Guest Post by @AuthorLHerman: The Economics of Self-Publishing a Book

The Economics of Self-Publishing a Book

a guest post by Louise Herman

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Hello everyone, and I hope you are enjoying the week.

I have decided to take a week’s respite from writing the third book in my YA urban fantasy series, Split Blood, to catch up with author interview and guest post requests. I am looking forward to discussing my thoughts and opinions on the economics of self-publishing a bookas well as giving some advice on what aspects of self-publishing is essential to a budget and what I have experienced as a waste of time and money.

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Why did I decide to Self-Publish my books?

I would love to say it was a choice, however, after I sent a number of emails to literary agents and received no replies, I decided to close my eyes and jump straight into the self-publishing ocean.

It was nerve-racking at first because I had no idea about self-publishing but after a lot of research and learning from my mistakes along the way, I am enjoying the self-publishing journey.

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What are the common misconceptions of self-publishing?

I think the biggest misconception about self-publishing is anyone can publish a successful book in today’s technological world.

For example, you have a great idea for a story, you get so engrossed in writing it, you take the leap and self-publish it on the internet and then you sit back and wait for the big bucks to start rolling in, along with literary agents fighting to represent you, right?

Not quite!

The reality is only a handful of self-published authors break even (the total cost of publishing against the profits of the sales, after each website has taken its percentage) and if you do not have a regular presence on social media sites then you could find it difficult to be seen and network with influential people who can help potential readers find your books.

These people are bloggers and reviewers.

I have built up a good relationship with many bloggers and have added them to my list of ‘Go to People’ when I need to do author interviews (to discuss my past, present and future. This is not all about promoting my work. It is for potential readers to get to know the person behind the books), Guest Posts (topics related to writing that are important to me) and Spotlights (a full discussion about myself, my work and upcoming projects).

It’s also fun to communicate with these bloggers because it is a two way process. They advertise an author on their blog and social media sites, therefore, as an author, I also do the same (I will post the promotional item on my blog, which advertises their blog to my followers, and on my social media sites).

However, not all bloggers work the same way.

Some specialise purely in reviews but some are open to other forms of promotion.

I have found that trying to get reviews can be quite hard because many are overwhelmed with requests and often close their review request channels until they can catch up with the backlog.

While others will state they do not accept requests from self-published authors, with some going as far as to state that they have a problem with the quality of the self-published books they have previously read.

I used to find this slightly insulting but when you take into consideration that they are doing these reviews for free, they should be allowed to have an opinion on what types of books they want to review.

NOTE: Reviews are usually free and reviewers usually have full or part time jobs but review in their spare time. This means try to give at least three months’ notice to your reviewer. If you are asked to pay for a review, try somewhere else! Not only is it slightly frowned upon in the self-publishing industry but it’s just an unnecessary, extra cost to your ever rising budget!

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What are the advantages of self-publishing?

I like that I have the opportunity to learn about online publishing first hand and that I have the chance to communicate with a range of people with similar interests.

I learn something new every week to help enhance my writing and advertising skills and I really enjoy having full control over every aspect of publishing my books.

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What are the challenges of self-publishing?

Although I enjoy having full control over publishing my books, I do sometimes think that it would be nice to have a literary agent to help take on some of the advertising tasks because having full time job, restricts the time I can dedicate to writing and sometimes the advertising infringes on the writing time.

I have also found that it takes a lot of work and effort to gain a strong following. I write Young Adult Urban Fantasy novels, which is a popular genre and I have found that it is extremely difficult to get new followers interested in looking at my new pieces of work if there are no reviews to give them an inclination of how the book has been received by other readers.

There will be potential readers and followers who will read the synopsis and give the books a try but there are some who use reviews to help them decide whether or not it is the kind of story they would enjoy reading.

It is the latter type of follower that bad reviews can affect your potential sales.

Some reviews that are lower than five stars can be disheartening to an author but if they offer constructive criticism (e.g. “there was too much fighting in it”) then it could be a case of what one person dislikes about the storyline, another reader maybe looking for this type of drama.

However, if they give you one star because they “just couldn’t read it because you should never write again”, it offers nothing to a potential reader about the story and many would not take this type of review seriously.

