Wordsushi

Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff - Bestselling Author, Voice Over Artist and Media Assassin

Tag Archive for self publishing success

Self Publishing 101: Dispensing with the Obvious… You Need a Finished Manuscript


When it comes to indie publishing, let’s dispense with the obvious. To sell books, you first need a sale-able book. 

Duh. 

The good news is that these days, you don’t need 75K words to make a book. There is no prejudice against a thin book spine when it comes to e-books. 

One of my most successful titles was my Bin Laden book which clocked in at about 12K words total. It proved to me that you can succeed with a short book, but just know that you may face trouble charging a lot for a short book. You may be limited by how much people will be willing to spend on something they can read in an hour or two. 

Now writing a book is one thing. Everyone has their own way of doing it. 

However, in order for your book to be market-worthy, you’re going to need the holy trinity… Rewriting, Editing and Proofreading. There are very few people who can create a first draft that is publishing-ready. It’s the kind of thing that takes not only skill, but a great deal of experience. Trust me, your written work will only get better through rewriting. 

It should also go without saying that you NEED others to read your work before it gets published. Writing is lonely work that often takes place in a vacuum. You need objective and honest feedback in order to make your book shine. 

Unfortunately, my recommendation is that you do not trust the opinions of family and close friends. They may not be completely honest assessors of your ability to succeed. They may not want to see you get hurt. They may have an agenda. They may like you just where you are.

Find a writer’s group near you or online. If you have someone who will be straight up with you, you are already ahead of the game. 

Editing and proofreading are also jobs that are too important to be done by you, not so much because you may not be qualified to do it, but because you may not be qualified to do it objectively. It’s your book, you’re too close to it. You need to find and editor and/or a proofreader for your work before it goes out into the world. 

This is actually one of the most difficult tasks in the process and in many cases, the one that will carry the highest expense. Editing and proofreading are such important jobs that you should really hire someone to do it. Thanks to the e-publishing boom, there are lots of vendors offering these services to writers just like you and I. 

When it comes time to find a editor, ask around. If you have friends who have self-published, there’s a good chance they may know someone. Sometimes people are protective of their editors, not wanting them to get too popular lest they raise their rates and lose their availability. I have an editor I like a lot. He’s someone I’ve known for about 20 years so I trust him with my work and I trust him to be honest with me. 

If you really get stuck, I may give you his contact info, but just know he doesn’t work for free. 

Looking for an editor or proofreader can be as easy as an Internet search. You can also find freelance editors at sites like ODesk.com where freelancers hang their shingle looking for gigs. On these sites, you can often put your job up for bids and the editors who have registered have also taken various aptitude tests and their scores are visible on their profiles. 

Whatever you do, try as hard as you can to put your best foot forward. An audience will be your most honest critic. If your book is bad or good, they will let you know. 

Share

Why do you want to publish a book?

self publishingBe honest. Do you want to publish a book to impress people or to make a living as a writer?

If your heart is set on seeing your name on the cover of a book published by a traditional publisher, then go after it with everything you have. Chase it like a dog after a pork chop.

Just realize that today, self-publishing success has become an opportunity to gain the attention of traditional publishers. It’s the new way to fight the crowded bottleneck of all those millions of others out there trying to do the same exact thing. Success in any field doesn’t go unnoticed for too long.

Of course, traditional publishing isn’t without its pitfalls. As an industry facing a great deal of uncertainty, traditional publishers have tightened the reins. New contracts can include provisions that mean less control of your work, and worst-case-scenario, even loss of your copyright regardless of whether or not your book even comes out. Feeling frisky about an education into the horrors faced by writers under contract to publishers? Go visit ThePassiveVoice.com, a site run by a lawyer who has worked in the publishing industry for decades. Often, he highlights the egregious things found in the publishing agreements sent to him by writers under contract. One thing is clear. Publishing is an industry facing drastic shrinkage, where sometimes the most creative work done by the publishers involves dreaming up inventive new ways to upend the writer by the ankles and shake until more money falls out from their pockets.

Regardless, with a publisher behind your book you may even be forced to wait 12 to 18 months to be released. In some cases, books are never released for whatever reason… even after the contracts are signed. This is the pure definition of literary blue balls.

Plus, to make things even more difficult for the writer to make a living doing what they do best, uh, writing…the contract you affix your John Hancock to may prohibit you from, uh, writing anything else. At the very least, you will be under embargo against competing against yourself.

All in exchange for an advance and the hope there will be more royalty checks coming.

How big of an advance? Well, it seems the days of windfall advances to new writers is past history. Today, advances for new writers now average in the mid-five figures and are shrinking faster than Luke Skywalker’s junk after a cold dip in a Degoabah swamp. Now, I realize that a few thousand bucks may represent a life-changing sum of money for some, but it seems a paltry sum to sign away nearly all control of something you devoted so much of yourself to create.

