Author Topic: Self Publishing Revolution?  (Read 3810 times)

Offline Alexa

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Self Publishing Revolution?
« on: March 21, 2011, 11:54:55 AM »
Hi all, I've been reading a lot about self-publishing, particularly ebooks, and this piece cropped up today on Twitter and elsewhere:

Essentially (it is very long!) the writer Barry Eisler has turned down a $500,000 advance to go solo, as he feels that he can make more money through the self-publishing route, specifically in digital publishing (Amazon Kindle for instance gives the writer 70% of profits if the ebook is priced above 2.99 in the UK). In comparison traditional publishers only give authors 25% of ebook profits, though this decreases to around 14% after costs.

So I put it to MWC - is self-publishing physically or electronically a good option for writers? Or are these "indie authors" setting themselves up for a fall? Does anyone here self-publish or have their own stories to tell?

Offline Andre Farant

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Re: Self Publishing Revolution?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2011, 07:27:35 PM »
Hey Alexa,

First off, I think you'll find answers to your questions (and further dialogue leading from your post) in this section:

I noticed there's even a post included there referrencing one of the authors (Amanda Hocking) mentioned in that article you linked to.

Since I'm here, I figured I'd give my two-cents on the issue.

The Konrath Eisler talk covered a lot of information, but let's focus on the bit you highlighted: That Eisler had turned down a six-figure book deal to self-publish.

Well, it should be mentioned, straight off, that Eisler is an established author, as he mentions in the interview. He was not a first-time novelis. As such, he has a built-in fanbase, one he knows and trusts. He can (presumably) depend on them to spend half a mil or more on his newest title. In fact, you should look through that list of authors mentioned by Konrath and see how many of them sold their first novels through publishers only to later move onto self-publishing (and taking their established fan base with them).

For a first-time novelist, I think (as always) it's a game of numbers.

Check out this link:

It's fairly long too, so allow me to summarize a little. Essentially, it atates that according to some research, the avergae advance for a first time novel is $5000 (and that's just based on this guy's research--it could be less than that). That's not much. But consider this, to make up for that, you'd have to sell 714 copies of your self-published novel, at $9.99 a pop (you keep %70, or $7) through Amazon.

Now, granted, you get to sell it right away and a very low cost. But ask yourself, how will you get people to buy your book? You (I'm guessing) don't have the built-in fanbase of a Barry Eisler or Scoot Nicholson. In fact, I thought both Eisler and Konrath were being rather misleading in saying that, with e-publishing, authors could now simply advertize through their work, freeing up more time for writing since it was n longer necessary to spend so much time on blogs and social networks trying to sell your book. I'm thinking those are the words of wriiters who have achieved a certain level of success and promptly lost touch with what it is to be a first time novelist. Just look at the list of authors in that article and then see how many of them have their own blogs, websites, facebook pages and so on.

Indie bands can tour like crazy to make themselves known and build word of mouth--writers have to advertize too.

Now, it is true that e-books are there forever so, though you might only sell a copie or two right now, in the long run, you might hit that 714 or even 100 mark. Depends on how patient you are in that case.

So, I think anyone considering the e-book route (and hoping to make money at it--I'm not talking people who just want to see their stuff in print and that's enough--though that's great and fine if it's your goal) needs to ask themselves a few questions. For one, do you think you can sell your novel to a publisher for at least $5000? And second, do you think you can sell 714 copies your novel as an e-book at 9.99 a pop?

If the answer to both questions is no, your novel probably still needs work and you know it.

If you answered yes to the first and no to the second, you're deluded and think agents and publishers are dumber than they are.

If you answered no to the first and yes to the second, well, maybe e-publishing is your best bet. $7 here and there is better than nothing and, if by some chance you actually sell a substantial number of copies (714 is not substantial--30'000 would be substantial) of your novel, you could use that as a selling point to a publisher on your next work.

Hopefully, you answered yes to both, in which case, why not try getting an agent and selling to a publisher and, if that doesn't work, the e-book route is always there to be taken.

All that said, Eisler and Konrath made very good points: there's no doubt that changes have to be made. Publishers are, without a doubt, far behind and still in a certain denial about the way things are going. But to say that they are obsolete and that authors can just publish an e-book and make it big without a publisher or agent? There are exceptions (there are always exceptions) but, overall, I don't think we're there quite yet.

