Monday, February 24, 2014

Facts and statistics

For every author who isn't tied by contract to a traditional publisher at the moment, whether or not to self-publish features largely on the Dilemma list when it comes to getting your book out there. There are so many conflicting stories: for every writer you hear about who's sold a million, there are umpteen others who sell fewer copies than they have close family members.

 If you hang on, in the hope that like many another successful author who has had their share of rejection slips,one day you'll get the enthusiastic email – the one that says how wonderful the book is and doesn't say 'But' at the beginning of the second paragraph – there's  a real risk it might never come. If it does, though, you do have someone behind you who is at least theoretically working at getting your books into the shops. Oh, and there's a book on the shelf that your grandchildren can show their children and say, 'Your great-granny wrote that.' (They will probably reply with whatever is the late 21st century equivalent of 'Whatever.' is)

If you get impatient, scan your masterpiece and put it on to Kindle, along with all the others there, you have to be very clever about blogging, tweeting and persuading everyone you know, and quite a lot of people you don't know, to promote it otherwise it will sink without a trace.

It's a high-risk strategy and if it's high risk you want to be sure that there are rewards out there to be gained, even if you're not EL James.and that's something it's quite hard to figure out.

Yesterday I found a wonderful site that tells you all about this: authorearnings.com/the-report. Hugh Howey has done meticulous research into the relative financial merits of traditional publishing and self-publishing. It turns out that when you look at the real stats rather than the ones than lean heavily on the official figures put out from traditional houses, there's really no contest. Self-published authors fare very much better.

If you're anything like me, you'll have looked at the Amazon rankings and wondered what on earth that means in terms of books sold. Howey has worked that out too, from ranking 1-5 at 4000+ books a day to ranking 1 m  or more, when it may mean selling about 1 book a year. If that. Perhaps sometimes it's better not to know.

But anything that puts out information about what is a very secretive world  puts power in the hands of the author with a decision to make. Do check out the site.

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