When to Self-Publish: A Publisher’s Perspective

by Joel Friedlander on February 19, 2014 · 44 comments

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By Steven W. Booth

To self-publish or not, that is the big question facing many of today’s authors. Today, Steven Booth, a publisher, offers his thoughts on what should be factors in this decision making process.


Many authors are confused about when it is best to publish through traditional (including small press) publishers, and when to self-publish their work. I see this question every day on Facebook, and I hear it often in the writers and publishers groups I am associated with.

As an author who has self-published (without an imprint) as well as publishing my work through my small press company (I’ll get to that in a moment), I can understand the confusion about the pros and cons of publishing.

Here’s what I tell every author who will stand still long enough:

  1. If the work isn’t good enough for a publisher, it probably isn’t good enough to be self-published.
  2. If the work is good enough that a publisher wants to publish it, then seriously consider self-publishing before you sign the contract.

Caveats to both perspectives

The caveat to holding off self-publishing if you can’t get a publisher is when a publisher says, “I love it, I want it, but I have no idea how to market it, so I won’t take it.” I have said that exact thing to several very good authors—and there is a twinge of regret in my heart for each one of them—because they really were great books.

But publishing is a business, and a good publisher will have a marketing niche that they can be successful in. Going outside of that niche is not cost-effective. But if you self-publish then your marketing niche is exactly what you have in your hands, and you will probably do a better job at marketing your own book than any publisher can—especially if it is a tough genre to label.

The caveat to self-publishing if you are offered a contract is that you have to remember that self-publishing is a business, and should be treated like one.

A self-publisher, when they do it correctly, is a small press with one author… you. For example, are you prepared to get:

  • a fictitious business name
  • a business license from your municipality
  • start and maintain a website
  • engage in and maintain a social media presence
  • have a bank account for your small press that is separate from your personal account
  • work on marketing your book at least once a day for the lifetime of your book

If not, then perhaps you would want to seriously consider traditional publishing?

You can absolutely do less than that if you start your small press, and let’s face it, many small presses do less than that as well, but if you aren’t serious about being in business then don’t take on that role or you will be disappointed with the sales. The more effort you put into your book’s success, the more success you will likely see.

We all know the breakout success stories of authors who kept pounding on the doors of publishers and couldn’t get anywhere, and then self-published and had a hit. That’s very romantic and exciting, but it’s also rare.

Recommendations

My recommendation for success with a particular book you’ve written is to shop it around, and while you are waiting for an offer, write another book, and shop that one around. And then another. And keep repeating this process until you get picked up.

Chances are, when you’ve written ten titles whether they have sold or not, you will become a good writer that people want to read. And when you sell that book and it finds an audience, the readers will demand more writing from you—which you just happen to have handy.

The beauty of being a small press (with one author or many) is that you get paid every time a book sells. That’s why I built my publishing company around my own work, though I do work with other authors. But it’s a balancing act:

  • If you self-publish, you will have to take on the burden of paying for everything and learning a lot about publishing to be successful.
  • If you publish through a traditional publisher, then you will give away half your money or more, but you will have the luxury of just being an author.

Conclusions

So, it all boils down to how motivated you are to have control of your own destiny. Are you going to self-publish and take the risks and rewards of being in business, or are you going to trade money and control for a certain level of security and support from a publisher?

It’s your choice.
 
self-publishing
Steven W. Booth
is the publisher at Genius Book Publishing, which publishes dark fiction and non-fiction. Genius Books has 7 titles scheduled for release in 2014. Steven is the co-author—with award-winning author Harry Shannon—of The Hungry (Sheriff Penny Miller) series of zombie novels, and will be releasing The Hungry 5 in February 2014. Steven has earned a BA in Economics/Business from UC Santa Cruz, an MBA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and a Masters in Teaching from National University.

Photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

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    { 40 comments… read them below or add one }

    Anna L Martin April 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

    A very wise article, much food for thought here, thanks Steven and Joel.

    Reply

    Christine Osborne April 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I have now written about my own self publishing experience on my website if anyone should be interested.

    Thank you.

    Reply

    Jan Thompson March 15, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Good article except I had to pause when I read the part where you asked if the writer is ready for a “a fictitious business name.” I beg to differ, sir, because as a self-publisher, I have my own bona fide company, as small as it might be, and it is certainly not fictitious. It’s a real company, taxable, and operates like any other business. So you might want to drop the “fictitious” adjective! :-)

    Reply

    Christine Osborne March 15, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I agree with Jan, but using my own name when publishing my new book, has seen several bookshops and websites, on uploading the cover + details, say “publisher unknown” yet my business name is there: Christine Osborne Pictures.

