In Your Corner: When Free Isn’t Free

When it comes to self-publishing, “free” isn’t always free, if you catch my meaning. In an industry where we’re used to self-publishing and indie presses being the much-lauded “little guy” going up against the Big Five traditional publishing houses, we sometimes overlook an important fact: indie authors still need to read the fine print.

Every publisher is a business–small presses, vanity publishers, and self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press included–and therefore, publishers still must make a profit somewhere. And that “somewhere” part is … well, the key. Rather than learn about hidden fees after you’ve gotten started down the path to self-publishing, wouldn’t it be better to know ahead of time how much you’ll need to spend? Planning, budgeting, and creative control are all vital facets of the experience, and we want to put you in the driver’s seat.

To that end, here are a couple of hidden fees to watch out for:

  • Amazon’s “Megabyte” Fee: If you happen to choose the 70% royalty option when publishing through Amazon’s KDP store, Amazon will charge you for each megabyte of your document. They have a full explanation on their KDP pricing page. It’s also worth noting that Amazon is not the only publisher to invoke this kind of hidden fee; many digital publishers do. So read that fine print!
  • Cover Design: Unless you opt for a bundle or collected service from a self-publishing company which offers professional cover design, you won’t be receiving one for free! And while many online websites offer free tutorials, the results … don’t always look so good. If you need a little convincing to pay out the money for a professional cover design, see one of our many previous posts on the benefits! The same is true for professional copyediting and many other interior design aspects of your book.
  • ISBNs: Unless you already knew you needed one, you might not know about this hidden fee. It’s a sneaky one, too–but there’s help at hand! It’s easy to file for an ISBN, if you know how or who to hire.
  • Street Cred & File Conversion: Some of the unquantifiables of self-publishing include more generic “business expenses,” like establishing credibility by having an imprint’s name rather than your own personal name on the Library of Congress information page, and paying for a good and accurate conversion of your manuscript file to the final format. Neither of these things is strictly necessary, in that you can self-publish without them, but it will take you much longer to get your book out there, and much longer to sell those books once they’re printed if they’re not formatted correctly or attached to a “legitimizing” imprint.

In many ways, you get what you pay for, so hidden fees aren’t strictly an evil thing. They exist for a reason, and your success depends on knowing which of them is useful to bow to and which ones you can forego. Just be aware … they’re out there, and you need to budget them in before committing to a final bank balance.

hidden fees

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path

In Your Corner: What’s in it for you at the book fair?

What’s in it For You?

Book fairs are great! … but they can also be terrifying, or worse, difficult to access for the average self-publishing author.  Combine tens of thousands of highly passionate librarians and booksellers, teeming crowds of readers, not to mention casual browsers and you have an unparalleled opportunity for exposure!  The book fair is unequaled by anything else in the reading and writing world, and because it most often reflects the best aspects of the writing and reading and publishing processes, it has plenty of room for you, the self-publishing author.

Many self-publishing platforms and hybrid publishing companies send representatives to book fairs.  Many, including Outskirts Press, even sponsor booths in order to feature self-published books at home and abroad–face-out, not spine-out! And more than anything else in terms of presentation, face-out exposure sells books!

Audience Matters.

What kind of person attends a book fair?  Interestingly, the London Book Fair has already answered that question and thoroughly; according to the LBF website, the 2015 event drew 1,591 exhibitors from 60 countries and some 25,000 attendees from 118 countries.  In attendance also were around 900 members of the media, also from all over the world.  Since Planet Earth only sports around 196 countries at the moment, this means that the London Book Fair manages to represent at least 60% of the world’s population in some way, shape, or form–each year!  And the LBF is just one book fair among many.

You belong there.

Your book is wonderful. It needs to be read. You may be a bit of a rebel: you’re already striking out on your own, dispensing with the false and burdensome values of traditional publishing, after all. But you and your book are free to take advantage of scaffolding like book fairs without being shackled to the rest of it, and your book is a bonafide example of an author designing and creating and publishing exactly what he or she envisioned.  That kind of artistic integrity creates its own gravity, its own magnetic attraction to readers.  Fair-goers will pick up on that authenticity right away!

Your book ought to be the star of the show.

