Self-publishing–From the Trenches by Lindsay Buroker

Today I am pleased to host a guest post by my online pal Lindsay Buroker. I met Lindsay on the Online Writers Workshop (OWW) when she critiqued one of my chapters for Miserere. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her better through Twitter and Facebook, and I love the articles she posts on her blog about how writers can promote their works online. She is a great source of well-written practical advice.

Lindsay has been a lifeguard, a Taco Bell grunt, and a soldier in the U.S. Army, but by the time she (finally) finished her degree in “Culture, Literature, and Arts,” she had decided she didn’t want to work for anyone else. She has made her living online as a blogger, affiliate marketer, and consultant for almost ten years now.

She lives in the Seattle area with a couple of dogs. She enjoys playing tennis, taking yoga, hiking and snowshoeing and spends entirely too much money on lattes at coffee shops (one of her favorite writing places). She loves to hang out with writers, sports enthusiasts, and gardeners, not usually at the same time. 

You can find informative posts on ebooks at her website and read about her novels at Lindsay Buroker Fantasy Novels or you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

She is also an author of two ebooks, The Emperor’s Edge (available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords) and Encrypted (available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords).

Not sure you want to buy? Check out Lindsay’s free ebook, Ice Cracker II at either Barnes and Noble or Smashwords.

I hope you enjoy Lindsay’s post:

Self-publishing–From the Trenches

by Lindsay Buroker

If you haven’t seen someone toting a Kindle, iPad, Nook, or other e-reading device around lately, you’ve probably been living in a self-contained, subterranean dwelling for the last couple years. Fortunately, you’re on the surface now and reading Teresa’s blog.

Whether you’re a fan of ebooks or still prefer the dead-tree variety, you have to admit there’s a growing market for novels, novellas, short stories, and non-fiction that is digitally available. This offers a great opportunity for those who are interested in taking their destinies in their own hands (that’s code for busting their butts learning how to publish and promote online). Many authors are turning away from mainstream publishers in favor of going the “indie” route. I’m one of them.

I published my first novel, The Emperor’s Edge, just before Christmas, and my second, a science-fantasy romance called Encrypted, in the middle of January. (No, I don’t write that quickly–I just had these stories collecting dust on my hard drive while I tried to work up the enthusiasm to start querying agents.)

As I write this blog post in early February, I’ve sold about three hundred copies of my ebooks. That’s a long ways from being a bestseller, but I’ve been impressed at how quickly I’ve been able to go from one or zero sales a day to ten or more. My goal is to e-publish a couple more novels this year and to average 1,000 sales a month by Christmas 2011 (more would be acceptable also).

For those who are wondering how much indie ebook authors make, I’m selling my novels at $2.99 a piece, and I get to keep about 70% of that (it differs a bit, depending on the retailer, but that’s about average). I haven’t made enough to cover the initial costs of hiring an editor and a covert art designer yet, but that shouldn’t take long.

You get to set the price as an indie, so you can sell your ebooks for $0.99 all the way up to $199 (I doubt you’ll get many takers at $200 a pop though!). One of the great things about e-publishing is an indie can compete with the mainstream publishers. That’s not true with print-on-demand where self-published paperbacks end up costing much more than their traditional counterparts. With ebooks, you can sell your novels at the same price point as the big boys, or much lower, and still make a profit.

Considering most us go into the publishing world without an established fan base, it’s advantageous to be able to set low prices to attract folks who might not otherwise try an unknown author. I’m grateful to all the readers who have given my ebooks a try thus far. There’s definitely a stigma associated with self-publishing.

Fortunately people can download samples to try before they buy. If you’re a fan of high fantasy or steampunk, you can try 50% of The Emperor’s Edge at Smashwords. You dark fantasy folks may be interested in trying Encrypted, though my sense of humor keeps things from staying too dark for too long. Just because there’s a pile of ravaged corpses in the room and possessed soldiers trying to break in doesn’t mean you can’t stop to banter, right?

As you can tell, I’m excited about the e-publishing revolution and the possibilities of being an indie author right now. I’ll be the first to admit, however, this route may not be for everyone. I’ll do a little breakdown here to try and put things in perspective:

E-publishing may be right for you if . . .

  • You’ve already done the rounds, querying agents and submitting to publishers. You may have gotten a “close but not quite for us,” but your genre or story just isn’t wooing any of the gatekeepers.
  • You’re like me and you’re too impatient or disillusioned to try the traditional route. Maybe you love the idea of finishing a novel, having it edited, and putting it online for people to buy before you’ve even finished brainstorming the next project.
  • You’re not intimidated by the idea of learning how to promote your work online. Maybe you already have a blog and/or a large social media following. You know you’ll have to do a little work each day on book promotion if you expect to break even and make money at this.
  • You’re already an author who has had the rights revert back to you on out-of-print titles, and you’re looking for a way to make some extra cash from those books (lots of authors are in this situation and starting to make good money with their old titles!).

E-publishing Isn’t Going to be Right for You if . . .

  • You’re not interested in ebooks or the “e-publishing revolution.” You want to have your novels on your local bookstore shelf, and you’re willing to put in the work to achieve that.
  • You can’t imagine finding the time to maintain a blog or promote your ebooks online. (Although, from what I hear, most agents/editors expect you to do this even if you do get picked up by a big publisher.)
  • Your snooty writer friends will mock you if you self-publish. ;-)

I hope you’ve found this post interesting, entertaining, or both. You can find out more about my fantasy novels on my e-publishing blog, where I talk about book promotion, blogging, and the life of an indie author.

If you’re interested in giving my novels a try, you can grab them at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in addition to Smashwords.

Thanks again to Lindsay for her article. If you have a question or comment about self-publishing, leave it in the comments and Lindsay will be happy to answer your questions!

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7 Responses to Self-publishing–From the Trenches by Lindsay Buroker

  1. GLYNIS SMY says:

    Interesting post. I am finding more and more of my writer friends are turning to self-epublishing.
    Some are being epublished by publishers prior to their paperback release.

  2. Kelly Bryson says:

    Author Joe Konrath is another huge advocate of self e pubbing- his point is that with the lower price point you can make more money and sell way more books. He put up a list a few weeks ago of authors who are “making it” on their own.

    I must say, it’s tempting. I really want a hardcover, though. And I fear Teresa would make fun of me to no end! :) Thanks for sharing!

  3. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for posting this, Teresa, and thank you for the comments Glynis and Kelly. Good luck with the hard cover! :)

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  5. I’ve read some wonderful selfpublished books – but I admit all of my reading so far has been on “hand held paper books” – although, I’m on the verge of buying a Kindle, just right on the verge, so I suppose that would open me up to more ebooks.

    I went with a small press, and i’m happy with t hem -that’s another option for writers to think about if they want to bypass an agent, or even sometimes when writers have an agent a smaller press works best.

    Good luck with your books!

  6. Nancy West says:

    This is a very useful post for me because I’m already sold on the benefits of self-publishing in hard-copy form but hadn’t given much thought to doing an ebook version as well. Now I think I will look into it. I wrote this blog post on why I’m glad I self-published:

    http://writingrunningraisingkids.blogspot.com/2011/01/self-publishing-not-my-first-choice-but.html

  7. Thanks for posting this, Teresa! More and more authors are self-publishing e books these days and doing well.

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