Help me welcome author Lori Brighton to Romance University!! Today, Lori will enlighten us with her take on self-publishing. The covers, the money, the promotion.
If you would have told me a year ago that I would become a self-published author, I would have thought you were insane. We’ve all heard the horror stories of self-published saps spending thousands of dollars to have their books printed, only to be left with a hole the size of Texas in their wallets and a basement full of unsold books. And so I did what all authors are told to do, I spent years getting rejected, until finally I got a deal with a New York publisher. Sure the money was, to put it bluntly, crap. But hey, it was New York! Soon enough, the idea of New York wore thin. I realized quite quickly that it wasn’t some magical place full of puppies and lollipops. In fact, for me it was little money and lots of waiting and waiting and waiting.
Then a friend and fellow author, Edie Ramer, told me about self-publishing. This was a new type of self-publishing that didn’t involve cashing in your life’s savings and selling your soul. This was Epublishing. When I heard about self-published authors like H.P. Mallory making more money than I’d made with my N.Y. book, I decided to give it a try. Now that my first self-published book, The Ghost Hunter, has been out for a few months, I have a better understanding of this self-published world. Just like with anything, there are pros and cons to self-publishing.
When I wrote Wild Heart, my New York published historical romance, the editor decided to delete the prologue. As a newbie author grateful to be published, I just nodded my agreement even though I preferred keeping it. When you self publish, you can write the book the way you want it and no one is going to tell you what you can and can’t keep. That’s the positive of editing your self-published book.
The negative? When you self-publish you’re responsible for the content of your book, your characters and any grammar. If it bombs and readers hate your characters or story, there’s no one to blame but you. I had one reviewer go through my book and point out that I had around forty-three typos. Of course I was embarrassed and horrified, but on a positive note because it was self-published I could fix those typos and reload the book.
Authors who publish with N.Y. have pretty much no say in what their book cover will look like. And let’s face it, we’ve all seen those N.Y. covers in which we thought, what the heck were they thinking? When you self-publish you get to decide on your book cover, which can be good or bad. If you can design well or have the money to have someone design for you, the results can be fabulous. But…if you don’t have the talent or money, your cover can definitely hurt your sales. One of the cheapest and most talented book cover designers I know is author Kimberly Killion with Hot Damn Designs. She charges a rather fair price of $100-150, depending on stock designs. I’m hoping she’ll design my covers in the future.
One of the most frustrating things that can happen as a New York published author is waiting for your book to hit shelves. It was a good year from when I sold Wild Heart until it hit the shelves. Even worse, my second book, Wild Desire, will be out in March of 2011. That’s 16 very long months after Wild Heart was released. A long wait isn’t at all good for an author trying to make her/his name. The great thing about self-publishing is that you can release your book whenever you’re ready, and you can keep it out much longer than the few months your N.Y. book will be seen in bookstores. The downside… realizing you can release your book when you want can make sloppy editing. Try not to rush and have as many friends as you can read the book for typos!
Many New York publishers fully expect their authors to promote on their own. I had four ads on websites and in romance type magazines. These were the minimum I could afford, yet I still used my entire advance just on promoting my first N.Y. book. So if you factor in money spent (my entire advance), I’ve really made no money on my first N.Y. book. Since self-published authors mostly use bloggers to promote their books, they do spend more time emailing reviewers than a N.Y. author would, and you have to deal with the fact that some reviewers will not even look at self-published books. But whereas I spent my entire advance on promoting my N.Y. book, I’ve spent no money promoting The Ghost Hunter and my newest release, The Mind Readers.
Show Me the Money
Let’s face it, people send their manuscripts to N.Y. because they want that big advance. They want that deal that is going to be worth their time and effort, the deal that will allow them to settle into a career of writing bliss. And sometimes, it actually happens! In reality most authors who write for N.Y. publishers don’t make enough to quit their day job.
In the three months that my self-published book has been released, I’ve made the same amount of money that I’ve made in the two years since I signed my N.Y. contract for my first book. Granted, my advance from N.Y. was low, but it’s a rather great feat. Amanda Hocking, Zoe Winters, and H.P. Mallory are self-published authors who were never published by a New York Publisher and are making much more than many N.Y authors.
But let’s be real, the majority of self-published authors won’t make much money. So, how do you get your self-published book into the hands of readers? To be honest, writing in a popular genre about a popular subject helps. Remember that the covers counts! Don’t spend a fortune, but make sure it’s decent. Edit as much as you can, including sending to critique partners. And contact as many bloggers and reviewers as possible.
The truth is whether you self-publish or sell to N.Y., you never really know what books will sell well. Still, gone are the days when authors have to wait around and pray that N.Y. will take notice. Self-publishing isn’t for everyone, but it is now a viable way to publish books.
Have a question about publishing, I’ll try to answer! Or just leave a comment. I’m giving away an Ecopy of The Ghost Hunter and The Mind Readers to two people who comment.
RU Writers, have you ever thought of self-publishing?
Join us on Wednesday, when Carrie tracks down Janet Evanovich for an interview. Yes, THE Janet Evanovich. =)
Lori has a degree in Anthropology and worked as a museum curator. Deciding the people in her imagination were slightly more exciting than the dead things in a museum basement, she set out to become an author. Her first book, a historical romance, was published in November 2009.
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