Often a busy or crowded space isn’t the most comfortable environment to spend time talking or browsing for new reading material.  Think of Starbucks–and of bookstores like Denver’s the Tattered Cover.  Both of these companies use small nooks to great effect, and it’s not by just packing in a lot of stuff and posters and wallpapering the whole area with product information.  A book fair is not a bookstore; it doesn’t revolve around books.  A book fair revolves around authors and the worlds that they create.  People can order whatever they like off of Amazon and have it in their hands with far less expense of time and energy and money than attending a book fair–but people still flock to them!  And why?  Because they want to participate in the social world of books.  They want to meet the people who make books happen.  They want to meet you and your book.

So, how do you make your book the star of the show?  You winnow down your display and your presence to the absolute essentials–with full face-out exposure–and you focus on building human connections with the people there. All you need is the confidence to go, and perhaps the support of those who have gone before.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path

In Your Corner: Where (& Where NOT) to Sell Your Book

Typically, a (midlist, traditionally-published) book tour can only last so long–about three months, on the average–and that same book has about the same length of time to linger around brick-and-mortar bookstores like Barnes & Noble before being shuffled off to (midlist, traditionally-published) book heaven. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and those rare blockbuster successes like Harry Potter and John Grisham’s latest book will never know these trials. But what about self-published books and self-publishing authors? It’s hard enough to get your book on any shelf, period, so how do you figure out which shelves matter the most, given the limited times that various retailers will be interested in stocking it?

I would offer up the following list of places to consider NOT selling your book:

  1. Big box stores. I read somewhere recently that around seventy percent of American adults haven’t stepped inside a bookstore for the last ten years. Blame the skyrocketing usefulness of digital services if you like, but the point is … most people aren’t going to find your book if it’s only for sale in a bookstore, particularly a big box store like … well, Barnes & Noble and now Amazon’s physical bookstores (Amazon’s algorithms are always sure to privilege Kindle Direct-published titles, anyway). The greatest problem of all with big box stores is, however, simply this: they won’t go to bat for you. There are too many other competing concerns, and they’re not likely to take the time to care about your individual success in the midst of all that. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try at all to stock your book at B&N and elsewhere, but be prepared to have your books returned to you after some months if you don’t actively promote your book in each location yourself. We’ve mentioned it elsewhere on the blog, but stores may not even be willing to stock your book if you don’t give them a free return option.
  2. Independent bookstores. This one might get me into trouble with some other self-publishing authors, but my point is that independent bookstores are for the most part incredibly crowded places, with thousands of competing titles jammed into a small space. I would posit that the indie bookstore is a fantastic place to hold a reading, but a difficult place to sell books if you yourself are not present at a book launch party or a reading in order to promote it. Indies don’t have the budget to do that for you, and as with all other sales locations you should expect to bear the brunt of the marketing.
  3. Restaurants and wine bars. There can be ways to make a restaurant or wine bar or coffee shop or other “edible” establishment a happy home for your book, but usually only as a live event space–for readings and launch parties and such. Problematically, however, these locations tend to charge for such events, often a hefty sum, and the cost can outweigh the advantages–especially if there is a library or civic space nearby where you can hold your reading for free. If you’re going to sell at a restaurant, be ready to have to compete with lots of other activity and noise OR to be sectioned away from the main public area and therefore unable to draw newcomers in. It’s hard to feed serendipity when there’s a wall between you and the front door!
  4. Online. Not all algorithms are created equal, right? Amazon has come under fire in the last few months for deliberately downplaying indie and self-published works that were produced by other publishers than their own Kindle Direct service, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store has never seen the same level of traffic as their amorphous competitor. You should not expect for your book to sell, magically, online without extensive marketing on your part and careful attention to where you sell. As in a lot of other facets of self-publishing, you want to sell through people who will go to bat for you. The folks over at Outskirts Press seem like a great example of such a company, and their online bookstore is easy to find and navigate.
  5. Under your bed. There are plenty of ways to NOT sell your book, but hiding them under the bed and expecting them to sell without you having to put in some serious elbow grease is perhaps the worst of all. The other entries on this list of “NOTs” is still a better place to start than here, in the realm of neglect. Promote, promote, promote!

