Monday, January 14, 2013

The Clash of the Expectations

I've joked about new writers having a "thar's gold in them thar hills" mentality when it comes to self-publishing. And yes, some of writer are guilty of spamming message boards, their Facebook pages and their Twitter feeds with "Buy my one and only book!" But most indie writers I know are well aware of the uphill slog they face, and they're willing to put the time and money to create a career.

Now, mid-list traditional-published writers are realizing the gold is in their backlist. On agent Rachelle Gardner's blog, Jennie Nash talks about what she sees as the pluses and minuses of self-publishing now that she self-published her seventh novel.

In some ways, experienced authors like Jennie are suprised by the amount of work that goes into producing your own book. Then they are surprised by what they believe is little return.

On the same day, Dean Wesley Smith had a blog post about numbers. Most of you reading this are going to roll your eyes and think, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know all about the long-tail."

A writer should aim for making a typical advance of $10,000 off their self-published title in the ten years a traditional publisher would have the title tied up. He then goes on about pricing to hit this goal. Here's something to chew on though:

If you think selling 20 books average per month of all your titles across all sites is bad and your average price is $5.99, you really need to have an attitude adjustment. Get a friend to tap you gently on the top of the head until wake you up and realize your sales are just fine and you need to keep writing and get more books out.

That paragraph made me check my numbers for 2012. As of October, I had fourteen titles for sale. For January through October, I averaged 20 book per month FOR EVERY SINGLE TITLE EXCEPT ONE!

I know a lot of people have argued with Dean and his wife Kris Rusch about their methodology of controlled, steady growth in a writer's business. So the question you need to answer for yourself is what are your expectations and are they realistic.

Personally, I think Aesop's turtle was right.

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