So there I was, wondering what to do next. The market research I did helped shape my plan, but my decision had more to do with my own life situation than the market.
In the dozen or so books I’ve read on how to get published (self- or traditional), very little attention is given to the reality that you need to create your own path to publication. There’s plenty about how to wedge yourself into the traditional model or the self-publishing model, but not much guidance about how to construct your own approach. In the end, the decision to self-publish … or to publish at all … turns on personal interests, commitments, abilities … i.e., one’s life situation.
This is the way it worked out for me:
- Based on Publishers Weekly deals, thriller publication in traditional houses is down (after a run of not-really-thriller books like Gone Girl).
- However, I have a series, which gives me the ability to connect with an audience over a long period.
- I would like to have more readers than pity purchases from close friends and family, if only to cover the costs of publishing.
- I have a moderately large contact list – former business contacts, people (mostly in Florida) who signed on to my music mailing, friends, family.
- I have time to devote.
- I like writing better than ‘business development’, but I have done the business thing. And, oh yes, there’s a compulsive, everything-is-a-spreadsheet part of my brain which wouldn’t mind the minutiae of self-publishing. (At least, that’s what I thought until I tried to compile a book in Kindle format.)
- And there’s the hard, cold calendar reality: I don’t want the fourth book of the series to be issued posthumously.
One of my writing teachers mentioned parenthetically that his first sale (traditional) was his third book. I’m in rewrite on my third. It’ll be done about the time this first one issues. Maybe with what I learn, I’ll go back to traditional on number three.
Probably the greatest advantage to traditional NY publishing is that so much of the minutiae is handled by the publishers’ invisible college interns. Many people seem to think that somehow NY publishing guarantees a healthy sale, but most books don’t sell worth a damn, no matter who publishes them. The real advantages of “traditional pub” are (1) somebody else does the boring work and (2) a certain aura of legitimacy.
Good luck to all writers trying to find the right path. It ain’t easy.
Yes, I’d like that aura. In a way, your very realistic view of how books sell makes it easier for me to justify going my own way …
Well thought out, John, and you did “pound the pavement” on the query circuit. Seemed to boil down to that if it was going to get published, you were going to have to do it yourself.
Ned, I did pound the pavement, but much too soon. I pounded again after taking the book through the Minneapolis Writers Guild. Got some interest, but no action. I then tried small publishers … very targeted, just three or four … got one sort of offer, but Book 1 would publish in 2020, which gets me close to that comment about not wanting #4 to publish posthumously.
I self published through Amazon. Other than copy editing, proof-reading, and cover design, there were NO upfront costs. I formatted my book’s interior with MS Word, and it came out looking very good. (you can look at it to judge for yourself by using Amazon’s lookinside the book feature). It would have looked only marginally better if I’d hired a professional formatter or bought formatting software. You upload your file to Create Space. They walk you through all the steps. They send you a physical free copy to proof-read. When you’ve got it the way you want they make it available for purchase. Once you’ve done the Create Space physical book, they guide you through their process to put up an e-book on Kindle.If you’re competent at design, Amazon even gives you multiple templates you can use to design your own cover for free. So if you are really a DIY’er, you can get a respectably looking book published at absolutely no cost.
Amazon makes its money on your sales. My hard copy sells for $12.95 and my Kindle version for $4.95. I receive approximately $3.50 in royalties for each sale (hard copy or Kindle). When I buy my own copies to sell personally, I think the price is about $5.00 per book, which nets me $7.95. If somebody orders it from a bookstore, I only make about 60 cents per book (which probably is about what I’d make if the book were published by a mainstream publisher.)
You own the copyright.
The downside of Amazon (and I guess all self-publish sites), is that you don’t get much help at marketing the book.
Any questions, just give me a call.