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Are Indie Authors Devaluing Books? By ALLi Community Builder, Melissa Foster

are self publishers pricing too cheapAre your books priced at 0.99c? Are you skipping out on editing or in too much of a hurry to press publish?  You are devaluing not just your own work but all self-publishing writers, argues Alliance Community Builder, Melissa Foster.

Yes, I’m an indie author. Yes, I support indie authors, and I also support traditionally published authors. Yes, I worry about losing followers who don’t agree with me, but I worry more about not getting this information out to others so they can make intelligent and informed decisions about their careers. There, now that that is out of the way, let us proceed.

Self-published authors have created a devaluing of the written word, and, they’re scrambling to see how low they can go to get noticed.  That’s a generalization – there are many self-published authors who polish their work and brand with value and many positive sides to self-publishing – but I’ve noticed a trend in the indie arena, and it’s not a good one.

  • 99-cent price point for ebooks
  • KDP Select program (free ebooks)
  • Unedited books/ebooks
  • Gimmicks for sales and reviews (Kindle giveaways, etc.)
  • Nasty reviews from other authors with the sole purpose of driving down ratings

Why has this scenario developed? I believe it is caused by mismanaged expectations. Many self-published authors hear about the outliers who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they’ll do anything to try and reach that pinnacle. The Guardian recently reported that the average amount earned by DIY authors last year was just $10,000 (£6,375) – and half made less than $500.

Our recent poll of indie authors who have 2 or less 99-cent ebooks on the market found 75% of authors selling less than 100 ebooks per month at that rate, with 46% selling less than 10 ebooks per month.

So what can be done about this devaluing of the written word? How can self-published authors maintain value for our work? How to we help make self-publishing, as a whole, shine and earn as respectable a reputation as traditionally published books?

Goals of self-published authors vary. Some dream of wealth, while others simply want to get their stories read. Some writers are now afraid to self-publish because of the reputation that self-published works are garnering—when you look outside of the few that make it big, there is a lot of low-quality work.

Figure out your goals, and then figure out the best way to get there without risking quality or undervaluing your time, energy, and end product.

  • Work together, not against each other. Authorship is not a competitive sport. Yes, we’d all like to be number 1 but disparaging others and undercutting prices is not the way to gain that success. Don’t try to split the “tribes”—find the value in one “writers tribe” and work as a united group to help each other succeed.
  • Publish only professionally edited work. Give readers the quality they deserve, even if it means waiting a year while you save the money for an editor. Publishing unedited work hurts the reputation of indie authors as a whole.
  • Price your book appropriately. Place a fair market value on your work. Readers deserve a polished piece of work, regardless of the price (yes, even at ¢0.99. Invest in polishing your work and demand a fair market price. This article by Dean Wesley Smith is dead-on with regard to pricing.
  • Get rid of the gimmicks. If you are trying to sell your books, don’t offer a chance to win a Kindle for the purchase of a $2.99 ebook. You might gain a few more sales, but not necessarily more readers. Another issue is giving away Kindles and gift cards in exchange for reviews.  Using these gimmicks will likely garner dishonest reviews by people who haven’t read your book. We call these “freebie trollers.” Garnering  reviews takes time. Instead of offering freebies, when a reader tells you they’ve enjoyed your book, suggest leaving a review and explain to them that reviews help other readers decide if they should take a chance on authors they have not yet read. No quick fix, but a building of relationships.
  • Work smarter, not cheaper. Growing a readership takes hard work, determination, and above all else, a very good book. Rather than looking for the fastest sales possible, work toward producing the best work that you can, then work with people who will help you promote your work. Find those you believe in and help them do the same. Expand your readership umbrella by working with a community of support.
  • How can you get noticed with over 1 million ebooks published each year? Work on developing your platform. Write more awesome books. Build relationships with readers. Stop looking for the quick fix and put some effort into the process of being worth reading and letting people know why.

