Monday, May 28, 2012

EMPLOYEE OR ENTREPRENEUR? or should I traditionally publish or self publish? James tell me what to do!

Self-publishing. Yes, Jeffe is right (as she so often is) it is what every author you know is talking about. Why? Because we are in the middle of a change in the way you read books. Okay, maybe not quite the middle, maybe the first third. Here's the breakdown as I see it. Ebooks are growing. E-book readers are gaining followers everyday. I am a convert. I have a TON of paper books (hell, I bought 2 new ones today). But I truthfully prefer to read on my Nook Color. There is something about it. I love it. I have to make myself stop reading on it to get to my paper books. I know there are those of you who are crying: "I'll NEVER give up my paper books! I love them too much!" And I'll never give up my cassette tapes, I love them too much. Oh, wait a minute. I am old enough to see the correlation between books and what happened in the music industry. When I grew up it was on records and 8-tracks. My first car had an 8-track. I had boxes and boxes of cassettes as a teenager. For years the cassette was THE ultimate way to get music. Then came the CD. Wait, I can have my music, it sounds better, it doesn't wear out, AND I can go instantly to my song of choice? Cassettes died. Quickly. Then came the MP3. The digital download. When's the last time you even listened to a CD? For me? Probably not in 2012. I haven't bought a CD in at least 5 years. Seriously. I have a gigantic musical library but now it comes to me on my Zune. I hate to break it to bibliophiles, but books are going the same way. Now you will always be able to buy books. You will. Just like I can get the newest Kid Rock album on vinyl if I want to. (And I do, make no mistake about it, I do.) But sooner than we think, them majority or books WILL be ebooks. And just like in music, going digital means that a lot more folks can cut out a middle man to do it themselves and keep a bigger portion of each sale and keep the whole amount of their creative freedom. And that day is here. Now I LOVE my publisher. I do. Kensington has been good to me, and they are superb to work with. That doesn't mean that I didn't have to work my ass off to push sales of my book. I did. Kensington didn't set up my blog tour, they didn't write the 30+ blogs I did to promote the book (which took HOURS and HOURS), they didn't get me on the panels of any conventions, they didn't set up my website, maintain my twitter, work my facebook, they didn't print my bookmarks, or meet and greet the hundreds and hundreds of new fans and readers that I have. I did that. All of it. And I am cool with that, this is not a complaint it's an illustration, but it was work. Hard work that paid off, but in the end I will see very little of that monetary reward percentage wise. Cause here is the cold HARD truth of publishing. My cut off each book sold is just under .60 cents. This is pre-tax. And I won't see anything until my advance is paid back and after the "reasonable holds against returns" is covered. (What's that? "Reasonable holds against returns" is an arbitrary amount the publisher holds from your royalties for an indefinite amount of time in case bookstores return your book. It is not a set amount, nor is it even a set percentage. Reasonable is all the info you get. Oh, and it can be adjusted up at the publishers sole discretion without any recourse for the author. It is STANDARD in ALL publishing contracts.) And if I do get a royalty check, it is only sent twice a year. Now look at self-publishing. At the proper price point you will get 70% of your sale. For most books that is well over 2 dollars. There are NO holds against returns, reasonable or not. You get paid monthly or bi monthly. You get an accounting of books sold as they are sold, instead of waiting to get your royalty statement to see what you did. And there is the time factor. I wrote BLOOD AND BULLETS in 2010 and sold it in Dec. 2010. It hit the shelves Feb. 2012. Yep, you read that right. Over a year. Trust me, the advance I got for it was long gone by that time. Self pubbed material can be uploaded in an hour. And that creative control? I have a Shub-Niggurath in space story with a cantankerous lead named Molly. It's a weird story with a weird length. NOBODY WANTS TO PUBLISH IT. It's too long for a short, too short for a novel. The main character is crotchety as hell. It's got bug aliens, and space ships that live, and elder gods. It's sci-fi horror. "But, James, you're an urban fantasy writer." So no publisher wants it. But I bet there are readers out there who want it. So I am working on it, and it will be out this summer. Self-pubbed. I have crime short stories. They will hit this summer too. Self-pubbed. In my opinion, I don't think authors should ditch traditional publishing. Not at all. But don't be handcuffed by it either. This is your career. If you wrote a weird little story about a Unicorn Detective solving crimes in WW2 England, then you KNOW that isn't going to be published traditionally. But if you write from love I bet your fans still want to read it. So put it out there. Do the work, make it nice and self publish it. What's the harm? Don't let your work lay fallow and wasted. You wrote it, or you want to write it, then do and self publish it. If you work as hard promoting it as you do your other stuff, then I bet it finds a home. If you want more info on self publishing here are the links. A NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING AND ROBERT SWARTWOOD


  1. I think the biggest problem is that when the technology is stolen (Ipod, whatever, you can't always get all your stuff back. Or when the digital provider goes pissy on you, they make them unavailable. (it happened, but I'm not going to name names) and whether that's free samples (one of the nice things about ebooks or not) or paid, you've lost it. I have a kindle on computer and tablet. But, I can't get them to actually sync. So I have ten books available on on mechanism, but the last two that I asked to be sent to tablet, can't be found on my tablet. If my purse is stolen and I had a book in it, I'm only out that one book. If my tablet is in the stolen purse, I'm out a ton of books and no matter how much they say "it's on your x-file" the truth is, there are usually a limited number of downloads, and you may just be out your favorite book. Also, reading in the sunlight was impossible on my tablet. But, all that being said, it was nice to pack my tablet in my backpack for camping (reading in the shade worked okay:)and have access to lots of books for little room :D Right up until I lost the cord. Sigh. It's always something.

  2. Most devices come associated with an account. Kindle does, and I know the nook does. Even books I put on there from other sources can be archived with B&N so that if I upgrade devices or lose mine I can still get my content.

    It's a lot like your mp3 player.....if you have one without a service associated with it then you simply back it all up on your computer or hard drive.

    It seems like once artistic endeavors begin to digitize it is a short run until that is the dominate way to disseminate it all.

    I have an e-ink kindle and a nook color, both are great in sunlight. The kindle is impossible in any type of darkness, but the nook is amazing in all settings.

  3. Good for you, James! Can't wait for your bug aliens.

  4. A friend told me he'd never use an ereader because what if he forgot to charge it before a plane trip and then couldn't read? I wanted to say, well, what if you forgot to fill up your car with gas before a road trip? You learn to work the technology.