Self Publishing via Amazon

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

  1. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Dude, come on. I could rewrite your first paragraph as:

    I think forums like this tend to be more biased than the general public. You have people who are emotionally vested in the new model, and have hopes of validation tied up in being "published" by any means, and also have long-standing fears of being rejected. When the landscape shifts a little, their internal views and aspirations shift way too far, and for some people may never shift back.
    Now, I don't happen to believe that about people who are interested in self-publishing.

    But it's pretty patronizing to assume that people's hesitations about self-publishing are based on emotions or dreams rather than rational concerns, just like it would be patronizing of me to think that people are only interested in self-publishing for emotional reasons.

    There are rational reasons for different writers to make different choices about publication routes. I think those reasons can be discussed without anyone dismissing other viewpoints as overly emotional.
     
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  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I don't think it is irrational at all. I've had people tell me directly that they feel like traditional publishing carries more validation with it, that they're a real author, and that's why they want to go that route. Given some of the comments about self-publishing you see on forums like these, there is clearly something other than reason at work for some people, and I don't think my speculation is too far off the mark. You can see from comments on these forums that some people feel traditional publishing is the only "legitimate" route. That's an emotional response.
     
  3. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You have a point but with one exception. The pro-self publishing side, while pointing out some plusses and minuses, are not berating traditionally published work.

    We are just saying judging a book by the publisher instead of by the book may have more to do with personal biases than with substance. ​
     
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  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Yep. I favor both the self and traditional routes. I think the hybrid route seems really good. I think authors need to know the pros and cons of each and do what its best for them. The avenue of publishing that is derided is the self-publishing route, by and large. There are a few instances of people deriding the traditional route, but for the most part that's not the case. The "traditional only" crowd are the ones with the chips on their shoulders, planks in their eyes, or whatever you want to say.
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think that might be a question of the crowd you're running in, or of your own perceptions. I've seen some pretty strong ridicule of trade publishing from self-publishers... "Dead Tree Publishing", "Legacy Publishing", the infamous "house slave" and "Stockholm Syndrome" analogies, etc. I've also seen the spreading of misinformation... "it's impossible to get an agent," "trade publishers don't promote your book anyway," etc...

    So, from where I am, there's at least as much ridicule directed toward trade publishing as there is toward self-publishing. And I say that as someone who does both, so, again, I don't feel like I'm only seeing one side of things. Honestly, I think many trade-published authors are becoming hybrid as they self-pub their reverted rights, so I really don't know many authors who are totally dismissive of self-pubbing.

    Question of perception, I guess, but I absolutely don't accept your perception as any sort of absolute truth.
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I think you're right about many authors who are already traditionally published. A lot of the derision is from aspiring authors who want to go the traditional route and seem to be defensive about self-publishing, as though any self-publishing success somehow delegitimizes the path they are pursuing.
     
  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    My perception comes from this forum. If there are bloggers or other authors out there bashing publishing houses, it's not relevant to the comments in this thread. Whenever this subject comes up, a small group of the same forum members predictably show up and condescend.

    And while of course, all are welcome to post their opinions, such condescension begs to be countered.
     
  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    It's hard to distinguish, I think, between a legitimate and responsible interest in providing accurate information about self-publishing, and sounding like a critic of self-publishing.

    I mean, the most accurate numbers I've seen suggest that the vast majority of self-published books sell very, very few copies. I don't think it's bashing self-publishing to point that out.

    Those who plan to self-publish point out that there's no control for quality in those numbers - if the vast majority of self-published books are total crap (which most people seem to agree is the case) then it makes sense that the vast majority of self-published books don't sell well. After all, they're crap! Fair enough, but the problem arises when the people having this discussion automatically assume (or, no, that's not fair - they don't automatically assume, but they truly believe) that their book isn't crap and will therefore be the exception. My concern is that this belief is shared by a lot of the people putting out those crappy self-published books.

    So, to me, there are two main issues to consider:

    - one, how do prospective self-publishers accurately gauge the quality of their book;

    - and, two, is it true that well-written self-published books do sell at a level that will bring comparable or superior profits to trade publishing?

    I don't have answers to either of these questions (although as I've said in other threads, I think my writing quality is comparable in all my books, and my self-pubbed books have, to date, made me less than my trade pubbed ones - but this is just one person's experience.)

    Anyway, I think it's totally possible to be concerned about the naivete of some writers who pursue self-publishing without having a lot of self-esteem tied up in the trade publishing system.
     