… but of course, every challenge has its flip side. I would offer up this second list, in increasing order of value, as a compendium of places to DEFINITELY sell your book:

  1. Local indies. Look, I know what I said about independent bookstores on list #1. But local indies are another story. A nearby town has three of them, and they constantly compete to get visiting and local authors to stop by and sign books, host readings, and generally be a presence in their stores. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership, and many of the problems of the general indie bookstore disappear when you’re able to stop by multiple times a month and make yourself a part of the life of your local indies. They’re often willing, even, to pass word along about your other local events–readings at libraries and such. The three local indies I mentioned above all network with the big city library to take some of the pressure off in hosting parts of the annual state book festival. When things are local, they become fertile ground for long-lasting relationships.
  2. Local libraries. For many of the same reasons as with local indies, local libraries are fantastic places to sell your book. Not just at book launch parties and readings, although those too are fantastic, but possibly even at the front desk or via the community bulletin board. The point is, again, to keep yourself an active presence at the library, to stop by both at planned and unplanned moments to engage with the library patrons and staff. To cultivate relationships. One little local library I visit regularly had a special relationship with a local historian who published books about the town, and always had one or two copies of his book on hand to sell for him. When he passed away, those books suddenly became very hot property in the community, and the library hosted a farewell memorial with his family. I won’t say this particular arrangement is a common occurrence, but it’s a possibility.
  3. Local businesses. There are all kinds which might be willing to partner with you, either by putting up posters or keeping a couple of copies by the register–hair salons, museums, art galleries, specialty stores, you name it! Wherever people browse slowly, that’s an opportunity. And it’s all the better if you have a personal connection with the staff at these businesses, so that they’re interested in picking up the books themselves and having a read. The more people who know what’s inside the covers of your book and who stand behind counters in authority positions, the better, I say! The author who had that special relationship with his library? His books really move at the local city museum, too. There ought to be at least one place which just fits so perfectly for you, right?
  4. Elevators. You will have heard of the “elevator pitch” if you’ve hung around authors or businessfolk at all, and I can’t overemphasize the importance of having one of your own. There are countless opportunities to deliver a thirty-second spiel as you’re going about your daily life, your weekly routine, and your monthly once-offs! It’s all in the mindset, and flipping that switch which turns you from a regular everyday commuter to a self-promoting self-publishing author. It’s often a conscious decision, and it’s not always easy–we all want to just zombie around and relax, every now and then. Social interactions can be awkward enough as it is! But every day is full of opportunities, and if you’re sensitive to them and the mood of the person stuck in that hypothetical elevator with you, you might just have a potential future fan on your hands.
  5. Online. Yeah, yeah, I know this made my list of “NOTs” earlier. But it’s more about how you go about it and where you do that going-aboutness. And as always, think in terms of relationships. Where can you cultivate relationships so that you’ll be creating a team of people willing to promote your book with you? Very likely, social media will play an important role–but only if you’re willing to spend the time to cultivate real and actual, authentic interactions with your followers. So long as you’re dependent upon people you trust and care about–your fans–and not some faceless algorithm, you have a very good chance of growing your reach and selling some books along the way.
Girl (6-7) standing in front of bookshelf
Girl (6-7) standing in front of bookshelf — Image by © Sasha Gulish/Corbis

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: How do you get your books in bookstores?

Despite the evolution of ebooks and ereaders, as well as other changes within the book publishing industry, a “traditional” bookstore presence should still be a goal for authors who want this. Why? Well, with this brick-and-mortar presence, authors are able to reach readers that are passionate about books. Think about it—people have to leave behind the comforts of their own home to visit a physical bookstore. Most likely, they are there to purchase a book. If your book is on the shelf, yours may just have a chance of going home with them.

Campus Bookstore at University of Pennsylvania

But … how can self-publishing authors work toward getting their books into bookstores like Barnes & Noble and local independent bookstores? Is it a matter of luck? Can we make the cut? What does that even mean?! Well, the good news is that even if you’re not necessarily on a lucky streak, it’s still possible to place your book on the shelves of bookstores. You must, however, have a solid plan in place to do so. You must, for example:

  • … make sure your book is fully returnable. If your book cannot be returned, you are requiring the bookstore to assume a great deal of risk—and many of them simply won’t be interested for that very reason. If they stock 10 copies of your book and only 4 sell over the course of a year and they cannot return the extra copies to you, they lose money. If the books are returnable, though, the store can simply send the books back that don’t sell for you to find better and more successful placements. Think of this return-ability as a type of “insurance” for your book … and as a necessary component of setting up a healthy long-term relationship with the bookstores which will sell not just this one book, but all of your books, present and future.
  • … offer a sufficient trade discount. What’s a sufficient discount? Typically, I recommend discounting your books around 50-55% (or higher) for brick-and-mortar booksellers. Of course this does cut significantly into your profits per book, but a higher retail margin gives the bookstore more incentive to stock your book on their shelves … and sell more books in total. No incentive? No sales.
  • … prove that your book is desirable, and has legs. This is probably the most difficult—though not insurmountable—part of brick-and-mortar sales, as authors often have a biased view of their books. The best indicator of a desirable book isn’t opinion … it’s exponential sales figures! If the amount of books you sell doubles, triples, or quadruples month-after-month, that is something that can work in your favor. If you aren’t a professional marketer, you may want to seek the services of a book marketing consultant. Make sure they are able to help you draft a marketing plan and go forth on planning your publicity.

After you’ve done all of the above, you must put together a proposal to submit to bookstore contacts. But we’ll tackle that in a separate blog post, since it’s a whole other animal unto itself. Stick around next week for my musings on how best to reach out to reach out to the stores, once you have published your book and are on the path towards wrapping up your publicity campaign!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: Use Facebook to Promote Your Book!

Facebook

It’s not exactly breaking news anymore when we say “Facebook can help you sell books and create a platform!” to our readers here on the blog, since we’ve written about it before and maybe even a brace, a thicket, a luxuration of times—but it can never be said frequently enough, in my opinion.

Facebook can help you sell books and create a platform!

There, whew. We can all go home now.

Or can we?

There are hundreds upon thousands of resources out there specifying how and when to take advantage of Facebook, but the greater challenge is deciding which of those multitudes is actually useful for you, isn’t it? Being “findable” (there’s a five-dollar word for you!) doesn’t mean much if the platform isn’t providing you with something sustainable and enriching on your own terms.

Here are my top five recommendations for putting Facebook to work:

  1. Build a fanbase. Facebook is great as a bulletin board space, but its real power is in mobilizing large groups of people who all share a passionate interest in something, and you won’t mobilize anyone if you yourself aren’t on your page, engaging with readers, reviewers, and more generally, fans—on a regular and sustainable basis! Make it worth their while, too: upload “behind the scenes” videos and create events, use QR codes to direct traffic to your page and paper-bomb your town with it, guerrilla-style! Once you have a large fanbase, you’ll be able to do pretty much everything else that you want as well.
  2. Use your Facebook account to link with other websites. Whether it’s your email signature or those wonderful “log in using Facebook!” ancillary websites, which allow you to create and link your Facebook account in order to streamline the login process, interlinkage is a useful stratagem on many fronts. It gets your name and face out there, yes, but it also makes it extremely easy for fans to follow your movements around the internet—from Twitter to Instagram to Goodreads to Ko-Fi to Kickstarter and more! That way, even though you’re making use of all of these websites’ useful and peculiar features, you’re working with one central account.
  3. Go elsewhere. By this, I mean: use your Facebook account to interact with other authors, on their turf. Facebook is about community, and no community thrives when it’s one-sided, so don’t expect everyone to come to your page without first having something to offer on theirs! You can do a little market research while you’re at it, too, and steal ideas from authors whose pages reflect the kind of presence you yourself want to establish. You can share specific posts that you enjoyed on your own timeline, which also builds that community spirit.
  4. Keep it visual. You’ve probably heard the word “clickbait” floating around on the interwebs, but if you haven’t, the term refers to material which takes full advantage of social media users’ predilection for clicking on links which have immediate visual appeal—usually a catchy image or an equally catchy, brief, and possibly controversial headline. You don’t need to dip into the controversy side of things, but you too have a good reason to pay attention to this particular market trend, and to pay attention to the psychology behind it! Facebook users are equally as visual as those on Instagram and Pinterest, so don’t skimp on posting images to your account and your timeline. Photos bring in clicks and views more than anything else! It doesn’t just have to be images of your book, of course, although some of my favorite accounts carry out a kind of “book scavenger hunt” or “book road trip” activity, where the author takes pictures of their books in interesting locations—or ask readers to take pictures and then share those pictures to your timeline as well!
  5. Make a meal of Facebook Insights. This is the Facebook equivalent of Google Analytics, since even without a paid account, Facebook keeps detailed track of what users are looking at your page and when, how long they spend, what they interact with, and more! It’s profoundly useful, for example, to know when your “peak viewing” period is—when the highest percentage of people access your page every day—and post new material right then, for them to enjoy. It’s also useful to know, for example, that your readers really do prefer your images over your text posts—and by a factor of … well, it will vary from person to person! Once you know your fans’ habits, it may be time to explore paying for a Facebook ad … or you may not need one, depending on the circumstances!