Oh, and just to put things in perspective: Eisler will have to sell 71'400 copies of his book to make up that half-million, and I'm sure he'll do it--proof that he isn't like you or me and we aren't like him. Not yet.

Anyway, interesting article and I think you should share it with everyone in the self-publishing section (posted above).

Thanks for sharing, Alexa



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Re: Self Publishing Revolution?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2011, 11:23:42 PM »
I'm not here to burst anyone's bubble. But, to turn down a half-million to go the self-publishing route is questionable at best and a fool's choice at worse.

Established author or otherwise.

I do, however, believe something more was involved and not mentioned. That's speculation on my part, granted, and only he and the parties involved know the real deal.

This said, I think it goes without saying a half-million is a dream advance for any debut. If you're a name, say one of the big ten, you can quibble over a half-million.

His call, but don't think that's normal or even adviseable.

And no, it's not a 'self-publishing' revolution. It's conversation at the water cooler, and everyone's saying the same thing on this side of the house: huge mistake.

But, you don't have to take my word for it.

Sobel Webber Associates used to represent Mr. Eisler.

Not anymore.

Draw your own conclusions.

« Last Edit: March 21, 2011, 11:25:42 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Alexa

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Re: Self Publishing Revolution?
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2011, 08:27:50 AM »
Totally agree with your assessment Andre, as I thought while reading it that it was all well and good for these guys to be making that kind of money from going solo but that a new writer should never expect the same. Personally if I was offered half a mil for a story of mine I'd take it, with no hesitation. :)

I like the idea of ebooks and will be looking at publishing short stories through that medium in the future to test the waters as it were - as well as a way to market my work. I think at the moment a combination of the two worlds is the best option for authors.

And Wolfe, I agree that there is possibly more to this than they're telling. And I don't think it's a revolution either - more of a temporary squall. I do think publishers need to wake up to ebooks and their true potential (as I think they are forsaking them in the interests of preserving the paper medium) but one established author jumping ship isn't likely to change anything in a major way.

Edit: Hello Alexa. I removed the link and your redirection notice in this reply, since I moved the original discussion here and deleted the repost. It keeps double posting down and the discussion stays on one thread. Feel free to PM me or another moderator to move a thread. We're happy to help and keep things tidy. ;) Maimi
« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 09:00:05 AM by Maimi »

Offline Alexa

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Re: Self Publishing Revolution?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2011, 09:37:53 AM »
Oooh magic - thanks Maimi!


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Re: Self Publishing Revolution?
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2011, 05:58:52 PM »
Hello Alexa,

I think the reason any writer would turn down a half-million dollars is that they already have several million in the bank and don't need the money. I would believe perhaps 0.00000005% of the writers in the world fall into that group.

The chances of selling books on an independent, personal website depends upon the number of visitors to the website, the price of the books, the readership of the genre, and how well the books are written. The independent promotion of books on the Internet is akin to someone attending the Super Bowl and yelling the merits of their books while the crowd roars.

Authors who have personal websites where they offer their books for sale or free download are very reluctant to reveal their visitor statistics. Since I have no illusions about becoming even a mildly successful writer, and since I give my books away for free anyway, I will let you in on my stats for the last year. I have had an independent website offering free downloads of my books for just over a year. In the first quarter of the year, I averaged about 350 visitors a month, and about 50 books each month downloaded. Over this last quarter, I have had close to 1000 visitors a month, and downloaded on average just under 200 books a month.

Most visitors to my website have been interested in my series of e-book tutorials, rather than my books, or the essays I have written regarding writing. Only in the last month have the number of visitors to my Reader's Page exceeded the number of visitors to the e-book tutorials. I don't suppose I would have had as many visitors, or downloads of my books, if I had charged even a penny.

Nevertheless, I am doing my part, in a very small way, to promote the idea of independent author-publishers. Although I love the feel and smell of a newly printed book, print publishing is in decline and while it may never totally disappear, the future for authors is in the digital world. There is no longer any need to allow print-publishers to be the gatekeepers between authors and an audience, and I highly recommend every author to establish an Internet website; learn how to produce their own e-books; and, join the scrum for a share of the book market.


P. S. I would be very interested if other independent website authors would share their visitor and download statistics. No guesses, just true statistics.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 06:02:07 PM by Tony_A20 »