My FB reply to someone who asked whether they should invest the time and money in self-publishing or pursue a traditional contract:
It depends on your goals. There’s so much self-publishing hype it’s crazy and a lot of writers default to that because of it. This is also why there is a lot of bad stuff out there, but that’s another issue. When the midlist market dried up, midlister’s self-published out of desperation. Some succeeded. Some didn’t. The traditional game is the same. Some succeed. Some don’t. It all comes down to your goals. A book’s success is partly dependent on you, the publisher and just readers getting into it. I know writers who market so, so, so much and their books flop. No reason. I know writers who don’t do anything or publishers who don’t, and the books fly off the shelves, whether brick and mortar or virtual. It’s a crap shoot. No one admits this truth, but it is the truth.
It’s more an issue of you in terms of your own scheduling, time, resources, etc. If you self-publish, just uploading to Kindle isn’t really self-publishing. That’s another discussion.
Self-publishing takes time, money and a lot of work to do properly.
All comes down to goals, and “rich and famous” isn’t a goal. Too vague. For myself, I’m in love with the underground press so self-publish everything because it’s the world I’ve been living in publishing-wise for nine years. I’ve dealt with Simon and Schuster and the like and am not impressed nor really interested anymore. But that’s me. Money isn’t my goal, as in “get as much as I can.” Just want enough to live on. If I make more, great. But enough to live on and support my family is enough. I can achieve this self-publishing. I barely read anything mainstream even as it’s all fluff.
All comes down to goals. Self-publishing is a lifestyle, not just uploading some eBook and calling it good.
That’s step one and is always the first bit of advice I give anyone asking whether to self-publish or go it traditionally.
You got to know your goals. Got to know where you are going so you can start making your map to get there.
Axiom-man Nos. 1 and 2
(from a letter to Dave Sim, 23 August 2012)
Since my company is web-based, with 95% of books ordered being online (whether for print or eBooks), the remaining 5% sold at conventions and booksignings, and since I’ve been able to sustain a living for close to three years based on that, and given the state of tech these days, I think I’m onto something.
Though I’ve slipped recently due to a major burn-out but am now getting back on track, I agree that, as you’ve stated – can’t remember where – that when folks ask you for the secret to Cerebus’ success, you said keeping the book on time is the reason. I believe you. On-time books keep readers interested, give them their fix at regular intervals, and, assuming the sales are there, enables the creator to maintain a steady level of interest as he can sink all his time into his book instead of dividing the comic against a day job.
Here is my current model for Axiom-man. I’m open to any feedback and/or suggestions and/or “what you’re doing is crazy” comments:
1) Release the book on time in print, electronic download, and twice a week post a page from the comic on Mondays and Thursdays. The reason for the webcomic is to raise awareness of the character to help feed print sales and downloads, likewise, if folks like what they read, they will be apt to pick up one or more of my novels.
2) Forego Diamond for the print periodicals. Due to finances, discounts and such, I’m opting out of Diamond Distribution for the monthly book, instead releasing the copies of the comic for direct sale, short-running each issue at 300 copies. This cost enables me to keep the price low on the book and still make close to a buck an issue. Direct sales include direct ordering, conventions, booksignings, and trunk-of-the-car sales.
3) Release each print issue through Ka-Blam (which is like ComiXpress), and utilize their print and digital storefront at Indy Planet and Indy Planet Digital respectively.
4) Release each issue in digital format through as many channels as possible (Kindle, Nook, iPad et al.), treating each download as if they are the print counterpart. A sale’s a sale, after all.
5) Once a particular story arc is complete, collected into a graphic novel. Also, ala Mike Mignola, include a bonus story to set the graphic novel apart from the periodical book.
6) Use Diamond for graphic novel distribution.
7) Use my printer’s amazing distribution system to make the graphic novel available to all the online hotspots like Amazon.com and its sister sites, Barnes and Noble.com, and others. Also offer for direct sale, whether by order, conventions, booksignings, trunk-of-the-car sales, etc.