    Author AND publisher has caused this confusion.

    Thank you.

    Reply

    Kristen Steele March 14, 2014 at 10:36 am

    This is a great synopsis. Self-publishing is a lot of work! The work is just getting started once you finish the book. Unless you are prepared for that, don’t expect to find the success that you want.

    Reply

    Mit Sandru February 25, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    “If the work is good enough that a publisher wants to publish it, then seriously consider self-publishing before you sign the contract.”
    It used to be if a publisher is not interested then you self-publish. Now it changes to self-publish if the publisher is interested. Maybe this is reverse psychology to discourage writers from self-publishing?

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Hi, everyone.

    I’m starting to sense a theme in all the comments, and rather than respond to each one individually, I thought I would take a shot at clarifying what I said, versus what is being inferred by many of you (right or wrong).

    1) I believe in self-publishing. I think its a wonderful opportunity and I advocate that all authors at least consider it before spending a tremendous amount of time and energy tracking down a publisher who will take their book—which in general are in short supply.

    2) Not all books are ready to be published. In fact, most of the work I see come across my desk are so horrendously flawed that no amount of editing can resurrect them. In my opinion, these books should not be published under any circumstances.

    3) My first bullet point above was that if a book isn’t good enough for a publisher, it probably isn’t good enough to be self-published. While I implied (heavily, and purposefully) that an actual publisher should vet it first, that is not strictly necessary. In some cases, it is not even vaguely necessary. But what is necessary is having publishing or writing professionals who are not “friends” (or at least, who have been instructed to be brutally honest) read the manuscript from front to back and give an honest assessment of the viability of the book. The author, in my opinion, is not sufficiently objective to make this determination themselves, UNLESS they have a solid track record, are familiar with what works and what doesn’t, and understand the value of abandoning a project that is not viable.

    4) My second bullet point above says that if you do submit to a publisher and they want the book, it would be very much in your best interest to consider the self-publishing route before signing the contract. I cannot state this more clearly. If a publisher wants it, you MUST decide whether to take the risk for yourself and self-publish (and act like a business owner), or to sign the contract, give away at least half your money (most of the small presses I know give 50% of the net), and thus divest yourself of much of the risk and learning curve that is associated with publishing. And if you choose to sign the contract, that is often a VERY good choice, if it is right for you. Don’t let anyone shame you into self-publishing. Both self-publishing and traditional publishing are viable options.

    5) This article was really intended for beginning (what I call Aspiring) authors and those who have had some success (what I call Active). It was never intended for authors with 15 or 20 titles who make a living from their writing (what I call Accomplished). For those who feel that I am being overly broad and general in my statements, put yourself in the place of an Aspiring author with no track record and very little sense of what works. You may find that my advice has some validity. This is also true for Active authors. Accomplished authors DO NOT NEED MY ADVICE. If you are an Accomplished author, perhaps I need your advice. But that’s a subject for another blog.

    So, I hope that everyone reading my article can now see where I’m coming from. I advocate self-publishing (in fact, I make most of my income from helping authors self-publish—http://www.GeniusBookServices.com). I also advocate being traditionally published. In my opinion, it is not appropriate to take a polarized view of publishing. Read this article (http://kriswrites.com/2012/06/20/the-business-rusch-lines-in-the-sand/). I agree with Kristen Katherine Rusch on all points. If, however, you do NOT agree with her or me, that is your prerogative, but please don’t try to put me on one pole or the other. I stand firmly in the center.

    Thanks,

    -Steven

    Reply

    Christine Osborne March 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    What exactly do you mean by “…Don’t let anyone shame you into self-publishing.”

    Reply

    Kathlena Contreras February 25, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    If the work isn’t good enough for a publisher, it probably isn’t good enough to be self-published.

    Really? Seriously? So by this logic, EVERY book that is of publishable quality will be picked up by a traditional publisher. This is manifestly not the case.

    Blanket statements are rarely helpful, and often misleading.

    Reply

    Liz Crowe February 24, 2014 at 3:36 am

    as an author trying to convince people that my already existing novels are NOT romance and as I move into even less qualifiable territory with my new project this was timely for me. I already own a business (not publishing). I know what is involved. I always said “I don’t want to be a publisher, even a ‘publisher for one.'” I read mostly mainstream books which are (mostly) traditionally published. It’s a dilemma. Subject myself to the agent-go-round, share yet more of “potential” royalties and expect someone (agent) to care as much as I do about my book? Or self pub and struggle to get genre readers where so many self published books reside to accept what I am doing. I still don’t know. But value this perspective.

