1. Letoatreides3508
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    Letoatreides3508 Member

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    Self Publishing via Amazon

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Letoatreides3508, May 23, 2015.

    Amazon says it's really lucrative, but I think I may be detecting a hint of bias on their part. Is it worthwhile to self publish through Amazon or Itunes or whatever, or am I better off seeking out traditional channels?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You'll see a lot of opinions, but mine is strongly that you're better off seeking out traditional channels.

    If you publish with Amazon, it will be possible for someone who already knows about your book, and already wants to buy it, to buy it. That's about all Amazon gets you. They're not going to edit it for you. They're not going to market it for you. They're unlikely to return it as a result in any searches, because it's coming in as a completely unknown work, and lots of better-known works will be competing with you for search results.

    So you would have to do all of those things--to be your own editor, designer, typesetter, marketer, everything. Every single job done by a team of professionals at a publisher, will have to be done by you. That's a handicap. A huge handicap. It's easy to imagine that you can do a professional's job, especially a job that appears to be easy to understand. (For example, it's harder to imagine that you can design a rocket or do brain surgery.) But it is, IMO, a delusion. There's a reason why professionals are paid salaries.

    You may say that, well, OK, you want to give it a try anyway, and if you fail you can go with traditional publishing. But if you self-punish, you have used up your first publication rights. People will say that it's no longer true that a traditional publisher will refuse to publish a work that's been published elsewhere. It may no longer be true. But the examples given are usually those self-published books that have had some success. If you are unable to transform yourself into a professional editor, designer, marketer, etc., etc., you're not likely to have that success. You're likely to have a weakly edited book that has used up its first publication rights and failed.

    Start with traditional. That's my advice.
     
  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Question for the ages, really.

    I'd say the vast majority of self-published books sell very poorly. Other people say that's because the vast majority of self-published books are very poor quality, so they deserve to sell poorly. These people think that if a book is good quality, it will sell well via self-publishing.

    You might want to check out https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3BkwFa5qpaIc2E0WlRkeXhpMFk/view for a chart of different publishing methods with different features of each.
     
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  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    What Amazon means by it being "lucrative," I expect, is that you're royalty rate is going to be a lot higher than with traditional publishing. 70% is your book is priced $2.99 or more. So if you sold the same number of books self-publishing through Amazon as you did with a traditional publisher, and at the same price, you're going to make a hell of a lot more in royalties from your Amazon sales. But the if in that sentence is a big if.

    There are a number of considerations. Traditional publishing takes longer, provides you with less control, and there's still no guarantee you're going to sell well or make much money. That's if you even get published in the first place, after possibly spending years pursuing traditional publishing.

    With self-publishing, you know you're going to get published at most likely as least make some nominal amount on your work. You'll retain complete control over the work. You can publish as fast as you write, and there's no gatekeeper to get in your way. But you lose the distribution channels of traditional publishing, and whatever prestige you may associate with it. I'd say you also lose marketing, but for a lot of writers the traditional publishers don't do so much of that.

    With self-publishing you also bear your own costs for editors, covers, and the like.

    The best option, in my view, is to pursue both routes. If you have work that is of sufficient quality, start getting some of it out there via Amazon while pursuing other works along a more traditional route. This 'hybrid' approach gives you the potential of realizing the benefits of both avenues. Putting all of your eggs in the 'traditional publishing' basket seems to me to be a mistake in this day and age.
     
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  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm curious as to your definition of "nominal". I read somewhere--and I can't find the source , so as far as anyone who isn't me is concerned I may as well be making this up--that the majority of self-published books sell fewer than ten copies. So that nominal amount may be--IMO is likely to be--less than twenty dollars.
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know what it would be. I know a couple of people who have written some truly terrible work and sold a handful of copies. Less than $10 I'd guess. It seems likely that you'll end up with at least a sale or two, no matter what condition the work is in. But that's certainly not a great argument in favor of self-publishing.

    On the other hand, my self-published children's book has sold a bit over $3000 worth (in royalties; more than I thought it had made, probably since it came in over such a long time period; but I just recently got a little more because it still sells copies now and again) since publication in 2011. That's not much money over that range of time. On the other hand, I was able to control the publication. I spent around $50 on a cover. And the book is around 44 pages, double-spaced, in MSWord. On a per-word basis, that comes out to be pretty good, even though I'd still say that's a nominal amount of money over 4 years. Maybe if I expanded the series to ten or fifteen books it would amount to more :)
     
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  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've only self-pubbed one novel in my home genre, and it's made about $4K since September 2012. I probably spent about $500 on editing, cover, etc.

