Monday, 7 March 2011

To self publish, or not to self publish

Fascinated by the Kindle self publishing issue (see earlier post).

I've just seen this blog by a US author with extensive  publishing industry experience. He writes very well and sets out the numbers with clarity.

Leaves you thinking that books aren't about to disappear after all. But the opportunities Kindle offer are real.


  1. There were lots of things I disagree with about what that blogger said. (like we're supposed to be put off self-publishing E-books by the thought that Amanda Hocking may never sell as many books or make as much money as James Patterson or JK Rowling? Gosh how many writers with the backing of traditional publishers also find themselves in that position?)

    But what do I know? I mean he appears to have a gazillion followers (though maybe they all got forwarded to him from here!)

    Anyway, forget opinions, he's entitled to his, as I am to mine. But facts is facts. He fired out a lot of numbers and appeared to come up with the analysis that publishers were somehow in danger of losing money on E-books (even though they're charging extortionate prices).

    But his "analysis" doesn't hold water!

    In order to justify the prices that the big publishers are trying to sell their E-books at, he boiled down the per-book profit for publishers to 8 dollars for hard copy versus 5.24 for e-book. Then he cites the running costs and overheads for the publisher as being the same whether it's an e-book or a real book.

    But he forgets to mention a HUGE element of costs for the hard cover books that every publisher has to bear:
    - transportation from printer to storage warehouse
    - transportation from storage warehouse to bookstores
    - transportation of the returns from bookstores to storage warehouse
    - transportation from storage warehouse to discount bookstores to get rid of the books they over-ordered and couldn't sell.
    - Add to that the printing costs of the books that they had printed and had to PAY FOR and couldn't sell.

    It's safe to say - since with E-books, there is NO COST, NO OUTLAY, NO TRANSPORTATION and just PURE PROFIT - that when publishers pocket 5.24 dollars on every E-book, they are making more than they would from the hard copy. So don't let any publisher tell you they're doing you a favour giving you a whole 25% royalty on your E-book!

    More power to the writers' elbows I say! Get your E-books out there yourselves and get a 70% royalty! Price the books reasonably and hope they go viral!

    Who will sort out the wheat from the chaff? Us. The readers!

    Cos I've got to say - many's the time I've choked on chaff from big publishers. I don't believe AT ALL that they protect us from it. They push and promote whatever they've paid a ridiculously big advance for, not what is the best writing on offer (Katie Price? gimme a break!).

    Most E-books give you a free chapter - more than enough to help you decide if you want to go on and invest your hard-earned 49pee on the full book!

    So I'm not too worried about finding my own wheat, thank you very much (And I'm also a big believer in taking word-of-mouth recommendations of trusted reviewers *winks*).

  2. Thanks for commenting, Janice, and regards to Peter.
    I totally agree with your points. I love the idea that the reader is being given the ultimate power.
    I'm in no position to challenge his breakdowns regarding the cost of ebooks/hardbacks to publishers. But it does occur to me just how cosy life is for most publishers: nice offices (in nice parts of London, New York etc), expense accounts, award dinners... Who pays for it all? No wonder the writer gets such a measly cut. Things are gonna change...
    Have you checked out the newbie blog - see my blogroll - which is written by a very successful e-novelist? Fascinating area...

  3. J.A. Konrath! What a guy! I've been reading his stuff for a while now. What's wonderful is how generous he is with information and advice. I've been thinking about his experiences for a while now, and a month or so ago I decided to act.

    I've been learning all about Kindle and Smashwords (the folk who distribute e-books to Nook, iBooks, and all the other E-book reader sales outlets) and Createspace (the Amazon outfit who produce hard copy print on demand). I've been learning all about the correct formats for uploading, the required layouts, the designing of covers etc etc (really not too onerous at all) and in fact, purely coincidentally...'s a very special day. Today I'm ready to roll and upload everything! I've been working the last couple of weeks on proofing and preparing a short, non-fiction "how-to" book of mine and I'm self-publishing it so that I can really see the process through from beginning to end.

    I don't expect to make any money from it! I just want to see what the possible pitfalls are before I commit to a work of fiction. But self-publishing is definitely where I'm heading!

    And do you know what's best of all? It's not costing me a penny to try!

  4. That's brilliant to hear. And well done for doing all the research -- v interested in this myself, as you can tell, having gone the agent/publisher route with no success in the past. Please send us the link for your book once it is up.