    Reply

    Susan Spence February 23, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    I have to agree more with the comments than the article. I doubt my first novel would have been published if I had tried the traditional route. I heard, “it’s a genre no one reads anymore” many times. With me out there pushing my self-pubbed western, many people told me they loved it and are now expanding their genre horizons because of it.

    Reply

    Christine Osborne February 23, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I have not read all the comments, but wished to add a short note on my own experience of self publishing.

    I am a published author of 15 books and guides, but my new account of my experiences working as a woman freelance photojournalist in the Middle East was turned down by publishing houses because the essential photo aspect was deemed to be too costly.

    One can’t write a memoir about photojournalism and not have any photographs, so I self published and am very pleased to date although it is still early days for sales.

    I employed a top editor, and designer, a good printer and while distributors are said not to like SP books, one of the best known distributors at a cost at a guess, of around $13,000.

    While my book, by the nature of the subject, was virtually a lifetime’s work, the biggest challenge, ie. marketing and promotion, while extremely time consuming, is paying dividends.

    Travels with My Hat has some excellent reviews on Amazon.com and I have several interviews lined up and am also giving talks to local communities.

    None of my other books ever had the marketing/sales drive necessary
    for them to attract attention and as publishers expect the author to do all the running, if you can afford to employ a good team, I would recommend the SP route.

    Much of the “advice how to self publish” I obtained through Twitter.

    Take a look at the website and see what you think of our efforts.

    Thank you.

    Reply

    Diane Tibert February 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    There are several good points in your article, but I disagree that we should spend years writing novels and shipping them across the continent, waiting for a traditional publisher to give the thumbs up, and then self-publish. I’ve been down that road, and I won’t travel it again.

    The only thing I send to a publisher is short stories, and that’s to magazines. I shop them around until I get eight to ten of them, and then I gather them up and self-publish an anthology. Then I write new short stories and begin the process again. Even if a short story gets published, the rights revert back to me after it appears in print, so I can include it in my anthology.

    I don’t have a fictitious business name; I have a real one: Quarter Castle Publishing. I do not have a separate bank account because I’m small at this time, but I will get one when the size of my business warrants one. I do engage in social media and blog on a regular basis, but not every day. Even publishers get days off.

    Here is the biggest myth of all: “If you publish through a traditional publisher, then you will give away half your money or more, but you will have the luxury of just being an author.”

    The truth is: If you publish through a traditional publisher, then you give away most of your money, all the control and many of your rights, and you will not have the luxury of just being an author.

    Two nights ago I spoke with an author who recently had her book traditionally published by a medium size company that has been in business a few decades. She told me a tale I’ve heard many times before. The publishing company keeps asking her what she’s doing to promote her book. She’s embarrassed that they want her to market her book, to get out there and sell, sell, sell. She said she just wanted to be an author and write.

    But the reality is even traditionally published authors must build a platform, interact on social media, plan their own book launches and go to events to sell their book. They have to do what I’m doing to sell my books except I reap all the profits; regardless of what they do, they are stuck at 10% or less of royalties.

    Unless you’re a big time author, you are the marketing machine for your book, and most authors hate this.

    Reply

    Greg Strandberg February 23, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Listening to all your comments, Steven, just affirms that my choice to go self-publishing was correct.

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Greg,

    I’m glad you’ve made a decision you feel good about. Again, my goal was not to persuade, but to inform.

    Thanks,

    -Steven

    Reply

    Raymond February 23, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Steve, Some of the advice is the article is excellent. Certainly with regards to a professional approach to editing, book covers, website and social media. I think the presumption that “if a publisher won’t take it, it isn’t ready to be self published,” is both incorrect and self-serving advice from a publisher. Traditional publishing has been the gate keepers for too long and often their interest is only in the previous success…and they have not financially fared well. An Indie author doesn’t need permission to publish. Nor do they need a fictitious name, a separate bank account or daily marketing. I understand your publishing perspective, but I refute any size publisher as the gate keeper or any suggestions that build obstacles for the Indie Writer. Come on Steve, you write Zombie novels…show me the big 5 publisher who would think that is worth the paper and ink.

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Raymond,

    I can understand how you might think I’m being self-serving by recommending that an author not self-publish without the “approval” of a publisher. You may be right, but I don’t see it that way.

