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So you're selling about 150 copies a month, or 1800 a year, for an annual return of $3600. A typical advance from a major publisher for a mass market paperback is about $6000...
Right, but to pursue that advance, you'd have to not have offered that book for sale. So the price of the lottery ticket here would be the $3600 you're forgoing by not self-publishing.

You'd be betting $3600 for the chance to win $6000.

That means that if your odds of securing that paperback contract are any worse than 1 in 1.667, you'd be a sucker to make that bet.

Are you seriously proposing that everyone here making $300 a month [basically anyone with books in the top 8000 or so] has a 1 in 1.667 or better chance of securing a traditional publishing contract? That is absolutely ludicrous.

I would estimate that all of those people have a 1 in 1000 chance, or worse, of securing such a contract, if they pick up a pen and start writing query letters this very moment. So you're basically advising people to flush $3600 down the toilet.

If you had a family member with a gambling problem who was routinely making bets where they put down $3600 for a 1 in 1000 chance of winning $6000, you'd do an intervention.

The $ figures and reader figures a traditional contract can get you are nice, but they aren't the important numbers in the equation here. The important numbers are the opportunity cost of not self-publishing and the odds of actually securing a publishing contract starting from Square Zero. And the opportunity costs are known now, and the odds are absolutely dismal.
 

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LeeGoldberg said:
I guess you haven't read Phillip Roth, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Connelly, Sue Grafton, Jonathan Franzen, Larry McMurtry, Elmore Leonard, John Le Carre, Michael Chabon, Neil Gaiman... the list goes on and on. It's possible to be pro-"indie" without buying into the myth that to succeed you have to sell out, that only sh** sells.

Lee
(I was actually riffing off your 99.999% of self-published books are crap comment last month. AKA, it was a joke.)
 

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tbrookside said:
The $ figures and reader figures a traditional contract can get you are nice, but they aren't the important numbers in the equation here. The important numbers are the opportunity cost of not self-publishing and the odds of actually securing a publishing contract starting from Square Zero. And the opportunity costs are known now, and the odds are absolutely dismal.
Exactly so.
 

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Victorine said:
But I won't be offered a big print deal with a $6,000 advance with the small sales I've been getting. In order to catch the eye of a publisher I would have to be selling more than that. A lot more, I'm assuming.

And if I'm selling a lot more... heh... well then why would I want to sign with a publisher? I wouldn't need to. I'd be making more than the little $6,000 advance.

If a traditional publisher would offer me a $6,000 advance and 30,000 books printed without me giving up my ebook rights, sure, I'd be stupid not to take it. But in this hypothetical situation I'm making a lot of money from my ebooks. So, why sell the ebook rights knowing they would jack up the ebook prices and thus sell less books and get a smaller percentage.

Vicki
I think I'm just going to follow you around all night saying "exactly." Do you mind?

The gap between the place where a publisher will take you on, and where you don't really "need" them anymore and could succeed just as well financially on your own without any compromise... is IMO astonishingly narrow.

Also, a trad publisher taking control of your e-rights and jacking up your ebook prices could compromise the platform you've already built and send you in the opposite direction of where you want to go.

Z
 

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Lee:

This seems very similiar to the two previous posts on a similiar subject. I'm not sure what your objective is.

Do you want us all to stop self-publishing so that there will be less competition?

Why are you asking all of us would we take a publishing deal for a certain amount if offered?

The majority of us have not received such an offer, and probably won't.

Are you trying to make us all feel inferior and stupid?

I just don't get it, and it's getting kind of old.

Why are you assuming or objectives are similiar to yours?

Ann

 

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tbrookside said:
The $ figures and reader figures a traditional contract can get you are nice, but they aren't the important numbers in the equation here. The important numbers are the opportunity cost of not self-publishing and the odds of actually securing a publishing contract starting from Square Zero. And the opportunity costs are known now, and the odds are absolutely dismal.
I'm sure I can outbid Zoe for the e-stalking rights to you. Would you accept an 8% royalty on my 70% royalty?
 

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zoewinters said:
I think I'm just going to follow you around all night saying "exactly." Do you mind?

