On Having Realistic Expectations for Self-Publishing


Past

The average statistic that is bandied about as far as self-published book sales is 100-150. Meaning, most self-published books will not sell more than 150 books.

So my goal for Queen Henry is to sell at least 200 books.

I would really love to sell 200 books in the first year of release, but I suppose it’s more realistic to just aim for 200 for the lifetime of the book. It surprises me that the average is only 150 books, especially since you can keep your book available for sale for as long as you like. With traditional publishing, the book will eventually be yanked from the shelves — and rather quickly if it’s not selling. I am a longtime writer but first-time self-publisher, so I’m sure I will find out the hard way how difficult it really is to sell a book as an unknown author. It just seems that, eventually, you’d be able to sell a fair amount of copies IF your book is good and IF you keep up with marketing. In theory, your book could be on the virtual shelves for the rest of your life, which should be plenty of time for any truly good book to gain traction.

The book-selling statistic above kind of makes me wonder how many people give up after a while. Their book doesn’t sell like gangbusters right away, so they sort of lose interest. I know that will never happen to me. I’ve been writing for twenty years, and my passion for writing has only increased in that time. Despite the years of ups and downs, I’m still here and I’m still enthusiastic about the craft of writing. I don’t have to be a huge success to stay interested in being an author.

I think my longevity as a writer plays a big part in my ability to have realistic expectations concerning book sales. Nobody knows better than I do that writing is no get-rich-quick scheme. I’ve been doing this for twenty years for free, and I’d still be doing it for free if it weren’t for self-publishing. I’ve had close calls with success before, but so far the only people who have read my books have been my parents, close friends, and the occasional literary agent. It kind of boggles my mind to think that, finally, other people are actually reading QUEEN HENRY. Instead of having crazy fantasies about making lots of money and quitting my job (the proceeds from QUEEN HENRY will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation, but I still wouldn’t plan on quitting my day job even if all the proceeds went to me….) I am excited about each and every sale and for each and every reader. For so long I’ve been writing in silence, pouring my heart and soul into stories and characters that have been destined to gather dust on the shelf. No more. Even if, despite my best marketing efforts, I am only destined to sell a handful of books, I will still be incredibly grateful for all of those who took the time to read my story.

I really am glad that it took me twenty years to get to this point. I’ve come to understand that just because I never made it in the traditional publishing world really doesn’t mean I don’t have what it takes. I’ve paid my dues, done my time. I’ve spent years studying the craft, and I’ve written and rewritten thousands of words. I’m not perfect, but I’m ready. I’m grateful for all the time that I’ve had to spend working on the craft of writing. If self-publishing had been a viable option when I first started out, I probably would have published too soon – a mistake that far, far too many new writers make. The idea of having your work published is exciting, and it’s awfully hard to wait.

But wait I have.

Not only did I spend about a year or so writing and rewriting the novel, QUEEN HENRY (which is not to mention all the time I spent reworking the screenplay version first), but I took an entire year to learn the self-publishing process. I don’t do anything half-assed when it comes to writing. I decided if I was gonna do this, I was gonna do it right. That meant paying for professional editing, professional formatting, and a professional cover. There’s nothing wrong with self-publishing, but I wanted to make sure my book would be indistinguishable from a traditionally-published book. I believe with all my heart that the writing of my book is up to traditional publishing standards, and I want to make sure the outside looks just as professional.

My journey to publication has been long and winding. I feel like I’ve earned the right to call myself an author and I’ve been through so much over the years that I’m able to appreciate every success, no matter how small. Just selling a handful of books was a huge accomplishment for me because it’s was more than I’ve sold in twenty years of writing. I sold 65 books in my first week of publication, which surpassed my expectations!

I also appreciate each and every good review because I’ve experienced my share of rejection in two decades. I also know that I can handle bad reviews because I’ve experienced them before. Many times. That’s how you learn. And that’s something that brand-new writers have never experienced. If you’ve never submitted to an agent or a publisher, you’ve never experienced rejection. Rejection is part of the process. It’s a badge of honor, and I wear it with pride. It means that I tried, and tried hard. If you self-publish your very first novel, you don’t know what it feels like to “not” be published. I do.

As wonderful as it is to be published, I don’t really harbor any delusions about being a breakout writing success. I just want to be an author. Whatever happens, I will always know that I did my best. I never took shortcuts by publishing before I was ready and I never took the easy way out by skimping on editing or using a stock cover for my book.

