ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

JOIN YOLANDA RENEE ON HER BLOG TOUR!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

#IWSG post -- What I've learned through my self-publishing experiment.

Howdy people!


Thanks to Alex J Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts for February 1: Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter!

The IWSG question of the month is: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Short answer: It's made me aware of all the 'so-called' rules of writing that are broken constantly by famous authors. But also, it's helped me to learn plot and structure which is hard to get just by reading the theory. Not that I'm there yet, but I've improved.

Long Answer: Go to Write...Edit...Publish where Pat Garcia has a great guest post on Critical Reading.

But today I want to come clean about what I see in the tricky world of publishing, in particular, self-publishing.  


WHAT I'VE LEARNED ABOUT SELF-PUBLISHING and selling books. (Not much, but I'm not overly insecure about it, just realistic.)

I formatted a book for Amazon just to test how it all worked. It stands alongside other compilations which include a story of mine. I received some great reviews for Under the Tuscan Moon, my vampire fantasy, but haven't sold many copies. I'll definitely be trying traditional publishing for my Paris novel.

This is my self-pub story...(not an episode of Law and Order).
  • Formatting on Amazon is not hard if you follow their intricate instructions, just tedious. I always planned to hire someone to format for me, but as I said, I wanted to try it for myself at least once. Tick. :-)
  • Amazon is very helpful, answering emails quickly and doing what they can to help you which is opposite to what I've read on some blogs. Tick. :-)
  • Their 75% royalties only eventuate if you price your book high enough. :-(
  • Setting up a bank account for receiving those non-existent royalties is a right royal pain. No doubt it's easier if you live in the US. I really think Amazon is for American citizens, so Donald Trump will most likely leave it alone. :-(
  • You don't sell any/many books unless you make the first few pages of Amazon searches and how do you do that? A lot of spamming I'd wager. Or friendly bloggers could get together and all buy each other's books on the same day. :-(
  • Self-publishing is difficult for people who hate self promotion or are basically lazy or don't care less if they sell a book or not. It takes a lot of effort to crack the market as exhausted authors will tell you. :-(
  • Self-publishing works best for people who don't need sleep or are already traditionally-published best-selling authors (name recognition). :-(
Okay, IWSG-ers, if you have a moment, would you answer one/some/all of these questions for me? 

  • Do you have any help to offer re selling books that  you're willing to share?
  • Are you happy with Amazon if you're self-published? Do you sell most of your books through them? 
  • Do you have a marketing plan?
  • Do you see social media as an important marketing tool? (A future post).
Thanks for coming by. I hope to see you again!

While you're here, I'll do a plug for Write...Edit...Publish who announce their new challenge today. Please think about joining us if you haven't before or if you haven't for awhile. A new challenge comes out every second month. Check out the schedule at the top of my sidebar. There might be something that catches your imagination.

THIS MONTH, Back of the Drawer (not your average Valentine's challenge). Tell us your interpretation in a poem, a flash fiction piece of 1000 words or less, a non-fiction piece detailing your personal experience or someone else's experience, write a script, draw your dreams, or post a photograph or a photo essay. The genre is up to you. The artistic choice is completely yours.












.


68 comments:

  1. What a lot of good info for those like me who haven't published either trad or self! I appreciate your candor, Denise. I also like the new/different banner and the writing quote. . . I will try to join in the next WEP, but I'll wait to see what details you give us. You've also had some of your work on Wattpad haven't you? What's your take on that? Was it useful?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks D.G. Thanks for noticing the banner and quote. I sweated over that, LOL! I hope your situation allows your entry into WEP. Yours is always well anticipated by me!

      Wattpad? You need to ask Olga Godim about that. It is a place to share your chapters and many do. You gain readers. I have some chapters published on it, but don't have the time to build my readership. An acquaintance of mine had 75,000 readers for her romance novel chapters, but still can't get a publisher to buy it. (I must check it out WHEN I GET TIME) to see if I can work out why...Tricky, this publishing world, and SO time consuming!

      Delete
  2. Yeah, famous authors get away with murder, don't they? :) I think being a writer has made me far more aware (and less tolerant) of sloppiness when I see it in published works. And I find myself commenting on plot holes, shallow characters, and viewer manipulation in movies too. I've had to learn to bite my tongue :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. Can't help ourselves, can we? But these days, even trad published authors aren't spoiled by a plethora of high-class editors like the classic authors were. Dream on...

