-publishing from those who may have already done so or are in the midst of doing so. Unfortunately, with an exception here and there, I've found most replies to be vague, defensive, and/or snarkey, like I have someting up my sleeve. I really don't undestand why.
 
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AW Admin

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Don't worry BarbaraKE - your responses read as quite unexceptional to me. The predictable snark at your typo, and the urgent need to "correct misinformation", is the usual tone of this forum. The forum rules are to be polite to and about other writers, and it's best just to strive for that in your own communication, rather than get caught up defending yourself from what at times feels like overt hostility.

Kurzon

When a Moderator or a Supermoderator offers a courteous correction in a thread, and I pop in while having my morning tea and see arrogant dismissal of a member who has many years experience in publishing and knows quite a lot about self-publishing and how to successfully make it work--it makes me cranky.

You will be courteous to all our members--including moderators.

If this forum's tone is emotionally traumatizing you I'm perfectly willing to help you find an exit--because having looked at your less-than-charming post history, I think you're part of the reason the emotional tenor of this thread is not what AW generally likes to foster.
 
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valeriec80

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Ah...AW Self-pub forum. How I used to love you.

Scope: I too assumed that your questions would later be used to fuel an argument against self-publishing. If that was not your intention, then the only reason I can think of that it came across that way is that there's an air of defensiveness around these parts lately, because...well, I'm not sure why. But it's not pretty.

Kurzon, I sympathize. Mods--maybe I'm way off base, but the impression I'm getting from the way that you step into discussions is that you guys are more than willing to tell anyone who is open about the fact that they self-publish to "tone it down," but not so willing to do that to those who traditionally publish. Now, It's possible that I'm being overly sensitive. After all, in a different thread, I was "rebuked" for comments I made, when the person who I had commented in response to was not, and I felt the tenor of both posts was equally..."snippy." So, maybe I'm not viewing the situation objectively. I will say that every time I've interacted with Kurzon on this forum, I've found her to be courteous and informative. So, I don't honestly think you're being fair, but, well, it ain't my forum.

I'm going to be taking an extended AW break. I thought things had calmed down when I joined in this discussion, but they clearly haven't. For other self-publishers (especially of ebooks) who may be looking for a place where you can celebrate your victories, discuss your strategies, and try to figure out how to better navigate the current climate of self-pubbing without frequently having to defend your decision, I would suggest the Kindle Boards Writer's Cafe. People are happy there. And when they aren't happy, other people are supportive. I'm not saying there isn't value in the kind of debating that's going on here currently, but it's not valuable to me at the point in time I'm at in my career.

I'll be exiting, then, at least for awhile.

Thanks everyone on this forum who I've talked with over the past two years for all your help and advice. You have been wonderful.

Oh, yeah, and zpeteman has it goin' on. :)
 

BySharonNelson

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Scope, I apologize for any misunderstanding I know its sometimes hard to understand people's meanings in text :) I am happy to answer your questions. :)
2. To me its not about seeing my book in a book store its about getting my book to people who will enjoy it.

To accomplish this what have you done or plan to do to promote and market your book (beyond Amazon, B&N.com, and Smashwords)? And we course can't family and friends.

So far I am relying mostly on social networking and reviews. I have several review blogs that are going to be reviewing my book in the next few weeks which I think will help. I am looking in to other marketing methods but I hesitate to pay for them until I am making at least a little money. :) I also want to make sure that I am paying for methods that are effective.

2. What company do you use?
I do not use a company for any aspects of publishing.

I am referring to a company you might be using to print your book in paper or e-book format

I do not have my books out in print yet. I am considering doing it once I have some followers but at this point my fan base is about the size of a penny :)

3. Do you use an ouside source to do your initial editing, and if so, how much do you pay for same? If you have illiustraions, how do handle same?

I happen to have a friend who is an editor and she has been tremendously helpful. (I'm sure she has been. But is she a professional book editor?)

She is a professional editor.

There are probably still mistakes in my book but that is true of almost every published work I have ever read.
This I don't get. How can you knowingly accept mistakes? As far as Im concerned it has nothing to do with other books.

I do not knowingly accept mistakes. If I find a mistake I correct it. My book was read by 2 editors and 3 betas at least twice each plus the at least 5 times I read it myself. But each time I read it I find little mistakes. Nothing major just little typos but in an 80,000 word book as far as I'm concerned that is unavoidable.

Cover art is all done by me which is something that causes me more headaches and stress than I care to think of at the moment.

This doesn't sound too good. Writing is hard enough.

LOL I thought writing was the hardest thing until I went to design my first cover. I went through countless designs before I settled on one and I still have doubts. The cover of your book is SOOOO important as it is the first thing people see and the first impression they get. I may at some point in the future have the covers professionally done but at this point the extra cost is not something I want. It is planned as a 5 to 6 book series so perhaps when I get further along I will get covers for them.

4. Besides being listed on Amazon, what else have you successfully done to promote and help maket your book?

My book is available on Amazon, BN.com, and Smashwords as well as all of the companies they distribute to. The most effective thing I have done so far is to find blogs that will review my books.

I think it's fine to use blogs, but I don't think they or Twitter or Facebook, generate very many sales. What more could you do?

Each thing alone would not generate very many sales but its all about word of mouth IMHO and ever little bit helps. If you get out and talk to people who are in your genre or even just other indie authors it is a great opportunity to learn and get your book and your name out there. When you first start out there are so many stumbling blocks that you have no idea about and peer support is priceless. With just Twitter, FB and Blog networking I am at about 1 to 2 sales a day. Its not an astronomical number but I am hoping that it is something I can build on. When review blogs start posting reviews I hope that will help even more. It is difficult to get blogs to review your books as they are often very very busy and it takes time. Some are very selective about what they take and others don't take e books period.

5. To date how many orders have you received (over how many months?)
In the month and a half or so since publishing my books I have sold aprox. 50 copies overall. I had a giveaway for two weeks in march where I gave away a few copies. Sales have been fairly steadily rising for the last week so I hope that is a good sign.

I hope so. I imagine--hope not--that some of these 50 went to famly and friends.

Only one copy in those sales was to family. My sister insisted on being the first person to buy my book but other than that I have given free copies to all of my other friends and family. As I write romance most of the people I know who read romance are my betas so they already had copies :)

6. To date how much money have you made or lost?
I have not lost anything at all as I do not pay for any publishing services. I have made probably 30 or 35 dollars.

You don't pay for any publishing services? Could you please expound upon this?

I only publish on e reader and posting to Amazon, BN and Smashwords is all free. I don't pay for an editor or for cover art so I have no publishing overhead. Does that answer the question? :)

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Again I am sorry for any misunderstanding. :) feel free to ask any other questions. :)
 

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BySharonNelson,

Thanks for your kind words and the incisive answers to my questions. So far, from the replies received, it's seems to me that the biggest problem with SP lies in the areas of promotion, marketing, and visibility, in order for the writer to obtain a significant number of sales and realize a decent profit. That seems to be an endemic problem with SP and perhaps therein might lie the rub between those who want to go the traditional route and those who believe in SP. I don't know, but if one is in this business to make a full-time living from writing (like I've always been) I can see it being a real problem. Without the proper funding, knowledge of how to use the money, and the proper connections, I can see SP being a hugh headache.
 
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