    Two examples: I once took on and published a book that I felt was not ready for publication, but I was doing it out of obligation to the author (which is something I just don’t do anymore). In one year, the book sold 16 copies, despite my best efforts and those of the author to promote it. It just wasn’t getting word of mouth, which–in my experience–is the ONLY thing that sells books. I knew better, and I published anyway, losing my entire investment. It won’t happen again.

    The second example is a book that I was excited about when it was pitched to me, but as I read it, I realized that the book was severely challenged. I turned it down, and the authors went ahead and self-published it within a few months of the rejection. I’ve been tracking the book’s sales. It has sold about 9 copies (give or take 5–I wasn’t tracking it from the first day, but maybe a week later) and not one in the last 100 days. Not encouraging.

    Those books were, in my humble opinion, not ready for publication, and I told the authors so. I am not the arbiter of what will sell and what doesn’t, but I trust my instincts for what people will read, like, and recommend. Those books just didn’t have it, and the sales numbers backed me up.

    All I wanted to communicate in my blog was that if you get rejected, don’t make it your life’s crusade to get that book published. Write another book, and see what happens with that one while you are trying to move the first one. And then write another one. And so on until something catches fire.

    As for my zombie novels, do I think Simon & Schuster would touch them? Not a chance. But I have a network of people who know the book business behind me, and they all believed in the book. We also had something like 30,000 downloads of the first two chapters in the year before we released the book. And frankly, we were lucky. Would there be 5 books (perhaps 6) if #1 had bombed? No. But I pay my rent and buy groceries with those zombie books every month. So I feel confident that I made the right decision.

    Good luck in your writing.

    Thanks,

    -Steven

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Steven, your excellent advice and perspective come from those hard-fought battles, the ones we win and the ones we lose. Publishing books used to involve a much larger monetary risk, but it’s still not something to take lightly. And thanks for the generosity with which you’ve approached these issues.

    Reply

    Fritz Freiheit February 23, 2014 at 6:06 am

    First, I am in agreement with treating self-publishing in a professional manner is an important component of success. But I am going to have to take issue with the idea that an author has a choice between self-publishing and traditional publishing. While I agree that you can choose to self-publish, I think it is misleading that you can choose to traditional publish. What you can do, is try to traditional publish (that is, submit your work to agents and editors in hopes of being selected for traditional publishing), the actual decision on whether your work becomes traditionally publish, and ultimately the form and timing of it, is up to the publisher, not the author.
    — Fritz.

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Fritz,

    You know, you’re absolutely right. An author cannot CHOOSE to be traditionally published.

    But that author can CHOOSE to not explore other options until they have exhausted the traditional publishing route. I know plenty of authors who won’t even use the term “self-publishing” in a sentence. The only thing that will satisfy them is being published by Random House. And that’s their choice to pursue that.

    My article was meant to give authors considering their options some perspective on ways to approach the subject.

    Thanks for your perspective, Fritz.

    -Steven

    Reply

    Michael Kelberer February 23, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Hi – Great overview of the dilemma, Steven, thanks. I’ve been following tis argument with particular intensity since the Howey Bombshell, but I keep boiling everything down to this: the biggest differences (for most of us) between a traditional publishing deal and self-publishing are two:
    1. Possibly some additional clout in getting considered by bookstores, and
    2. The need to learn the mechanics of publishing.
    I’m coming to believe that (1) is a highly overrated advantage – most bookstores won’t shelve most books for long. And when I think of all the time I see authors spending on signing events that could be put into online marketing and, of course, their next book, I’m believing that this exposure is a net negative.
    But, you are right, you do have to learn the publishing part.

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Michael,

    I agree. As a small press, I’ve all but given up on the fantasy that Barnes & Noble will shelve my books. It CAN be done, but many distributors won’t talk to you unless you have 25 titles and annual sales of (something like) 10,000 to 50,000 copies per title. So, on-line sales is the name of the game.

    Also, learning the mechanics of publishing is always good, but if you’ve got a job and a family and a social life, it may be very difficult to decide to dedicate yourself to being a small business/small press. So sometimes, traditional publishing is the best option.

    As for signings, they are GREAT ego boosts. But they don’t increase net sales. I don’t bother with them, though I will table at events like the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (I’ll be at the Horror Writer’s Association table on Sunday of that event) just to meet the readers. It’s good to know the audience.

