Wordsushi

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

Tag Archive for self-publishing

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. 

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The Beauty of (Indie) Self Publishing

self publishing
An oversimplified way to describe self-publishing is that you upload finished files to certain websites and they in turn download money into your bank account. Everything is done digitally and there’s hardly any overhead. With e-books and POD, there is no warehousing or product fulfillment.

Just files and royalties.

One of the major ways you succeed in the modern age of content distribution is through disintermediation—taking out the middleman. By having the ability to go right to the customer via a distribution network like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, I not only keep more control over my products, but also pocket more profit.

Truth is there is no ceiling on how much you can make. You are only limited by your potential.

How cool would it be to make enough to pay for a family vacation? Or make your car payment every month? Ask any writer. There is no sweeter money than a royalty check for your book sales.

Before we go too far down this yellow brick road, let’s be clear with one thing when it comes to self-publishing. You need to know it will be a labor of love at first.

The hardest thing in the world is going from zero to one mile per hour. Making regular money doing anything creative requires a certain amount of momentum. If you are starting from scratch, i.e., you have never published a book, or anything else, and you have never created anything for the internet and don’t currently have a following or audience, you really do have your work cut out for you for sure.

You can’t go into this with the expectation that you are going to publish your first book to the Kindle and the money will start pouring in. It takes time and effort to build a successful publishing platform.

Let’s set some expectations. What are your lofty goals? If you want to make a living, you have to start somewhere.

How about selling 100 copies of your book to begin with?

That would be a “win” in indie publishing. What else would be a win? Remember victories are relative.

  • A win is any time you can look at a positive outcome from your efforts that in some way moves the needle, no matter what that needle is.
  • A win is releasing your first book
  • A win is selling the first copy of your first book.
  • A win is hitting any bestseller chart for the first time
  • A win is hitting #1 on any bestseller chart anywhere.

You want to make money doing this, right? Remember, a few books a day adds up. If you can put yourself in a position where each book sale will net you 2 bucks in profit, then what happens if you sell 5 copies a day, every day for a whole month?

What if you could sell 5 on Amazon. 1 on BN, 2 in the iBookstore, 1 on Kobo… all of a sudden, that’s 9 or 10 books a day…

$20 a day, 30 days = $600

You can build on that momentum and hopefully turn 5 copies a day into 7 and then 10 and then 20, 30, 50 and more. That’s how you make money self-publishing. You may not recoup your investment in a book for a while. It may take months or longer, but once you can go into the black, it’s all profit from there.

Just from uploading some files. That’s the beauty of self-publishing.

March 2013 marks the 8th anniversary of the launch of my indie publishing imprint, Glenneyre Press, an indie publishing imprint I started in 2005 with zero experience and lots of preconceived notions… which were wrong. Since 2011, it has been my full time gig. 

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Where’s My F*cking Latte – 5 Years and Counting on the Bestseller List!

WMFL - 5 years square banner

Five years ago, I realized Amazon had bestseller lists, which was cool enough, but then when I realized I was on them, that was the coolest. This week, I am very happy to celebrate half a decade on those lists and my greatest achievement as a publisher so far.

Back on January 8, 2008, I was a bit surprised to realize that my crazy little book of Hollywood assistant stories, “Where’s My F*cking Latte” had been sitting on a pair of bestseller lists on Amazon. Five years later, it’s still there near the top having spent nearly all of 2011 and part of 2012 at #1.

In the last five years, “Where’s My F*cking Latte” has withstood competition from all the major publishers and a list of celebrity authors that rivals the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Even the ones that take the top spot for a while fade away, but Latte still remains near the top. I can tell you that in the time that I have been watching these charts no other indie book has come close to the success that Latte has had.

WMFL has definitely paved the way for my other bestselling books and I can report that my other big non-fiction books, “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden”, “Fatal Sunset” and “Tearing Down The Wall” have all been their respective bestseller lists every week since their release. Writing and publishing this book helped me launch my imprint and has helped define its success in the 8 years Glenneyre Press has been in existence. Latte definitely changed my life for the better and I’m thrilled to celebrate 5 amazing years.

Here’s to the next 5!

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Self Publishing Diary: We Sold A Lot of Books This Past Holiday Season

Just a quick note thanking all of  you out there who bought my books in 2011. I have to say that months of planning and positioning for the holiday ebook buying rush worked out even better than expected.  I’m happy to announce that Glenneyre Press, my little indie publishing company  had an incredible holiday season. Simply put: we sold a LOT of books… even more than I expected.