      Delete
  3. Self-publishing is a "Learn As You Grow" path. Denise, it is simply a marketplace that is too over-crowded to stand out unless you are a Name. Persistence and Evolving are the only things that will see us through. The more books you self-publish, the bigger your backlist will be should you ever gain fans. That thought is what keeps me going. Sigh. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. The problem is right there, Roland. Over 1,000,000 books a year published on Amazon. What? Maybe a dozen do well? I'd love to see the stats! With 20+ novels on Amazon, Roland, I'd think you'd have a fan base!

      Delete
  4. This was a fun post DX, though I'm sure it was just a humorous rant. Yeah, I haven't self published for all the stated points. At least you are jumping out there and taking the risk. And learning as you go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very tongue-in-cheek Donna. You know me. No risk involved, no hankering for fame, no whatever. Just trying to work things out...

      Delete
  5. Raimey Gallant has a template for marketing your book (keeping track of street teams and everything else) on her blog today for IWSG. And BadRedHeadMedia has a lot of info on building your author brand (for that all-important name recognition).
    Thanks for sharing your experience with self-publishing. All the best with your future publishing endeavours. The best teacher is experience...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ronel, for the info and links. Myself, and other readers here are going to check it out! 'The best teacher is experience...' So true.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for the info on self-publishing, I'll bear that in mind if I ever get to that stage! Looking forward to working on my WEP story :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you do get to the stage, Laura. Love that you're joining us for WEP again!

      Delete
  7. Hi Denise - I don't know what I'm in for ... but I'll get there. Elizabeth Spann Craig has developed her authorly aspects ... she I'm sure has suggested a series - which then opens the door for buyers to repeat buy the new book in the series.

    I'm going to check in on Ronel ... but your comments about Amazon are interesting ... I guess it's trial and error and keeping on ... and your WEP link .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I meant to add ... you love food and recipes - how about doing an additional recipe collection relating to each of your books - Tuscan, Parisian ... then you could add to that ... French, Italian etc refer to the place/ happening in the book ... ? Cheers Hilary

      Delete
    2. Love the idea, Hilary. I am working on a Paris Cookery School novel too. It's fun collecting recipes. :-)

      Delete
    3. Good .. thought you were on it ... additional links back to your stories ... cheers H

      Delete
    4. Yeah, the more links the better. I did do the odd post about early-style Tuscan bread and oil. I must think of ways to incorporate into my books...

      Delete
    5. Hi Denise - I've signed up for WEP ... not sure where I'm meant to comment .... but I guess as long as I post - that's what matters - cheers H

      Re recipe booklets or pages ... at the back of your book - you can add links ... and then have the booklets listed separately ... I think Elizabeth Spann Craig has done something similar ... as too Holly...

      Delete
    6. Thanks Hilary. For signing up at WEP. The comment is a bit redundant. We add you to the blogroll so we know when you publish.
      And thanks re recipe books/booklets. I'd love to do that. :-)

      Delete
    7. and ... bookmarks, business cards ... include recipes or ideas relative ...
      Thanks for the note re WEP ... have a good week ...

      Delete
  8. Yes, I totally agree that published writers get to break the rules. Thanks for sharing your experience with self-publishing. Since I haven't done it, I can't answer your questions. I do agree that you have to be really self-motivated to be a self-published writer, but some people seem to love it. With the time I spend on my blog and working as a writer, I wouldn't have time to do all the marketing, but I think you really have to do it about the same if you are published traditionally unless you luck out and are releasing a book with a lot of "buzz" that the publisher markets more for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, so we've got to reach publishd-writer status before we can tell instead of show, use all the as's we want and murder a sentence or two. What fun!

      Delete
  9. Famous authors can do anything at all and people still bit. Ugg to marketing, I now file that stuff under the IDGAS category haha

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bombing Amazon with a lot of sales in one day would certainly help.
    I still think social media helps, including blogging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is how Talli Roland got started--she called it a Crash Amazon bloghop and asked everyone to buy her book on the same day to get to the front-page search. She now sells over 90,000 books a year last I heard. Of course her books are catchy and readable. It wouldn't work if you wrote trash!