However you choose to use Facebook, you’re not wrong. But there may be a few things you can tweak in order to do even better, as I am learning every day.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: 10 ways to promote your book for under $100!

Publishing is expensive, right? Well, yes, especially if you go about it the way that many blogs and books recommend, which assume you have unlimited funds, time, and energy in order to do what you like. But most of us—I’m assuming, at least—are not exactly rolling in it, not with the economy the way it is, and not with this whole thing called “having a life” is. Life can be exhausting, and expensive, and self-publishing your book should be part of the recovery process—not contributing to the problem!

grow your money

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of ten ways you can market your book without breaking the bank. And if you have any ideas of your own, I’d love to hear them! Please feel free to drop me a line in the comments section, below, or you can contact us over Facebook or Twitter. (Our twitter handle is @selfpubadvisor.) Best of all, all ten marketing strategies I’ve listed below are cheap.

  1. Reach readers where they live. This is a process which starts with researching them. Thoroughly. What are their demographic details? How old are they? Where do they live, geographically speaking? Are they diverse in terms of ethnicity and gender? What social media platforms do they use and which have they discarded or never picked up to begin with? In the case of younger readers, are they old enough to be in command of their own savings–or will purchases be made by parents and caregivers? What subjects occupy their waking thoughts? You also have to actively go out and reach them. Carefully and effectively. With precision. Draft a well-thought-out, targeted marketing strategy that pares back on the manifold possibilities open to you … to just the ones that will reach your core readership. Once you have established a sustainable system in place, you can begin experimenting your way through additional marketing strategies and see what is sustainable.
  2. Give them a taste. Whether we’re talking about an e-book or an audiobook, digital formats offer some truly exciting possibilities for incentivization.  Amazon automatically offers the first ten or so pages for free (the so-called “first chapter freebie”) and you can replicate this on your blog and with other online retailers.  Curating your own freebie chapter isn’t an option with Amazon, but it is when you choose the method of delivery via blog or email, and I highly recommend taking the time to edit what makes it in to your freebie–this gives you an edge over the Amazon preview, which often cuts off in the middle of a paragraph.  Make sure the freebie ends with some sort of natural cliffhanger or emotional hook, to keep your readers coming back!
  3. Discount it. Perhaps the greatest weapon in your digital arsenal is the option to offer timed discounts and sales. Because you control the base price as a self-publishing author, you get to shape your own sales! You can time them to coincide with events of national interest (say, Father’s Day or the anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s final fateful voyage–you know, only relevant to you and your work) or you can use the calendar as a guiding star. Sales tend to find success when they close on the last or first day of a month, holidays, and so on.
  4. Host giveaways and hand out merch! You don’t want to leverage these as bribes for reviews, but you can certainly use them to incentivize coming to other events where your books are sold, or to encourage the sort of general enthusiasm for your work that will naturally lead to reviews!
  5. Offer a limited edition or bundle! Comic book authors have created some really good models for bundles that you can use for inspiration, and creating short runs of specialty covers is also a specialty of theirs; don’t hesitate to mix it up to build demand.
  6. Create loyalty by doling out insider access. Readers want to feel special for being your fans, and you should reward this impulse; maybe the purchase of a book becomes a ticket to an author interview via Google Hangouts–or maybe it gives them access to a limited-access “behind the scenes”  page on your website? The options are endless!
  7. Set up a book signing. You probably already guessed that this would rate a top ten list, and you’d be right! Book signings and readings are amongst the most powerful and effective marketing tools available. They take some work, logistically speaking, in that you have to be willing to carry a lot of the weight in organizing the programming and making the calls to set it up, as well as printing flyers and submitting a notice to your local newspapers—whatever it takes to alert people to an upcoming event. But the payoff is rich, and ongoing.
  8. Get thee to a book fair! Much like book signings, these events will give you and your book invaluable face-out exposure, bring you into contact with experts, reviewers, distributors, and many others who will be interested in partnering with you in the future. You can attend solo, or you can partner up with other authors who have published through your indie publishing company in order to lower costs. I highly recommend this kind of partnership, because it bodes well for my next point, which is ….
  9. Play well with others. Most self-publishing authors, no matter where they’re at in their publishing journey, could benefit from strong, dynamic, and useful collaboration. Collaboration can look like a lot of different things:
    • pairing up with another author or multiple authors to host a book discussion or workshop together;
    • gathering several other authors together and applying to run a booth at a local book fair, or a panel at a “con” (convention);
    • conducting interviews with other authors and sharing them on each other’s websites, providing insight into the authorial process; and
    • co-writing short stories or novellas together, to be distributed as giveaways or free to the public online.
  10. Optimize. What does it actually mean to “optimize”?  It means to try new things.  To try every new thing.  To try a new thing regularly. To try it daily.  To try it … always. To think about life and being an author and marketing as some kind of laboratory, where experimentation is the rule and not the exception–and where, like good scientists, we document our progress thoroughly so that we can track, exactly, which outcomes can be attributed to which changes in method.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner: Crossing the Streams!