The gap between the place where a publisher will take you on, and where you don't really "need" them anymore and could succeed just as well financially on your own without any compromise... is IMO astonishingly narrow.

Also, a trad publisher taking control of your e-rights and jacking up your ebook prices could compromise the platform you've already built and send you in the opposite direction of where you want to go.

Z
LOL! I don't mind. And I'm going to add my "exactly" onto your "exactly." Your last sentence sums it up nicely.

Vicki
 

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Lee, as usual, thought provoking (and maybe provoking other stuff as well).  It brings me back to the new dynamic, the two tiered publishing platform -- the annointed in the little tier at the top, and the mosh pit below.  I'm in the mosh pit, as are you and everybody else here.  It's easy to get in... just pay the ticket price.  We're all screaming for attention.  Who knows who will suddenly feel that spot on them, hear the orchestra queue up...  Better have your shit together.  You may not get another chance.  That's why I can't understand someone not putting out their absolute best.

Two big things are driving this new dynamic.  Technology and, of course, the economy.  The economy is in the toilet.  Back when times were good, agents still used that line, "well, the economy is not doing that well now, and this may not be the best time for this kind of book, but..."  

So, yeah, It's tough.  When I'm not at the moshpit, I'm at the flea market, trying to entice that couple with the pitbull to stop on by and check out the merchandise.  I'm gettin hoarse.

Regarding the quality...  I'm in the process of editing my first published work (prior to releasing it back into the world via the Kindle), and I'm finding that I must have learned a few things in the years since that book went out.  It still needs a little work.

Oh, I just saw a crowd of mid-list people enter the mosh pit.  They're wearing leather, helmets, combat boots.  The females have stiletto heels.  Oooh.  Someone just went down.  It's getting rough out here.  Talk to ya later.


 

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DArenson said:
We've been talking about folk art. But when I think about Kindle, I don't think about folk art. I think of cheese. A big, delicious chunk of cheese.

Allow me to elaborate.

Authors are like ants in a forest. We wander around looking for food ("sales"). There are Five Big picnic tables in the forest, and upon them lay steaming feasts -- ribs, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, beers, potato chips, and many other wonders. Many ants attempt to climb the Big Five, but those humans ("slush editors") beat them back. A select handful of ants -- with a combination of talent and luck -- have climbed onto the Five Big picnic tables and feast there. The rest of us, well... we wander the forest, hungry, seeking seeds and morsels.

For years, there wasn't much food on the forest floor. There were a few stale old pieces of bread ("iUniverse", "PublishAmerica"), but those didn't fill us up. Most ants weren't THAT hungry that we'd even TOUCH those. So we kept wandering, hungry.

One day, the ants found something AMAZING. A huge, DELICIOUS piece of cheese lay on the forest floor! You didn't have to climb a picnic bench. There were no humans brushing you aside. It was there for all to eat! And boy... we ants feasted. We called all the other ants, and more and more ants covered the piece of cheese, eating and eating. It tasted GREAT.

One day, a brave little ant named Lee--who had eaten quite a lot of cheese already--raised his head from the cheese. He called out, "Hang on, hang on! Look around you! A million ants cover this cheese already. And there in the distance -- a million more are coming over! Soon we'll be so crowded, the whole piece of cheese will crumble."

The other ants shrugged and kept eating. The cheese just tasted too good.

Is there room on the cheese for the incoming swarm of ants? Will it last forever? I don't know. For now, I'm busy eating. :)
That's an excellent analogy. You are obviously an author, no doubt. ^_^
 

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LeeGoldberg said:
So you're selling about 150 copies a month, or 1800 a year, for an annual return of $3600. A typical advance from a major publisher for a mass market paperback is about $6000...and you'll have an initial print run of about 30,000 copies and a royalty of about 12%. Your book will be in every bookstore in the country, and probably most drugstores, convenience stores, and some airports.
I agree that at this point, with Kindle still in its infancy, a contract as you describe -- a $6000 advance and 30,000 print run -- would be something most authors should sign RIGHT AWAY... even those selling a couple hundred ebooks a month. But I think it's overly optimistic to assume it'll be in every bookstore, drugstore, and convenience store in the country; aren't there more than 30,000 such stores?
 

