1. SicilianDragon
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    SicilianDragon New Member

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    Can you expect to make a profit by self-publishing an ebook?

    Discussion in 'Electronic Publishing' started by SicilianDragon, Sep 2, 2013.

    I'm considering taking a break from my main novel, and self-publishing a middle-grade level book in ebook/kindle format. I know this would be quicker, and if I could pull it off, it would be a good source of side income.

    However, I do not have any "online presence" to speak of--no blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I frequently hear that this is necessary for "promoting" an ebook. My idea is somewhat random, so it would be difficult to find a marketing technique.

    Nevertheless, I have also looked at e-book sites that allow you to self publish, particularly NOOK (the Barnes and Noble affiliate). Marketing is not necessary to publish on them, and they advertise that they put your book "on the market" immediately. Still, there is not much detail given on how your new book is advertised, how likely it will come up under searches, etc.

    So my question is: how realistic do you think this is? Can someone in my situation (no previous publications or networks) expect to succeed at this? Or should I just stick to the conventional way of publishing?
     
  2. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    Can you make a profit? Yes.

    I've mostly been self-publishing shorts, and they're all profitable (except the one I just released, which is still free on Amazon at the moment). But they're not very profitable, they were just about bringing in enough money to pay for my coffee bill, before the price of coffee went up in my day-job office.

    Most people I know who've been able to quit their day job had at least three or four novels out there first, and typically six or more.

    Should you? If you only ever plan to release one novel, it's probably a bad idea; odds are, it will sink into obscurity. If you plan on releasing a whole bunch, you may well do better than trying to become a mid-list trade published author.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    "Expect" may be the wrong word. Possible, hope to, positively think I will, those all work for me.

    My goal is simply to have people like what I'm writing and recommend someone else read it. I would be ecstatic.
     
  4. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Profit will depend entirely on how much you spend on it, and how much you value your time. What you can't expect is very much money, particularly if your plan is just 'put it online and hope people find it'.

    Don't get me wrong, it's possible it'll take off. But the odds are pretty slim you'll even get regular beer money, let alone pay the rent.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's not realistic. Don't self-publish unless you're also willing to promote and market your book yourself, and that will involve the internet and social networks. Much of the profit will come from ebooks, and if you're self-pubbing then that's the only low-cost (or free) way of doing it - how do you suppose you'd market your book without the internet? And who would let you advertise on their site, even if you had the money to pay them? So you have to revert to the free options, namely, blogs, Facebook, twitter, etc. You get the picture.

    If you're not ready or willing to break out of your comfort zone of having no blog and FB etc, then self-pubbing sounds like a terrible idea. Even WITH these platforms, self-pub authors make peanuts and still some of their books are never found (no one goes all the way to page 10 of their searches on Google or Amazon - well, very few anyway), so you can imagine how well you're gonna fare without such platforms.

    When someone "puts it on the market" it just means that it's available for purchase. That says nothing about promotion.

    Personally, judging from your post, I'd say wait for traditional publishing. Snag yourself an agent. You'll still need to promote your book yourself, but with a lot more help than you'll get through self-pubbing (which is zero help). The trad route is free, the self-pub route will eventually eat a hole through your wallet even if you were careful lol.
     
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  6. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I disagree. I do my own editing, formatting, promoting, etc. Putting out the first one cost me nothing but time. The following ones will be the same. All it required was a willingness to learn things besides writing. It's not so bad, or hard. Certainly I saw a profit much faster than many. First book hasn't sold much recently, but I've slacked on promoting while writing the others and I still, at the moment, only have the one out there.

    But it's not eating a hole in my wallet or anything else besides time.
     
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  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    trish...
    it would be extremely helpful to others to know:

    how much in total have you taken in from all of your self-published works and over what period of time?

    how much did you have to spend to get them 'out there'?

    what is the total net profit?

    how much does that work out to in re pay per hour for the time/effort you put into writing them?

    thanks in advance, maia
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Good questions. Occasionally, posters will say, as Trish has, that they have "done well" in self-publishing. I don't think I've ever seen actual numbers posted here. But the fact is that my definition of "doing well" will probably be different from the next person's - possibly higher numbers, possibly lower. Actual numbers would give someone considering the self-pub route a neutral means of deciding for themselves if it's worth the effort.
     