And lastly, I have given out copies of my eBooks for a review in the past, only to be disappointed to never receive one.

It is disheartening but all these things are part of the learning process and have helped me focus on what works and avoid what wastes time and money.

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What are the costs to publish your own book?

Here are the basics of what it cost me to self-publish my first book (The Orcus Games: Blood Moon):

  • Book cover artist –  This is difficult because it depends on the type of cover you want? You can get book cover images from a variety of stock photography sites and prices vary on each site. For a basic book cover with an image that does not need to be edited and text, I would estimate between £50 (~$70) and £150 (~$212).
  • Proof-reader or Copy Editor –  Between £600 (~$850) and £1,000 (~$1418) (depending on word count, how many hours it takes them to work on the book and how much work the book needs).
  • eBook Conversation Costs  If you cannot convert your eBooks yourselves then it might be worth getting a professional to do this for you. I convert my books myself but I have received quotes in the past for this type of work and the prices were between £50 (~$70) and £150 (~$212).
  • Distribution costs –  (for reviewers who only accept hard copies): I have heard that some websites do give a small discount to authors who buy their own books but I am yet to find these sites. Therefore you would be paying the same price as a customer to purchase your paperback books to send to reviewers. Many authors buy in bulk for this purpose and can spend between £599 (~$849) and £1099 (~$1558) for an order of 100 books.
  • URL for website Having your own website is essential for an author and you can buy domain names from nearly anywhere on the internet at the moment.

I have a website through Fat Cow and bought my URL through them as soon as I set it up.

It cost me approximately £8.99 (~$12.75) to buy the domain name + £60 (~$85) for the year (with added extras).

However, different extensions can either increase or decrease the cost (e.g. com, co.uk, org. Etc.)

  • Publishing sites percentages
    • Amazon – There are two royalty options. (correct as of January 2016)
      • Option 1: Keep 70% of the royalties. However this option is only available to books sold in a specific territory of countries set out by Amazon Kindle. Any books sold outside of these regions will give you a 35% royalty.
      • Option 2: Keep 35% of the royalties. This is the standard royalty rate.
    • Smashwords – (correct as of January 2016)
      • “Smashwords authors and publishers earn 85% or more of the net proceeds from the sale of their works. Net proceeds to author = (sales price minus PayPal payment processing fees)*.85 for sales at Smashwords.com, our retail operation. Authors receive 70.5% for affiliate sales. Smashwords distributes books to most of the major retailers, including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and smaller retailers.  Sales originated by retailers earn authors/publishers 60% of the list price.”
    • Lulu – (correct as of January 2016)
      • Lulu prides itself on working on a 90/10 royalty split, therefore if you have published your book after 6th September 2011 and it is priced at $1.24 or higher then you can qualify for a 90% royalty revenue.

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What advice would you give to someone wanting to self-publish their first book?

There might be something I have missed out because every week I am learning something new about the self-publishing world but so far I have eight tips that would help a new author get started:

  • Test it out on free sites like Wattpad first to see if there is an audience for it and find Beta readers in these groups to help highlight elements that may need extra attention (e.g. such as continuity issues, plot holes, creating believable characters or scenes, etc.)
  • Build up a following and make amendments based on the feedback
  • Get a professional book cover artist (unless you are good with graphics software or you are a good artist)
  • Get your work proofread or copy edited
  • Publish on the main publishing sites
  • Build up a group of regular reviewers
  • Be active on social media (not just to talk about the book but share your interests and get involved in group discussions)
  • Remember success doesn’t happen overnight (it could take years), so continue with your passion and never give up!

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About the author

Louise Herman is a North London Fantasy author obsessed with pear drops sweets and 80s Fantasy films.

In between reading James Herbert novels and drinking too much coffee, she writes Young Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels.

Louise Herman has currently written five YA Fantasy books to date (December 2015); The Orcus Games Prequel Trilogy and The Split Blood series, which take the reader on a journey of magic, mystery, obsession and forbidden love with seductively dark consequences.

