Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why the self-publishing revolution is good for all authors

Yes, I know I’m neglecting my blogging duties. But I’m VERY busy with some books I have to get out and I’m working around the clock to that end. But I wanted to address something I saw that got me a bit “hot under the collar”.

There are many authors that are dead set on traditional publishing. That is great. I embrace all three routes (self, small press, big-six) and if that is what you’ve decided is best for you then go for it full throttle. But what is upsetting me is those that are firmly entrenched in that model berating those that choose to self-publish. Do they not understand that their because of these self-published pioneers their lives have improved as well?

The answer is simple….options. In the not-too-distance-past getting a big-six traditional publishing deal was really the only viable way to have any chance at making a living wage. But each and every book had a high initial investment tied to it, and there was only so many slots available so the number of authors that could be published was by definition a small number.

Enter POD, e-books, and online retailers. This lowered the barrier to entry and small presses and self-publishers could now get their books created, and more importantly distributed with very little financial risks. A playing field of this nature opens the doors for many, many more books from tons of new authors to take their swing at the bat. But technology alone is not all that is required. What is needed is legitimacy.

The early self-publishers had to work harder to compete against the well-established behemoths. They were the small Davids who used every tactic at their disposal: social Networking, bargain basement pricing, working 18 hour days, and their efforts paid off. You’ve seen the names many times before: Amanda Hocking, John Locke, H.P. Mallory, D.B. Henson, David Dalglish, Nathan Lowell, Michael J. Sullivan, B.V. Larson, Victorine Lieske, Joe Konrath, Blake Crouch, and most recently Vincent Zandri. All of these people, and many more, are earning their living through writing whereas if the landscape was still dominated by the big-six they would not be. Some of the authors have had prior big-six publishing experience, some none. Some have their current success, and others are through small-presses. But if it not for the self-publishing revolution none of these people would be where they are today.

Here’s what I can say with 100% confidence because it comes from my own experience. Finding success in this environment is MUCH easier than it would be if the revolution never occurred. Some people find real hard numbers to be a good teller of the tale so here are some.

Michael has sold more than 60,000 books through self-publishing (they sell for $4.95 - $6.95), earned more than $160,000 in four months, has nearly $200,000 in foreign rights sales, and a six-figure big-six contract. NONE of that would have happened without self publishing.

Nathan Lowell has sold more than 15,000 books (at $4.95) through my small press. He’s topped many of the science fiction lists and with the release of his new book (in just a number of days I expect to see him jump right back up there).

Marshall Thomas has sold 4,000 books in 9-days (prices vary from $0.99 - $4.99) His spike is directly related to the $0.99 price point that was pioneered by self-published authors. If self-publishing never existed to the level it does now we wouldn't see the $0.99 market that exists today.

So all this is great for the small press published and the self-published, but why should I, since I’m only looking at the big-six, care? Because the changing landscape means better contracts for you as well. When the big-six was the only game in town they could offer contracts stilted in their favor that most logical people would never consider signing. They know they have to modify them, not only to keep their current talent, but to attract new talent (some of which are being plucked from the self-publishing world such as Hocking, Sullivan, Mallory, and Henson).

So my message to you today…is regardless with what path to publishing you plan for yourself, take a minute to thank those that have gone the self-publishing route. They have had a rough row to hoe and take it on the chin by many “in the industry”. It’s time that we give all a little loving for what they have done for the industry.

18 comments:

E.J. Wesley said...

AMEN

TheSFReader said...

So right !!

Lois D. Brown said...

I agree. What we "put out there" is what we get back. I found supporting various types of authors has brought me a nice range of talented author friends, both cyber and physical.

Lois
Life of Lois

Kay Theodoratus said...

I don't know if I'll sell anything, but I found it comforting to have an epublisher [WolfSinger Publications] willing to put some money on my writing. Still, I'm going to self-published very soon.

TheSFReader said...

Oh, and if you plan to sign a contact, this post may interest you :

http://kriswrites.com/2011/05/04/the-business-rusch-advocates-addendums-and-sneaks-oh-my/

Robert Bidinotto said...

Another inspiring post, Robin. Thanks so much.

roh morgon said...

Awesome post!

I originally planned to take the traditional path - until I started paying attention to the e-revolution.

With what I've learned so far, I can't imagine going any other route but self-pubbing at this time. This is something I"m CHOOSING to do, because it seems the best option for me right now.

Who knows - that could change. But the most important thing to come out of all this is that now I have a CHOICE, something that wouldn't be possible without the indie pioneers.

TheSFReader said...

Robin, great to know that you're closing in on Nathan's new book (Yippie, Happy dance !!!), and congratulations for such good results for not only Michael's books, but other authors as well (deep bows)...

Still, as I mailed you, I think you should have someone look at that website of yours...

I wanted to buy the 2nd book of the "soldier series" (just after having finished the first one), but was surprised to see it priced at 4 dollars on your site, when it's at three at Amazon's ...

Nancy Beck said...

Absolutely right! :-)

Robin Sullivan said...

@SFReader You are absolutely correct. With each version of the contract I check it word for word aginst the prior one. Don't let something "sneak in" unnoticed.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Kay - Congratulations on your publisher - and good luck with your self-publishing stuff - absolutely nothing wrong with having a foot in each camp.

Robin Sullivan said...

@sfreader - yep no doubt I have to update the website but getting these books out from authors that have been waiting has to be priority #1 at this time. It'll get there.

Robin Sullivan said...

@roh morgon - Glad to hear it - there is a lot of reason these days to "choose" to self-publish - good luck to you!

TheSFReader said...

Absolutely right priorities ...

SlingWords aka Joan Reeves said...

Well said, Robin. There are some NYT bestsellers who act as if they're personally threatened by ebook indie authors.

Sheesh! It's as if they have to protect their identity as authors by dissing anyone who is self-pubbing their own ebooks.

Well, I've just put my 3rd ebook out. My first one has been out 6 weeks I think, and I'm coming up on 3000 sales for it. 3000 is nothing to these authors kicking up all the fuss, but it's everything to me.

Keep on keeping on, Robin. And get some rest after you get these projects put to bed. *g*

Best wishes,
Joan Reeves

Robin Sullivan said...

@Joan - 3,000 in six weeks is fantastic! Nice job. It took Michael a year to sell out his 2,200 print run of Crown Conspiracy when he was with AMI.

David Gaughran said...

I'm gonna give a little love.

I'd like to thank all those indie writers out there who share their rankings and sales, their royalty cheques, their pricing strategies, their marketing ideas, their mistakes, their highs, and their lows.

I've never met a more approachable bunch of people - in any profession - who are willing to take time out to help everyone else.

It's the only reason I had the courage to jump.

Dave

Robin Sullivan said...

Thanks David - I agree - it is because these people are sharing their numbers that I realize that the sucessess I've seen are not "freak occurances". There is a lot of successes by many authors and it really does let you know that there's hope.