8) Offer the graphic novel at a fair price for digital download via all the same channels the periodical was. Perhaps offer the same direct as long as I can ensure proper shopping cart procedure and security through services out there that specialize in online digital product ordering.
Part of being a one-man-band, as you know, is time management as it would be all too easy to turn the running of the company into the fulltime job and not the creating of comics. All of what I mentioned above – aside from direct sales – is based on the do-the-work-once-than-don’t-worry-about-it model I’ve been using for eight years. This then frees up time for creating, marketing, and personal time with family. Might even be time for sleep, if you’re into that sort of thing. Har har.
The idea(l), I think, is to cast as wide a net as possible distribution-wise without unintentionally getting yourself into a sea of paperwork and a big mess of places to keep track of, in turn losing yourself in the chaos and losing money and time as a result. Streamlining is so critical when it comes to being a one-man operation. I’ll keep an updated list of distribution channels on my blog How To Self-Publish Books & Comics The Right Way.
(replying to A.P. Fuchs, 24 December 2012)
Your self-publishing model looks like “the Berries” to me (speaking as a complete Luddite). I’d even go so far as to suggest that you e-mail to A Moment Of Cerebus and run it as Dave Sim’s Guide To Self-Publishing In The 21st Century In 8 Easy To Follow Steps (where you can also point out that although it’s actually YOUR Guide To Self-Publishing you’re using my Luddite name for “branding” purposes only and that — although not completely understanding what’s going on — I’ve given you my blessing in doing so).
A.P. Fuchs is the writer/artist of the self-published Axiom-man comic book series.
As lame as it sounds, I lost my password for this site and traditional methods of recovery didn’t work due to me forgetting other bits of info required to log back in. This is why there has been no new entries in a dog’s age.
The good news is starting up as early as next week there’s going to be daily entries for a while as my self-publishing book, Getting Down and Digital: How to Self-publish Your Book (And Actually Make Money at It), is heading off to press for a late April release.
I’m excited to share a whole ton of information with you as it seems the self-publishing waters are getting murkier, not clearer. While it’s good we all come to the table with different ideas on how to properly self-publish, it’s also good that we take some time and streamline the ideas that work.
Quick Disclaimer: Those who know me know I don’t talk about money all that often. Frankly, I don’t care what other people make nor do I spout off and share what I make with others. The below isn’t meant for bragging or anything like that. Instead, the opposite is intendeded to show that if you self-publish correctly, it is possible to make a living with your art. These are purely my personal earnings as a writer/artist in 2011. Company earnings are not included for confidentiality reasons and respect to those authors.
A comment about my 2011 sales. I don’t have my spreadsheets in front of me as I type this so I’m doing an average with the overalls here, but knowing what my tax report was, this is pretty accurate. Selling over 5800 books at an average of about $5 profit a book–as my profits range from as little as 35 cents on the 99-cent downloads stories to up to $10 for a paperback–that’s approximately $29,000US earned from self-publishing. This doesn’t include my investments into the projects, but since I’ve learned the secrets to keeping those costs down–which I’ll show you on this blog in the future–I maybe spent $1000 in overhead tops (most likely less) on my books–that is, production costs, not office expenses, etc.–so that’s still $28,000 or so earned. Not a bad salary for a job that requires me to work in my pajamas all day.
Hope the above provides encouragement.
All right, so according to WordPress, I just transferred over 31 essays and articles on self-publishing, writing and publishing in general from my main site, these items written over the past few years, with some daying way back. Didn’t realize I had written that much in the past about the field I’m in. Regardless, it’s nice to have it all in one place and available for readers to peruse. From here on out, new essays and articles will be frequently showing up along with some stuff on self-publishing comics, of which I’m new to but am having a blast doing.
Please stick around. Bookmark this page. Tell your friends. Going to be fun.
