Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,821
    Likes Received:
    2,377
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada

    Self publishing - is it worth it? Sucess stories?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by peachalulu, Jun 12, 2012.

    I've read the success stories of self publishing and bumped into some writers who have self published - but I was too shy to ask , yeah but how many copies have you sold? How much money have you made? And wanted to know if anyone has had some financial success self publishing. And if they had to work to generate their sales ( relatives buying your work doesn't count ) or if just caught on.
     
  2. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Whether it's "worth it" depends highly on what your definition of success is. Fiction writers who have made a lot of money from it are still rare enough to make the news, and a lot of them are authors who were already trade published (ie, had a following built in). Nonfiction is an area where self-publishing is a long-established method of publication.

    The main thing with self-publishing is acknowledging that you will wear two hats - writer and publisher. Both take a lot of time and effort, and the publishing end can also (and most likely will, if you want a professional result) mean spending money.
     
  3. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    Eh, IDK if it's worth it. I'm trying the more traditional route there. I suppose I'd consider self-publishing if that didn't work out. I DO think that self-publishing could be on the rise in the future. Large publishing houses and big record labels, I do feel that they are both in the waning of their lifespans. The market's changing and I do think that it's going to end up putting independent artists/self-published authors on a more even footing with those who are represented. We're not there quite yet. But I do see a day coming in the not-too-distant future when it will be the reality.

    In the meantime, I can't really recommend self-publishing yet unless you are ready to commit to the dual-role. (Some people will swear by self-publishing, and if they've been burnt by a broken publishing system but have found more success outside of it, I can't say I blame them.) For me, I'll try the traditional route and see what happens. Maybe I will self-publish down the road. Maybe not. The market's nowhere near predictable enough to rule it out right now.
     
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Take the "success stories" with a grain of salt. There are a few, but only after considerable investment of both time and money, and a large dose of luck. Most self-published works bomb.

    Many, if not most, of the "success stories" you read about are nothing less than advertising testimonials, and either gross distortions or outright lies.
     
  5. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,922
    Likes Received:
    5,458
    I wouldn't self-publish with the hope of making any money at all, even if I'd experienced long and repeated failures in trying to be traditionally published. The odds of success in self-publishing are so very low that I'd rather hang on to the book for a few years, in the hope that either (1) I'd have improved as a writer to the point that I could now see what was wrong with the thing or (2) the publishing climate or fashion would have changed. Or, yeah, (3) maybe someday the prospect for self-publishing will improve, through some mechanism that I can't imagine right now. But right now, I don't think it's a viable method of publishing.

    If I decided that I wanted to get the book out there no matter what, I'd just publish it for free on my blog.
     
  6. jfcastillo
    Offline

    jfcastillo New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm self published on Amazon but definitely not one of the "success" stories. It's difficult because you have to promote yourself and put yourself out there. No one else is going to do it for you (unless you hire someone I guess). Especially, if you're like me and don't have the know how or the money to invest in it. I've sold copies of my books but it's far from becoming a best seller. For me, I just write because I love to. If it sells, well that's a bonus. I would like to make a living writing books and so I am looking into becoming traditionally published, but becoming "successful" through self publishing, I think, is rare and a long shot. Good luck in your writing endeavors!
     
  7. MattTheProphet
    Offline

    MattTheProphet New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    I'm considering self-publishing in e-book form, but I'm not looking at it the same way as finding a real publisher. My end goal is to go commercial, but I'm having trouble selling my novel because of my lack of experience and knowledge. I figure if I can find any kind of success self-publishing then I at least have a publishing credit and maybe agents/publishers will take me more seriously. That might be naive though.
     
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Forget it. Traditional publishers don't consider self-published works published, except when it comes to first publication rights (in other words, if you try to sell your self-published novel to a traditional publisher, they'll turn it down because you can't assign them first publication rights).

    You'll get no creds for self-published work.
     
