Thursday, October 16, 2014

NaNoWriMo and the Merits of Self-Publishing

Dear Fellow Writer,


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is fast approaching.

From November the first, you will be able to join the thousands of other writers who will try to create a novel in just 30 days.

Your preparation for this grand event should start now. Don't leave it to the last minute!

My book, The Easy Way to Write a Novel That Sells, contains a detailed section on taking up the NaNoWriMo challenge. Click on the cover for more info.

Keep writing!

The Merits of Self-Publishing

Cash Flow for Writers

When I conducted an online survey in 2003, the vast majority of writers (around 80%) wanted information on how to get published by a traditional publisher: the majors, or The Big Five, as they're sometimes called.

In my most recent survey (2013) only one in five expressed a similar interest - roughly 20%.

To me, this is a great sign. 

At last authors are beginning to understand that their futures are not necessarily connected to some nebulous idea of 'getting a publishing deal' - as if this was in any way a guarantee of success. Ever.

The dream of such an event - which has always been statistically slim - is beginning to be seen for what it is: a nice fantasy but hardly a sure thing. 

This change in perspective suggests that far more writers are now grounded in reality, which means they are aspiring to do the viable and sensible thing, which is, at least at first, to publish themselves. 

Many writers are resistant to change. They like the idea of books on shelves. But the problem with books on shelves these days is that's where they tend to stay, as many traditionally published authors discover. 

If you aspire to be published by a traditional publisher, then your first step toward that goal would be well served by publishing yourself first. Because, ironically, it's self-publishing that will increase your chances of getting a traditional publishing deal exponentially, mainly because the Big Five legacy publishers regularly look to online book successes to fill their floundering catalogs. 

Don't be fooled by the old mindset that publishers take care of all the hard work like marketing and distribution and that they can essentially create demand for your writing when there was none. That's not actually how it works. 

The reality is that books sell on their own, based on quality and word of mouth. And, because of this phenomenon, you have just as much chance of a book becoming a bestseller on Amazon as you have with a traditional publisher. Actually much more chance, because Amazon often provides greater visibility to a new author.

The Internet has exposed quite a few myths about legacy publishing in recent years. 

For example, we now know that the majority of published authors - actually 98% - have never been successful enough to leave their day jobs. This fact used to be a well-kept secret because publishers (who rely on submissions from desperate writers) need authors to believe otherwise. 

Now that we can publish ourselves, we too can now experience what the 98% of writers have known all along: that creating a real world bestseller is like winning the lottery. But the simple fact is, getting an Amazon bestseller is much more straightforward and hugely better paid than being a slave to a legacy publisher will ever be. 

So, right now, this is the basic choice you have: 

Aspire to become an overworked and underpaid slave to a traditional publisher (with a day job as backup) with a faint hope of winning the publishing lottery…

OR self publish through Amazon and collect some royalties. The main advantage of this second approach is that you still own your writing even when you’re getting paid for your work.

Let's get down to basics - by which we mean the money, of course. 

Consider this: 

Recent statistics show that the average number of books sold by a new author is less than two hundred. Yes, 200. This figure is true for mainstream authors and online authors alike. 

Now, if you're with a traditional publisher, two hundred sales may represent about $500 in royalties after tax - which would probably not arrive until around eighteen months subsequent to signing your coveted publishing deal. 

Hardly enough to retire on.

The above $500 figure is based on the average 10% royalties for a $30 book. 

You'll get less if you have an agent who takes his or her fee out of your royalties - usually about 15% - which would take your royalties down to around $425. 

That’s $425, for perhaps one or two year's work, or at least three months work if you write, edit, and format for publication quickly – something, incidentally, that is not a strategy legacy publishers encourage, mainly because they can’t keep up with that volume of output from an author.

Now, if you sold those same two hundred books on Amazon Kindle, for the same price, you'd receive around $4200 in royalties - and receive that amount in a month or two. 

Plus, there's no agent fee to lose.

The reality, however, is that you'll probably sell your own Kindle book for around $3 - but you'll still get 70% royalties and will likely sell a lot more than 200 copies over time, especially if you keep writing and put out more books. There's no better motivation, after all, than receiving income for your efforts.

If you self-publish, you own your book. You are free to keep selling it yourself or you can submit it to publishers as well. 

But, why would want to lose the rights to your book when you're already making money on it? 

Why would you exchange your immediate success for a promise of a few hundred bucks much later on down the track, if a traditional publisher picked up your book? 

Can you now see why bona fide authors - as in those people who want to be professional writers - have increasingly little real need for traditional publishers anymore? 

And that aspiring to getting a publishing deal, basically for vanity's sake, seems almost silly when the most effective way to become a successful paid author, these days, is to write and sell your own books.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell


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