Author Topic: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies  (Read 48442 times)  

Offline H.M. Ward

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #175 on: February 14, 2014, 02:22:43 PM »
You have to approach it as a business. Part of being an ""indie" author means you are now the head of your own publishing company, your own "brand."

Damn straight. I totally agree with you.

Quote
This means hiring people to do your website design, other marketing, layout, eBook formatting, cover art.
I did my websites myself. I originally handcoded them.
I did my marketing myself and was able to do it cheaper and better (how do I know, see original post)
I did the layout myself
I did the ebook formatting myself
I shot and created the covers myself

I know the cost and the man hours that went into these things. It's mind boggling that it takes them 6 months to fast track a book. That's not fast.

Quote
What you failed to mention is that traditional publishers have all this infrastructure which is why they take the majority of your royalties.

It did not cost me that much of my earnings to do these things and do them well. Even if I hired out, it's a one time fee not a lifetime of lost royalties.

Quote
but by the time you pay the people who you hire to deliver your quality product, indie authors make about the same as they would with traditional publishing.
In my experience that is completely and totally not true. They don't even come close, which is why we're not doing business together.
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Offline syrimne13

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #176 on: February 14, 2014, 02:56:17 PM »
Just made it through the whole thread...thanks SO MUCH for this Holly, it's really inspirational. Kind of made my head explode, too, but in a good way (there's a lot of that going on this week).

Your comments about owning your own brand and being protective of your fans really are resonating with me. Even with the small number of fans I have so far, I'm fiercely protective of them, and I hate the idea of some publisher messing with them, or worse, trying to manipulate them with prices or crappy branding or whatever else. That's a concern that hadn't even occurred to me frankly (those insidious beliefs that the "big boys" will do it better, just because...well, they're the MAN, right? ha)...but it feels like a very real one, so thanks so much for that insight.

I don't even see how there's a discussion as to whether you did the right thing. I just picture you in a snake pit with people using drugged incense and holding contracts written in blood going, "don't look at the man in the corner, just siiiiign...."

You are a huge inspiration!! As others have said, just your faith in yourself and your writing is awesome.


Offline KBoards Admin

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #177 on: February 14, 2014, 03:21:18 PM »
Here's the link to the pre-release checklist she mentioned: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,152565.0.html

And here's Elle Casey's list (which is pretty similar actually): http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=170327.0 

Thanks, mrv01d!

(Tip: use the "bookmark" button at the top of the thread to save these threads. I've bookmarked both of those... plus this one.)

Thanks for this inspiring thread, Holly!
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Offline P.T. Michelle

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #178 on: February 14, 2014, 04:13:42 PM »
Holly, you are so inspiring for all you've accomplished and for your generosity in sharing! There's a lot to learn in this business and it's so nice to hear the truth about the reality of the traditional side as it stands today. Things sure have changed in the last three years. Power to the Indies!

And I totally agree about fans. They are awesome supporters!

I hope your health continues to improve so you can keep amazing us even more! :)

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Offline jimbro

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #179 on: February 14, 2014, 04:31:28 PM »
Drew said: "There is no earthly reason at all to hand over 94% royalties for life to get simple one-time services."

She means: Life plus 70 years;D

Offline Vera Nazarian

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #180 on: February 14, 2014, 05:03:49 PM »
Holly, you are an absolute inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing! :) I was having a bad/ low energy/ depressing day, and this is exactly what I needed to see.

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Offline brenna

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #181 on: February 14, 2014, 07:10:23 PM »
Yeah, it might be great hearing that Amazon will pay you 70-percent royalties but by the time you pay the people who you hire to deliver your quality product, indie authors make about the same as they would with traditional publishing.

Umm whaaaat?  You do realize that as an indie, you pay for the production of the book ONCE.  You pay an editor ONCE. An artist ONCE. Etc. etc. With trad pub, you pay that fee OVER AND OVER by giving them 75% of the net royalties of your book for the life of the copyright.