  9. Lightman
    Offline

    Lightman Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2011
    Messages:
    234
    Likes Received:
    8
    1) Write bondage themed Twilight fanfiction.
    2) Publish as eboook.
    3) ????
    4) Profit!
     
  10. Edward M. Grant
    Offline

    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2012
    Messages:
    382
    Likes Received:
    66
    Location:
    Canada
    That only really applies to short stories, not novels. Novel publishers don't much care about first publication rights so long as they think they can sell plenty more copies; particularly if the original release was e-book only so the entire print market is available to them.

    A number of self-published authors, both print and digital, have later sold their novel to trade publishers. But I would tend to agree that if you want to go the trade publishing route you're probably better off to start there and self-publish if no publisher is interested.
     
  11. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    What publisher will take on the risk of a new writer when there is already a cheaper competition available for potential buyers? Of COURSE novel publishers care about first publication rights!
     
  12. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Yeah, unless you've sold megatons of the book, most publishers won't even consider a book that's used its first publication rights.
     
  13. lilix morgan
    Offline

    lilix morgan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Messages:
    536
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Wonderland
    I think you're looking at this from the wrong angle. Writing, whether you self-publish or sign with a Big 6, shouldn't be about making millions and living in a solid gold home. It should be about the craft, about writing what comes from your heart and loving what you do. Money is an afterthought.

    I believe, if memory serves me right, that someone else asked something about self-publishing a couple of months back, and I gave them a pretty in-depth run down of what to expect if you decided to go about that route. It definitely isn't for everyone. It is, in every way possible, a full time job. But the satisfaction you gain from it is immeasurable. Will you get rich off of it? Probably not. I know I'm not. I make enough to pay some bills, a little spending money, but that's really it. And I'm perfectly okay with that- I knew it wouldn't happen overnight, and it wouldn't even be an inch of where its at now if I hadn't busted my butt online and locally getting my name around. And I'm only just starting to scratch the surface.

    To give you an idea of where I stand, here's in a nutshell how I do currently. I sell about 20 signed paperback copies personally a month, sometimes a little more. Digitally, I sell anywhere from 30-50 copies a month, not including things like borrowing from the Kindle library and whatnot. So if you bundled that altogether, I can do anywhere from 50-70 copies in a month of a single book. I'm estimating those numbers will increase by a third with my second book out in July and on, but know that things fluctuate and expand for no real rhythm or rhyme.
     
  14. Aspiring novelist
    Offline

    Aspiring novelist New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2012
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    As a recent junior member who has so far only posted on his own thread, I couldn't resist leaping into this one to comment on lilix's refreshing take on this subject. Clearly self-publishing is not the same as trade publishing, but I think what you're saying is that at least it can get you some readers, which probably feels a lot better than none! Also, if you're a person who likes to keep busy, the whole thing can presumably become a sort of ongoing 'project'. It must give you a sense of controlling your own destiny, even if you can only steer that destiny to a limited extent.

    I can see from your own web site that you really do make it look like a full-time job. Lots of activity there. It must take a lot of time. But from what you say it pays off, and you really do attract readers.

    I'm still debating whether self-publishing would be the right course for me. I am hesitating because of all the negative aspects that have been so clearly outlined by other forum members; yet part of me wants to give up waiting for an agent to say yes, and to take control.

    I'm getting the sense that there really is a 'great divide' here between people who are deeply sceptical about self-publishing, seeing it as a counsel of defeat; and people who think it's a worthwhile route to take. I wonder if it's ever possible to reconcile these two views?
     
  15. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Our book club once spoke with an author named Lisa Genova who has had a couple very successful books. Her first book was self-published and she was very very enthusiastic about the idea of self-publishing as that was how she got her start. (Her book was subsequently published by a large publisher.) She mentioned she heard a story on NPR about self-publishing and was a big supporter of it. If you search the NPR site, there are a bunch of articles and archived shows that mention the topic.