I debated whether I should post this or not, but then I figured, hey, can’t hurt and maybe someone out there will be inspired by this. This isn’t to brag or anything. In fact, that’s not the point here. So, after a harrowing couple of weeks of doing taxes, I finally was able to learn how many copies of my own books I sold last year. This doesn’t include anthologies I edited or any collaborations. Just stuff that I wrote and no one else.
1889 copies–if I did my math right–is what I sold across the board.
Is it a good number?
I think it is, and I consider myself blessed, for the following reasons:
- a solid portion of that number were paperbacks, in an age when eBooks are all the rage and, in my opinion, the easy way to self-publish. To be clear, I love eBooks and use the technology, but to be able to move a solid amount of paperbacks in a world where the standard bookstore is disappearing, I’m doing okay.
- half my catalog is superhero stuff–check that–independent superhero stuff, a genre that, on the whole, isn’t very popular, yet I moved a fair amount of books in the Axiom-man Saga last year.
- I don’t write “popular” or “fan-favorite” books like thrillers, suspense, erotica or romance (before you say anything, the love stories I do as Peter Fox are different and are not romance) I just write what I like.
- my main channel is the Internet, with some outside stuff like bookstores and conventions
Would I like to sell more? Of course, but almost 1900 copies of some independently-produced books is way better than the 200-or-less-copy average most self-published books sell over the course of their lifetime.
My goal for this year is to hit at least 5000. Are you willing to help? If so, there are a host of book links on either side of this webpage, Kindle on the left, paperbacks on the right. Thanks in advance for any and all support.
Hope everyone is having a good week. Me? My brain is mush from all the tax work, but I feel really good knowing I’m dropping everything off at the accountant’s tomorrow. Tonight I plan on taking it easy and spending time with my wife and kids.
As part of my previously-mentioned experiment regarding cover art for books, last night I did up new covers for the two books currently on the market for my Undead World Trilogy (the third’s not out yet, aiming for later this year). At present, these new covers are available for the Kindle and Drivethru Horror only, however will start showing up for the Nook and elsewhere as soon as those distributors update their listings with the new art. If the new covers prove to move more copies in eBook format, then I’ll be updating the paperback versions as well.
To be honest, I really love the original covers to Blood of the Dead and Possession of the Dead. The artists did a fantastic job. I even have promotion posters of both covers in my office. The thing is, my personal tastes fall more into the comic book-style covers, whereas most readers enjoy the photo/traditional covers gracing most books these days. That was kept in mind when making these new covers last night and I’m interested to see how these eBooks fare with the new covers, everything else about them staying the same.
Here they are below, the new covers to Blood of the Dead and Possession of the Dead. Click on the book covers to be taken to their page for Amazon’s Kindle.
R. Thomas Riley–who’s a friend and fellow writer–does a regular column for Apex Book Company.
On the 27th, he posted an article called “Evolve or Die,” the focusing being horror writers–especially in light of Dorchester/Leisure’s recent financial woes–self-publishing. I read it and wrote something in the comments. After some reflection, I believe what I wrote is worth re-posting here.
It’s a hard truth, one that might bring me a lot of criticism, but the truth does that from time to time. Just think it needs to be posted.
“Of course I’m simplifying, but you know what I’m seeing, to be honest? I’m seeing the same people who used to laugh at self-publishing doing it because they don’t–except for rare persons–have another option. In other words, the shoe’s on the other foot and they are now the desparate author. Sure, you can call it “evolving” or “changing with the times,” but, really, markets are drying up and there’re not many publishers out there doing horror. So, change the label, sugarcoat it and suddenly self-publishing is okay.
Man…the stuff people do to protect their ego and ‘rep.’
I’m saying the above as a self-publisher of seven years (six of real self-publishing and not subsidy publishing), something I’ve always been proud of even when people knocked me–the same people, by the way, self-publishing now. All I’m asking for is some honesty.
And, on a side note, I want an iPad.”