We, as independent authors create the energy around us as a community. If you drive price and quality down, it’s easy for readers to lump us into a group and ignore us all. Each of us, has the power to succeed and if quality and value is what we want to see in the indie world, then we, as a collective group, must work together to achieve it.

Follow Melissa on PinterestTwitter, Facebook and visit her website.  Read her extended piece on self-publishers devaluing publishing at Huffington Post today.

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45 Responses to Are Indie Authors Devaluing Books? By ALLi Community Builder, Melissa Foster

  1. Thom Reece October 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Great read, Mellisa… and spot on. This needed to be said and serves as a great reminder to all indie authors that we are all in this together and we need to nurture our nests… not foul it.

    Anything that serves to diminish the perception of quality on the part of our readers, damages all indie writers. Taken to the extreme it will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Write the best quality books you can… have them professionally edited for excellence. You’ll be proud of your creation and you will make more money.

    Thom Reece

    • Melissa Foster October 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

      Thank you, Thom. Yes, it was a risk writing this article, but I believe knowledge is power, and new authors may not realize they have choices and options, and avenues of marketing other than free and 99 cents.

  2. Enid Richemont October 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    I’m disenchanted with indie publishing at present, but then, I’m not, strictly speaking, indie, but engaged in re-publishing my out of print backlist of children’s titles, all of them professionally edited and very well reviewed (Walker Books/Simon&Schuster etc etc).

    I was hoping to build a reader base from which I could launch some of my unpublished work, including two adult novels, but Amazon Kindle sales have been abysmal, and don’t really make much sense either… USA + India – 5 sales??

    • Melissa Foster October 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

      Enid, that is what happens to many, many authors. I do give a marketing course for authors through Fostering Success, and we offer many outreach programs and cross-promotional opportunities at the World Literary Cafe. You might try to take advantage of those opportunities to meet others and help spread the word for your book.

  3. Philip Catshill October 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    Great article that I fully agree with. I still cannot understand why writers have rushed headlong into the Kindle Select program -although I am grateful that they have as I now have five hundred and three free books to read which will keep me reading for at least ten years, all for free! I used to spend between two and five hundred pounds a year on books. YES I have a FREE Ebook on Smashwords and Amazon.com, but mine is a permanently free introduction to my novels. It is equivalent to the free 30% sample – so I am not losing anything by giving it away. All the avid readers in my family now own Kindles and in the days of paper books, we would have been contributing a four figure sum to the publishing industry – but now that authors happily undervalue their efforts, we do not pay a single penny – and authors boast that their books are high on the free book list!

    • Melissa Foster October 24, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      I had to smile, Phil, because our loss is your gain, and you are saying exactly what I have said above. Thank you, and it’s a scenario that is not likely to go away because desperation is at a high with indies and sales are not. One day, though, in my dream of all dreams, I see authors stepping up to the plate with quality and then demanding a fair market price for their work. Baby steps:-)

      Enjoy your free reads!

  4. Heidi Angell October 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Great point! I figure with every book I publish, I am creating content that I can sell for years to come. Of course, I can only do so if I get high reviews and build a following. If I put out a poorly published book, then that will not occur. Time and patience. I was mortified to hear about authors giving false bad reviews. Made me so very sad. I give away dozens of my books for free, but I give it to influencers, Book reviewers, people who will garner me potential sales and create some buzz. I refuse to participate in Amazon’s exclusivity program for oh so many reasons, but mostly because I want to get my book out there to as many people in as many formats as possible.

    • Melissa Foster October 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

      Heidi, congratulations on your writing, and it sounds like you have a great strategy.

  5. Pam October 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Wow! I think you were talking about me. However, I do try to put out quality novels; but my proofers are only human, and although I trust them, I have learned that once they are finished I need to go over it again.

    The way your article applies to me is my desperte attempt to market my work. You are correct about the $.99 books not actually working out. I have been trying it for some of my work that was written for a market that dropped its word count significantly while I was writing for them. Rather than condense the work that had been good, a few months ago I decided they were too long for short stories, and too shore for novels. So I call them quick reads.

