My subtitle says, “Religion. Money. Politics. Sex.” Okay, I think I’ve covered them all, but my tag cloud says I’m getting heavy on the religion side, so let’s hit the money for a while.
Over on Teleread, while looking for a post on ePub format (I know I read it the other day and I’ll address that in a future post), I found this gem: Top Ten Self-Publishing Myths. It’s all relevant to me, but I’m not going to post it all here. Copyright, you know. Go read, then come back!
There are only two issues in self-publishing for me: Control and money.
It used to be perfectly respectable to sell between 10K–20K copies, but these days sales on that scale are deemed a failure by big publishers.
For mainstream authors with major publishers, career longevity is entirely under the publisher’s control.
The only authors who get significant promotion budgets and support from their publishers these days are best-selling and prestige clients. Everyone else is on the hook to do their own promotion, regardless of who published them.
If your book doesn’t earn back its advance, or sells only modestly beyond the advance threshold, your publisher won’t want to publish your next book. You’ll be viewed as damaged goods by every other imprint of that publisher, as well as by every imprint of the five other major publishing houses in the U.S.
If that weren’t enough, I present to you two published authors’ most excellent takes on the money:
I’ve had my own business for going on 5 years now. I’ve had another one of them for 3. I work at home, I do whatever needs to be done, I make a little money, and I don’t have to drive anywhere or put up with office politics bullshit. The only control exerted over me is whatever my customer wants and I am more than happy to provide that.
I was head over heels in love with capitalism long before I had my own business, but I was scared to venture out on my own because that seemed to be something Other People did, people who had a courageous streak a mile wide. Not me. I wasn’t courageous. They (you know, the Nefarious They) controlled things, ran things, and I was not worthy of being included (because nobody asked me to, you see).
Then I thought about it. Stepped away from the issue of They. Started asking questions like, “So, who is They? And why are They saying I can’t do X? And what would They do if I did do X?” Which led to, “Oh, hey, I can do whatever the hell I want!” The illusion turned to dust like a vampire Buffy just slew.
There is risk involved, which is the downside of taking your life in your hands like that. Money goes out before it comes back in. I know we writers have all heard the phrase (with regard to subsidy publishing), “Money flows toward the author.” If you’re looking at it from a business standpoint (as opposed to a “getting accepted by New York” standpoint), the money only starts flowing toward the author after the author’s spent a great deal of money to begin with.
I have a series of 5 other books based on The Proviso. One is an historical. One is post-apocalyptic. One is the story of the villain from The Proviso and is recent-historical (as in, occurs in the ’60s and ’70s). A good portion of most of them is written. Their covers are mostly finished. I intend to put out one a year.
Do I consider this my author career path? No. I consider it a 6-year business plan. In other words, I’m willing to put the money and time into this for 6 years to get it to pay off. I heard once that the best promotion in the world is to establish a backlist and that is what I intend to do. I can keep my books on the shelves as long as I want to. I can do anything I want and it might take a long time, but I have the luxury of that time.
Because I’m in control.