  9. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    I haven't seen a self-published book I'd call 'total crap' in a couple of years. Plenty of mediocre ones, and a fair number of decent to good ones, but none that are unreadable junk. Amazon's algorithms generally make those sink without a trace.

    By publishing it and seeing whether it sells. There are plenty of books I think are bad which sell well, and plenty of books I think are good which don't.

    Impossible to say, since luck plays so much of a role in book sales regardless of how it's published. One review on a popular blog could make the difference between selling dozens of copies of a book and selling thousands, or (eventually) millions.

    Amazon, in particular, pushes books for the first thirty days or so, then lets them sink or swim on their own... if you don't sell a lot in the early days, you probably won't sell many after that. If you do sell a lot, the book may keep selling for a long time afterwards through readers finding it on the 'also boughts' and bestseller lists.

    One big difference is that trade-published books are far more likely to appear on book store shelves. That pretty much guarantees they'll sell better than a first self-published book by an unknown writer.
     
  10. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It certainly started out that way. Then it regressed.
    If past comments on the subject were not known, it's possible this was overreacted to. But even on the merits of these posts alone, why should someone judge a person by their publisher and not by their work? Why are you doing it? Why does @ChickenFreak do it?

    You didn't say you had to wade through more chaff to get the wheat, you said the route of publishing meant the books would be crap when everyone here has almost certainly come across many a crappy traditionally published book.

    @Steerpike does a good job of pointing out the pros and cons. I tried to point out the book is not the publisher, the author, given today's publishing reality, should not be judged by the publisher. There are pros, there are cons, there are good and bad books published via either route.

    No one should be lumping a book they've never read into guilt by publisher association categories.

    I haven't yet submitted any queries, haven't pitched any agents or publishers. But I'll be damned if I'm going to think any differently about my book if no publisher picks it up and I self publish. It's my writing that matters, not the fact I got permission from the gatekeepers to pass through the gate.
     
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  11. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    We may have different standards on that. Fair enough.

    Again, fair enough, for the individual author. But do you see how this approach is potentially problematic for self-publishing as a whole? I mean, it seems to almost guarantee that a lot of the books self-published will be of poor quality, if this is the only way authors can get their work assessed.

    I'm not sure it's impossible. I feel like Amazon must have the numbers on this, although I guess it would be difficult to select books of comparable quality.

    And luck plays a role, for sure, but, to take your popular blog example, there are a lot of popular blogs that, rightly or wrongly, don't review self-published books. So, yes, there's an element of luck, but there are also ways to improve the odds. There are a lot of publishers who have relationships with bloggers and submit books to them for review with a greater chance of getting a review than a self-published author would have. etc.

    This is a really important and valid point. Apparently even e-book sales are influenced by bookstore shelf-space, since a significant number of readers browse physical books and then purchase e-books of whatever caught their eye.
     
  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I could say the same thing about people who defend self-publishing. But I believe that I usually argue the issue, not the personalities. To do otherwise would be disrespectful. As I feel that you are being with this remark.
     
  13. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    Not really. At least on Amazon, the unreadable books sink without a trace after a few weeks. Since they're ranked low, and not on any 'also bought' lists, readers then have to try real hard to find them. The mediocre books hang around, but they're still hard to find compared to the more popular.

    The main exception are the deliberate scam books, where you sometimes find a category flooded with 'publishers' who release several books a day. But they tend to be in non-fiction.

    And, I must admit, I did read a sample of a self-published book that looked like it was written by a twelve-year-old just after my previous post. But that's only because I clicked on a link from a signature in another writer's forum. I'd never have found it on Amazon otherwise.

    Yes, exactly. For every successful book, there are probably a hundred or more similar books that could have been in its place if they'd been picked for that lucky blog post instead. There are self-published writers who've said their sales increased 10-100x just because their book was mentioned on a popular blog (in one case, mentioned as an example of a bad self-published book).
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    It's an accurate remark, in my view. And I don't feel it is disrespectful, particularly given my comment that I and every else has such biases centered around various subjects. It's human nature. I don't know anyone who operates on a 100% rational, emotionless level.
     
  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    How about a list of pros and cons people can add to. Setting aside the myth that if you self-publish you've destroyed any chance of traditionally publishing, which is (demonstrably) bollocks.