    I published a similar novel with an e-first publisher in August 2012 and it's made me about $8K.

    So for me, working with a publisher has been more lucrative. (not even counting my self-publishing effort in a genre where I DIDN'T already have a name, which is probably still netting out as a negative). All the same, I plan to self-publish more in the future. I want to write a series of books with a mix of novels, novellas, short stories, etc., and it's pretty hard to find a publisher who wants that mix of formats. So I'll self-publish. Fun!
     
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  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I didn't need an editor for mine, so that was a nice savings. However, for other projects I have that are not children's books, I am going to acquire an editor.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think genre probably matters, too. @Steerpike has done incredibly well to get that kind of sales for a self-pubbed children's book, I'd say. Most self-pubbers make most of their money on e-books, and most children's books are still sold in print, as I understand it.

    Romance/erotica is probably at the other end of the spectrum, where readers have been early adopters of e-reading. So my numbers for romance are really pretty low, while @Steerpike's for children's lit are probably quite high.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't have even a little bit of a clue where it falls on the spectrum, though I can say that my Amazon ranking has never been particularly high. It has been nice to have it on Amazon, though. I got a 5 star review out of the blue about four months ago, which is a nice feeling. I didn't write it with the intent to actually publish it. I wrote the book for my daughter when she was little and it sat in a drawer for a number of years.

    Also, the Kindle Select program has helped with the royalties. I don't know how they calculate it, but I had some months where I sold a fair number more copies than usual and the royalties that were paid were more than what would they would have been based on pure calculation alone. At the time, I had the book up at 2.99 for the 70% royalty but at this point it has been at 0.99 for quite some time. If I ever write the sequel, which has been outlined forever, I'll probably make the first one free.
     
  11. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    First, you need to research a lot. A lot, a lot. Take a few months and research both the trade and self-publishing sides of the market. We're kind of in a golden age of publishing where the author has some really great options for how to bring their work to the world. Self-publishing stigma is gone, and authors have better negotiating power since they can take their wares elsewhere with little trouble.

    To go for a trade publisher (and likely, first, an agent) or to self-publish is an entirely personal decision (albeit also a business one). There's no wrong or right way, and you needn't ONLY publish on Amazon - you're welcome to publish everywhere (unless you op into Amazon's KU program). But you have a lot of reading to do in the meantime. Read forums, and agent and publisher websites/blogs. Talk to authors playing in both fields. Both sides have their pros and cons and both options are entirely viable ways to make a living as a writer.

    My only bit of warning is this: It's extremely easy to get a publishing contract with a publisher if you lower your bar far enough. Don't do that. Aim high, and if you strike out with the big publishers, be crazy-cautious about signing on with really small presses. Yes, there are some good ones, but there are A LOT of bad ones, and a bad contract can destroy a career before it even begins.

    Good luck! hope you update when you make a decision.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's somewhat reduced, but it's not gone.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Your cred as an author is going to be based more on your work itself than on self or traditional publishing.

    Marketing and getting your book read is a separate issue that differs from 'stigma'.
     
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  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. I think the stigma is pretty much gone. If you self-publish a great book that people want to read, traditional agents and publishers will take on that same work these days, even though it is already out there.
     
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  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There might not be a stigma within the business, but as a reader? I avoid self-published books. I used to seek them out, but I got burned too many times by poorly written trash.

    There are absolutely some great books being self-published. One of my favourite romance authors has switched to self-publishing most of the time, and I buy and read her stuff.

    But if I don't know the author? I avoid self-published books.

    So whether you call that a stigma or not, it's a reality for at least one reader (and I'm a reader who has herself self-published, so... I don't think I'm being a snob or anything).
     
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  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If you read the Kindle previews before buying, I don't see how you'd get burned anymore often by a trad. published than a self published book. It's not like every book published is a good read.
     
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  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    There are always going to be reader with biases. There are some who will never buy your book that is traditionally-published because they don't like the cover, or the genre, or the blurb, or whatever. There are more than enough readers who will buy self-published books that I don't think it is worth worrying about those who won't. Also, whereas those of us who write are pretty in-tune about what is self-published and what isn't, I don't think the average reader will necessarily know or bother to check. If you have a professional cover and a sample that grabs them it likely isn't even going to occur to them to check who the publisher is. I know people who have bought self-published work without realizing they were self-published. And self-published authors know will sometimes set up an 'entity' through which they publish only their own novels, so that readers who do bother looking at the publisher will see the name of what appears to be a publishing company in that field. How many people are going to then research the publisher to make sure it isn't an author self-publishing? Of your average readers, not much. And I suspect the number falls even lower when you're talking about people buying directly from Kindle. It seems to me that when those readers are buying via browsing (as opposed looking for a specific book or author), they're looking at covers and a brief blurb that sounds good, then checking out the sample. They don't care or even bother to find out whether it is self-published.
     
