Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prithee, Inform Me: Your Self-Publishing Experiences

Over the past couple of years, mes auteurs, a handful of you have expressed the opinion that you (or authors in general) are better off self-published, occasionally citing your personal, positive experiences in having done so. Being the skeptical (but more or less open-minded) sort, I therefore ask: what have your self-publishing experiences been like?

If you have short anecdotes, please feel free to leave them in the comments; longer explanations can be e-mailed to me at pimpmynovel [åt] gmail [døt] com. Unless you specify otherwise in your e-mail, I'll go ahead and reference any details you provide (sales figures, your name, link to your website, and so on). Please be as specific as possible.

If you don't have any experience with self-publishing... well, feel free to comment or send an e-mail anyway. It's a well-known fact we publishing folk are perpetually starved for attention.


  1. I'm assuming you're referring to anyone who puts a book out there for sale. There's the "I wrote it and nobody wanted it so I'm publishing it myself" kind of self-publishing, and there's also the, "My book is no longer in print, but why should it die?" kind of self-publishing.

    I self-published previously published works--a novel and a couple of short stories. I like that it keeps them alive and available, but anyone who believes the Konrath model is one size fits all will be disappointed.

    I think putting up back list books (there's even an Amazon Affiliate store called Backlist Ebooks for publishers with out of print books) is a good way to make things available. But making readers aware is a daunting task, and I'd rather be writing than promoting.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  2. I'm with Terry. Self publishing in e-format is also nice for free reads (or as cheap as Amazon will allow). I've put a couple of free reads up and a novel that I never sent to a publisher, but which has been edited and sitting on my hard drive for a while.
    I see it mainly as promotional tools for my "real" stuff.
    I'm a writer. I used to be in marketing and advertising and I know enough to know I don't have the money or the time, or even the expertise, to make a success of self-publishing.
    So I take the specialist approach. I write, and other people do the other things.

  3. Mine is little less bright and cheerful. I was more of the speed of what Terry mentioned in that I chose to self-pub my first book (that should not have seen the light of day) because no one would accept it.

    After that debacle died done, I tried again with another, although this was much shorter and better written.

    In the end, I decided that self-pubbing wasn't for me because I didn't have the drive to do what it took to make a moderate success out of it.

    However, I am trying to make something good come out of the first book. I've spending the past couple of months showcasing it on my blog as a "how not to write" guide, so hopefully I might be able to generate a sale or two out it.

    More info on this book (as well as my second self-pubbed book) can be found at my main blog or at booksbygbmjrofct.blogspot.com

  4. I self-published a book ("Hag") after four of my novels were published by FC2, a small literary press. They turned down Hag (too erotic, they said), so I decided to experiment. I illustrated the novel with 161 photos (Photoshopped to look rather like line drawings), did all the formatting myself, the cover, the blurbs...well, everything. I found myself enjoying the process immensely. The book went to Amazon's Create Space, which did an excellent job of publishing it as a paperback. It cost me nothing except time (a lot of time). Only a few copies have been sold, but I've added an e-book version now, plus an e-book of one of my early novels, Mofa, and expect to continue with others. I am quite delighted. I understand, of course, that sales is the difficult part now, but I am intrigued by the possibilities of the web for publicity.

    I may never make much money this way, but the whole process is fascinating. I've built websites for the novels, a blog/website for my new novel (Evidence of a Lost City), created many videos for the works, and even a full-length digital movie (for Hag, which Create Space also published), and I've just started experimenting with Facebook. I like the idea of darting past the regular publishers, who move like dinosaurs and who tend to view my work as too peculiar. I'm really a niche author. The internet, the digital revolution, and self-publishing is a perfect fit for me.

  5. I self-published a book on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle.

    I sold 6 books in the first day (probably to family and friends.)

    I haven't sold any since.

    I do have a paid ad that will go up on a website soon; I'll be interested to see if that affects things.

    Generally, however, I consider this experiment a bust.

  6. I recently put an upmarket mystery/suspense novel up on Kindle and Nook (The Summoner by Layton Green). I've been writing for over a decade, agented for most of that time, and this is my second novel. It made the rounds in NYC and two acquisition editors wanted to purchase, but were nixed by the sale team (worried about the Zimbabwe setting, and it also went out a year ago, at the top of the bottom of publishing, so to speak. Anyway, there was no real downside to putting the book up and seeing if there was a market, and I find it liberating to be able to do SOMETHING. It's already made it to the top 25 in certain categories, so we'll see how it goes. I'm fairly Zen about it; continuing seeking traditional pub with 3rd and 4th novels, and trying to build an audience with this one.
    btw: love the blog, and thanks for keeping us authors informed!

    website is www.laytongreen.com
    The Summoner:A religious phenomenologist, a Diplomatic Security Agent and their local liaison investigate the mysterious disappearance of a U.S. diplomat at a ceremony in the Zimbabwe bushveld.