    Yes, I guess you would call that a stunt. In any case, the result is the actual paperback is way overpriced compared to my longer work. I doubt I would spend that much on a novel unless I was rolling in dough, which I am not. I actually fall pretty close to the numbers you reported in your article.

    I have tried the stunts to sell books. I’ve offered specials and Kindle contests. And just as you said, it didn’t pay off in the end.

    However, since I have stopped doing any of those “stunts,” something has happened. I’ve begun getting some good reviews, from people I believe are actually reading my work. Some have actually been in touch to find out when my next novel in a series will be out. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Maybe I should practice what I preach to beginning writers about patience.

    In any case, I believe Ms. Foster is right on target with this article. My compliments to her — even if I think she was writing about me.

    • Melissa Foster October 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      Hi Pam, can you see my grin? Congratulations! That’s what it takes–stepping back, stop trying to sell, and try to write more, write higher quality, and engage with readers. I’m thrilled for you and appreciate your vote of confidence.

  6. Joanne Phillips October 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    I agree with some of what you said in this post, Melissa, and most of the comments above, but there are a couple of things I have to take issue with. First, the statement that authorship is not a competitive sport. Maybe not, but publishing is. Selling books is a business like any other, and to tell fellow authors we’re not in competition with each other is flawed. We can be mutually supportive, and should always behave ethically and not resort to cut-throat tactics, but we are all pursuing the one thing which will bring us in front of readers – discoverability.

    Which brings me on to promotions and what you call gimmicks. KDP Select, although it has enormous faults, is a valuable tool for the new indie author, and it’s wrong to put people off using this out of some egalitarian viewpoint. My debut novel sold over 3,000 copies on the back of a free promo – without it my book (professionally edited and proofread and perfectly formatted for Kindle, and priced at $2.99) would never have had the push to be visible in the Amazon bestsellers list – this way loads of readers downloaded it and loved it.

    Publishing is competitive. Promotions work. How are the options available to indie authors worse than publishers paying through the nose for 3 for 2 offers? Why don’t you have a pop at traditional publishers for devaluing books by printing thousands of copies and then having to pulp or remainder the ones they don’t sell. I agree 100% with producing a quality product, but once this is done we become publishers and book sellers, not merely authors.

    • Melissa Foster October 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

      Hi Joanne, thanks for your note. I think free can run your sales up afterwards, without a doubt, but you are knocking out entire groups of readers. Nook and other ereaders are excluded, you can’t hit the NYT or USA Today bestseller list if you are only on Amazon, either. So pushing new authors who don’t yet know their potential sales or their potential audience into exclusivity is probably not a great stance to take either. Darcie Chan never would have made the “lists” had she taken up the Select avenue, and that’s what got her a great publishing deal–granted she’s primarily a 99 cent author, but she’s working to change that with recent price variations.

      As for traditionally published books–I’m not traditionally published, so I don’t feel that’s an article that I could write as well as someone who has spent time inside those gates.

      I disagree about authoring being competitive, but we are certainly allowed to disagree with each other. I don’t see other authors as competition. I see readers as my audience, and I simply strive to reach them while helping other authors do the same. If another author passes me in my genre, and many that I have helped have soared past me, I applaud them. But then, maybe that’s where we differ.

      • Joanne Phillips October 25, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

        I think it’s very divisive of you to suggest that we differ in applauding success in fellow indie authors, and actually not very supportive of you. I’m hugely supportive of my fellow authors, on my blog, on Twitter and Facebook – and I don’t do this to raise my own platform, I do it because I love to see fantastically talented authors do well. I also agree that the Select programme’s exclusivity is a major problem, and people should go into it with their eyes wide open.

        Where we differ is maybe that I support an indie author’s right to do it their way, whatever that way may be. 99c price points, free promos, giveaways – isn’t it more supportive to say to a fellow author: Hey, if it works for you, go for it. Not everyone is aiming for the NYT bestseller lists. Where we agree is in the view that every indie author should get their work properly edited and proofread and formatted to make it the very best it can be.