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amanda_hocking said:
I think a lot of indie authors are new to this and only have one book out. Given more time for authors to build up more books, and more readers to get invested in Kindles and e-books, I think they'll be a dramatic jump in how many books are indie authors are selling.
Good to see you in this thread, Amanda -- indie author in Kindle's top 100 bestsellers list. ;D
 

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I was taught "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." If Indie publishing is the bird in hand, what is wrong with that?

Common wisdom in 'the publishing industry' is that a writer has to have a platform BEFORE they are worthy of being published or even signed by an agent. Where does one 'get' a platform? Can't buy one, can't fake one, will need to build one. Since a platform is built out of a body of work - what better way to 'build a platform' than to publish and market your work on your own?

Every book should be the best I can create. If I'm doing my job as a writer, each book will be better than the one before it. Somewhere in there, I'm going to 'breakout' (usually book six or so.)

"Back in the day" the writer was 'brought along' by the publisher, until they 'broke out.' We live in the day of the "Publishing Death Spiral" (see link below) when agents and publishers don't 'have time' to 'nurture' a newbie for five or six books.

I look at it this way - If I need to build a platform before I'm worth signing, and market my own work after I'm signed - why don't I just publish my own work until I 'break out?' I'm still writing, publishing and making money.

If I want to go this route the definition of "Breaking out" changes to "getting a trade contract." It still may not happen until after five or six books. What changes is who owns the early work and where that work is available.

http://normanspinradatlarge.blogspot.com/2010/08/complete-publishing-death-spiral-parts_13.html

Is a dollar bill somehow inferior because it isn't a ten or a twenty? If so, please send me all your one dollar bills! :D :D
 

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I think what everyone is in violent agreement about is that whether to stay indie or go with a traditional publisher depends on your goals and on the financial opportunities that each give. If your goal is just to write and get your books out there where readers can find them, e-publishing lets you do that in a way that doesn't cost you thousands of dollars paid to vanity presses to get a few thousand copies that will molder in your basement. Instead, you can now make some decent money selling ebooks, which will reward independent writers who produce good books that are well-packaged and cleverly promoted. (One story I haven't seen in the media is how vanity presses are probably in even more danger than traditional publishers; I wouldn't be surprised if we see the end of many vanity presses in the next couple of years, and I'm talking about the true vanity presses that take advantage of unpublished writers, not Smashwords, Lulu, or Createspace).

But if you are writing books to make a living (so that you can ditch your old job), you'll certainly have to consider the financial ramifications of staying indie versus going with a publisher. In my case, I wanted to reach as many readers as possible, and though ebooks are growing at an exponential rate, most sales are still currently in stores. In two years, those numbers will be very different, but for right now that's the situation. In addition, I'd be surprised if I ever would have gotten deals for The Ark in UK, Germany, Holland, Italy, and all the other countries without a US publishing deal. Although I'm not anywhere near the league of Stieg Larsson's sales, you can get an idea of how the US market compares to the rest of the world by looking at his numbers: he has sold 4 million books in the US, but he has sold over 40 million books worldwide. That percentage is not uncommon for authors of thrillers, which are what I happen to write. Yes, with the advent of Amazon Kindle UK, I could have put my books on that store as well, but I never would be able to put my books on Amazon Kindle Deutsche because I would need a German translator. And remember that Amazon Kindle UK wasn't even a faint glimmer when I got my publishing deal last year (47 Internet years ago).

So truly take a deep look at what your goals are before you decide to take either the indie route or the traditional publishing route. Either way, you'll get to do what you love, which is write. But the effort, hassle, financial rewards, prestige, and desired readership should all be factors you consider in your decision.
 
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@OP heading question.      Books have allways been art, but the lack of forced compliance and more accessability to more titles has made it more folksy.  ?  just an observation of the obvious.  The big wigs change to indie for freedom or money.  One of the two.  There are no other reasons for them to change.
 
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