Saturday, July 9, 2011

Self-pubbing questions

I recently met with some traditionally published writers who had questions about the whole Smashwords, Kindle, B & Nobel.  Before you read these answers, remember that I'm new to all of this.  Most of the information can be found by reading over each site's small print.

Question 1:  Does Smashwords take a cut of what you make on Amazon?

I would think they do since when you publish to Smashwords there is an option of having them post your work on Amazon.  You can get around this by choosing where you want Smashwords to publish your work.  I said no to both Amazon and B & N because I had heard that there were formatting issues.  Is that true?  I don't know, but I am glad that I put it up myself.  My profit from Amazon will be only my profit.  Now Barnes and Nobel never went anywhere for me.  I think I get 30 downloads a month if I'm lucky.  Maybe I should have gone through Smashwords for them.  Smashwords does a lot to promote your book with its affiliation programs.

Question 2:  Do you need to hire an editor?

I didn't, but then I'm a mother of three and Maid for the Billionaire was my first venture into publication.  It had been read by several editors so I had a pretty good idea of where my writing was.  That said, I am still finding little things that I missed and formatting is TOUGH.  If you can find a reasonably priced place that will do both for you, I'd jump at it.  It's worth it to have a polished product.  You don't want typos or formatting issues to turn people away from a good story. 

Question 3:  Can you make your own cover?

If you've read my blog at all -- you know that this is still a question for me.  There are beautiful covers sitting at the bottom of the ranking list.  There are simple covers up and down the numbers.  I'm considering paying for my next cover.  Will it make a difference?  We'll see.

Question 4:  How do make your book FREE on Amazon?

If you do a search, there are several authors who have all kinds of plans for how to do it.  Simply put, if it is free somewhere else it will likely go FREE on Amazon.  I used Smashwords as my FREE publication site and it worked out well for me.  That  said, I hear it doesn't always work and there was some debate whether it is changed by computer or a more subjective human force.  I honestly don't know.  Try something and if it doesn't more articles and try again.  It took almost a month for Maid for the Billionaire to be FREE.

Question 5:  How long should your book be FREE before you charge?

There are as many answers to this as there are authors self-publishing.  I've seen people using all sorts of strategies.  I would look at what your goal is and work backwards from that.  I'm a new author.  I like to think that I have a strong story which is only the beginning of what I hope is a good trilogy.  I probably won't ever change the price on Maid for the Billionaire.  New people are buying Kindles everyday.  They want FREE books.  Leaving MFB FREE allows me to constantly find new readers.  I've been lucky that book 1 was well received and has stayed high on the FREE ranking.  I'm writing like crazy to get Book 2 done for the end of August to take advantage of the interest in my series.  I'm not making any money now (although I did make almost $800 before it went FREE), but if I sell Book 2 for $1.99....I'll get 35% of the profit.  And then it's all about praying that a good percentage of those who downloaded book 1 will come back and buy book 2.  I really don't have much control over that, outside of promoting and doing my best to make my second book as good as the first one. 

Question 6:  What would you do if a traditional publishing house offered you money for the series now?

A bird in the hand?  I don't know.  There is a certain freedom that comes from knowing that I can write Book 2 the way I want it to be written and that it will be judged not by one woman, but by the readers.  It's also scary.  I only have myself to pat on the back or blame at the end of the day.  And the rewards?  From what I hear, Mills and Boon (my dream publisher) would have given me somewhere between $7-17,000 dollars for the sale.  Amazon is a gamble.  Maybe I'll make nothing.  Maybe $1.99 will be too much for a new author to charge.  BUT if it isn't....if people liked book 1 enough to return and buy book 2....let's crunch numbers:  I'm at about 110,000 downloads.  Let's say half of those people buy book 2.  that's 55,000 people....which would be $38,500 dollars.  Quite a difference.  Is it any wonder that JK Rowlings decided to self-publish?  The percent of profit goes up as your price does.  The type of book I write probably sells best under $2....but I've seen plenty of books priced pretty high.  Those books get (I think) 70% profit.  No, I'm not sure I would take a contract right now.  Not yet.  Not until I see how I do on my own.

If you  have any questions about the process, I'll answer them the best I can.  I am by far not an expert, but I do believe in the motto "When we work together, we all do better." 

Too many years of teaching Kindergarten? lol  Maybe.


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