    SELF-PUBLISHING

    Pros:

    1) You retain control over your works and your job as a writer

    2) No gatekeepers

    3) Publish as fast as you can write or as slow as you feel like

    4) You keep a greater percentage of the sale price of each book sale.

    Cons:

    1) You foot the bill for cover artists, editors, and the like

    2) No gatekeepers (e.g. you may not be ready yet and there is no one necessarily there to tell you so)

    3) You have to handle marketing and promotion (find readers)

    TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

    Pros:

    1) Publisher takes care of a lot of costs, including covers and editors etc.

    2) You take advantage of publisher's marketing and distribution channels

    3) There may be an advance

    4) You're on the radar for a lot more established critics, awards, etc.

    Con's:

    1) You lose a certain amount of control over your work and your life as a writer (i.e. you are bound to contract terms)

    2) May lose input over things like covers and editorial decisions

    3) Less of a percentage of money per unit sold

    4) You still will likely have to handle a good portion of promoting your work

    Throw some more into the list, just don't add BS :D
     
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  16. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's more disrespectful, in my opinion, to dis writers who self-publish as if they aren't good enough to join the club.

    Books like Twilight and 50 Shades are big sellers. So a publisher looking for a big seller may be letting all sorts of trash through the gate, while not being interested in an interesting well written book that doesn't have a known market share.

    Think about the blockbuster movies one sees on mainstream TV and in the big movie multiplexes. While in the smaller markets like online streaming and the film festivals, one finds some incredibly good stuff. Yet no Hollywood producer is interested in those quality films.

    Known markets are a big consideration of traditional publishers. That means writing for the popular market has an advantage over a well written book with an untested theme.
     
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  17. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'll add what I posted above, a traditional publisher may be looking for the latest vampire novel or whatever is hot at the moment, while in the indie market one may find much more artistic leeway to write the book you want to write, not the book a publisher wants you to write.
     
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  18. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    At the other end of the scale, there are self-published writers who look for the latest big thing, then write and publish similar books in a few weeks, to catch the wave. Not what I'd want to do, but apparently it allows them to write full time.
     
  19. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    The problem with pro and con lists is that they tend to treat trade publishing as if it's monolithic, which of course it isn't. It's a totally different experience to publish with a Big 5 publisher vs. a a niche-market e-first publisher. Even self-publishing seems to be dividing itself into sub-categories, with "assisted" e-publishing, etc.

    Nothing's clear-cut, really.
     
  20. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Definitely, I've seen a lot of that.
     
  21. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    So put some pros and cons specific to certain genres or publishers. Reading comprehension of the forum is reasonably high. I think we can sort it out. I value your publishing experience.
     
  22. swhibs123

    swhibs123 Active Member

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    Here's the thing, both the trade and the self publishing paradigms have very real value. Both of them. I'll gladly sign a deal wtih a trade publisher for the right contract. But some of the clauses are really sticky, and potentially career harming. I won't sign contracts like that. I have walked away from contracts like that. As for self publishing, I totally agree that the random sampling produces a sour experience. But if you look for books that are trending well, have quite a few reviews (I usually put 50 as the benchmark), you'll find some really great reads.

    Before someone heads down the trade or self-publishing sides of the fence it really is advisable to learn as much as possible about both sides. Know your options. I think the biggest problem is when authors feel they have to take a trade deal, and lower the bar for what publisher they're going to work with. Getting a publishing deal is easy, getting a good publishing deal isn't.

    Really good points on all the posts above. It's a worthwhile discussion.
     
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  23. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. I personally know somebody (face to face) who has self-pubbed (fairly lucratively) a couple of works of fiction, but he publishes through an entity that is actually himself, under a different name. It can work. But he also maintains that getting a book to a point where it's making serious money is a LOTTA LOTTA very hard work.
     
  24. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    On a slightly different tack. (I'm still just a 'reader' and haven't quite got my book formatted for self-publishing, which I ultimately intend to do.)

    As a reader and frequent customer, I have received many many 'suggestions' from Amazon on books I might like, based on my reading history. A fair number of these suggestions are for self-pubbed books. So Amazon IS actually promoting them. (Some of them are total crap, but I've actually bought a few that aren't too bad as well.)

    So, if you're going to self-pub with Amazon, there must be a level of linkage via subject matter that should be explored and utilised? Does anybody know how this works?
     
  25. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    There is a cult-level obsession among some self-publishers about the ways to get the Amazon system to work for you. I haven't gotten very far into it, but if you find a good resource, let me know!
     
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