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  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Although I guess someone could start off good and then fall flat, but that happens with traditionally-published books I've read as well. But when you're dealing with these kinds of biases, it is more an emotional reaction than a reasoned one. It would be like if I picked up a really awful romance book once (which exist in traditional publishing) and then decided I'd never buy another romance because I got burned by one. There isn't a rational reason to think that because self-published book A by one writer is bad that self-published book B by a different author will also be bad, particularly when you already know there are good self-published book. So it's just a bias, and as a writer I don't think you can bother wasting time worrying about readers who won't want your work because of their own internal biases. There are such readers, and there are plenty of other readers who don't share the bias.
     
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  19. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, for me, it's been more like picking up thirty really awful romance books and deciding not to buy any more.

    I mean, really, the vast majority of self-published books are appalling. That doesn't mean there aren't some great self-published books out there, but random sample? Not good.

    But this is getting away from the main idea, I guess. You call it a bias, I call it a stigma... I guess they're different perspectives on the same issue?
     
  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, same underlying issue. But do you read the samples before buying? I've seen some appalling work on Amazon, but you can see that they're appalling in the samples. If the samples are really good, I've actually had pretty good luck.

    But do you think most readers even know or check? Like I said above, I get the sense from people I talk to who aren't also writers, and who buy a lot on their Kindles, that they never even look to see if a book is self-published. If it looks professional and appealing, that's the end of it.
     
  21. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @BayView I should add that I think all readers have such biases in one way or another. I passed on a book for about 6 months because it had the stupidest damned cover, and even though the first few pages seemed really good I jusst couldn't get past how bad the cover looked. Eventually bought it, and ended up liking it. That was a traditionally published book. When I'm looking at ebooks on a Kindle, the cover is a huge factor for me in buying self-published books. Not what is on the cover, but how well it is done. I figure if the author wasn't willing to spend the money to put a professional cover on their book, they probably cut corners on editing too and probably aren't serious. I guess those are all biases, but that's how I look at self-publishing. When I see one where the cover looks like a guy made it in MS Paint in half an hour I skip right away.
     
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't really like reading the samples - I'm not sure why. I guess because I tend to binge-buy, and it's annoying to read a sample and then not keep reading the entire book right then.

    I have no idea whether most readers know who publishes books or not. Probably not, I guess? But I don't really know.
     
  23. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I know a few people who don't. My assistant reads Romance, and I was looking through her Kindle with her because I'd asked her whether she ever bought self-published books. She didn't know. I checked and sure enough she had a few on there. I have family members who read other types of books on Kindle, and they don't know or check either. That's anecdotal, but it wouldn't surprise me if that's the norm among those who aren't also writers and more tuned into the whole process.
     
  24. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Clearly there is bias and stigma, it's reflected by members of this forum. The question is, is that stigma and bias valid? No. There are good and bad books by both publishing means.

    And, how many potential readers does it affect? That depends on the genre and target market. Buyers who browse the bookstores for books will not see the self-published books. For some genres that may be a substantial portion of the market.

    But digital publishing and print on demand means the difference won't be glaringly apparent the larger the digital market grows. And with anyone being able to hang a publisher shingle now, between self-published books and small publisher books, a reader would not only have to make the effort to see who the publisher was, you'd have to look into the publisher to see just how many books they've published to find out if it was self published under the facade.

    You'll still have some traditional publishers who have large marketing budgets and access to well known book reviewers. Marketing is a big difference, but you don't get that automatically with traditional publishers.

    And there are other drawbacks. I have a friend whose books are selling with moderate success who just self published her last book. I asked her why and she said the publisher was good, but it took too long to get the book on the market.

    RoseMontague
    Publisher: Eternal Press (a division of Damnation Books LLC)
     
  25. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @GingerCoffee I think forums like this tend to be more biased than the general public. You have people who are emotionally vested in the old model, and have hopes of validation tied up in the traditional route, and also have long-standing dreams of traditional publishing. When the landscape shifts, those internal views and aspirations don't shift as rapidly, and for some people they may never shift.

    I suspect in 20 years readers who are kids now and growing up with the current model in place won't bat an eye at the idea of a self-published book, and that self-publishing in general will be seen as a perfectly legitimate publishing route by most people. But even then you've have a few shaking their fists at the cloud and telling anyone who will listen that only traditional publishing counts. The advantage is by that time they'll be easily recognized as the dottering luddites any such person will no doubt be by 2035 :)
     
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