Offline Christa Wick

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #182 on: February 14, 2014, 07:18:21 PM »
My total costs for 2013 came to 2.12% of my royalties. That includes $1400 for an audiobook to be narrated, almost $700 in adobe Creative Suite subscription that I'd have regardless, websites that I'd have to have as an author indie or trade published, plus, I recovered about 10 books twice each in 2013 (my second biggest expense was fonts/stock images/and PS brushes/styles -- i.e. covers). The amount that actually went to new books produced and not overhead (again, a significant portion of which is I would have born as a writer and not a publisher) was less than .2%. The bigger my backlist gets, the bigger my annual margin gets if I maintain the same output.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 07:41:37 AM by Christa Wick »

Offline minxmalone

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #183 on: February 14, 2014, 07:24:02 PM »
Seriously, no snark intended, what on earth could you spend $2,000 for on a single print book? I honestly don't think I could spend that much if I tried.

Createspace has free templates available to lay out the book's interior. The editing is already paid for (or it should be b/c I'm assuming you've had it edited before doing the digital version).

Unless someone is paying really high fees for formatting and covers, I just can't figure out where these high numbers come from. I've actually never spent anything on producing a print book since I do the cover layout and interior formatting myself. 

Offline AriadneW

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #184 on: February 14, 2014, 07:33:32 PM »
It could cost $2000 possibly if you bought one of the Createspace editing packages and formatting packages and I don't know what else. I don't know anyone who would do that though as it's cheaper to find your own.


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Offline minxmalone

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #185 on: February 14, 2014, 07:50:32 PM »
It could cost $2000 possibly if you bought one of the Createspace editing packages and formatting packages and I don't know what else. I don't know anyone who would do that though as it's cheaper to find your own.

I never realized those packages they offer were so expensive. That is just ...  :o

Offline Book Master

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #186 on: February 14, 2014, 07:52:38 PM »
I started by using facebook and only facebook to connect to readers outside of my social circles. There are other ways to do that, but I'm a big believer in don't wait for them to come to you.

My first book cost me $125 to produce. I was butt poor from a theology degree that cost well over six figures. I didn't have extra money to mess around with.

I had a big NY agent for my 1st book and was looking at the traditional route. I told her to pull it--I wanted to publish it myself. (Many thanks to Joe Konrath and his awesome blog).

I work about 80 hours a week. I have two assistants that help me manage paperwork. I just hired them b/c I had been going nuts trying to do everything myself. Hubby helps me with all the numbers stuff and when I get sick (I've been fighting an illness for the past 3 years) that knocks me on my *ss periodically.

If you forget everything else in this post, remember this:

If you dont have the gall to believe in yourself and your work, no one else will.

Bring it.

Own it.

And don't worry about mistakes, because they're the stepping stones to success. I notice I never say 'I failed' - I say 'well, I jacket that up,' and try to figure out where it went wrong so I can fix it. Failure is an excellent teacher. Learn from it and try again.

I feel like crap today, so forgive my typos and such. I wanted to take the time to share this b/c stuff like this helped me. I'd see ppl's posts about how they were getting ahead, buying a laptop with their earnings, or read Joe's blog and seeing his income, and it made me keep going. I'm glad I did.

Being an Indie completely and totally rocks.

 :o ^^^^"Oh my, What she said!^^^^^^^^^^^^

That is the Key that she uses to succeed with the drive and determination along with it! This is what it is all about.......

BM

Offline Evie Love

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #187 on: February 14, 2014, 08:03:32 PM »
I think maybe the nonsense about it costing $2,000 to self publish a book is a hold over from the days when self publishing meant printing up a bunch of books at your own expense and storing them in your garage until you could sell them? Obviously with POD and ebooks, this has no bearing on the current reality, but some people don't like to acknowledge change.

My all time favorite weird argument about the cost of self publishing was an article that claimed self publishing would cost you thousands of dollars, then said your self published book would be edited solely by your mom, have a picture of your cat on the cover, be terribly formatted, and have no marketing push behind it.

But... where did the thousands of dollars go? What could you possibly have spent them on? Did you pay your mom $2,000 to edit your book? Did you withdraw $2,000 from your bank account, throw it in the air like money confetti and scream, "WHEE! I SELF PUBLISHED A BOOK!"