  7. Connie Barrett October 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Thanks for a very sound article. My only $.99 book is the first in a trilogy (with one more book projected in the series).

    I would LOVE to see a lot more discussion about KDP Select. I download free books from the program, but (maybe like a lot of people) I read only a small percentage. Sometimes this is because the writing or story are poor but often because I don’t have time to read everything on my Kindle. Basically, I’m much more likely to read a book I paid for.

    I have difficulty in seeing Select as anything other than a losing strategy for authors.

    • Melissa Foster October 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

      It’s a limiting strategy for sure, and it’s a tool that authors are relying on to sell books rather than putting in the time and energy to grow a readership and build relationships. Many have jumped ship from Select, and many will remain. It will be interesting to see what the “next big thing” is that Amazon has in store for us.

      Thanks for your note.

  8. Grace Brannigan October 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Good article. I did try Select on my first book out, but then gave up on it. It boosted sales just a tad and then kind of disappeared. I’m also in the romance category which is rather huge.

    I now have 6 romances out since April, and each month it’s a steady though small bunch of sales. I utilize Amazon, Smashwords, B&N and Kobo Books, so it’s interesting to see how the sales go.

    With Kobo I’ve been getting into the australia market, which is nice. I change my prices to try and figure out what’s really working. Most of my ebooks are currently $2.99 or $3.99 and neither price seems to be better than the other, I sell at both price points, so I’m keeping them $3.99 at one distributor and $2.99 at the other. So it’s trial and error, I am finding.

    • Melissa Foster October 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

      Hi Grace, congrats on your books! Yes, the follow-up sales after free are diminishing and they’re short termed in any case, a week at most. I think you’re smart to go across platforms and not limit your readership. I tried Select for the borrows when it first came out, then went off of it and before writing this article (and for research for another) went back in to monitor how borrows correlate to sales, and I cannot wait to be released from the confines of the program. Trial and error is always the way, and the market and landscape of our industry changes sometimes weekly, and pricing can change along with that.

  9. James Wilcox October 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    You know Melissa, you make some great points and I couldn’t agree with you more. I recently wrote a guest blog for author C.S. Lakin http://www.livewritethrive.com/2012/10/15/indie-authors-you-cant-go-it-alone/ about how we indie authors can’t go it alone and I learned this from personal experience. I was in such a rush to to print my first two books, just to say I was a published author, that I didn’t do what I needed to do to make the books something readers would want to read. I learned my lesson, fixed the books and republished them. It is an exciting time to be an author, with more publishing possibilities than ever before, but we need to produce quality work or we all suffer,

    • Melissa Foster October 25, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      Thank you James, for commenting and for writing such an insightful article.

  10. John Betcher October 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    You make some excellent points, Melissa.

    About the “no 99 cent” strategy — is that something you believe in strongly? I do. Unless, its a short story or something, 99 cent pricing tells the readers that your book is worth, AT MOST, 99 cents.

    John

    • Melissa Foster October 25, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      Hi John, I think sometimes a 99-cent promotion for a day can work, though I dislike the idea in general. As a permanent pricing structure, yes, I dislike it very much. Two years ago it had a very different impact when used in conjunction with a promotion, and could bring an audience, but with the mass of poor ebooks on the market, it’s turned into a slush pile, of sorts.

  11. Jesse V Coffey October 24, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    I have to confess, I saw the title and came here to have a few choice words about book pricing…and thought better of it. I decided I needed to know what I was talking about first, and read the article. Glad I kept my mouth shut. A very insightful article that’s pretty spot on as far as the real devaluation of the written word.

    I would like to take exception to one of your points and that’s about “the gimmicks.” Marketing anything is always going to be hit or miss, and what works for one author may not work for the next. To disparage the idea of that free kindle is not good advice when I can name authors right now who did offer such things and did quite well in the sales department. It’s all about developing that cult following which turns into steady readers. You can write book after book after book after book, but if you’re not doing some kind of marketing, you’re going to be hard pressed for sales. And sometimes, gimmicks do work. I’ve seen it happen — from a free Kindle to free keychains, etc.

