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what best way to self publish e-books

Discussion in 'Electronic Publishing' started by ewilson1776, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I believe the numbers I saw were for first-time authors.

    My feeling is that first-time authors are still better off, on the whole, going the hybrid route. Try to land a traditional publisher if you like, but publish on your own in the meantime instead of putting all of your eggs in the traditional publishing basket. Given that the number of aspiring authors who take either approach and actually succeed is quite small, it doesn't make much sense to me to only pursue one.
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think hybrid makes a lot of sense (I do it myself!) but I don't think a "first time" author really can be hybrid, right? Like, you need at least two books to be hybrid, so you'd no longer be a first time author after the first one.
     
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  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I just mean one should pursue a hybrid course. Send your works out to traditional publishers in order to pursue that path, but while you're doing that pursue the self-publishing route as well.
     
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  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Of course you haven't - how can one determine whether a book is good enough for traditional publishing unless it's submitted to editors and either accepted or rejected by them all? You can't make that comparison.

    And actually I think it's apples to oranges to take all traditionally published books but cream off the top of the self-published ones. That's what all the pro-self-publishing 'studies' do, and it's disingenuous. It ignores the reality that if you self-publish a book, your profit is likely to be in region of £0.

    Fans of self-publishing claim it's better than traditional, so they can't massage the statistics to back up their claim. They should be comfortable comparing average with average.
     
  5. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hear what you're saying, but I'm not sure it works.

    I mean, yes, the absolute vast majority of self-published books are crap and will sell like crap.

    But the idea of someone having to choose between self-publishing and traditional publishing suggests that there's an actual choice. ie. the book is of a quality, in a genre, that would allow it to find a traditional publisher. So for that writer, the writer who actually has a choice and isn't just self-pubbing because there's no option, it would be really valuable to see numbers with the chaff sorted out. (I'm not sure how we'd get these numbers, but I'd love to see them).

    For what it's worth, for a first time author who does have that choice I'd still suggest going with a traditional publisher simply because in addition to the crap self-published books that sell like crap, I think there are also good self-published books that sell like crap. And, yes, there are good traditionally published books that sell like crap, but at least the author still has an advance for those.
     
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  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You can't make it because the data isn't available. It's the only reasonable comparison, though. Average to average doesn't make sense. The only way to make the comparison in a meaningful way is to control for quality. If you're not comparing works of similar quality, then you're not making a scientific comparison in terms of the relative merits of each approach to publishing. As with any such study, if you're not controlling for the relevant factors that you're not studying, then the comparison doesn't tell you much about the one that you are.
     
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  7. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Guys,

    If only the choices were that easy. These days in my opinion, the best chance an author has to make a few bucks out of writing is to go indie. Of course that leaves them with a huge mountain of learning to climb, but if they are willing to do it, then the odds of some sort of success are in their favour. Note: I'm not talking top listers, just authors trying to make a living. And that's because most people who choose to try and get a trade deal, will not get one, and those that do, may have to go through many years of struggle.

    But to add another wrinkle - and I have no stats on this - I suspect that for most authors the chance of getting a trade deal are now better if they have gone indie first. Go to Kindleboards and start reading the threads about how many indies are being picked up by agents, simply because they either have a useful writing history or a book out there which agents think they can sell. In the end if you go indie and do well, you stand a much better chance of landing an agent / publisher than all those others who are out there doing nothing but the agent-go-round. This has been my experience too.

    Either way the one thing you have to do is take your ego out of the equation. Whether you go indie or trade your book will only be of the best quality if you are willing to work your arse off. And don't fall for the line that if it's good an agent will pick it up, or that if they don't it's because it's crap. There is so much luck in this business, that all of these assumptions are fraught with problems.

    My thought is that for a new author your deision tree should be;

    1 Written a book and can't be bothered doing any work to improve it because it's already brilliant - Go Indie - you'll never land an agent.

    2 Written a book and really don't feel confident or really want to try working with cover artists / editors etc - Go Trade - your odds of success are crap either way, but at least you won't have to suffer through the extreme learning curve and it's the only option you have.

