Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Not About All The Money Right Now

I love listening to authors talk about how much money they plan on making with their books. Unfortunatly, I think this talk of money they dream of, these ultimate contracts and quick money is far from a reality. I am sorry to say this, but making money in publishing is not something that happens overnight but takes a while. You build your readership and with every new book, the sales should go up (assuming you know how to constantly produce).

I was thinking about this recently when I read an article about (once again) another multi-published author throwing in the towel on traditional publishing and turning to a straight out electronic self-published business. Their comment all of the time is the money. They will make more money this way than with traditional publishing. But...

It is important to remember a few things about this.

First of all, these are multipublished authors and they are selling their backlists. Who will buy the books? Probably the same people who bought them first in a print format. These people are simply re-stocking their book shelves electronically.

Second, my question is always, what is wrong with the sales of their current books? I did look into a couple of these authors that have made this move, and what I found out wasn't a shock. Their last several books didn't do well. In one case, the author wasn't given a new contract from the publisher. Hmmm?

Thirdly, why not stay in the traditional publishing business, take the bigger money from the print book sales, keep those people happy and then when those sales drop, sell the backlist to the self-pub e-pubs.

I bring all of this up because many of the unpublished authors out there are getting the wrong impression from all of this media hype from the bigger authors. These new authors may get the "quick money" and the "higher percentages on royalties" but that only comes with sales and a following. I am sorry to say it but the friends in your neighborhood, and those you have added to your blog's readership on what ever you do will not get you to the sales you want.

Don't get me wrong. I am not against e-publishing. I am certainly in favor of higher royalty rates for the authors out there. But please, think before you leap.



  1. I can see where it would be more money for an author who already has a following as you note. I'm not published, and I don't think self-pubbing is inherently evil, but I can't imagine expecting to make more money doing it the first time out. Of course, I have low financial expectations about writing in general. I'd still sort of in love with the idea of seeing the shiny book cover. But I'm curious. What are people's expectations? What are new authors thinking they will make off a book in a traditional pub versus a self-pub?

  2. This is one of those blogs that should be required reading for all unpublished authors.First, because this is NOT a get rich quick gig AND because self-publishing is so well marketed. I read it somewhere, but it is so true - it's never been easier to get your work out there or harder to get it read.

  3. I agree. I also think, at the current time, that many of these authors risk alienating a sizable percentage of their potential fanbase. E-readers are getting more popular, but they're nowhere near universal yet, and putting out new material e-only cuts off all the readers who might have bought the book in print. It's a great mechanism for making a backlist available, though! I've bought older books from several of my favorite authors on my Kindle, after despairing of ever getting them in print.

    Of course, it's best in the first place to assume you won't make much money at all from publishing, especially at first. Then any success you do have is a pleasant surprise.

  4. Sometimes, when a person says the money doesn't matter, they really mean it. It is frustrating when you see books on the shelf that are about yet another vampire society or some strange crew on some derelict cargo ship and all you want to do is tell a story bordering on real life that is entertaining. No one wants to look at them. In some cases it may not be about the money. It may be about wanting to give your beloved characters life and/or not dying with your song still inside you.