… the income streams, of course. Not the proton streams, of course! That’s just dangerous.

No, the kind of streams we’re talking about today are revenue streams–those avenues through which you as an author make your money. Because–here’s a fun fact!–the self-publishing experience is neither monolithic nor straightforward when it comes to making money, even though it may be simpler than the alternative. You might just be surprised where they money actually comes from! Most authors will say that the majority of their money comes from one of the following five sources, which include …

  • … the books themselves: In an article for The Write Life, Alexis Grant writes of how UK-based author Mark Dawson has made a fortune off of selling his books–books which have sold upwards of three hundred thousand copies as of the article’s publication. It may seem a bit cliche to mention yet another self-publishing success story like Dawson’s, but we’re nothing if not thorough here on Self Publishing Advisor. Blockbuster success is still an exception instead of the rule, but many authors make a comfortable margin off of their self-published books these days.
  • … the digital books: Says Joe Konrath, a “name” within the self-publishing world: “I’m outselling a bunch of famous, name-brand authors. I couldn’t touch their sales in print.” The parallel evolution of self-publishing and ebooks has seen the two threads of the publishing industry become deeply entwined, and it seems like a crime to conflate the importance of ebook sales with those of print when it comes to self-publishing! Many authors find niche success through digital sales that they wouldn’t in print for a variety of reasons. It really is a separate revenue stream!
  • … the movie?! This is a thing that can happen!? In real life?! According to Drew Mackie of People, indeed it can, and has, to a number of self-published works–including The MartianStill Alice, and even Legally Blonde! (Now that is a range I can get behind, for sure.) Indie filmmakers especially have a deep appreciation for indie books (as in Still Alice) but genre films (like the rom-com Legally Blonde or the space-based science fiction masterwork, The Martian) also have put roots down into the world of self-published books which should not be discounted. And while in many cases the books are then picked up by traditional publishers after the film rights have been optioned, this is not the only format worth looking into. You can self-publish, remain self-published, and retain full rights during the film optioning process. This could even be a significant revenue stream for you!
  • … merchandising: We’ve written about this elsewhere and in great detail on SPA, but here’s the summary version: merchandising matters, and it’s both a money-making endeavor in and of itself as well as a way to boost book sales and therefore your primary revenue stream. Don’t ignore the merchandising!
  • … speaking engagements and book tours: “For many writers,” writes Alexis Grant, “marketing is the most difficult part [of the self-publishing process], either because [authors] don’t have the skills to pull it off or simply don’t want to. But the truth is, if you want to make a living as a writer, you have to be more than a writer. Figuring out how to promote your books is the only way you’ll sell copies.” And while not everyone may feel qualified or cut out for a speaking engagement like a book reading, signing, or tour, there’s a chunk of change to be made in building up your profile as a public speaker. For many authors, this eventually becomes a primary revenue stream and not some fiddly thing on the side. This seems especially true of authors of self-help and lifestyle or fitness books, but it is often true for authors in other genres too. Think about it!

The key to success isn’t in any single one of these revenue streams, but rather in a combination. And for every author, that combination will look a little different. Take a moment and think about it: what kind of revenue do you expect to see from your life as a self-published author? And how can you diversify those streams to create a more long-lasting, rewarding experience?

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.