    3 Written a book, willing to work your arse off to edit, cover, market etc - Go Indie - your chances of making a modest income are better that way. Alternatively Go Trade, but set a limit - so many rejections / so much time spent submitting - then if no results Go Indie.

    4 Written a book, and are convinced it will be the next Stephen King and it's utterly brilliant etc - Go Home! Failing that Go Trade. On the off chance you're right they'll probably get you the biggest returns and get your name out there. And if you're wrong (it could happen you know!), you're out of luck either way.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  8. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can you clarify the part of this that's your experience? Have you gotten an agent after self-publishing?

    I agree that there's a lot of hard work with either path, and I agree that there's a component of luck in the traditional path - but I'd say the luck component is actually higher with self-publishing. Being in the right place at the right time is so much more difficult when you're jumping right into the huge ocean of book sales, rather than hopping from lake to lake of the traditional publishing process.

    Overall, I think this analysis is suffering from the same lack of quality distinction @Steerpike was pointing out in the arguments for the other direction.

    I mean, a lot of your points seem premised on the idea that a writer is very unlikely to get a traditional publishing deal, and while I agree that this is true if we look at all people who want to be published, I really don't think it's true for writers producing work of a certain quality, in certain genres, or with other qualifiers included.

    You're basing your decision tree almost exclusively on confidence and willingness to work, but I think the tree is much, much more complicated than that.
     
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  9. Brindy

    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Well, maybe I'll be able to add some true statistics from a self-publish point of view to this in the not too distant future.

    I am due to self-publish my first children's novel, both on Amazon and paperback in a little over 3 weeks. Scary/exciting/mind blowing/nervous all describe how I feel at the moment. It's 270 pages of time-travel adventure for 9-12 year olds. I was looking in a bookstore at the weekend and it fits the profile perfectly. I can visualise it there.

    I have used a professional illustrator who has designed book covers before, so he knows what he is doing. I saw the final artwork mocked-up into a book today as a 3-D image and it looks amazing. I cannot wait to get my hands on the first printed copy. I am having it professionally printed, 100 copies to start with, of which a chunk will be used for promotional purposes.

    It has been uploaded to KDP ready for me to press the button.

    My reasons for self-publishing? I have a business background and family who run their own business. We had the marketing plan in place before I wrote the book. I decided I could either spend the next two years trying to get a publishing deal or I could spend the next two years promoting the book myself and decided to go down the self-publishing route. The learning curve has been steep, but I have put the hours in and feel I have now covered all the bases.

    Time will tell whether I can cut it as a self-published author, but I will have achieved my goal. I will have a novel written by me on my bookshelf. I am prepared to write off the money spent if necessary and will still feel it's been worth it. If my book is on other bookshelves too, well... that is icing on the cake.

    Time will tell if I have made the right decision.
     
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  10. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, if you're excited and enjoying the process and feeling satisfied about having the book in your hands, I'd say you're on the right track!

    I think kids' books are traditionally a hard sell for self-publishing, but obviously there are exceptions (including at least one member of this forum!)
     
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  11. psychotick

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Bayview,

    I have a publisher now, and scarcely had to go through the normal hoops. I made an enquiry, they said send a sample and that was it. No agent, no worries really, and Spaced will be published in a few weeks.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  12. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I just don't get how comparing all of one group and the extreme outliers of another group is a good way to go about anything!
     
  13. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Congratulations! This must be very exciting for you. I hope the book does well.

    Just a question, if you don't mind me asking. What printing company did you choose? Any reason for choosing them in particular?
     
  14. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    One example of this is the advance Stephen King got for his first novel, Carrie. It was $2500, but he earned out (is that the right way to say that?) and when it went to paperback, the advance was $300,000. Needless to say, he quit his day job.
     
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  15. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But--why do you want a publisher?

    I mean, given that you do - congratulations, that's really exciting!

    But you've been one of the biggest proponents of self-publishing on this board. Can you explain your decision to start working with a publisher?
     
  16. RikWriter

    RikWriter Member

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    That's not a fair comparison. I'm talking about the SAME book and the SAME writer. If someone wrote a book good enough to get published but that person is not a "catch-fire-and-race-to-the-top-of-the-best-seller" type writer, and they are either themselves halfway decent at marketing or can hire someone who is, they'll make more money faster self-publishing, particularly in genre fiction.
     