      Delete
    2. Interesting to read about Talli - she's doing well ... catchy type books, lots of them ... and keep going! H

      Delete
  11. Hi,
    You know I so agree with you. Self-publishing demands all your time and energy when you decide to go that route. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to be a traditional author for a few reasons and one of them is that I live in Europe in a country where English is not the native language.
    Besides that, my thing is what happens after all your friends buy or download a copy of your book? It is difficult convincing people when your budget is small. A publishing house with a good reputation pays off in the long run to offset this. They have contacts that I as a writer need. And I don't want to spend ninety-five percent of my time marketing and selling. I would like to spend that time writing.
    I'm glad you wrote this article because I see so many people on twitter and other social media platforms just trying to sell their books over and over to the same people. And that is an overkill.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. I think even though traditional publishing houses aren't quite getting their act together in these changing times you have to be trad published to get an audience. I may be sooooo wrong. Please correct me if I am. Unfortunately, it seems to be 95% marketing and promo-ing. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I'm going to post about your final comment. Have the post ready...:-)

      Delete
  12. Love the new header! And the quote - gee I planned to give it ten years, maybe I should try eleven? Actually I'm in it for the long haul with the realization it's not going to fund my dreams! Making enough money to live on doing what you love is a great goal, and I'm sure some will achieve it, but not the majority.
    And with that in mind, I'm getting ready to self-publish The Snowman. I'll let you know how long it takes me to recoup the cost of editing, formatting, and design. Hmm . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for mentioning the header and the quote. Look, we slave over these things and no one notices LOL! Or fails to mention...not that it worries me. Who looks at headers these days? All busy rushing to the next blog post. I'm gonna love hearing your self-pub story for The Snowman. Please come on over and tell us about it...

      Delete
  13. I adore the last line for you self-pub story. I do sell more of my cookbooks on Amazon than other outlets (not that it’s a lot, since I suck at self-promo). I have no current marketing plan, but I'm reading up on it so I have one for my novel. Yeah, social media is probably important, but one has to be careful how they use it so they don't turn people off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh, heh, Holly, I'm such a comedian. The whole post was written tongue-in-cheek. I couldn't possibly be serious about this topic, not from my POV. All the self-pub success stories are from well-known authors. I'd like to hear some from unknowns...anyone out there???

      Delete
  14. Yes to most of that. I have a whole book of ideas and there are so many more new ones available now. Ask yourself - who is your target reader? Where do those people hang out? Now, find a way to put yourself in front of them, via a book club, a conference, articles for websites and blogs, fan sites, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks L Diane. You always know a thing or two on this subject.

      Delete
  15. My experience with self-publishing is very small. As you know, I self-published Lightning Crimes. I did it in December and it was a neat experience. I purposefully made it perma-free, which helps with promo. And I don't have to worry about sales/money. lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I saw that, I didn't know what 'perma-free' meant for sure and how you go about it. Would only work if you have multiple titles available I should think.

      Delete
  16. My husband is in marketing, so I let him handle my sales stuff. But I will say he's adamant that we stay with Amazon and KU and KDP etc. because that's where pretty much *all* my sales come from. We tried going wide early on but I wasn't making anything from other sites. It could be different now, and it probably also depends on the book, but... For now I'm with Amazon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky you, having a marketing expert for a husband. I know another blogger with the same, but he won't help her at all, the cad! Thanks for your praise of Amazon.

      Delete
  17. Like you, I found the formatting for Amazon not hard, if one follows their instructions. Like you, I haven't sold many books through them or other online retailers. But then, marketing is not my forte. Alas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nor mine, alas. Even in trad publishing, there' not much marketing help.

      Delete
  18. Replies
    1. Yep. As long as we behave ourselves and don't blow our own trumpet too much!

      Delete
  19. I haven't pubbed yet so I'm trolling here for great advice! Thanks :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are some interesting links in the comments here Jemi. Not sure you'll learn much from moi!

      Delete
  20. Like, you, I've learn things like plot/structure from reading. I can't read a book now without noticing all the elements. Teaches me what works and what doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's right, Theresa. Plotting theory is hard to implement. Seeing authors DOING it, helps a bunch!