    That said, I'd still be hesitant. I feel like if publishers don't think what I wrote is good enough or marketable, there's probably a reason for that. I worry that she's more the exception than the rule. But you never know. I suppose you have to do what you feel is best for you.
     
  16. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Ask yourself, what would you regret more? Would you regret pushing out a book that in 5 years time you realise was not good enough, or perhaps that was so good that you know could've done a hell of a lot better but now never will, but hey, at least 20 people read it? Or would you regret waiting, and no one ever reads your work, but you know there's always hope that you could still get published one day?

    The trouble is, it IS about money - a lot of the writers on here wanna do this for a living, which unfortunately does include money.

    But it's about something else as well - it is about RECOGNITION. Is having 20 people read your work enough recognition for you? Does it fulfil you just to know someone read your work? Or are you after something bigger? The thing with self-publishing is, most people's work tend to sink - now not only have you not achieved recognition, but you've probably wasted a good manuscript that with a bit more editing could've landed a publisher, as well as having damaged your reputation and chances of getting a 2nd book out through traditional means.

    The truth is, after all that pain-staking work and the blood, sweat and toil over your precious baby (the novel), are you really gonna be satisfied with 20 readers? (and most of them likely friends and family doing it as a favour to you rather than the work's merit?) Most of us want more, and a lot of us - I would, certainly - would be disappointed.

    So it depends on how big your dream is, and how much faith you have in yourself. And then on a practical level: are you willing to put in the hard work of self-publishing?

    So if you've asked yourself the right questions:
    1. Which is more important to me: that it is recognised by a third party as worthy and good (even if it doesn't become a bestseller, at least an agent and a publisher, professionals here, all agreed it was good) - or is it more important that SOMEONE, anyone, simply reads my work?
    2. Am I willing to promote my book by myself? After knowing how much work it involves, am I still willing?
    3. If my work sinks, would I regret self-publishing it, or am I nonetheless still glad that it is out there, and someone knows my name, and my work?

    And you know, if you waited for traditional publishing, you'll always have that sense of pride - professionals agreed that your work was worth it. Of course self-published author also have a sense of pride in their finished work, but unless they're greatly successful, they'll likely never get the same sense of satisfaction, you'll never be quite as sure as the one who went through the traditional houses. You'll never be acknowledged by the pros like you want to be. Are you ok with that? 'Cause likely that's what's gonna happen.

    I guess the point is: Self-publishing only ensures someone reads your work, but nothing else beyond that. The risks and stakes are far higher when you go the self-publishing route, whereas the traditional route might be longer, but it is a lot safer.

    If you're ok with all of that, the hard work, the potential sink and lack of recognition, and STILL you'd regret more that you didn't get it out there - then do it. It depends on what you're doing it for, after all, and what price you're willing to pay for the route that you've chosen. And if you're willing to pay the price, the full price, then go for it.
     
  17. Aspiring novelist
    Offline

    Aspiring novelist New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2012
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've seen the above comment expressed frequently on this forum and elsewhere (if no one accepts your work, it can't be good enough), so I have to conclude there must be a lot of truth in it. I don't know from first-hand experience how publishers and agents think, but it does seem logical.

    Yet if that is publishers' only reaction to a work that has been self-published, surely it slightly misses what has been happening in the internet age. In the past, so far as I can work out, a would-be author would probably send volleys of submissions to agents or publishers, possibly over a very long period, and would simply hope that eventually the book would be picked up by one of them. Even famous authors have had to wait literally years in some cases before attracting interest.

    By definition, we know the end result of these high-profile cases, which of course are the stuff of legend; but if you're that writer and it's your second or third year of making these submissions, you don't know the outcome; you don't know whether your work is inadequate, or you have simply been unlucky.

    The difference with the internet, and with self-publishing in particular, is that these things change the dynamic. People can take matters into their own hands, simply to get the work out into the community, and at least attract more feedback than they would have had just from family and friends. It's a kind of empowerment, even though I can see that if you're not wary it can be a very deceptive kind.