What happens now is up to fate.

– Linda Fausnet

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I Finally Have My Book in Print! And It’s Messed Up……- The Road to Self-Publishing

 This article is part of my ongoing Wannabe Pride Self-Publishing blog series in preparation for publishing my novel, QUEEN HENRY, in July of 2014. Proceeds from this novel will go to the Harvey Milk Foundation. My author page is www.facebook.com/lindafausnet

 

Not as imagined

 

4 Weeks Until Publication

Remember that article I wrote recently about how things don’t always go the way you planned when it comes to some of the most important things in your life?

Yeah. Getting my book in the mail after waiting twenty years for that moment was kind of like that. I really wanted that moment to be special. One that I would remember for the rest of my life. It did not go exactly as planned.

It’s really not a big deal. There was some discrepancy in the cover sizing, so the cover looks a little stretched out. Not horrible, but enough to be noticeable. Enough to have to do it over again. So, after waiting all these years to finally – FINALLY – be able told hold my book in my hands…well, now that moment is a do-over. You can’t have more than one “first time”. That was it, and it didn’t work out. The moment is gone, and it’s never coming back. The day will come when I can, once again, hold my book in my hands and hopefully it will look beautiful and professional, but it won’t be the first time.

Aaaaand I’m over it. Seriously. Enough whining. It’s all gonna turn out fine, and this is exactly why I timed it so I would get the proof of the book in enough time to fix whatever might be wrong with it in time for my publication date in July. As every good writer knows, writing is rewriting and Queen Henry has been through countless do-overs. I’ve picked up the whole damn story and dumped it into the recycle bin – twice – and started over before getting the story to where it is today. Why should the cover be any different? Being a good writer means you don’t quit ‘til it’s done. So let’s do this thing!

In addition to fixing the cover, I’m also reading the book one last time to see if I find any mistakes that I still have time to fix before re-printing.

THAT has been an amazing experience so far. I know these words so well. I’ve read them over and over and over again, and it’s nothing short of amazing to see those words – MY words –printed in an actual book. I was so worried about what the cover would look like (with good reason, as it turned out) that I guess I hadn’t given much thought to what the words would look like and what it would be like to read them in book form.

It’s awesome. That’s what it’s like.

And the final product is gonna be awesome. With four weeks to go, I’m gonna do my best to get over whatever bumps in the road might be in store and try to minimize the whining along the way.

Hang on, Henry. We’re almost at the finish line.

–        Linda Fausnet

In What Formats Should I Publish My Book? An E-Publishing Writer Survey

 

Unite

I recently conducted a short survey of five self-published authors to find out where they chose to publish their books and what they experienced with each format. I hope you find their information helpful. I certainly did!

In which formats did you publish your e-book? (Amazon (Kindle) Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iPod, iPad), Kobo, etc)

Initially, in Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, through CreateSpace, Smashwords, and Lulu. Now, I’m Kindle only. I’ve found the income from Kindle Select borrows exceeds the others combined. – Wayne Stinnett

Amazon Kindle. – Carol Hedges

I published in every format I could! .mobi (Amazon/Kindle), .epub (B&N and Apple), .pdf, .html. However you want my book, it’s available. – Aria Glazki

Amazon (and also used CreateSpace for paperback). – Olga Montes and John Vamvas

I self-published for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Sony eReader (which is now part of Kobo I believe), and also in paperback which is available online at Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. – Jessica Gollub

I used a doc. file to publish in Amazon. – Lorraine Koh

Amazon, because I wanted to use the free book facility as a promotion tool for Back to Creative Writing School, and you can only do that if you are only available on Amazon. I did a 24 hour giveaway about three weeks after it was launched and that resulted in about 1300 downloads, mainly in the UK and the US. I don’t know how that compares with other ebook campaigns but it exceeded my expectations as I didn’t have an ebook track record. As a British author, it would be very interesting to know if I could have accessed a wider market using other formats. – Bridget Whelan

I published my book, Read All About It, on Amazon (Kindle). This was mainly due to the fact that I was also publishing it as a paperback through Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and it seems to be logical to do the ebook through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), particularly given that CreateSpace offered the option to transfer the finished file to KDP. It seemed like they were doing the work for me! – Paul Cuddihy

Describe your experience with uploading/publishing your book. Were certain formats more difficult than others?

