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Self-Published By Choice - interesting article

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by PaulineMRoss, Jun 14, 2015.

  1. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    I thought this was a nice summary of why one author chose to self-publish. Her 7 reasons:

    Empowerment; control; freedom; money; flexibility; no obligations; no limits.

    It's (naturally) very pro-self-pubbing, so if anyone wants to link to a similar pro-trad article for balance, that would be good.
     
  2. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    Thanks for posting that!
     
  3. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    There are some articles out there that explain why some people choose traditional publishing over self. For instance:

    Why I Chose a Traditional Publisher | Nathan Bransford, Author

    Nine Reasons Authors Still Choose Traditional Publishing | Writing Forward

    You might also enjoy this one by an old acquaintance of mine on why she does both:

    Why I Choose to Self-Publish and Traditionally Publish by CJ Lyons

    I read the article in the first link and I think she gets it mostly right, with a few notable errors. I don't have time to comment on them this am, but hope to make time to get back and make a few comments later.

    PS- recently read the Plains of Kallanash and really enjoyed it. Well done.
     
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  4. Russ

    Russ Istar

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  5. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Thanks for putting the other side of the argument. Balance is good.

    Wow, thanks very much. You've made my day. :) :) :)
     
  6. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I'm so coming back to read all these, but I need to get dinner on and if I begin reading now, I'll be serving little kids burned food--just makes me feel bad. Can't wait!
     
  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I really should slip in just four quick comments about the original article. If you are thinking of using it as guidance in your choices she gets at least three things wrong (or misses them) and there is no further reason you should exercise caution in following her advice:

    1) She claims there is no competition and that self-publishing is a utopia of "empowerment and abundance." She claims that there is no competition between fiction writers or in the entertainment world at all. This is simply factually wrong and shows a fundamental lack of knowledge about basic economics and the industry. Considering she says this is her number one reason for choosing to self pub and it is factually and logically bankrupt that is a hole beneath the water line.

    2) On Money she is correct that you make more per book, but then gets her stats all messed up, and relies on a stats site published by an anonymous guy that has been critiqued and debunked by people with real Phds and proper qualifications rather than "the stats guy." But what she fails to mention is that the up front costs are put in by the author and can be significant. While you "earn" more per sale, you don't make anything until your costs are covered. Ignoring that is more than convenient but I think there is a reason for that.

    3) Control. She is correct that you do have to do everything yourself. While some people like this, most people are not capable of becoming experts in all areas and having connections in all areas. Truth is our economies are functioning now with more specialists and less generalists. She misses the whole point and value of specialization in this section.

    But the real reason to take her website with a HUGE grain of salt is that her first book came out yesterday. When she published these thoughts she was an unpublished author, with, from what I can tell, no experience in the industry. It was pure theory with no insight or experience to back it up. She should be publishing these thoughts when she has been at this for five years or more when she has some experience. In fact considering she had a pre-sale for her books, her first day sales are anemic to say the least. I would go so far as to say terrible. So one should ask oneself, is it prudent to take advice from someone who has never worked in the field and can't seem to do basic economics.

    There are many reasons one might consider self publishing as the right option, but Ms. Sicoe's is not the person to give you career advice. I don't see why one would take her advice in the area based on a day or so in the industry and a handful of book sales.

    Pauline has significantly more experience and knowledge (and sales!) in this field than this lady does. In this case Pauline should be writing the article rather than just posting it!

    Around the area of the choice to self-publish I would pay some particular attention to the article above by CJ Lyons, and not just because she is someone I know. She has been in the industry for years, has had her fair share of successes and failures in both traditional and self publishing, and has built herself a career as a writer that has allowed her to stop practicing medicine.
     
  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Russ,

    I feel truly sorry (not sure if that's the right word. concerned about?) for anyone who makes the extremely important decision on how to put their novel out into the world based on a single article from a blog.

    Truthfully, I seriously doubt anyone will be basing their decision on either Ms. Sicoe's article or on CJ Lyons' article.

    My reasons for self publishing are intensely personal:

    1. I hate the concept of agents and publishers being the ones to decide if I'm good enough. I'd rather let the market decide.

    2. I like the concept of owning a business, and self publishing gives me that opportunity with little risk and while doing something that I enjoy. The $2000 or so that I put into producing my book isn't going to break me even if I never sell a book.

    3. I see little value in the deals and support that publishers are giving debut authors. $5000 plus paying for the services that I spent $2000 on is meaningless to me, and it just doesn't seem like the publishers do a whole lot for you on the marketing side.