    At the back of this, I suspect, are the big imponderables: is the work actually well written, readable and marketable? Arguably self-publishing in itself doesn't say anything about these things, even if it might seem to.

    Hi Mckk

    Your response to my posting seems to have been uploaded while I was in the middle of responding to the one from chicoagoliz! Busy thread. Yours is more hard-hitting than mine, and more down-to-earth. It raises very some valid points about the ultimate goal of writing, and I can't disagree with any of it. Thanks for usefully articulating all this.

    You're right of course that most of us would probably like recognition and a large audience. Absolutely. Certainly I would. So maybe patience, hard work and graft are the only true ways to success. Sobering thoughts. They don't make the waiting, the frustration, the ticking away of the hours any less of a burden though!
     
  18. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I think we need to recognize that not getting a trade publisher is not necessarily because the writing is not good enough - although certainly that's often the case. But there are many other factors involved, such as potential audience (sales), or the publisher has just signed fourteen other similar books.

    We also need to recognize that good self-published books go nowhere because the author is not a good publisher. They aren't skilled enough at marketing, at cover art, don't have time or money to do what needs to be done as the publisher.
     
  19. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I know a couple of writers where I live (in sweden) who has published their own book by paying ( a lot!) to have it printed as a normal hard cover book and then taken on the job to sell it to bookstores around the country, but I doubt it that any of them even got the money back they spent on producing the book. They have to do all their advertising and selling it and that is quite a lot of job to do, especially without pay. besides, to even make it even you would have to charge a ridiculous price for the book and no one would want to pay to read it. Now I know that most of you are talking about e-books, but I would never do such a thing. I totally agree with chicken freak here, I'd rather wait until I can have it published the "real" way. I'm not desperate just to see it in print like the writers I mentioned. Plus self publish a novel would not give me the same feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction as if I had it accepted by a publisher. I think if you really want to get people to actually READ your stories you should hone your craft until you get a contract with a publisher because that, IMHO, is still the best way to reach out to a good number of readers.
     
  20. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,371
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    Is it worth it? In a word yes - but with provisos.

    I would first say always do try to go the trad route first, an agent can hook you up with professionals including editors, manuscript assessors and cover artists, and then hopefully knows how to market your book. He has skills most authors don't. And there's one other advantage to trying to go the trad route that people often don't mention. By going through the process of seeking an agent, you occasionally get useful feedback from them, and that can be invaluable.

    But there are problems with this approach, and the biggest one is that you may not get an agent or a publisher. This may well be because your work is not up to par (I'm sure it was in my case), but it may equally well be because agents and publishers have thousands, tens of thousands of books to look at every year and they can only accept a few. Your book may be brilliant, it may be rubbish, it may be the very next best one to the one they chose, but regardless, it's still on the same scrap heap. Self publishing offers an option where trad publishing may not, so for that reason alone it should always be considered as an option.

    But don't expect to get rich. There are some who sell well.

    But most of us don't. Certainly not well enough to make a living from writing. Personally at some stage this year I expect to sell my five thousandth book, and that's pretty amazing to me, but I don't think I could retire from my full time work to write based on it. At the very least I'd lose quite a lot of weight!

    I wish you luck.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  21. MattTheProphet
    Offline

    MattTheProphet New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    I have a problem with that theory. Sure, if a number of agents have read your chapters or manuscript and turned you away it makes sense, but most, and I mean 90%, of the queries I send out are query letters only, maybe with a synopsis. Let's face it, while a query letter is a nice little test of literacy and competence, the skills required to put one together are much different than those required to complete a book. While I don't disagree with the process, it's a necessary evil, I refuse to concede that I am a bad writer just because my query letter fails to be as suspenseful and captivating as my novel.