CreateSpace was a breeze. Easy step by step directions. Smashwords was troublesome, as was Lulu. – Wayne Stinnett

I did it jointly with the graphic designer who designed the cover. I am a total novice. We downloaded the advice package Amazon provides and followed that. It was still very complicated as the blog I wrote on it describes.  – Carol Hedges

My favorite by far from a user perspective was Barnes & Noble, because after uploading the document, if there are any issues with spacing or the like, you can edit it right through their system, rather than changing the original file, re-uploading, and hoping it fixed the problem without introducing a new one. That being said, Smashwords has a very user-friendly guide for formatting that is free, and I used that, then used that file for Amazon as well. So Barnes & Noble was the easiest, but the others weren’t particularly difficult either. – Aria Glazki

It is VERY easy to upload your e-book on Amazon. We did not have to convert our Word file into anything, we only had to compress the author pics and other pics we included in the back. (This was a little difficult to figure out – the pictures just weren’t coming out. After some on-line research, we read that all we had to do was compress the pics. That’s it. The command is found in the Picture Tool menu.) HOWEVER, when we use the view tool, it seems the novel looks great in all devices expect in Kindle Fire(s). Strange…

(And if you’re curious about CreateSpace : It’s super easy too! If you’re designing your own front and back cover—like we did—, it may take a little longer to come up with something you’re happy with, but they have great templates you can choose from if you prefer. Moreover, their customer service is great and the finished product is gorgeous.) – Olga Montes and John Vamvas

I found most of the uploading services were fairly straightforward and easy to use, the trickiest thing was figuring out how to get the broadest exposure. The easiest ones were Kindle and Kobo, since both provided direct publishing straight from their sites, for all the other ones I needed to use an aggregator service (partially because I am in Canada and I think while Nook has the ability to publish directly, I wasn’t able to make use of it) – Jessica Gollub

[Amazon] is a good format to use when your manuscript is mostly text. I don’t think it will translate as well if you have images in your doc. file. Overall it was easy to format. Just be aware of placing page breaks after each chapter and also providing a linkable table of contents (TOC). You can do everything on Microsoft Word or OpenOffice. After you format your doc. file, you can just upload it on Amazon and preview it first before publishing. It may take a few hours for it to be live.  – Lorraine Koh

As I explained, I chose only one format. Fellow ebook authors told me that the publishing process is simple but I didn’t feel ready to take it on – instead I engaged the services of a professional to format it for me and for a small additional fee  he also uploaded it to Amazon and did a bit of virtual hand holding.-  Bridget Whelan

In terms of KDP, what I found was that a pdf was uploaded from CreateSpace. This was fine for the cover, but I found it didn’t work so well for the text. For one thing, the pdf was formatted for a paperback, and it didn’t look great in a Kindle format. So what I did was to keep the uploaded cover but then create a completely new Word Document for the text, format that and then upload that file to KDP, which worked much better, and meant that I was able to ensure things such as page breaks, chapter breaks etc… were properly formatted. – Paul Cuddihy

Did you use an aggregator service, such as Smashwords or Lulu? If so, what was your experience like with the service?

Deleted my accounts with Smashwords and only offer hardback through Lulu. I do everything through CreateSpace now. – Wayne Stinnett

No, I didn’t explore these. – Carol Hedges

I just gave this away, but I did use Smashwords, which was very straightforward and on the whole provides some good resources for writers just starting out, with their formatting guide and marketing guide. They also distribute to Kobo, Apple, etc. for you, putting managing all those sales in one place — but they leave the decision of which to include in your hands, which I think is lovely. The writer stays in control. – Aria Glazki

No. – Olga Montes and John Vamvas

I did use both Smashwords and Lulu. Lulu was the method I chose to get my book to Nook and iBooks, and I used Smashwords mainly to get to Sony eReader. They both also provided access to other areas like Scribd, Oyster and Ingram catalogues (plus many others). I found that they took a while to upload to the different sites, but overall my experience was relatively easy. – Jessica Gollub

No I didn’t because I work mainly with Amazon. I believe if I want to distribute my books to other websites like Kobo, Barnes & Noble, I will probably use Smashwords. – Lorraine Koh

I am familiar with Lulu and Smashwords, but I’m not entirely sure how they compare to Amazon and CreatSpace or, indeed, what aggregator services means. Your question flags up that I still have so much to learn and, while I may always buy in a number of services, I want to become familiar with the process so I can make informed choices. – Bridget Whelan

I didn’t use any of these services. Paul Cuddihy

Which format earned you the most book sales?

