At this year’s Phoenix Comicon, when I wasn’t at the booth, I decided to check out some of the many panels. One of them was Self-publishing from the Pros where veteran self-published authors shared their perspectives on being a successful independent author. The panel consisted of Michael A Stackpole, James A. Owen, and Jordan Summers. It was great hearing from authors with such a long history of self-publishing. Below are some of the insights I managed to jot down.
- Making money with ebooks: Don’t assume it’s a goldrush. The reason Amanda Hocking was so successful isn’t a fluke, it’s because she posted on message boards like crazy.
- Pricing an ebook: A fair cost is in the $4-7 range, with occasional promotions with price cuts.
- Promoting within your book: Be sure to include a chapter from your next book or some other kind of preview. Or share samples of other author’s work and get yours in their books.
- Piracy concerns: Piracy happens when the cost is higher than the perceived value. If you have a fair price people will pay it, especially when they know they are helping an author directly.
- Being signed with a traditional publisher: You usually get about 2-3 grand as an advance for a book, spend years writing it, and make about 40 cents per $5 sale of it afterward. If it’s not successful (selling at least 8,000 titles), you essentially have to start again from scratch.
- When to go with a traditional publisher: There’s no us vs publishers, both self-publishing and traditional options still work. Traditional publishing is not going away, it’s just changing. There’s potential to get some good deals from a publisher. But make sure you focus on what serves your overall career and your goals, not what you get that moment.
The overall theme that stuck out during the panel is that the only way to make a living as an author is to be consistent in your work and persistent in your efforts. Don’t count on writing a book every ten years, come out with work regularly. Like a show on TV, take advantage of series-based storytelling to build an audience over time. Team up with other authors to get your work out and reach new audiences. Think of your self as a brand and build a tribe/community of people interested in your work.