Self-Publishing: The Great Equalizer

I’m happy to welcome Canadian author Janice Richardson. Today, Janice shares her thoughts on self-publishing.

Here’s Janice!

“Indie”. Depending on your point of view, the word carries possibility. Yes, you saw that correctly. Possibility. Never mind the connotative responses. This isn’t a self-published vs. traditional vs. independent press article. This is a celebration of potentials.

Remember the old joke punchline “I may be crazy but I’m not stupid?” If not, here it is –

53.7% or 70% or 64.2% of all authors make less than $1000.00/year. The accuracy of those stats is dependent on variables. Do you work as a writer full-time? part-time? Are you published by one of the Big 3? Big 5? Do you have a monthly advertising budget? A publicist? Is your author platform Prada vs. Thrift store?

Back to that old joke. Not all of us have disposable incomes. We may be poor, but we are not stupid. We can write. It has only been in the past few years that we can publish, using the same platforms as traditional and independent presses. All authors share the same air on Amazon, Ingram Sparks, Draft2Digital etc. It is no longer rarefied. Of course, there are a few differences. Getting books into stores is a challenge self-published authors face. But, and this one of the best things about being an author, you can get your books into libraries. Everyone and anyone, regardless of income, can read your books via Overdrive. You can donate your print books to your local library.

My advertising and build-your-author-platform budget was $0 for 15 months after my first book went live. It became $25, then $40 after 28 months. One good promo can make a world of difference. All authors should be reading blogs, authors FB posts and websites and learning from experts like Rayne Hall, who gives away books from her Writer’s Craft series if you can’t afford to buy one. Get the help for marketing from people like Derek Haines, Nicholas Rossis, Marylee MacDonald, Jane Friedman, and many more experts who freely share their skills online.

I cringed when I saw a series of blog post comments from published, well-respected authors who will no longer take indie requests for reviews. It wasn’t because the individuals making the request were indie. It is because they were rude. Read the submission rules! Being indie is no excuse for bad behaviour. Nor is being traditionally published or hybrid/independently small press published.

Traditionally published authors are now involved in their own promotion. Even some independent/hybrid press authors are required to present completely formatted manuscripts for uploading and then promote their books, equalizing the process.

If you put the work in, you reap the rewards. It takes time. Personally, I don’t measure success by my bank balance. Cliche – the joy is in the journey? Yes – authors have no arrival. Self-published authors have freedom as well. We don’t have contracts. We have all the rights to our books. We can change the prices of our books at will and we can make a book permanently free or discounted for a limited time.

“You are taking sales away from published authors!” “That’s not fair!” Just two of the comments I have faced by giving away the first book in my series. It stings. I don’t want to ‘take’ anything away from anyone.

A recent promo translated into sales as follows: with four books in the series, it was a 20/1 ratio. I gave away 2300, sold over 100 in a two week period. The benefits – readers whose budgets don’t accommodate purchasing books got the first book free. I heard from a few of them on Facebook. They made my day. The book made bestseller on Amazon in all categories and top 100 free Kindle. The promo resulted in nine ratings and two reviews on Goodreads. Even my non-fiction sold. All this was below budget. A tiny step – peanuts perhaps, compared to my published counterparts. Nonetheless, a reason to rejoice. I was doing my job.

As a special needs mom, I am reminded every day there are great divides in society. To translate my point to publishing, that great divide closed with the option to self-publish. It is no longer all about being published by the biggest, middle, or smallest. Giving freely (books and assistance) is my goal as an author and I remain steadfast and unapologetic.

Yes, having a publisher opens a wealth of opportunities. Hybrid/independent publishing can open the door to the Big 5. I read recently that one of the big publishing houses acquired another publishing firm, leaving them the option of accepting about 100 new authors/year. If it is true that every 8-15 seconds a book goes up on Amazon, (700,000 to 1 million/yr), the majority of authors must publish somewhere else. The discussion of indie vs published or somewhere in between will never go away, it is the elephant in our online rooms. There is no right or wrong, We are published.

Joanne – thank you for the opportunity to guest post on your blog.

Janice’s Books

Where to find Janice…

Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

8 responses to “Self-Publishing: The Great Equalizer

  1. “Giving freely (books and assistance) is my goal as an author and I remain steadfast and unapologetic.”

    What a wonderful intention!

    • Hi Cat (another Canuck) – Thank you very much. 🙂 What works for me may not work for others. I learned from observing others, and appreciate their willingness to share and mentor.
      All the best.

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