For more information, please go to: www.louisehermanauthor.com

Find out more:

All Book Covers to Date LARGER

Review: Steam, by Jessica Fortunato

Title: SteamSTEAM COVER
Author: Jessica Fortunato
Rating: 5/5 Stars

“Charlotte Amelia Caprice may seem like an ordinary girl. She has a job she hates, a boss she despises, and zero romantic prospects. Her friends call her Charlie, when she can keep one for more than a few weeks. Though Charlie may seem ordinary, she is anything but. Charlie doesn’t have a heart. Instead, she has a steam driven machine in her chest, always making her feel less than human. Gears and pistons have been using her own body heat to pump her blood for over a decade. There is one small problem. Her heart is beginning to break. When Charlie meets a brilliant man, one who could save her life, she must choose between being heartless and being alive. A simple choice for some, but for Charlie living on steam isn’t easy.” (description from Goodreads)

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Fortunato takes a nice-sized leap away from her series, The Sin Collector, in the short story Steam. I’ve enjoyed The Sin Collector and the companion novella, The Sin Collector: Thomas, but with Steam it is a much different genre, set of characters, and overall feel that sets it apart from her past work.

At the base of this story is the theme of love. But this isn’t just a love story of romance. There is love on many levels throughout that can touch many different readers. This is all due to the life that the main character, Charlotte (or her nickname, Charlie,) has to live. When you live a majority of your life with an artificial heart instead of a human heart, things won’t be normal.

I really enjoy how Fortunato can put so much into a short story. There’s no lack of depth to her characters. As mentioned Charlie is a complicated character. Viktor also is hard to figure out until later in the story when things start clicking together. It is the complexity that allows the reader to think, predict, and still enjoy whatever outcome happens in the end.

Aside from the characters, I enjoyed the mixed genres in Steam. I don’t even know what to call it exactly. There’s part steampunk, in the technology used to keep Charlie alive, there’s a bit of a fantasy element because of this as well, coupled with being more of a sci-fi or at least slight jump into medical innovations of the near future kind of feel. All of this is placed in a very contemporary world where almost everything seems normal. Don’t let that make you think it’s confusing. I think it’s great that this story can’t be placed in one little pocket of a genre and forgotten. I think it appealed to me more because it doesn’t have a place anywhere but has a place everywhere, in a sense.

To wrap this up, I thought I’d be looking forward, more, to reading Fortunato’s The Sin Collector series book 2 when it comes out later this year. But, now that I’ve read Steam and seen her talents for working in an almost alien genre to TSC, I’m going to be on the lookout for more pieces like this to come.

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You can grab a copy of  Steam here:
Amazon

And Fortunato’s other work can be found:

The Sin Collector
Amazon

The Sin Collector: Thomas
Amazon

Nocturnal Embers (she has a story in this anthology
Amazon | Smashwords | B&N

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About the Author:

Jessica Fortunato is a writer in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

She has been a freelance reviewer for the past three years. She has always loved a supernatural aspect to literature, as well as the addition of theology, so it is no surprise that her debut novel “The Sin Collector” combines just that.

She has been a waitress, a cook, a librarian, a book binder, nanny, and even a hairdresser when the occasion calls for it. However writing is her main focus and she is thrilled to share the first installment of what she hopes will be a a beloved book series.

You can find more on the author at the following links:

♠       The Sin Collector Website
♠        Jessica on Twitter
♠        The Sin Collector on Facebook
♠        Good Reads

Review – Vaempires: Revolution by Thomas Winship

Title: Vaempires: Revolution
Author: Thomas Winship
Rating: 5/5 Stars

“It is the morning of Princess Cassandra’s sixteenth birthday. Everyone’s attention is focused on the heir to the vampire throne. World leaders, the rich and famous, and VIPs from every corner of the globe have gathered in the nation’s capital to celebrate the momentous event.

Cassandra’s boyfriend, Daniel, is late for the party. He’s still outside the city when all hell breaks loose. What he believes is an act of terrorism proves to be a full-fledged revolution. Væmpires—former vampires who mutated into warm-blooded creatures with an insatiable hunger for cold blood—have launched coordinated attacks across the globe, with three goals: the eradication of humanity, the enslavement of vampires, and the ascension of væmpires as the dominant species on the planet.

The vampire and human leaders are killed. Cassandra is missing. Daniel is the acting king. Desperate to find the princess, Daniel and his friends fight their way across the besieged city. With the hopes of the free world resting on the shoulders of four vampire teenagers, væmpires unleash their secret weapons—væmpires with special powers.

