I do not mean to advocate self-publishing on the internet. I would much rather have a traditional publisher produce my next book and tend to its needs. These publishers are not, however, out-bidding each other to get my attention. But even if a well known publisher takes me up, I think there is certainly a place to have the novel *also* as an eBook. Make sure there is a place for both before there is not.
Image Credit: GearLog.com
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by Lindsay Buroker
About this time last year, I wrote up a blog post detailing how I was doing, financially speaking, on my new e-publishing endeavor (I got my start in December of 2010). When it came to ebook earnings, my grand total for March of 2011 was $724. At the time, I had two novels out, a couple of 99-cent short story collections, and the first Flash Gold novella (it, and my first Emperor’s Edge novel, are free in case you haven’t checked out my work yet and are dying to do so).
I didn’t think that $700 was too shabby considering I hadn’t been at the e-publishing thing for long. But when you look at how much time I was spending on promotion and writing, it wasn’t exactly a huge income either.
A year later, though, things have continued to pick up steam. I have two more novels out, two more novellas, and a new stand-alone short story. In March of 2012, I sold more than 4,000 ebooks, not including downloads of the freebies, and will earn over $5,000 (my ebooks range from 99 cents to $4.95).
Those are estimates, since the month just ended, and Smashwords can’t offer real-time reports from their partner sites (I’ve been selling decently at iTunes, in particular, since I made my first novel free over there), but I’m tickled with the growth in sales (and readers!) over the last year. I decided to officially make this “the day job” in December, though I’d been neglecting the old day job and writing and promoting nearly full-time long before.
I’m sure my earnings will continue to go up and down (as you’d expect, one tends to do best in the months that new releases come out), but I’m happy that, thanks to the current e-publishing paradigm, making a living as a self-published author (and not a best-selling one at that) is viable.
Secrets to self-publishing success?
So, what are the common threads?
- Lots of books out — Careers aren’t made on one or two books. Being prolific counts for a lot. At the risk of stating the obvious, the more books you have, the more books people can buy. If you’re working your buns off on promotion, and you only have one book out, you’re only going to be able to make 35 cents to a couple of dollars (depending on your book’s price) from each customer. But, if you have an eight-book series, and that same customer you worked so hard to get enjoys your work enough to go on to buy all of them, the earnings potential is much higher. Also, more books means more ways for people to stumble across your work. (Note: Don’t get bogged down thinking in terms of full-length novels — some people are having success serializing long books and others are doing novellas or shorter-than-average novels. With ebooks, there are no rules as to length.)