    Thanks,

    -Steven

    Reply

    Carol Fragale Brill February 23, 2014 at 4:25 am

    “when a publisher says, ‘I love it, I want it, but I have no idea how to market it, so I won’t take it.’ ”
    Heard that from many agents along the way. Thanks for validating that it is one of the reasons to self-publish. . . . because I did. :)
    carol

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Carol,

    I’m sure it’s happened quite a few times, and not just to you. I know many agents, and plenty of publishers, who have turned down works that were not for them, regardless of their marketability. It comes down to niche.

    I also know plenty of publishers who will publish anything in their genre. Not surprisingly, they have low sales and not much capital.

    I always tell authors submitting to me that my job as publisher is to say “no” to them. If I didn’t, I would spread myself too thin. And since my marketing niche is dark fiction and non-fiction, it’s often necessary to turn down, say, chick-lit comedies (yes, I’ve been pitched those). I usually say I’m not qualified to evaluate that work, whether I like it or not. But the answer is still no.

    Thanks,

    -Steven

    -Steven

    Reply

    Chameleon February 23, 2014 at 4:05 am

    Steven, excellent post. I wish every Indie author could read this. There are far too many under false assumptions, or misinformation.

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Chameleon,

    I agree. I can only hope that any author will take their book as seriously–and evaluate it as objectively–as a publisher would.

    Thanks,

    -Steven

    Reply

    Skye Warren February 22, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    a) A career author needs a website regardless of whether they self publish or publish through a small press. Same goes for social media, for whatever value you place on it. The decision to self publish or not is really irrelevant to these factors. All authors need to do some level of self promotion, and some publishers (from small to large) demand it.

    b) When you publish books through a publisher, you also run a business. Similar to self publishing. You can choose how to set that up legally and financially, but the implications are all the same. In both cases you have expenses and income. In both cases you are self employed.

    c) You can make a decent living from self publishing without doing one thing to market your books every day for the rest of your life. Guess how I know. (Because I manage to do it.)

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Skye,

    I’m beginning to see that several people, yourself included, think that I don’t believe in self-publishing.

    Of course I do. I’ve seen MANY successful self-published authors. In a way, I am one. That was not the point of my article.

    My point was, do not base your decision to self-publish your book on your own opinion of the book. Get the advice of as many professionals in the book business as you can, and publishers–who make their living finding books that will sell–are an excellent resource for that purpose. If they think your book will sell, most of them will try to acquire it. There are many factors that go into that decision, but when it comes down to it, 1 rejection or 15 should at least inform your decision to self-publish.

    And if you DO get an offer, you MUST (in my opinion) consider self-pubbing first. It is only rational. You must also decide to be serious about your career as an author. Too many think they can slide in either scenario, and it just doesn’t work.

    So, having said that, I completely agree with your points. ALL authors should take publishing seriously. The problem is, few do.

    Thanks,

    -Steven

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander February 23, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Skye, I don’t think the “implications are all the same” for authors who set up as publishers and those who contract with someone else to publish their books. There are many questions and concerns authors will never have to deal with, like pricing, dealing with vendors, establishing distribution channels, selling to the trade, selling foreign rights and a myriad of others, that publishers take on as part of their business.

    Reply

    Dr. R.D. Charbonneau A.Ph.D. February 20, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Very interesting article, Mr. Booth. I’ve considered the routes to getting published in the past via queries to agents, receiving the “Great work, but not my cup of tea…” response, or none. From your article, that sounds like a plus.

    What I’ve seen in the news lately, mentions the Indie book shops that keep springing up around the country with reasonable success. I’ve been mulling this over while working on some sci-fi novels I hope to publish while working on an exhaustive dissertation that is no small undertaking.

    The expense to write any of my works, fiction or otherwise, is my time, the power bill and whatever it costs to keep up my mojo. Although I stared as an engineer and am now physicist, I’m an accomplished illustrator. I can validate the credibility of what I write, do my own cover art as well as do perfect or tablature binding on a small scale. As for editing, I have a number of free options including me.

    I can see the validity of your opinion in your article. I wouldn’t mind con-fabbing with you through email to explore ways we both could move our writing careers forward. One thing I have learned is to wait on the website till I have enough great content to use up a fair amount of bandwidth. Beyond that, I found your article some good food for thought.

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 21, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Dr. Charbonneau,

    I would be delighted to “talk shop” with you. You can contact me directly at my website, http://www.geniusbookpublishing.com/contact-us/

    I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

    Thanks,

    -Steven

    Reply

    Greg Strandberg February 19, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I just never considered traditional publishing an option, even after writing a few novels. After I learned about Amazon I put them out and now have several more books. I’m not reaping a windfall, but I do alright.