Inquiring minds want to know.

Offline AriadneW

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #188 on: February 14, 2014, 08:40:59 PM »
I never realized those packages they offer were so expensive. That is just ...  :o

I could see how people would buy them if they didn't know there were other options. But, yeah.


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Offline nobody_important

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #189 on: February 14, 2014, 09:30:17 PM »
This means hiring people to do your website design, other marketing, layout, eBook formatting, cover art. What you failed to mention is that traditional publishers have all this infrastructure which is why they take the majority of your royalties.

This is beyond ridiculous I had to comment.

YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR OWN WEBSITE EVEN IF YOU'RE TRAD PUBBED! Do you honestly think NY pubs create, manage and update all of their authors' websites, social media and emails? NO!

They do print layout (assuming they even bother doing print these days), ebook formatting & cover art, and you may end up getting something really craptastic -- crappy cover art, [poopy] formatting job with horrible errors, etc. and there's NOTHING you can do about it. Why? Because you're just a writer, and they're not, which means they know what they're doing and you don't!

Oh and if you're lucky to get some decent editing. Not all publishers bother these days.

So for formatting your books & slapping some cover, they get to keep 75% of net? No way.

Offline Jacqueline_Sweet

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #190 on: February 14, 2014, 09:37:00 PM »
I've definitely seen professional cover artists that I would love to give $2,000 to but--checks bank account, moths flies out--I think I'll keep using stock photos and my own sweat for now.

And Photoshop. Sweat is terrible image manipulation tool.

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Offline Heather Hamilton-Senter

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #191 on: February 14, 2014, 10:14:10 PM »
Threads like this are why I check the Cafe every morning before I do anything else! Thank you so much for the inspiration, hope, and motivation.  :-*

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Offline Cherise

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #192 on: February 14, 2014, 11:18:25 PM »
Umm whaaaat?  You do realize that as an indie, you pay for the production of the book ONCE.  You pay an editor ONCE. An artist ONCE. Etc. etc. With trad pub, you pay that fee OVER AND OVER by giving them 75% of the net royalties of your book for the life of the copyright.

You know what? Just smile and tell him, "Yeah, I see the emperor's new clothes, too."

Offline Michael Kingswood

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #193 on: February 15, 2014, 12:30:03 AM »
Thanks for that breakdown, Michael and also this ^^^ Cherise. I don't remember that blog post mentioning all this about paper books, but I could have missed it, wandering around the feedlot like I do.  :P

Now I'm not so worried about getting a print edition done.



Whoa, hey now.  No reason not to do a print edition, and many many good reasons TO do one.  Truth of the matter is, a lot of folks still like and buy print, whether it's 70% of the market or 5%, and you don't want to turn them away.  Plus having that print version on your product page makes the product look more substantial and your ebook price look like more of a deal.  Print formatting takes a little learning, but it's not hard.  Seriously, git 'r done.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 12:42:09 AM by Michael Kingswood »
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Offline Michael Kingswood

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #194 on: February 15, 2014, 12:40:56 AM »

My all time favorite weird argument about the cost of self publishing was an article that claimed self publishing would cost you thousands of dollars, then said your self published book would be edited solely by your mom, have a picture of your cat on the cover, be terribly formatted, and have no marketing push behind it.


You joke, but for my first novel, I hired an editor/proofreader.  After all the editing was said and done, my Mom read the book and found literally a couple dozen problems and errors that the editor missed.  So now I don't hire an editor - I send it to Mom (and some carefully selected anal friends and writing compadres).  If I can get a better job from her, for free, why not?

:P
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 12:42:46 AM by Michael Kingswood »
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Offline Massimo Marino

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #195 on: February 15, 2014, 01:33:55 AM »
And this works at every level. Don't believe you need to be in the $Million gang to refuse signing prehistoric contracts.

I'm in the top #2000 authors in Sci-Fi since June 2012, I've been a few times in the top 100. I was contacted by a small/medium publisher with same chat, same non-existing marketing plan, and a $2000 advance (10% royalties).