      Delete
  21. I haven't published anything yet, but I'm gearing up to. I can tell you as someone with a background in marketing that it's overwhelming even for me to think about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, really? Egad! That's me done, then!

      Delete
  22. I haven't published a book yet, and I don't know which way I'll go once I finish my memoir. I certainly appreciate the information you provided, Denise. "Contemporary Paris Romance" caught my eye, especially since I finally made it to Paris a couple of years back. I've only read one book from this genre: "The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles" by Katherine Pancol. It was definitely fun! I'll have to check out some of your blog posts for starters. Happy writing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome Fundy Blue. I love writing about Paris. I hope you make a decision that suits you!

      Delete
  23. As you know Denise, marketing comes easy for me. I help authors market their books. And I also upload for other authors, so I do know some authors are making good money from self publishing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I knew that Nas, but how many authors can you work with?

      Delete
  24. A lot of those statements you made can also be applied to traditional publishing too. Which, if I'm honest, is kinda depressing. lol.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Self publishing is definitely a long-term kind of game, which is why I'm using a five year plan.

    By the way, if you join Payoneer, they provide you with a US bank account that you can give Amazon, which makes royalties *SO* much easier. And I use it myself, so I know it works. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha. I knew my Payoneer account was for something, now I must read up on it. Thanks.

      Delete
  26. Thank you for being honest, Denise. I haven’t self-published, but I’m weary of hearing what a breeze it is. Maybe self-publishing is easy if you don’t care about quality or whether you make a sale, but doing it right is work and there’s no guarantee of success—true no matter which road to publication you choose.

    While I believe social media is a viable marketing tool, it’s only one tool among many. I’m on the Writer Unboxed Twitter team and my duty is to scour the internet for information on promotion. I post links on both indie and traditional promotion under #WUPromo. This isn’t intended as a plug, but there’s a lot of good information there, even if I do say so myself. :)

    VR Barkowski

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks VR. I follow WU, so will check out this Twitter feed.

      Delete
  27. Congrats on going through the formatting and self-pubbing process! I can do the ebook version, but am too scared to try to the print. Maybe in the future... It's not that I don't want to share publishing/marketing tips, it's that I haven't found anything that works. Nada. And I do a lot of social media too. My last hope is that when I get 6 books out or so, sales will pick up because if a person likes one, there are more to buy. Since I have only 2 out and they're so different, there are very few sales. Wishing you a great week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Building up a readership is a lot of hard work with some luck thrown in. No easy route.

      Delete
  28. This is so interesting as I get closer (hopefully) to publishing one day. I think I'll try the self-publishing route to start off so I really enjoy hearing from people the real dirt on how it actually works. Cheers - Ellen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's so many conflicting experiences but you've got to have a product the market wants.

      Delete
  29. Good advice, Denise. As I have just completed my first self publish with Amazon, I have this recurring nightmare. Being that my bank is Canadian, I see all sales vanish as soon as the signal hits the Canadian border. Ugh! Wishing you great success.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I like your positive take on the questions of the month. Most people, myself included, had a more negative response in that it has spoiled the simple pleasure of reading for them. Internal editor and all that jazz.

    As far as your questions about self-publishing, I'm not one to ask. I'm really trying hard to have my work traditionally published. While I have read many good works that were self-published, I'm disappointed by the number that are sloppy. People who rush the process and don't have their work properly edited. I'm slogging through one now that's part of a writing groups/book club. Here's the sad part: this guy has a great story and he's actually telling it pretty well, but he like his flowery prose a little bit too much, read - a lot of redundancy. Also, there are numerous typos, grammar, and consistency errors that should have been caught by an editor. This book is 170k words long and should be cut by at least 30% IMO. Such is my most recent experience with self-publishing. YIKES!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes FE, our negative response to the question was disheartening after reading so many. I wonder why we should expect anyone to read our books? That said, I loathe badly edited self-published books where people have not bothered with the edits. We all need an editor as we don't see our own mistakes, or not all.

      Delete
  31. Wow... You read 100 books a year!? Hats off to you.

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you! Hit me with your wisdom!