    Although, I do agree with the “payment for reviews” statement. If you’re paying someone to review your book, how can you trust that the review will be honest? Swag should never be used for that purpose. But swag is a valuable commodity in the marketing game.

    • Melissa Foster October 25, 2012 at 11:59 am #

      Hi Jesse, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the article. I’m so glad that you did and that you found it valuable.

  12. Mary Maddox October 25, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    Interesting article. I have a novel enrolled in KDP Select and lately have become disillusioned with free promotions. Overall, I’ve given away at least 20,000 copies of Talion, most of which will not be read. If even one percent of those readers had purchased the novel, its sales numbers would be significantly higher. Moreover, repeated free promotions just encourage readers to delay buying the book and wait for the next giveaway.

    • Melissa Foster October 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      Can I just say, YES, YES, YES. Thank you, Mary. My point, exactly.

  13. Junying Kirk October 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    You’ve made very valid points, Melissa, and I find myself agreeing with you, although I feel as an Indie author, I need to defend some of the choices some of my fellow authors make. Personally, though, I have stuck to my guns – none of my books are on KDP, nor below the price of $2.99 – I did start with a higher price, as I have put so many years of my life into writing them and firmly believe that they deserve better. Yet, the competition has been so fierce – I never thought there would be so many Indie authors and so many books available until I became one, so it was quite a shock and a huge learning curve for me.

    I have given away books though, to friends, of course, and readers on GR etc who really wanted to read my books but didn’t want to pay for them – I’m actually quite surprised at that – If I REALLY REALLY want to read something, then I shall get them by buying – We used to pay for all books, even second-hand ones, but now there is a culture of getting books for nothing and near to nothing! Crazy! Readers are spoilt – if I were simply a reader, I think I can read for a few lifetimes without ever paying for one, and all I need to do is to write a review once in a while to guarantee that :)!

    Reviews are great, and when I give away books, I would tell my readers that if you feel like doing on on finishing my book, I’d appreciate it, because it’s rewarding to be told that your book touched someone or informed them of something they did not know before. However, I always stressed that fact that they were not obliged to do it – Nobody has a book which everyone enjoys and personally I’d hate to write a review for a book I didn’t enjoy, or worse, could not finish!

    Yes, professional editing and providing the best quality product possible – even though I write in British English (with a bit of Chinese influence, I’m sure) and I use American beta-readers and editor – at least they are all native English speakers, right :)?!

    It’s turning out to be a long rant, so I’ll stop here for now.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Melissa Foster October 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

      Hi Junying, thank you for your comment (not at all a rant). I agree with all you’ve said, and congrats to sticking to your guns. Everyone is learning right now, and I’m just sharing info for those who are interested.

      BTW, this statement makes me want to read your book, “I write in British English (with a bit of Chinese influence, I’m sure)” – I want to see how culture/language influences your writing. It sounds like it could be quite marvelous and refreshingly different.

      • Junying Kirk October 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

        Thanks for your kind words, Melissa. I do try to highlight the cultural differences between the East and West, and one of my recent reviewers commented that I shone and sparkled when describing the Chinese culture ( she also said that it read typically British, and even a bit of Bourne movie), with which I’m very proud of :)I

        If you do want to check out my books, I’d say try Land of Hope, which is the final of my trilogy, but can be read as a stand-alone. I’m in the middle of rewriting my first two books as I want my Journey to the West trilogy as my legacy – I’d like to think that people will still be reading my books long after I am gone :)

        I shall certainly check out your books – they have fantastic reviews :).

        • Melissa Foster October 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

          Thank you. I wasn’t vying for you to read mine (promise!). But I will be reading Land of Hope, and if I enjoy it, I’m always looking for a great read for my book club. I’ll let you know. Thanks for stopping by and posting.