The advance would be covered by $20,000 sales, and marketing on ME, same as before. A simple math shows that in the same period I would sell $20,000 I would give $18,000 to the publisher instead of keeping those in my pockets. There's no added value at all unless publishers understand that PRINTING and sending to PRESS your novel has NO VALUE. What's valuable is for them to have a stellar marketing plan to put you and your novels in front of as many as possible readers in your genre and nearby ones (Indies don't exactly write in genres silos).

I have a 93% appreciation rate from my readers, sold about 5000 copies in a year. It's a good sample to believe that the same appreciation rate would come with 1,000,000 copies sold in a year, too. What H M Ward experience and rational works at ANY level, even for a $10,000 range.

One publishers even had the guts to ask ME about MY marketing plan to sell THEIR book once they'd published me. CRAZY.

 
A Scientist envisioning Science Fiction
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Offline Matt Marshall

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #196 on: February 15, 2014, 07:37:11 AM »
This is my first post here, and one of the first threads I've read on the board (Hugh Howey's blog had a link).

It's really motivational to have some successful authors explain their experiences. It makes the process of getting one's work out there much less daunting, be it through the self-pubbed route or the trad route. Some staggering sales figures flying around too.

A great resource & one to be bookmarked!
 :)

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Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #197 on: February 15, 2014, 08:02:59 AM »
This is my first post here, and one of the first threads I've read on the board (Hugh Howey's blog had a link).

It's really motivational to have some successful authors explain their experiences. It makes the process of getting one's work out there much less daunting, be it through the self-pubbed route or the trad route. Some staggering sales figures flying around too.

A great resource & one to be bookmarked!
 :)


Matt, never give up. I did, thirty years ago. Wrote what I thought was three pretty good short stories and was starting a novel based on them. My now ex-wife kept telling me how impossible it was to get published and I gave up.

My wife today supported and motivated me to give it another try. This was last July. Since my short stories and partial novel were saved on a 5-1/2" floppy disk and our computer didn't have a drive for those dinosaurs, I started writing my first novel from scratch, from memory. Which at my age, isn't all that great.

Today, just 7 months later, I have two books in the top 10 for Action/Adventure Sea Adventures and both are in the top 100 for Mysteries and I'm actually making about $2800 a month. My third will be released next month and my fans are already clamoring for it. Independence Day is going to have a whole new meaning this year.

It IS possible!!
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Offline LBrent

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #198 on: February 15, 2014, 08:08:47 AM »
Threads like this are why I check the Cafe every morning before I do anything else! Thank you so much for the inspiration, hope, and motivation.  :-*
High five.

You and me both!

Whoa, hey now.  No reason not to do a print edition, and many many good reasons TO do one.  Truth of the matter is, a lot of folks still like and buy print, whether it's 70% of the market or 5%, and you don't want to turn them away.  Plus having that print version on your product page makes the product look more substantial and your ebook price look like more of a deal.  Print formatting takes a little learning, but it's not hard.  Seriously, git 'r done.

Exactly. And the feeling of being in control of your own project is priceless.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 08:11:54 AM by LBrent »

Offline Speaker-To-Animals

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Re: I turned down over a million bucks in trad deals, plus other tips for Indies
« Reply #199 on: February 15, 2014, 08:11:10 AM »
Quote
The reality is, for you new eBook authors, you will spend $2000 to Create Space to put out a quality book and make $1400 in return. On average.

I'm probably harder than most people here on the quality of print books because I used to do it for a living, but typesetting a simple narrative book is just not that hard if you spend a little bit of time doing research and stick to a simple format with mainstream fonts (when in doubt: Garamond). Maybe if you were doing a non-fiction book with a lot of charts and graphics and inserts. That's a totally different beast than what 99% of indies are doing though.

I will say there is nothing that would benefit indie authors more than learning a bit about the proper way to use a word processor. 99% of formatting problems I've seen people have on various boards amount to "I didn't use a stylesheet to format text." I should probably put together a little course on that because it's really not hard, it's just having things pointed out.

Also, the money isn't in Createspace. It's in ebooks and they're even easier to format for narrative.