Are you writing ebooks in 2017? From my chats with other authors, and from discussing their writing with my students, I know that self-publishing is a big part of their business plans for 2017. But they have concerns: the primary one is — how viable is self-publishing? Can you REALLY make money self-publishing ebooks?
They’re all commercial writers. Today, no one has time to devote hours every week to a plan which may or may not work.
How viable is ebook self-publishing for writers who write for money?
It’s extremely viable.
The Kindle Effect in Fortune reports that “Ebook self-publishing has become a $1 billion industry”:
So-called independent books increasingly land at the top of bestseller lists, are optioned to be Hollywood movies, and generate real money for their authors. Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn says indie authors drive 20% of the platform’s ebook sales. “They’re selling better than traditional authors,” he says.
You may not hit bestseller status, and perhaps your ebooks won’t be optioned by Hollywood, but self-publishing is very different from traditional publishing. For example — your ebooks never go out of print, and they aren’t remaindered off bookstore shelves after three months.
They’ll sell forever, and you never know. I’ve had novels which looked dead on arrival, and then revived, selling hundreds of copies every month.
If you want your share of the hot new $1 billion industry: 4 essential tips
No one can promise that you’ll make $40,000 a month from your self-publishing business. However, if you’re a competent writer, you can make more than enough to pay your bills.
I was researching fiction genres yesterday, and I was shocked at the average earnings of authors in some genres. Authors in one genre averaged $4,174 a month, and in another, they averaged $25,959 a month.
So that’s our first tip…
1. Research carefully: research your genres and topics
RESEARCH! (When I use an exclamation point, AND CAPS, you know I’m serious. :-))
As I said yesterday in Top 10 Tips to Improve Your Writing Skills In 2017:
Imagine if this writer hadn’t contacted me. She would have tapped her fingers to the bone in 2017, without any hope of reaching her financial goals. It took a couple of hours to help her to create a writing program of magazines and websites which paid reasonably, and to help her to choose hot-selling genres and topics for her books.
Before you get overexcited about a nonfiction topic, or a fiction genre, please do some research to discover what your potential income could be from that topic or genre.
Yes, of course you can write about topics and in genres which aren’t popular, but be aware that when you choose to do this, there are limits on your income. Sometimes you might not mind this, if you MUST write an ebook on a topic or a novel in a genre.
2. Write fiction: it outsells nonfiction by a factor of six to one
Enough said. Fiction outsells nonfiction.
If you’re new to writing fiction, give yourself a couple of novels to hit your stride. When I started writing fiction many, many years ago, I got lucky. I sold my first novel on a proposal. This was unheard of, and lovely as it was, it caused me endless hassles. I had no idea what I was doing, and spent months sitting at my typewriter, crying. Every day.
Expect to take time to learn the fiction-writer’s craft — it’s more than worth the effort.
3. Be wary of small players: SELF-PUBLISH
I truly hate it when writers are hurt through no fault of their own.
Let’s break this down. An online retailer is closing down and cannot remit the royalties owed to authors and publishers for the entire fourth quarter of 2016. In lieu of the agreed-upon percentage of 60% of the cover price for each book sold, ARe is proposing that they pay authors TEN CENTS on the dollar of those owed royalties–for books that have already been sold and the money already collected and presumably deposited in the bank account of ARe.
Businesses go out of business all the time.
In a hot industry, like ebook self-publishing, many new businesses offer help to authors. For one reason or another, over time many of these businesses hit roadblocks.
I strongly encourage you to do it yourself when it comes to self-publishing. Yes, you’ll need to learn a lot, but that’s good. You’ll learn how it works, and this means that it’s less likely that you’ll get conned.
4. Avoid trickery: playing games with Amazon is a great way to kill your self-publishing business
Speaking of getting conned: avoid playing fun and games with Amazon.
Amazon is going after scammers. Even if you’re doing nothing wrong, you can get clobbered by Amazon’s algorithmic stick. So authors who try to trick Amazon are living dangerously.
What do I mean by “trickery”? Basically, anything which is against Amazon’s Terms of Service, even if it feels as if it’s harmless. There are a mile of ebook author groups set up solely to promote each other’s work. Chances are that you won’t get caught if you’re playing these kinds of games.
However, remember Amazon’s algorithm… you can get caught even if you’re completely innocent. If that happens, you have recourse. You can ask Amazon to reconsider, and they’ll get a human to examine your self-publishing account, which will be reinstated. On the other hand, if you’re guilty, your self-publishing business is dead.
Ebook self-publishing is a hot business model: publish with confidence
The major traditional publishers are paying attention. They’ll have new initiatives for digital publishing in 2017.
Self-publishers, even if you’re just one author, have an advantage, you can do things FAST. Yesterday I gave you some valuable advice for 2017 — good luck with your ebook self-publishing venture. 🙂
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