  9. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    My definition of 'doing well' would be living off the writing income and not needing a day job. I've met a couple of dozen self-publishers on the Internet who claim to be doing that now, and hadn't previously been trade published. Most seem to be writing romance, mysteries or erotica, or a mix of the three; SF, sadly, seems far less profitable.
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, you're right, it does not NEED to burn a hole in your wallet, but it easily could. A lot of self-pub authors invest in an editor or at least a proof-reader, others do not have the skill to create a book cover and do not know anyone else who could do it for free. Still others may struggle with formatting the book for e-publication and may look for paid help.

    And besides, the OP doesn't wanna use blogs or FB for promoting (in fact, it sounds like he doesn't wanna do any promoting period). So what other avenues are opened for him?

    His post says he's considering vanity press - that itself costs a bulk of money (hole in your wallet, starting to burn) - and if he doesn't use the free platforms and the internet, what's he gonna use? It's gonna have to be paid advertising (and the hole widens).

    The only way it won't burn a hole is, as you did it, do it all yourself - but that would mean putting it up yourself on Amazon or some other platform, without the help of a vanity press, which also means without any promotional help, which is the precise thing the OP wanted.

    Edit: apologies if my tone comes across as argumentative. It's not my intention to argue. You're right that self-pubbing could be done completely for free. But very often, people do end up paying.
     
  11. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Yes you can expect to make a profit. Just not a large one. However if you cut your costs down to nothing you have nothing to lose. But - and this is a very big but - it's a steep learning curve and you will need help.

    You will need an editor at the least - this can be a friend or family member if you trust their English skills and knowledge of what makes a good read. You'll need cover design. I do my own but many self pubbers do chose to hire someone on line - this can cost anywhere from a few hundred bucks up. You should have some sort of marketing plan - I freely confess I don't market at all but then in toto I've not yet cracked ten thousand paid sales.

    And most important of all - never publish a book until you are completely sure that it's at the absolute best it can be.

    Writing the book is actually the easy part.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  12. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I definitely agree with that, lol. (see bolded)
     
  13. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I'm sorry, I don't know why I didn't answer this.. I don't remember it at all, lol.

    I'm not going to say how much I've taken in, because I think that's personal. I am aware that it gives people license to say I'm lying or whatever, but that's not my problem. Certainly, I'm not getting rich from it, lol. But I am making some, and to me - that's a whole hell of a lot better than nothing.

    I spent nothing to get them out there, except time, as I already stated.

    I'll answer net profit per book - Currently 2.37 per book. I'm responsible for my own taxes at the end of the year.

    You're kidding, right? How does ANY authors hourly pay work out? It's such a subjective thing - I mean there are authors that spend years and years writing a book, then make (maybe) a thousand dollars on it. Do they want to figure out their wages? If that was the total goal, no one would ever choose to do this, lol. I mean sure, it MIGHT work, but that's a lot of time to use for something that isn't a sure thing. I write because I need to, any money I make is a bonus. That's how I feel about it. I'll try anyway...

    I keep a time-card of what I work on. I started the one that is currently out on March 5th, and finished it March 27th. It took me about another month to learn what I needed to self-pub - cover, formatting (the worst part is formatting, to me), etc. It was released April 17th. The ones I'm working on now are taking longer, but that's because I have a life, lol. Hadn't planned on them taking longer, but things get in the way. And I'm not really spending any extra hours on them by comparison - I just don't have as many available hours per day to work on them, like I did then. Again, I'm not getting rich from the one that's out, lol. But I'm pleased with what I have gotten....
     
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  14. BillC
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    BillC Member

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    Minus the time, KDP and Smashwords are free. Therefore if you don't count your time, your overhead (electricity, rent, etc) then pretty much a single sale is profit.
     
  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are some people who make a decent amount of money this way. But most don't. As others have pointed out, a lot of factors go into this. I don't think you can go into it "expecting" to make a reasonable amount, but there are people who make it work.

    It's not that different from traditional publishing -- sure, there are people like Stephen King, and Janet Evanovich and John Grisham who make a ton of money. But most authors don't. I realize you're not asking whether you'll make as much money as King, but the dynamic is the same -- some people make a whole lot of money and some people make almost none.
     
  16. slamdunk
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    slamdunk Member

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    Right or wrong, it sounds doomed from the start to release a book and not expect any readers/sales. If you don't expect to make a profit then its probably not going to either, figure out why you think so and if there is something you can do about it.
     

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