    EDIT: Clarifying that last remark about marketing. I get that publishers do invest in marketing and that the increased availability of your book is an advantage. On the other hand, I don't think that the amount of marketing they do is any guarantee at all of success. If your book is good enough, I think it will succeed based on the marketing that you can do personally. If it's not good enough, no amount of marketing will help.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
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  9. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I tried to just let this statement go, but I can't.

    If I had ten books waiting on my "to read" list, I'd still buy any book that came to my attention if I thought it would entertain me. The same thing goes if I had 10 or 100 or a 1000.

    People who read a lot, read a lot. (dispute that - I dare you :) )

    Only a few books become mega best sellers. Only a few authors become so successful that they can support themselves. There's no reason, however, that my book can't succeed if:

    1. I've written something that readers want to read.
    2. I can bring it to the attention of enough of those readers.

    Neither of those conditions is dependent on if another author has written a book that people want to read.
     
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  10. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I cannot disagree with your formula for success, it is quite accurate.

    BUT

    People's budgets and book selling budgets are not infinite, they are limited. Writers, whether we like to talk about it or not, are competing for limited dollars. The pie does have sizes, people do have to, and do, make choices on where to spend their money. As writers you are competing over a limited resource. The public will not buy equal amounts, or even reasonable amounts of all books published. You are competing against other authors for a piece of that pie. Hopefully you engage in positive competition, but it is competition nonetheless.

    and

    Readers have limited time and attention spans. Point 2 of your plan makes that point. One must compete for the attention of the reader, and many well informed commentators have talked about the problem of how swamped the indy field is with authors competing for your attention. In fact there is discussion now in some circles about the need for "gatekeepers" in the self pub world and how they are evolving and why they may or may not be beneficial.

    The last Codex study I read specifically polled people about how they make their book buying decisions, there is a reason that the group sponsoring that study spent the money to get that data. They want to be better than others at selling their books to consumers. That is indeed competition. And to be fair, the people with access to that kind of data may have a competitive advantage over those who do not.

    In fact based on the explosion of self pub, some experts fear there is now a shortage of readers, and proportionately the competition may be more fierce than ever.
     
  11. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    You should write an article about why self-publishing is the right choice for you, because if some random person described themselves the way you described yourself above and said "how should I publish" I would say they are a classic candidate for self publishing.

    The only comments I would make is that you won't likely get into bookstores, but many people are cool with that. And secondly while that $7,000 (or so) may not be significant to you, it would be to a lot of people.

    There are lots of people that self-pub is the right choice for. It sure looks like you are one of them. But the idea is currently being over sold and on bad reasoning.

    The reason I sometimes consider the self-pub route is a lot like 2. for you. I think it would be fun, and I don't need the money and can afford to take a loss on the project if I chose to do it.
     
  12. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    I disagree with you here. Two manufacturers of baked beans are in direct competition, because a consumer is only going to buy one brand. Two authors are NOT in competition because a reader can read one author's book today and the other author's book tomorrow. In that kind of environment, mutual cooperation can be very effective.

    This is very true. It's perfectly possible to self-publish without paying a penny, but it takes a steep learning curve to get to grips with cover design, interior formatting, etc and results are often less than stellar. My 3 books published so far cost $2,000, $1,500 and $1,500 respectively for professional cover design and proofreading, amongst other things. I'll just about have recovered those costs by the end of this month (9 months after first publication). I still have more general business costs outstanding - {cough}new computer{cough}.

    Not getting into the author earnings debate. :)

    OK, but self-publishing doesn't mean you have to do every last thing yourself. It means you are solely responsible for making sure they get done, that's all. So you hire the specialists you need to do the jobs you can't do yourself. And self-pubbers are great for sharing information about good sources of expertise.

    I think Brian has the last word, though: no one in their right mind would base a business decision on a single blog post. I'm glad you posted the other links to provide a proper balance. Self-pubbing has been the right choice for me, but it isn't for everyone and it needs a lot of careful thought.
     
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  13. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    The person buying the beans could buy brand A today and brand B tomorrow. Or both.

    While the competition in publishing is different, and mutual co-operation can be effective between the right people, the lady who wrote the article is wrong that there is no competition in publishing or the entertainment industries, and it is simply a land of "abundance."

    And I try to reference the material I refer to, and was in too much of a hurry earlier.

    Here is the piece discussing gatekeepers in self pub and that we are headed for a too few readers situation:

    In Self-Publishing, The Gatekeepers Are Dead. Long Live The Gatekeepers! | Thought Catalog

    Although I should caution people Howey is a sometimes controversial and not generally accepted analyst.
     
  14. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    Nor are pundits on web forums.
     
  15. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Which is why I source my materials. I never claim to be an authority, and rarely offer an original opinion.

    I don't even aspire to the title of "pundit".
     