    Self-publishing gets your work into the hands of readers for the ultimate judgment, if nothing else. If that's all you're looking for, it's a shortcut around the waiting/hoping/being disappointed/waiting/hoping cycle that repeats itself until you finally get where you want to be. I think with enough hard work and time put into it you can establish an audience.
     
  22. evelon
    Offline

    evelon Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2009
    Messages:
    613
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    England
    Totally agree with you. Completing a novel, getting it formatted and out there is an acheivement. If you self-publish with the realisation that you are doing it for the satisfaction of that achievement and not to make money (nice as that thought is), you'll be happy. Or at least you won't sink into a dissapointment depression.
    And there is the other thought on self publishing. Since I bought my Kindle, I have downloaded about a dozen books by authors who would not have had the chance to publish. They are not as polished as professionaly produced books, but they have heart, they are entertaining, I have learned from them and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them. Most of them I've recommended to others, three of them I'd happily read again and two (a how to book by a writer who inspired me on a wet and miserable day) I have put in my 'don't delete' folder.
    I don't think that any of these writers will have made a fortune, but they have given pleasure to - well who knows how many people? And their books are available for little more than the cost of a weekly magazine.

    I say, take a chance on the self-publishing, be realistic and if you've made some sales you will have made some people happy. And take a look at those books that don't get the high ratings. There are some gems in there.
     
  23. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    That's only true so far as readers are willing to buy it. The thing that traditional publishing gives (and the real advantage of it, in my view) is the guarantee that it has been through some sort of editorial process, meaning that the odds of it being structurally good (spelling, grammar, how it is written) and good in itself (enjoyable) are higher. With self-published books, the reader is taking a real gamble, as they have no clue how much work the author has put it. They may have slaved over it for years, editing and rewriting parts and getting independent opinions. But equally, they may have knocked it out as quickly as possible and stuck it on the Kindle Store to make a couple of quid.

    I think that it's the implicit guarantees a traditional publishing house gives to the reader that is the real advantage they have. I as a reader, and a great many others I know, don't want to just dip randomly into the Kindle store because sadly 90% of it is shit.

    (I'd also add that reader reviews are not the panacea to this problem, as in my experience they are frequently worse than useless. It's easy as anything to get people to write false reviews, or write them yourself, and get them up there as an apparent indicator of quality.)
     
  24. Aspiring novelist
    Offline

    Aspiring novelist New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2012
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    The theory mentioned above, which I quoted earlier in this thread, was that if no agent accepts your work it can't be good enough. I feel I should just dissociate myself from it! When I cited it, I was just setting it up so that I could knock it down in my next paragraph, where I went on to talk about some of the positive reasons for self-publishing.

    I still haven't decided whether self-publishing would really be appropriate for me, but it's encouraging to see the positivity behind Matt's comments. I'm thrown back to a point I made earlier - namely that there seem to be two entirely different lines of thought in play here. On one had there are writers who are glad to get at least some people reading their books, with the chance that they might build on that base over time; and on the other, there are those who feel that empirically, self-publishing seldom seems to lead to wider success, and who feel that conventional publishing is the only true way to establish themselves.

    Which, I suppose, is why this thread was started. Are there in fact grounds to hope that self-publishing really can ever lead to greater things, except in extremely rare cases?

    This is the kind of argument that thrust me in the direction of self-publishing in the first place, so I completely endorse the sentiment. What if you have written a genuinly worthwhile book that you know many people would enjoy, yet you wait years and still have no luck in placing it with a publisher? Who has gained in that?

    Yet those nagging doubts about self-publishing keep resurfacing ...
     
  25. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Taking a chance on self-publishing is acknowledging that you will not sell that book to a traditional publisher. However you justify it, it IS a form of surrender. However you try to glorify it, self-publishing is vanity press -- any form of publication where the writer pays to get something published and does not submit to a quality approval process. The writer who uses a vanity press feels some gratification from seeing their work in print, but has not met any qualifications other than being able to front the costs to put it out there.

    It's as satisfying as a purchased degree certificate.

    Why settle?
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page