    Maybe traditional publishers could use a few of my titles, but it just seems like too much of a hassle to even bother with, honestly. Hitting ‘publish’ on Amazon is so much faster.

    Of course I only spend about $50 or so on each book, if even that, and that’s usually for a cover. Some covers I can get much cheaper, and since I do all my own editing, well, even more savings.

    Yeah, maybe people won’t buy my titles (they often don’t) but I’m typically too busy working on the next book to worry much about it.

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Greg,

    I’ve been looking at your comment for about 10 minutes now, and I’m still not certain how I want to respond. I think it’s admirable that you are cranking out so many new pieces. I’m a bit surprised that your total investment in a book is $50 or so, including covers. And I’m aghast that you self-edit.

    Our general investment in putting together a fiction title is about $1,000 to $1,500, depending on some small factors. That’s including several rounds of professional editing, professional print and ebook design, quality covers, and some marketing (mostly for my publicist, Molly Celaschi). We are working on a non-fiction piece that will cost in excess of $10,000, but will probably bring in 10 times as much revenue, so it is worth the investment. So I am wondering, Greg, what your net revenues are considering you invest $50 in the book. Also, I’ve learned that readers DO judge books by their covers, and a professional cover will outsell a cheap one almost every time.

    As for self-editing, I have received submissions from bestselling authors for new titles that have been self-edited by the author themselves. Invariably, even with an experienced author (most of whom were traditionally published), self-editing leads to overlooking some critical piece of the story that would have been caught on a professional edit. I had to reject the pieces because the author was not open to a publisher’s edit–they felt that the one they had done was adequate. And since I didn’t agree, and I’m the publisher, I was the one who had to say ‘no.’

    So, Greg, I’m wondering what would happen if you invested, say, $150 in a cover and $350 in editing (yes, editing can be had for $350). It might be an interesting experiment for you. You seem to have enough titles to play with. It might be interesting to see what your sales would be like then.

    Good luck. I hope your sales match your enthusiasm for writing. :)

    -Steven

    Reply

    Greg Strandberg February 19, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Oh, I’m sure $500 could get me more sales, but I’d just have a real hard time paying the rent that month.

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 19, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Greg,

    That’s kind of my point. You SHOULD be investing in your future income. I don’t know what you do for a living or what your financial situation is–and I’m certainly not asking you to bare your soul on a public blog–but if you’re writing to make money (e.g. running a small business), then it would make a lot of sense for you to spend the money on a product that will capture your reader’s eye.

    It sounds to me like you are a writing hobbyist, not a self-published author. Hobbies cost money, businesses make money–preferably a lot of money. You state that you are writing continuously without regard for the sales or the success of any individual title, which doesn’t sound like you are making enough money to compensate you for your time sitting in a chair and writing the book, let alone your $50 investment. You are entitled to make a living wage for the time it takes you to write. Are you able to do that with your current sales?

    My blog was meant to address self-publishing authors who want to make money and are willing to do what it takes to make a living with their writing. If that isn’t something that interests you, that’s fine. But saying that it’s not worth it to invest a few hundred dollars in the success of your book indicates that you missed the point of my blog.

    Thanks,

    -Steven

    Reply

    Greg Strandberg February 20, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Ha, don’t worry about me Steven. In the space of a year I’ve started my own writing site from scratch and gotten it up to 600 to 700 unique hits a day.

    I’ve managed to make more money from my eBooks in the first two months of this year than I did all of last year. People leave comments on my site or email me to say thanks for helping, not every day but quite a few times a week.

    It might not sound like much, but it means a lot to me. I guess we’re just going for different audiences. I think you’re site’s a little plain and staid while mine is a bit more out there.

    I think I probably appeal to the younger and more reckless crowd, those often without much in the way of financial resources, while you represent the old guard that’s got a bit more money to throw around.

    I’m sure both approaches have their place and each can learn from the other. I’m pretty confident that a year from now I’ll have another 20 to 30 books out and be making a lot more than I’m making now.

    And I have no plans to do that with traditional publishing in any way. It doesn’t bother me, I’m not bitter – traditional publishing and many of the other things you listed are great, they just don’t interest me. I guess it’s my loss.

    Jan Springer February 19, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Wonderful article. Thanks!

    jan

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 19, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Jan, thanks!

    Reply

    Shelley Sturgeon February 19, 2014 at 7:43 am

    Great article, Steven and lots for us to think about.

    Reply

    Steven W. Booth February 19, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Shelley,

    Thanks. I’m glad you liked it. It was a fun piece to write.

    -Steven

    Reply

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