January, I had 1236 ebook sales and 31 borrows through Amazon/Kindle and a total of 6 sales through Nook and Kobo. – Wayne Stinnett

In the end, I only sold through Amazon Kindle, UK and US sites. – Carol Hedges

Amazon (I’m not calling it “kindle” as the .mobi format is also available through Smashwords).  As far as I can tell, people are reluctant to create yet another user account / login, even though on Smashwords, you pay once and can get every format available, whereas on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, you pay (usually) the same price for only one format. – Aria Glazki

Book sales on Amazon are steady but I think it’s thanks to all the tweeting and marketing we do. –Olga Montes and John Vamvas

My book is fairly new at this point, but so far I’ve sold the most on Kindle. – Jessica Gollub

At the moment, I am working mainly with Amazon, only because of the KDP Program. The KDP Program is where Amazon will provide a 5 days promotional time frame (within every 90 days) where your e-book will be made free or at a discounted price. During these 5 days, your book will be promoted quite extensively on the Amazon website. However in order to be eligible for the KDP Program, your e-book needs to be exclusive to Amazon. I think it’s quite a good program for new writers. – Lorraine Koh

Amazon – the only one I used. – Bridget Whelan

The sales have been slightly better for the Kindle version than the paperback version to date, but it was only at the beginning of February that I published the book, so I’ve got a few months of promotion ahead of me to try and increase sales. – Paul Cuddihy

What would you (or did you) do differently with a subsequent book? Would you use the same services?

Never hesitated with my third book. CreateSpace exclusively and Kindle Select exclusively. – Wayne Stinnett

If I ever uploaded an ebook again, I’d definitely use Smashwords and explore other available formats.I’d also get some advice on ‘tagging’. I have now had a book published by an Independent publisher, and their expertise in dealing with all aspects of e-publishing are waaay ahead of mine. I think that, for the ‘ordinary writer’ e-publishing is not something to be entered into lightly. To do it professionally – and what’s the point of doing it any other way, you need the services of people who know what they are doing! – Carol Hedges

If I self-publish again, I will definitely publish on all three of these sites, as the more the book is out there, the higher the chances of people seeing it. I may add other distributors, like Kobo, directly instead of relying on Smashwords, to see how each one works. I may also publish with Amazon first, to see how the Kindle Select program works. It’s all about a learning curve, and unfortunately even if you do your research, you can’t know quite how it’ll go until you try it.  So I’m interested in testing out the various options to see which will work best. – Aria Glazki

We were part of KDP Select – that’s why we only sold our book on Amazon. Money earned has not been significant enough to stay with the program. Now that we are done with them, we will be uploading our book elsewhere too. – Olga Montes and John Vamvas

I think I would use the same services, I found that I could get my book onto every platform available and broad exposure = more sales.  It would likely be a bit easier the second time around, since I’d be able to plan it out a bit better, but overall I was pleased with how it worked out. – Jessica Gollub

I guess in the end, you need to do a lot of your own marketing (social media, garnering book reviews…etc). That may be more important than what format you choose to use. I will still be housing my future books in Amazon for maybe one more year. Once I manage to build a more stable readership base, I may end up publishing my books on all available platforms. – Lorraine Koh

On the whole it has been a very positive experience. Financially it’s been worthwhile and I think one of the things I did right was to hire a talented ebook designer. The cover looks good and it does what it is supposed to do – attract attention for the right reasons. I haven’t done the sums but I would guest that sales in the first 20 days paid the designer’s fee, not bad when you think that I was launching from a standing start.  – Bridget Whelan

I would definitely use the same Amazon services again, particularly since they make it so easy to publish. However, I might be tempted to look into publishing a future ebook across a wider range of platforms This has been my first foray into self-publishing and I have to admit that I have found the whole experience an exhilarating one.I had previously written a trilogy of historical novels, which had all been released through traditional publishers in Scotland. There was, of course, the thrill of publication, which, as every writer will tell you, can never be under-estimated. However, it was also a frustrating experience at times – the absence (real or perceived) of any promotion, marketing or advertising of the books, the lack of control throughout the process.On one occasion I couldn’t agree with the publisher over the cover of the book, the debate eventually brought to a conclusion when I was told ‘Well, I’m paying for the design, so we’re going with the one I like!’ (I still hate the cover chosen, incidentally). With Read All About It, I have had none of these frustrations. The cover, for example, was designed by a friend and so was done in a spirit of co-operation and partnership. The end result was, in my humble opinion, superb. It’s been an easy and enjoyable process, and a self-confessed lover of the physical book, I have to confess that the finished product from CreateSpace is very impressive, although I know that, ultimately, readers will judge the book by the content. – Paul Cuddihy