You also have to take into account that your advance is recoupable against future royalties. That means the 8 to 10 percent royalty per unit sold they’ve given you in that contract has to earn back every penny of that advance money before you see another dime. That is if you even get an advance. Some publishers have started to move away from handing out any upfront dough and are instead basing their deals on royalties alone.

In a way, it’s almost like religion. It’ll work out better for you if you have faith there’s a reward at the end.

Yes, dear writer, the deck is stacked against you. However, those awful publishers put up the financial risk and you signed the contract allowing them to do whatever they want.

A deal with a major publisher can open doors for you. Maybe even lead to bigger opportunities. The sad truth is that because publishers release so much content every month, not every one of their books will succeed and not every writer under contract will make a living. Some writers succeed with major publishers and go on to have those careers the rest of us drool over. Most however, do not. That’s the way it has always been.

Can you make a living self-publishing? Yes.

Be your own boss. Write what you want to write. Be on your own schedule. Just remember… if you don’t sell books, you don’t make money.

How much can you make through self publishing your own books?

Possibly the best-known examples of DIY self-publishing success are John Locke and Amanda Hocking. Both were making six figures, monthly, on their self published books. That’s right, hundreds of thousands of dollars a month! Look it up. Both eventually signed big deals with major publishers. Google the term: “self-publishing success” and you’ll find the latest person to use their self-publishing efforts as an audition to land a major book deal — because a writer with an audience and the know-how to make it happen on their own is a much more attractive proposition for a risk-adverse industry. 

The good news is that you don’t have to be today’s buzzed-about indie author to make a decent living at this. Because e-books are being sold today in mind-blowing numbers, you can stay under the radar and still move enough units each month to make a living. It takes luck and perseverance and a growing catalog of content.

Me? I’ve had my own indie publishing imprint since 2005, and have been doing this full time for the last two years. I can tell you it’s thrilling to be able to write what you want, how you want and sell it to book buyers without a middleman screwing everything up or putting their hands in your pocket.

If you could do anything in the world, anything at all, what would it be? Personally, I’d want to do exactly what I’m doing now. The only difference is that it would be from a desk with a view of the beach.  

*****

I’m a full time writer, publisher and digital content creator. I’ve been marking the 8th anniversary of the launch of my indie imprint, Glenneyre Press by sharing some of what I’ve learned about about digital publishing. 

Share

Self Publishing Diary: Two Separate Bestselling Books on Three Lists

Some 4 years after it first came out in print and over 3 years after coming out as a Kindle eBook, WHERE’S MY F*CKING LATTE (and Other Stories About Being An Assistant in Hollywood) has been hitting Amazon’s overall top 100 bestselling books in the top-level category of ENTERTAINMENT. I just noticed this the other day and as you can see, it’s logged 7 days so far (most-likely non-consecutive days) in the top 100.

It’s been my philosophy that each book you release is a seed that eventually has the potential to grow and grow. WMFL has definitely sprouted over the last few years, first parking itself on the sub-category charts for Television and Movies and now making a move onto the overall Entertainment list.

And THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN continues to perform well, again hitting both Amazon’s Non-Fiction bestseller list (33 days so far in the top 100) and Amazon’s History Bestseller list (63 days in the top 100).

 

 

 

Share

More Self Publishing Success: Back on the Nonfiction Bestseller List

 

WOO-HOO! Indie-pendants’ Day in full effect! After dropping off Amazon’s overall Nonfiction Bestseller List a couple of weeks back, THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN has returned with a vengeance, hitting #58. (updated) #55 Amazon is kind enough to tally the number of days you are on any of the significant lists, so this makes 23 DAYS! that my Bin Laden book has been tearing up the charts… Okay, well maybe “tearing up” is a bit of an overstatement,  ”chart invasion” may be more accurate. As an indie author with no agent or publisher, I’m proud of how this book has done and how it continues to be supported by all y’all out there.

And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that a couple of reasonably high-profile Bin Laden books were just released. With more big Bin Laden books on the way, I can’t wait for them to arrive.

AND if that wasn’t cool enough, THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN is STILL on Amazon’s HISTORY Bestseller List where it has lived for the last 49 DAYS!!! I’m also happy to report that TKOBL is still the #1 Bestselling book on MIDDLE EAST HISTORY and the #1 Bestselling book in the sub-category of TERRORISM. It’s actually #3 in the category of ASIAN HISTORY… So again, A HUGE THANKS TO ALL OF YOU for continuing to support my work!

Share