  14. Dan Meadows October 26, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    Nice piece summing up some of the major issues facing indie publishing. I do, however, find myself disagreeing on several points, but that’s what I think is one of the great things about the changes we’re all dealing with, there’s ample opportunity for multiple approaches where only a few years ago, there was basically only one way to reach readers. I think price is a consequence of significantly smaller overhead in many cases, not simply a marketing issue. Put simply, I, as an independent can afford to sell at low-end prices. I’m not on board, either, with full book-length works regularly priced at 99 cents, especially with Amazon because the royalty rates get punitive at that price point (relatively, of course. Show me a trad published author who wouldn’t wet themselves at the notion of a 35% royalty). But as much as I like D.W. Smith, I think his pricing notions are on the wrong side of the scale. Who’s buying $3 short stories? To me, that kind of pricing is a quick way to making sure a writer with few sales and little following stays that way.

    Free, too, has its uses, but I think it’s pretty counterproductive if you’ve only got one book. I always thought the immediate sales bump people were seeing on Amazon was a little fishy and I’m not surprised it’s slowed considerably. To me, free is a long-view strategy. There’s bunches of free books floating around on ereaders out there. It takes times for them to be absorbed. Expecting immediate results seems unrealistic at best. One of my main issues is with the notion of marketing. I’m suspecting that discoverability problems don’t have as much to do with the volume of material our there as it does with the fact that many of us, myself included, still think of marketing in 20th century terms, basically ignoring technological possibilities because they aren’t readily transferable from our brick and mortar marketing ideals to digital. Basically, I’m just not sure any of the marketing possibilities I’ve seen commonly touted actually work in our 21st century environment. What we need, I believe, is entirely new mechanisms as yet undetermined, not simply translated older ones.

    And don’t get me started on editors. I have a tenuous relationship with the notion of the necessity of professional editing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully on board with producing the best possible product, and one thing I swear by is something I learned on my first magazine gig many moons ago, it’s always better to have multiple sets of eyes go over any piece prior to publication. My issue is with the seeming lionization of the editor I see in many places. Being a professional one myself, I’m not convinced an editor brings significantly more to the table than a good beta-reader or two and a simple proofreader. I’m of the opinion that the idea of the writer as being incapable of handling the editing for their own work is a construct of the publishing industry designed to reinforce their necessity to the process and infantalize writers to an extent. It’s become so ingrained in the culture now that most writers don’t even consider it, let alone put in the effort to develop the necessary skills to do it. I can tell you from first hand experience, and that of dozens of writers I’ve worked with, there are a lot of just flat-out bad editors out there. I do believe a bad editor is capable of doing more damage to a piece than a good one can provide benefits. At the very least, writers need to be extremely cautious when choosing one and never forget they’re in control of the relationship. But, like almost everything else in this new era, there’s room for all kinds of possibilities. The key, I believe is to find what works for you, not just following what worked for someone else. Publishing is no longer a one size fits all world, and I think that’s an exciting, frustrating, scary and thrilling development all at once. It certainly isn’t boring. Keep up the good work.

    • Melissa Foster October 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Hi Dan, thank you for the comment, and you are absolutely right about the onslaught of people who call themselves editors in the last 12 months. Another issue is that editors can make suggestions, but authors don’t have to use the suggestions, causing another issue all together–but that is the definition of retaining creative control.

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to respond. I enjoyed reading your feedback.

  15. Chandler McGrew October 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    I agree with you whole heartedly. You have finally mentioned the elephant in the room. I don’t believe that you will succeed in convincing even 1% of the authors stampeding into the arena right now, but you make valid points for those who want to listen. I went through the grind before garnering two-two book deals from Bantam Dell, and before that I watched the vanity publishing debacle of the 90s devaluing every self published book.

    But I do believe things will sort themselves out.

    1. Readers are starting to see through books with nothing but five star reviews and are reading reviews from the bottom up.
    2. They also take a moment to read inside the book. The only way I got my first deal was, according to Kate Miciak at Random House, ‘having the best damned opening line she’d read in years.’ for Cold Heart. Had I left out that line what might have happened??
    3. ebook publishers are beginning to spring up who require agented work. This will serve to lend credence to their list.