Even back in 2005 when I founded Glenneyre Press, the writing was on the wall (so to speak). It was obvious things the winds of change were blowing in the publishing industry and I felt it was a perfect time to get in and start experimenting with ways to disrupt the norm. We put out some P.O.D. paperback books via Amazon and other online sales channels, got some mainstream attention thanks to Access Hollywood, caught the eye of some folks in NYC’s vaunted publishing community and became profitable by 2008. But it wasn’t until the ebook revolution came calling that things really got serious.

It was right after seeing our sales numbers from the 2010 holiday season that I realized exactly how quickly ebook publishing would become the most explosive platform available for me to exploit what it is that I do. By the end of February, I made a critical decision to make Glenneyre Press my full-time focus. By March, I had begun to put the pedal to the metal.

The Kindle, the Nook… these weren’t “devices.” No, they were platforms.

In April, “Where’s My F*cking Latte” had climbed to #1 on Amazon’s Kindle best seller list for books about Television. To date, it’s bee atop that list ever since. In July, “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden” became Amazon’s #1 book on terrorism and, in a very short time, sold incredibly well, becoming an Amazon non-fiction best seller in the process.

All in all, Glenneyre Press released twelve titles in 2011, five of which spent some time on  Kindle sub-category best seller lists. Other titles spent time on various best seller lists for Nook and iBooks titles. Not bad for a tiny company like us, I think.

But the main focus had always been to begin building up the catalog for the holiday buying rush I knew would happen. I knew the more back catalog we had out, the more Kindle, Nook and iBooks downloads we could sell. I watched the sales numbers start to track higher starting with the first night of Hannukah.

Then came Christmas day.

December was a record-breaking month for Glenneyre Press. We sold more ebooks (and physical books) than any other time in the company’s history. The week between Christmas and New Year’s was incredible. Amazon announced record ebook sales and  my push to be ready for the holidays really panned out.

We didn’t need to raise the profile of the company that much. All we had to do was be in the water when the epic wave hit. The sales rankings of our books stayed about the same, but the daily sales numbers exploded. That alone, told me all I needed to know.

And as many devices and ebooks were sold last year, it’s going to pale compared to what’s coming for December 2012, so you better believe we’re going to be gunning to have lots more titles ready by then. With the books we have planned, this year we go into our next phase… because I believe there’s still plenty of vertical growth yet to come.

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Self Publishing Diary: Three Different Books on Bestseller Lists

I have often told people that I think of publishing an eBook as planting a seed. One that can grow into something and keep growing for the months and years to come. In July, I noticed that I had two books on bestseller lists at the same time. Last night, I noticed that three very different books of mine were all on Kindle bestseller lists.
Go Forth and Kick Some Ass is again on the Kindle bestseller list for CREATIVITY! Yes! It’s been slowly picking up steam again. I’m thrilled about this because even though some may think it’s a bit cocky for me to write a “self help” book, this was a product of several sermons I gave as the “Rev. MYN” (Yes, I actually am an ordained minister believe it or not). I’d rather think of it as a book on how to channel your best work no matter what you do. I’ve often had people asking me about how to get motivated creatively, so I decided to put it all in an easy-to-digest ebook. I’m working on a follow-up to “Go Forth” which will be made up of those original Rev. MYN sermons. Look for it soon.

The Killing of Osama Bin Laden continues to sell regularly. It’s been at the top or near top of the TERRORISM list since it’s release in May. It’s a short book and a very concise telling of how we got Bin Laden. Part detective story, part tech thriller and part Bruckheimer action blowout. I’m proud to say that this was the VERY FIRST book on Bin Laden’s death published anywhere in the world and has sold many, many thousands of copies across the globe. Though the popularity of the topic has waned a bit, it was such a major historic event that I feel it will continue to sell copies every day for a very long time… and no, at this time I have no plans on writing a book about how Ghadaffi was killed… but only because I don’t think the last chapter of that story has been told yet.

