“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
That astonishing bit of good news comes from William Somerset Maugham, one of the highest-paid writers during the 1930s. It’s good news because writers like to push boundaries and walk through literature like Mark Twain was sitting on their shoulder.
Writers want to create stories and record observations and social interaction. And some of these hard-working writers want to see their names in lights.
You know. That 15 minutes of fame thing.
Some writers dream of being the F. Scott Fitzgerald of the day or the Oscar Wilde that stews over a play like a grizzly with her cubs. Some illustrious writers want the big traditional publishers to do the work. They want the big boys to come up with brilliant cover designs, creative marketers, and fat cat publicists, so they can attend the fancy cocktail parties and multi-city book signings.
Some of those writers have that day when the seas part and the heavens open, or when they can no longer walk across the street without feeling like they have to go to the bathroom. Sure they get a book deal with a $1000 advance, but they forget the first rule of writing.
That is, you are only a writer when you write. So if your passion is creating a busload of characters and introducing people to worlds that are more than dream worthy, then self-publishing is for you.
But before we go into the appetizing and juicy parts of self-publishing, let’s get real for a moment. There are more than 750,000 books published a year. Some people say it’s more like a million.
The people who track those kinds of statistics say half of those publications are compliments of self-publishers. And knows this. On average, a self-published book will sell less than 300 copies a year, unless writers follow through and come up with a marketing plan for a specific audience.
Hundreds of writers who self-publish sell thousands of books a year because that audience responded to that writer’s marketing campaign.
1. You Control Your Time.
The last thing any writer needs is pumping out what seems like an endless flow of query letters to snag an agent. The agent will look for a publisher and suddenly you’re on a time clock. You took the bait. Those suits are going to reel you in and expect stuff from you on a time schedule that you may or may not like.
2. You’re In The Driver’s Seat.
You choose the cover and the price. And you don’t have to change stuff like that title that you came up with while you were dreaming of that old high school flame. You have complete control. You can continue to write your book when you want.
3. The Royalties Are Bigger!
You’ll get money for each book that leaves the distribution center or when Amazon lets you know your eBook is selling, and you get all the profit. Traditional publishing houses take 85 percent, and an agent gets another 15 percent. You might have enough left to pay the rent, but Forbes won’t be calling to put you on their richest people in the world list.
4. Now’s The Time To Self-Publish
The stigma and the stench of self-publishing are in the wind now. Thanks to the brave writers who wrote great books and self-published, and thanks to the Internet, all writers can self-publish with the click of a mouse.
5. You Can Market The Book, Dude!
Sure. Marketing may not be your bag. But with all the marketing tools available a six-year-old writer could do it, and that tot might even do it better. But you have to give it your best shot, by doing the research and by spending some of that grade school lunch money you hide under your bed.
6. This Is The Age Of Self-Empowerment And Enlightenment
Guess what? 50 Shades of Grey is self-published, and if that work can hit the writer’s jackpot, so can you.
Michal asks: When I started writing and publishing, I wasn’t in the business owner mindset at all. I published my first book with an investment of just five dollars. I needed to grow and see progress before I was willing to invest more in my books. How would you have started with just five bucks? Forget about your business background when you answer the question. Thanks.
Michal is the first repeat caller Steve’s answered on SPQ. His most recent book, “The Art of Persistence,” has a 7,900 ranking on Amazon, so it’s a solid book that is selling well. Michael is a great example of someone who takes action. English isn’t his first language, but he’s still doing a great job putting out valuable content and building an audience. Continue reading
Alex Kirby of the “Life After Football” blog asks: When it comes to itemizing deductions on your business taxes, do you consider the entire price of the book as revenue, then deduct the cost of printing and whatever Amazon takes out before you get your cut, or do you only start with the royalty you get for each book? For example, if I have a book that sells $19.99 and costs $2.50 to print, do you deduct the $2.50 as an expense?
Self-Publishing Questions has been on hiatus for two weeks. Steve had a rough transition when he got home from hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, plus he had some trouble getting back into the swing of things in terms of motivation. He apologizes for the unscheduled break.
From now on, the podcast will run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Continue reading