  16. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Among the Indie community Howey is viewed with much respect and is generally considered a smart guy who knows what's going on.
     
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  17. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I think I agree with the article on this one.

    Certainly there's a form of competition between self-published authors. But it's not a competitive atmosphere.

    With baked beans, you have to make the same decision, "Brand A or Brand B," every time you buy. And typically the customer develops a lasting preference between the two. With entertainment, and especially with writing, the choice on the next day is different. "I've already read Book A. Today, do I want to read Book B or Book C?" The result is that, sometimes, reading Book A can actually encourage the reader to buy Book B.

    It's not hard to see how getting a publisher, which brings a different business model to the table (our book catalog competes with their book catalog...) can add some sense of that competition back into the atmosphere.


    Please, let's tone down the snark in accordance with site guidelines.
     
  18. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I can relate to the 7 choices the blog in the OP says about choosing to self-publish. My variation of it may be a little bit skewed or different though because I'm just starting out on this path. And it's not the only path I'm choosing. I still plan to submit some work to publishers while I continue to self-publish. I see self-publishing for me as my "consistency meter." Meaning I want to be successful at it like anyone else, but it also gives me motivation to release my work on a consistent basis instead of hoarding it up for months or years at a time. So I'll highlight my thoughts on each of the things she listed:

    1. Empowerment

    I do admit that being able to release my first work on my terms was very empowering. It gave me a sense of pride that I finally channeled my voice into a style I'm happy with and I can share it with other people. My first short story is only like a tiny grain of sand though. I hope that as I continue to release work, the sand will pile up and then I'll have a big ass sand pile. (Not sure where this metaphor is going, but yeah...)

    About competing with other authors, I've never seen it that way. My only goal is to make what I'm presenting as cool as possible in the hopes someone will pick it in the sea of other titles. If anything, I find that if there are writers who doing something similar to what I'm doing, it will only encourage them to buy more of that style. I know I did that when I first discovered GRRM. I sought out a lot of other writers in a similar vein.

    2. Control

    This isn't an aspect I'm as in love with as others, but it is nice to have complete creative control of what I'm doing. I'm not adverse to having someone tell me "I think this would work better" (i.e. an editor) so this isn't something I strive for. It's a nice perk of self-publishing, but I don't mind having someone help me channel my vision even more.

    3. Freedom

    This is pretty big because it allows me to dabble in various ideas I might not be able to do if I signed a contract with someone. However, I am happy to to do both. I would love to have my work I can published when and how I want, but also have my work that is more regimented. I do well with deadlines. Not always so well with self-imposed ones. My current goal is to release a Splatter Elf tale once a month. I was given this advice by another self-published author that has done well with this approach. He told me to just keep grinding and I'd see results. So I'm grinding.

    4. Money

    This isn't a huge factor for me with my self-published works. I figure with the right targeted promotion, I can get more people buying things. But being that I'm doing the 99 cent thing, the greatly decreases royalty percentages. If I decide to write longer work down the line, this will be more of a factor. But for now, I'm not looking at money that much. Don't get me wrong, that's certainly factored somewhere in there, but it's not a huge reason why I decided to self-publish.

    5. Flexibility

    I'm not as keen on this one. I don't like to be too flexible. I like a certain amount of structure to the way I do things. Which is why I decided this "story a month" thing for the time being. I may change my approach later on, but I like it for right now. Too much flexibility causes me to be unproductive.

    6. No Obligations

    I'm not sure I see not having to do interviews, blog tours, and all that jazz as a good thing. Part of me writing something is interacting with people that may want to read it. I can say that my admittedly limited interaction with people that have shown interest in my story (still only one) has been one of the most rewarding things about going this route. I've gotten several reviews that I didn't expect and have found some people that seem to like what I'm doing. So for me, the more obligations the better. I would love to do podcasts, interviews, whatever. I can't do book signings because I'm not doing print books, plus I live in Japan, but those are things I still have on my radar for the future.

    7. No Limits

    I do like this aspect. Mostly because once my story is out there, barring a huge meltdown of society, it's out there forever. I don't have to worry about going out of print or anything like that. Which I enjoy.

    So those are my takes on what the blog post addressed. I do think there are some solid points, but for someone that is wedged between the self-publishing and traditional publishing worlds, I wouldn't say all of these aspects appeal to me as much as some others.
     
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  19. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    The people with degrees in statistics who have examined his data and analysis find it flawed. Some of comments are a bit far out, and his strange reasons for keeping the qualifications and identity of the "data guy" a secret are more than a little suspicious.

    And there are many within the indy community who don't think much of him.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
  20. kennyc

    kennyc Inkling

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    yet no 'tone down the snark' on this comment:

    I see how things work round here....

    Thanks.
     
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