    Amazon Link:http://www.amazon.com/Summoner-Dominic-Grey-Novels-ebook/dp/B004FN2CLS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=books&qid=1292418942&sr=8-1

  7. I'm disappointed more people haven't responded with positive stories. I'm fairly doubtful of the claims that *everyone* can do this and makes *tons* of money and quit their jobs, but I really would like it to be true. I'm willing to entertain the possibility that there's a building trend, a rising industry. I'm put off by the 'get rich quick' nature of some claims, though, and not that crazy about the position some of the writers have taken that they don't need to learn the craft.

  8. Re Margo's comment ... I think part of the answer might be in the first line of this post: a "handful" of readers have expressed interest, so possibly everyone is waiting to hear what others say.

    I'm pursuing the "indie author" route but haven't released my novel yet, so have no self publishing stories to tell ;)

    I will say that I'm treating it like my own business, with a business plan and a marketing plan, part of which includes a gradual building of my audience, not instant results.

    I believe I'm in a solid position since I've taken over ten years to learn the craft and have short story publication credits to assure me I can write competent fiction. I also work in marketing in my day job. :)

    Ask me again in 6-12 months!

  9. Good luck, Cathryn. I love Suburban Noir as a web site name. Very cool.

  10. This is all great information. I am convinced I need to take the self-publishing route for my memoir and I'm looking forward to it.

    For me, it's partly the need to take action and get results that I create. I expressed this in my blog the other day ~

    We have to be able and willing to do the marketing work needed, and keep believing in ourselves. I'm looking at it as an adventure.

    Thanks for the great blog and all the links ~
    and good luck to everyone!

  11. If we're talking self-published first-time fiction authors, there are two kinds of successes.

    First, a high-quality, low-quantity writer. They are not getting rich, but thousands of people have read their self-published book, and that audience is growing exponentially. M. Louisa Locke is a good example. (Google her!)

    Second, a high-quantity writer, with many books for sale. (I don't imply that this is also a low-quality category, only that quantity distinguishes them.) The most successful authors have revenue streams in the tens of thousands of dollars every few weeks. Mark Coker and Amanda Hocking are in this league.

    However, many first-time fiction authors do not find financial success. In my opinion (if anyone cares?), this is because of one or more of the following:

    1. Their book does not fall into a genre category, such as romance or thriller;
    2. Their book is genre, but has boring or offensive content;
    3. Their book is stylistically awful: spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, etc. This also includes bad covers.

    The book-buying, writing, and selling model is changing. Thus, I guess, the subject of this blog post. Basically, I think if all a person has to lose is their pride, they should self-e-publish. Why not?

  12. Sorry, I meant Brian S. Pratt, not Mark Coker.

  13. Ended up here from a retweet of a retweet on Twitter. I've been crowdfunding fiction (getting readers to pay for it before posting it online) and self-publishing both short stories and novels and have been making good money off it. But I have more fans than the average starting fiction author.

    Self-publishing nonfiction is apparently an easier route to success than fiction, but you can still make some grocery and bill money by doing it yourself. It's certainly better than something languishing on your hard drive, earning you nothing.

  14. I self-published a novel (Patches on the Same Quilt) in 2001 with a press run of 1,000. I made enough to get back my investment, buy a new computer, do a second press run, and put a little money in the bank. It took two years to sell the first thousand. I still have about 300 copies left from the second run.

    BUT—I could never have done this if the novel hadn't first won a local arts council's contest. The arts council subsidized about a third of the first run's cost, scheduled readings and signings for me, and generally supported the book. A lot of local book clubs used it as a selection—this wouldn't have happened without the arts council's support. I learned a lot from self-publishing, but I wouldn't do it again. At some point, however, I might re-publish this novel as an e-book.

    I have since vanity-published some previously published columns and short stories. The process was easier than complete self-publishing, but the profits were much smaller. While I didn't lose money, I didn't make much either. I won't vanity publish again.

    I am currently small press-published. The experience is preferable to both self publishing and vanity publishing. For one thing, it's nice to see my work on bookstore shelves.

  15. I self-published in June '08 because I'm impatient, wanted to share the story with family and friends and was ready for a new life experience. Afterward, I've contacted several agents and a couple of publishers, no one is interested but the book has sold every month by me, Amazon, Kindle, bookstores (it's in). I didn't make money but have had a fantastic time traveling on book tour, meeting interesting people and having some laughs along the way. Iget request all the time from readers for a sequel. Would I do it again? Probably not. Don't know if I have the energy to market the book. But what a trip! The Skye in June www.juneahern.com

  16. My attention was just now brought to my attention. So I'm commenting. Since April of this year, I've sold 100,000 books self-published. Last month, I made almost $25,000. This month, I'm looking to make at least $60,000.

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