What can four teens do against an enemy that can shape-shift, fly, or walk through walls?” (description from Goodreads)

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Wow, just wow! This book started out with a bang and that bang never seemed to stop.

What I especially liked is that Winship cut most of the set up for the story into a few paragraphs. The description you see for this book is a brief intro before Chapter One. This gave me, as a reader, enough to set up what was going on when the first chapter jumped into Daniel’s story. I think without cutting the back story down like that, the book would have dragged on a bit, been longer, and may have had a different overall effect on me. This book is about forward momentum, and when that’s stopped the enjoyment does too. But it didn’t occur.

By the middle of this book I knew what I wanted for Christmas this year. I wanted the powers of these Vampires. Essentially, when I read the battle scenes I pictured Daniel, the main character, as is her were Wolverine from X-men. Most of the abilities are the same, and when you add the ability Vampires have of being in the sun (due to consuming synth-blood instead of real blood) they are even more similar. This is in no way saying Daniel, and these vampires in general, are rip-offs of this ultimate fighting machine Wolverine. But it helps put into perspective just how much action and devastation occurs during the many fights Daniel gets in to. He has to race through the city of Orion a few times in order to achieve his goal of saving the Princess Cassandra.

Aside from all the action that is included within these pages there are some underlying issues that are brought up. This story takes place in a future, much altered world. It’s still the Earth, but a human-vampire war has taken place, nuclear winter, continental shifting, and the dominate race has become Vampires. On top of that a new race is present. Vaempires. Having three races walking the Earth, or Tarados as it’s now referred to, will bring conflict. Race conflict is a huge theme in the book. At times when different characters’ viewpoints were being brought into play, I began to sympathize with all sides. Even the Vaempires who started the current war. It brings to mind that if we don’t all treat the races of our current world equally and humanly…something like this (without the super-human powers) could happen in our life time. Just because a group of people are different doesn’t mean they are less of a person. In the defense of the Vampires, the Vaempires are said to be inherently less stable minded and were impatient in the government’s actions to adapt to the new race’s presence.

Off of that topic and on to a very bad a** character. Daniel was my favorite butt-kicker for most of the book until later one. Cassie can really hold her own in a fight. Some of the stuff she does would make more action heroes hang their heads in shame. And it’s not only her fighting. Her will-power and ability to keep a clear mind in a difficult situation is enviable.

What else is there to say about this book other than I loved? I think the mix of genres are worth mentioning. This is part sci-fi, post(-post)-apocalyptic, vampire, action-adventure, (minor) romance, urban fantasy. It’s a bit mixture of different elements that fit very well together. I think it’d appeal to lowers of many genres as well as many different reading levels. While most of the gory battles and other violence will probably consider this a more adult book, I also think it could be read by a younger reader (with a parent’s permission of course). I think the younger readers will really enjoy the action and almost comic book feel to it. Along with that….can we make this thing into a video game? I don’t normally feel that way about a book, but I think it’d be great.

One thing I “disliked” about the book, to finish off the review. The cliff-hanger ending. It’s a cliff-hanger!!!! I’m a so happy I read this book when I did because it’s only about a month until Vaempires: Zombie Rising is released. At least the wait isn’t very long and I still have the novella Vaempires: A White Christmas to read until then.

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This book can be found on Amazon

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About Thomas Winship

Thomas Winship lives in New York. He holds an MBA in Management from St. Thomas Aquinas College, where he serves as MBA Director and adjunct professor of courses in English Composition, Communications, and Business. He also spent fifteen years working for a global pharmaceutical company, specializing in organizational development, talent management, and training.

Tom writes in his spare time. His first novel, a mystery/legal thriller entitled Temporary Insanity (a.k.a. Case Closed), was a 2008 finalist in a national contest but failed to garner industry attention. He published Vaempires: Revolution last October and a follow-up novella, Vaempires: White Christmas, in December. He is currently working on the next installment of the Vaempires series.

Tom is an avid collector of books, comic books, music, and movies. His interests are diverse—on any given day, Tom is likely to be found watching a horror movie, attending a hard rock concert, or enjoying a Broadway show.

Tom’s Links