Do I think you could make more money publishing traditionally? That's a tricky question. If you're a good writer who's willing to self-promote: probably. If not: no, because no one will buy your work. Regardless, as most of you know by now: a get-rich-quick scheme, self-publishing ain't.
But! Please keep sending e-mails my way. I'm happy to post about anyone making a living via self-publication, so long as I can see the numbers.
Now then: let's say I wrote and published a book.
I'm not saying whether I did or didn't; I'm just saying: supposing I did. What would my process look like? My self-promotion? My "do"s and "don't"s? And in what order would I do (or not do) those things?
In brand-new for 2011 Top-Ten-O-Vision™:
1. I probably wouldn't self-publish. As I've mentioned before, self-publishing is fine for some endeavors, but generally not for those that aim toward fame, glory, and money. Insofar as those can be attained via writing books, that is.
2. I'd probably start with a smaller press. Not that I'm saying the Big Six would be knocking down my door for a publishing contract; rather, authors generally get more attention from smaller presses, and since the advance and co-op dollars available for a début author usually aren't phenomenal regardless of publisher, I don't see a real downside. I'm all about more one-on-one time and input on the details.
3. I'd be social networking my tiny black publishing heart out. I'd be tweeting. And announcing things on Facebook. And keeping a personal blog. And setting up an author website. And guest-blogging. And doing podcasts. And making sure an e-book version's available. And and and. You get the idea, cats & kittens. I wouldn't want a digital footprint, I'd want a digital impact crater.
4. I'd be real-world networking my tiny black publishing heart out. Everything from getting in face time with the owners and salespeople at my local independent book stores to doing in-store author events & readings. You get a lot of breadth but little depth with social networking, so I think it's important to complement one's electronic self-promotion with a little old-fashioned legwork. I'd be getting out there and meeting people before you could say honey, come quick, that misanthropic publishing guy is actually leaving his apartment.
5. I'd be soliciting reviews. Editors of literary magazines, fellow authors/writers, bloggers, independent booksellers, and various friends, family members, and accomplices who frequent Amazon are all fair game. I imagine the publisher would help out with this, as most have a lot of industry connections and could do a review copy mailing pretty easily. Reviews are worth their Microsoft Word file size in gold, mes auteurs. People can't read what they don't know about.
6. One word: conferences. This sort of ties into #4 above, but I figure it deserves special attention. Readings and book signings expose you to one audience; hanging out with indie booksellers, another; and electronic media like Facebook and Twitter render you vaguely recognizable to a yet another (arguably larger) one. But there's nothing like a conference to get everyone—booksellers, writers, readers, librarians, publishers, editors, professors, salespeople, you name it—all in the same room. I'd go to any relevant conference I could afford.
7. I'd review the work of others. Whether via book reviews in fancy literary magazines or blog posts, writing book reviews garners you 1.) general good karma, 2.) goodwill from those you review (assuming you do so positively), and 3.) street cred as a serious reader and writer of literature. In terms of positive and negative reviewing, I draw the line as follows: if I'm reviewing books in my capacity as an editor or reviewer for a magazine, I'll feel free to review negatively that which I believe warrants a negative review. If I'm doing it to widen my own exposure and that of the author/text at hand, better only to review titles I know I can say something good about.
8. I'd invest in the work of others. This is a generalization of #7 above, and it won't always earn you direct attention/acclaim, but it's a necessary aspect of participating in a literary community: you've got to give as well as take. Attend readings, subscribe to magazines and buy books you like, &c &c. The more you support others, the more others will want to support you. Or, at the very least, they'll feel guilty if they don't.
9. I'd take regular breaks. I can't run at 100% power 100% of the time, bros and she-bros, and neither can you. Regular days off and vacations are part of the working life, and writing—as we all know—is work.
10. I'd keep on keepin' on. With all this self-promoting, you'd think I wouldn't have time for anything else. But you'd be wrong! There's always another story, another book, waiting in the wings. Some of us are slower or faster than others, more or less prolific, but the key is: so long as you're always writing/working on your next project, you're much less likely to lose momentum and stall out in the midst of your career. I'd be selling one project while writing the next and planning the one after that.
That's it for today, meine Autoren. Questions? Ideas? Theories? Schematics? To the comments!