  17. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Source, please.

    I still have no idea how average vs average is an unfair comparison...
     
  18. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's hard to ever have the same book, but in terms of the same writer - I both self-publish and traditionally publish. I don't self-publish my weaker books - I deliberately decide, before I start writing, that this one will be self-published because I'm trying to maintain diversity and flexibility in my publishing. I have my self-published books professionally edited, get professional covers, etc. I've done everything I can to ensure the quality is standard. I activate what promotional opportunities I can. (Well, not for my most recent series b/c they're an experiment. But usually I do).

    And my self-published books sell less, even at lower prices, even though I've already established a name through traditional publishing. When I tried self-publishing in a new genre with a new name, my sales were absolutely dismal, and I spent more time doing promo for that book than I've ever spent on any other book.

    I keep self-pubbing b/c I want the flexibility and because maybe, someday, the "long-tail" will catch up. But it hasn't happened yet.

    Do you have any similar experience/anecdote to support your idea that self-publishing will do better?
     
  19. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    That sound pretty definitive, @BayView. Good info to have.
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think it can ever be truly definitive, because there are so many variations between different genres (although romance traditionally does better than others in self-publishing), different publishing contracts, different publishers, different marketting styles, different days of the damn week...

    I don't have a crystal ball and I can't say definitively what anyone else's experiences with self-publishing will be. But I can certainly say what mine have been. And I can disagree with others who claim a level of certainty that I just don't think it's possible to have.
     
  21. MartinWellow

    MartinWellow Member

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    Quick question - why does all of this fascinating discussion apply to books but not to other artistic mediums?

    In art, you pretty much have to self publish to get any respect - artists don't sit holding their work to their chests until they get an agent.
    In music, there is a thriving scene of indie bands and labels doing it themselves, putting out EPs - it's how most bands started, and how lots proudly continue
    In film again, doing it yourself is how most start. A few projects down the line they might get picked up by a distributor etc. but still. Indie doesn't imply crap - it often implies gems, people with futures, films that wouldn't get made in the studio system. And with films, releasing it independently is often a way to grab a big distributors attention, not a nail in your coffin.

    Yet with books, doing it yourself is seen as very much the second rate option. It seems to garner no respect from many.

    I could of course be talking complete rubbish, but there does seem to be a difference. There may be valid reasons for the differences in respect - would love to know.
     
  22. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know how/why it happened, but a lot of self-published books just are crap.

    I could theorize that it ties into the "everyone has one book in them" idea - people seem to think that having a story to tell is enough and there's no need to actually learn how to write - they learned to write in the third grade! I don't think people necessarily have that attitude toward art of music or film making.

    Possibly also because it's so damn easy to self-publish. With art you need a display space, paint/clay/whatever; with music you need instruments, recording tools, often other people; with film you need cameras, editing equipment, often other people, etc. With books? Any clown can bash away at a keyboard for 60K words, and far too many of them do.

    There are some solid books being self-published, no doubt. But they're hard to find when they're buried beneath so much crap.
     
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  23. Brindy

    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Thank you, really excited, especially now I have seen my completed artwork in a 3D mockup of how the book will look. It looks so real.

    I'm using 4edge Ltd in Essex. I was recommended them by another print company. Contact has been good over a number of queries, price is good and I get a free proof copy before it goes to print so I have time for last minutes changes if necessary.
     
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  24. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You're not. Traditionally published books are the "outliers" among all of those works that people try to get traditionally published. They represent only a small fragment of the books people have written and want to publish. The difference with self publishing is all of those other books actually get published. So with traditional publishing, only the outliers make it onto the shelves. With self-publishing, the outliers and everything else all make it to publication, so you have to have a way to separate them out.

    If you don't consider those things and control for them, any comparison is meaningless.
     
  25. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Barriers to entry are higher in all of those other areas. They're the least amount higher, arguably, in art, but then there are lots of people with completed paintings in their garages that will never make a cent on their work.
     
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