Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Monday News: More self publishing news, some real numbers, and some...

Only one author who provided information had only one title published. Her success was not as dramatic. Many of the authors had previously been traditionally published or were currently traditionally published. One thing I’ve heard lamented is that the time period authors give themselves to achieve success is so short, as if everyone can publish a book and be immediately successful and if you don’t, then you will never be a success.  Clearly a larger body of work leads to more income.  Few authors achieve instant success.  Many of the authors contributing to Force’s informal survey have in excess of 6 titles to their name. 

One development has been a greater pressure on them to market themselves; via festivals and other live events and on traditional and social media. The chatter around books – which their publishers always hope will become “buzz” and, even better, translate into “word-of-mouth success” – is greater than ever, and much of it is very enjoyable; the creation of readers’ communities often yields unexpected insights and recommendations. Whether it translates into hard cash is trickier to quantify; and how damaging the threat to writerly solitude yet to be seen.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Liz H.
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 04:56:46

    Although information gathering seems to be an anaethema to traditional publishers, a smart business would be doing research about the “why” underlying the expansion of the self pub. market share. (Note, I said research, rather than unsubstantiated off the cuff conclusions.) What is the importance of price point vs. format availability vs. DRM vs. geo-restrictions? How/where does purchase of new authors fall in there (i.e. are the new author purchases primarily self pubbed), and why?

    Btw, that would have been my answer to Scott Turrow in your post yesterday. Stop whining, get off your butt and do some research, present us with facts, and then we’ll talk.

  2. carmen webster buxton
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 07:59:42

    I would be willing to be one reason self-pub has eaten into traditional pub’s is because of lower pricing. Almost no one self-publishes in hardcover, and traditional publishers still price their ebooks to “protect” hardcover sales.

    As for the digital afterlife, I am half-expecting Google to offer a free service for generated online obituaries that, when you go to read them, you see ads for flowers and life insurance. :)

  3. willaful
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 10:01:17

    The google thing sounded great, til I remembered their habit of discontinuing services. Do we want to trust them to do this for us?

  4. Courtney
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 15:07:35

    I’m interested in the “why” of self-publishing too-and I’d like to know if the reasons are different for new authors (those who have never been published through a publisher and only self-publish) vs. those who’ve published traditionally and later opt to self-publish. I’ve always sort of thought that some people self-publish either because they can’t find an agent or they find an agent and can’t find a home for their work with a publisher. It could also be more driven by control-more control over the pricing, release date, and marketing (although it seems that unless you’re a NYT #1 bestselling author, you don’t get a ton of marketing support from your publisher).

    I also think that it probably makes a lot of sense for financial reasons. Lynn Viehl on her blog years ago broke down how much she actually makes on books on average after paying her agent, her marketing expenses, etc. At the time, she published in paperback (I can’t remember if ebooks were that popular then), made the NYT, etc. and it wasn’t a ton of money for the amount of books that she sold.

    I want to say that Courtney Milan wrote a blog post here about why she chose to turn down HQN contracts and self publish and I remember thinking at the time that if you were willing to do all the work required to self publish (hire an editor, commission an artist for the cover, download the books on Amazon, Kobo, etc.), it would make a lot of sense.

  5. Karen Cantwell
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 15:27:23

    I’ve been publishing independently since mid-2010, so I’ve seen the dramatic changes in the industry for Indies. It is true now that an author often (not always) needs to put more books out before seeing a significant rise in sales and income. In 2010 and 2011, this was not the case. There were so few author self-publishing (I’m really talking about e-publishing here) that many had nearly overnight success with just one title – authors who had never been traditionally published. In either case, however, an author, whether self-publishing or traditionally, generally needs to publish titles on a regular basis to keep a foothold.

  6. M. Malone
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 15:45:37

    Courtney Milan’s post perfectly encapsulates why so many of us have chosen this method of publishing. It was definitely a choice for me, not a last resort. Paying a flat rate for editing, cover art, formatting, etc. makes a lot of sense when you look at the earning potential of a book over time.

    I started self-publishing as an experiment. I didn’t have much backlist, just two novellas with Ellora’s Cave. I knew that I wouldn’t be offered much if I shopped my full-length books to publishers for several reasons. (1) I wasn’t a big name and (2) my books contain racially diverse characters and unusual professions (supermodels, music producers, bodyguards, etc.) and I was NOT willing to change that.

    I knew that I could probably market them better on my own.

    It was definitely the best decision I’ve ever made. The little novella that I experimented with went from selling 53 copies/month to selling thousands a month between March 2011 and December 2011. The full-length novel that I was scared to shop around to publishers has sold more than 50,000 copies since its release in October 2012. The sequel that I just released is on track to do just as well. I’m able to price competitively since I’m earning 70%. My EC books have benefited from my self-pub success but they still don’t do as well since I have no control over them. I would make so many changes to those books if I could!

    That’s my “why” but I imagine it’s different for every author. No matter what you do, publishing is a gamble but I was willing to take the risk that allowed me the most control.

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