 The Authors:

Wayne Stinnett

Author of the Jesse McDermitt series
Website: http://www.waynestinnett.com/
Twitter – @WayneStinnett_

Carol Hedges

Email: martynhedges@compuserve.com
Twitter – @carolJhedges
Website:http://carolhedges.blogspot.co.uk
Jigsaw Pieces (ebook):
Amazon Author page:

Aria Glazki

Email: aria.glazki@gmail.com
Blog: AriaGlazki.blogspot.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/Aria.Glazki
Twitter: @AriaGlazki
Goodreads:
Book: Life Under Examination
—Available on
Amazon:
Smashwords:
Barnes & Noble:

Olga Montes and John Vamvas

Authors of WHEREWOLVES
Link to book trailer, author bios, book excerpt (first two chapters), synopsis, and reviews: www.wherewolvestheblog.com
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/WHEREWOLVES-ebook/dp/B00BHIPYQY
Twitter: @WHEREWOLVESfilm https://twitter.com/WHEREWOLVESfilm
Facebook:
Goodreads:

Jessica Gollub

The Mark of the Hummingbird
Twitter: @GollubJessica
Facebook:
Amazon:

Lorraine Koh

My latest book Pop Rock Love is out in both Ebook and Print. Here’s the kindle link,
It’s a Young Adult romance novel. Here’s a synopsis:
Before she had a whirlwind affair with a mysterious Japanese breakdancer named Yuki, Mimi was contented with belting out rock tunes at a pub on the island city of Singapore. When Yuki suddenly disappears, Mimi goes to Tokyo in search of him and discovers that he actually belongs to a sugary-pop, manufactured boy band called the Fire Boys. Mimi and Yuki belong to different worlds. Is their love strong enough to triumph over all?

Bridget Whelan

BACK TO CREATIVE WRITING SCHOOL
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Facebook: Back to Creative Writing School
Blog for writers and readers.

Paul Cuddihy

Read All About It: My Year of Falling In Love With Literature Again by Paul Cuddihy
(Available as a paperback and ebook on Amazon)

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The Princess Who Saved Herself – The Road to Self-Publishing

 

Bro

There is a wonderful song called The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coultron about a princess who blows off the handsome prince and decides to live happily ever on her own, thank you very much.

I was listening to that song the other day and it struck me how that’s what we are as self-publishers. Writers who saved ourselves. No more sitting around waiting for some handsome publisher to come and rescue us. We’re making things happen for on our own.

Back in the days when I was a screenwriter, the whole screenwriting process seemed totally overwhelming and completely impossible. Indeed, the odds of succeeding as a screenwriter are even worse than making it as a traditionally-published novelist. I remember being member of an online message board about screenwriting and just feeling completely out of my element. Many of the writers on that board actually lived in Los Angeles, which is practically a requirement if you want to be a success as a screenwriter. It’s also recommended that you actually work on set as much as possible, starting at the bottom as a Production Assistant (PA). Though that kind of thing is critical if you want to make the right connections, but I always thought that was a very dumb requirement. Being a PA means you can be on the set for as much as 12-14 hours a day! When would you ever have the time to study your craft and actually write a screenplay? Other than schmoozing, working as a PA has nothing to do with being a writer. Seems like an awful waste of time to me. Somehow I managed to get a couple of screenplays optioned despite living clear across the country from Hollywood, but nothing ever came of it.

The “who-you-know” element isn’t quite as bad in the world of traditional publishing. Sure, literary agents and publishers are far more likely to consider your work if they know you personally or if you are referred by another published writer, but it’s not a requirement. There are plenty of agents who will consider unknown writers, but it’s still a crapshoot. The line between success and obscurity is very thin, and luck plays an awfully big part in your book being considered for publication.

That’s the beauty of self-publishing. We’re not waiting for somebody to come along and rescue us and tell us we’re beautiful and worthy. Any book that is professionally crafted and written with lots of heart is worthy of publication. The readers will then decide if it’s an ugly duckling or if it will turn into a beautiful swan.

Okay. Enough fairy tale references. What are you waiting for? Get out there and save yourself. 

 -Linda Fausnet

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