1. United
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    United Member

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    Is self-publishing (e-publishing) a viable way of making a living?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by United, Feb 29, 2016.

    I want to be a full-time author (ideally), so I was wondering if self-publishing is viable to make a living (for the average self-published author with little to no marketing/advertising, etc.)? I'm a terrible salesperson, so I don't think I can do that part. I think I will just let my writing stand on its own and hope people will love it and spread the word. Or is that being too hopeful?

    I would go the traditional route, but I hear it can take years to get published--or never, if you're rejected, or if you can't find an agent. And I'm also very reluctant to have the publishers make certain decisions for me (i.e. book cover).

    I really want to put my books out there for the people to enjoy, but I just don't want to be stuck in limbo and full of doubt and regret.

    What are your guys' thoughts about this (for those of who are published or are currently in the process of being published)? How did you decide?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, but, no.

    It's fairly rare for an author to make a living (as opposed to some spare money) from their books. It's even less likely for a self published author. It's vanishingly unlikely for a self published author who doesn't work incredibly hard and creatively at marketing.

    A realistic plan would include a day job.

    I know it's not how the world should be, but that's how it is.
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @United Most traditionally published authors have day jobs. If you're pursuing writing as a career, it's not likely that'll be the only thing you're doing. The percentage of the population that makes a living solely by writing fiction is very small.
     
  4. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    My goal is not to make a living off of self-publishing, although it was be great if it happened. My goal is to have a day job that i am happy at.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
  5. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Well speaking as an indie myself, yes. I make a modest income by self publishing - enough to live on.

    I also don't bother with marketing at all, break all the rules about sticking to commercial genres, single genres, writing trilogies instead of stand alones.

    Stick to the basics. Write a good book, get it properly edited and beta read. Get a good cover and blurb. Then keep writing.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing in general isn't a fast way to earn a living. If your main reason for avoiding publishers is that they'll take too long, you may be a but surprised by how long it takes to make a living from writing in general.

    I guess I make enough to earn a living from writing - I mean, I make about twice as much as I'd make if I were working full-time at a minimum wage job. (Not nearly enough to allow me to live the way I want to, so I keep my better-paying day job (and don't forget the power of pension plans, benefits, etc.)). But it took me years to build up to making that much--I keep pretty close track of these things, and the first year of publishing I made $3 668, the next $11 088. Good growth, but I'd have been on welfare if I'd been trying to live on either total. And I'd been writing for at least a year before the first year I made any money.

    And the money I make comes through a mix of self-publishing, small publishers, large independents, and Big 5. Self-publishing makes me the least per book, but I keep doing it so I have some books under my control in case the market changes in the future.

    So if you're looking for a quick buck? Get a job. Waiting two weeks for a paycheque is a hell of a lot faster than any sort of writing income. Then write after work, start building your backlist, and see what happens.
     
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  7. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am starting to think of being a independent writer more as an early retirement. I am 36 now and if I seriously put in hours and effort in this maybe I could retire early (providing I save enough in my retirement acct.) to retire at maybe 50 or so or at least be making enough to only have to work a couple hours a week and a coffee shop or something. The scary part in the lack of health care/benefits provided but It's a dream so I will worry about that later on.
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, that's kind of what I'm working on. I don't spend any of my writing income, just stash it away for retirement.

    If I have enough pension/savings to get by, and can treat writing income as a source of luxuries and extras? That'll work for me, I think. But depending on writing as my primary source of income? Way too unstable and nerve wracking.
     
  9. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    FWIW, they make those decisions for you because their job is to employ people who are far better at that stuff than you.

    To echo everyone else here, writing is not a good way to make money. Write because you enjoy it, write because you've got a story you need to tell, write because you find it really hard to stop. Maybe, if you're lucky, your books will take off and that'll be amazing. But if you want to make money, get a job.
     

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