For me, publishing is a long tail business and Where’s My F*cking Latte taught me that firsthand. This is a book that first came out in paperback in 2007, then for the Kindle in 2008 and then by 2009, started inching up the Kindle bestseller list for TELEVISION. For the most part it has sat at #1 on that list for the last 3 months. Just lately, it’s crawled up to the top of the MOVIES bestseller list as well. I’m happy to say that, at least for the moment, it’s #1 on both lists. I’m even outselling Roger Ebert’s book!  Not bad for an indie.

In actuality, Where’s My F*cking Latte is on 3 different Amazon bestseller lists: Kindle bestsellers for Movies and Television and Amazon’s overall bestseller list for all books (ebooks and print) for Television (currently #6)

The Killing of Osama Bin Laden is also on 3 different Amazon bestseller lists: Kindle books for Terrorism, Middle East and also for all books on Afghanistan (Yes, there’s a list for that! LOL)

So that’s SEVEN, count ‘em 7, bestseller lists that these three books currently sit on. Books that I don’t really actively promote much, if at all. Am I stoked? Hell yes!

Bottom line. eBooks are seeds that, once planted, can grow into mighty oaks. It may take weeks, months or even years… but once that book is out there, it can continue to pick up an audience for a very long time.

 

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Self Publishing Diary: True Believers Wanted

Companies, by nature, are profit-friendly and risk averse, preferring to invest resources into “branded” properties. Common sense dictates that better-branded properties will be more successful. This, however is not always the case. Just look at the box office any given weekend and you’ll see something underperform its expectations.

New releases by branded artists benefit greatly from the hype they generate. Hype is the launchpad for monetization. However hype is an elusive state that is almost always temporary. Hype burns fast and dies away just like lighting a whole pack of matches at once.

The only way to keep that flame going would be to light another pack of matches from the first. Continue lighting pack after pack after pack. Who in their right mind would do that?

People who were dedicated to keeping the flame alive. True believers. A cult.

Indie publishers (like me) don’t have the resources to generate instant hype. My marketing budget isn’t spent with dollars but with time. I post here on Wordsushi, I throw a few tweets out from the @MYN Twitter account. I post on my Facebook profile. Lately, I created my first video book trailer with no budget, just using a great voice over I already had and some free stock footage and a bit of creativity.

Is it working? So far, yes.

With my next round of ebook releases, I’m striving to create and further some cult-worthy franchises that you, the faithful reader will hopefully not only enjoy, but also help further fan the flames for.

Up next, will be SHADOW FALLS: ANGEL OF DEATH, the sequel to SHADOW FALLS: BADLANDS (and as some call it, the third installment of the Shadow Falls saga if you include the original audio drama series).

What some of you already know is that ANGEL OF DEATH and BADLANDS are part of a larger body of work that I’ve been calling THE ANGEL OF DEATH CHRONICLES.

Soon after, I will be releasing two separate ebook versions of TRANSISTOR RODEO. Unlike some of my edgier, blood-soaked tales, TR is a very kid-friendly kinetic adventure about a robot rodeo that goes haywire and runs amok in the city of Los Angeles and the very human broken down cowboy who has to not only save the day but save his young son from danger. The first version will be just text but those of you who heard the serialized audio podcast version will remember the original music score I wrote to go along with it. The second version of TR will be an enhanced ebook that includes sections of the more than 3 hours of cinematic music I wrote, played and a produced.

And yes, there is much, much more on tap including the sequel to DIARY OF A MADMAN and lots of other wild and entertaining books I’m currently developing. As always, I look forward to your thoughts and I continue to be humbled by your support. Let’s keep that flame burning!

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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).

 

 

 

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Read Colin Barnes’ Article on How our Book “Killing My Boss” Came About

Back in the early 2000s a group of authors began podcasting their novels. Mark was one of them, and very successful he was too. I was writing some bits and pieces at the time, and Mark along with a couple of other authors (Scott Sigler and Matt Selznick) were my inspiration to get it finished. I did attempt to podcast the novel, but realised it wasn’t my calling. I much preferred writing to recording, so I continued to follow with interest the progress of these early trailblazers and I kept on writing, getting a little lost along the way, as well as myriad mental issues.

It was when Mark started podcasting non-fictional ‘sermons’ as Reverend MYN that I began to have an on-going discourse with him. He raised many salient points about the problems of pursuing creative passions, and how to find one’s calling. His advice and experiences hit a nerve with me and we became ‘internet pals’ sharing information and conversation on the subject via email and facebook.

 

Read the rest of Colin’s Article over at his blog

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