    I do worry that once talented new authors realize that they need outside assistance like copy-editing and editing however the flood of books will be followed by a flood of ‘editors’. Wasting time and money on an incompetent editor is as bad as no editor at all.

    • Melissa Foster October 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      Thanks for your comment. There is already a flood of “editors” and it has caused all sorts of issues, with authors paying out the nose to unqualified resources. All very good points, thank you for commenting.

  16. H. G. Mewis October 28, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    I agree with the aspect that many writers are rushing to publishing to get a slice of the profits. It can make good writers look bad, but I think intelligent readers will be able to sort through the chaff. Over time, serious writers will rise to the surface, while the rest will disappear like any new trend.

    Now whether or not these people ever loved writing or dreamed of being writers, I don’t know. I suspect many are just taking advantage of the new publishing environment. That being said, I love the freedom it’s given me as I’ve finally been able to publish after years of rejections. I had given up ever being able to write fiction professionally, which is unfortunate because I love it.

    Having spend the last year and a half on my first novel, I can honestly say it’s a long road and shouldn’t be rushed. But it’s worth it. Editing was tedious and finding someone I trusted, even worse, but I wouldn’t have skipped it. The final product is a book I’m proud of and about 98% clean, maybe a few small typos were all missed, but I sure hope not. I think I have it memorized by now, and so do my editor and my readers.

    Along the way, I’ve already built a small following who are looking forward to my first novel’s launch date this week. During the last year, I also read numerous sites on how to market myself and quickly decided against joining Kindle Select. Except for my one short story, which I already had on Kindle. I enrolled that in Select to see what might happen while I sell my 99K novel for $2.99 to start. I’m also offering it in POD for $12.99 which I think is a fair price.

    The great thing is, I’ve already sold on copy of my short story in the UK right after enrolling it in Select yesterday, but I’ll never put my novel in the program. I’m hoping a short run of my short story gets it noticed, but after that, it’s on its own as I’m going to be busy writing my next six ideas. I’m in this for the long run.

    • Melissa Foster November 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, H.G., and congrats on your short story. I’m glad you are taking the time to polish your work.

  17. Rebekka B October 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I have been doing a rather slow burn after reading the previous posts–and I will tell you why.

    I have been working on a book for almost 20 years now, suffering countless rejections and rewrites.

    I have also been through the ‘Sorry, Not for Us’ process a time or two.

    Having been a bookseller myself for five years, I realize that the publishing industry is a BUSINESS, and a business is to make money, however–

    It makes me wonder just how many wonderful stories are out there, never to be read and shared because a traditional publisher/house doesn’t think they are money-makers…compare the percentage of traditionally published books to the percentage of those who are rejected each year. It is mind-boggling.

    While I am all in agreement that a writer must polish, rewrite, polish and rewrite some more until the finish product sparkles, not all of us can afford the luxury of professional editing services. I have worked two jobs to save up enough to get my book published, and I am certain that I am but one of many thousands of people who have put their hears and souls (not to mention countless hours at the keyboard) into their work.

    In reading quite a few ‘freebies’ myself, I have come across a few typos here and there, a few awkward passages…it IS annoying, yes, but this is someone’s labor or love, and I can’t help but think to myself “If Not For the Grace of God Go I”.

    I can overlook these things, because I have been there, AM THERE myself, and to me it’s the IDEA that matters the most–without ideas and dreams we would have no books, no plays–there would be NOTHING.

    Who was it that said (thousands of years ago) ‘There Is Nothing New Under the Sun’–we are all telling the same stories over and over and over again–it’s in the TELLING of them that is the magic. We, as writers, are all a community–writing can be a difficult, solitary profession, and not all of us are lucky (or, sad to say) talented enough to see our labors of love on the bookshelves at Barnes and Noble, but we are all still WRITERS, and that should count for something…

    My opinion, and sorry for the soapbox, but by God, I do feel better now.

    • Melissa Foster November 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      Hi Rebekka, I’m glad you feel better:-) The world of rejections is painful. No doubt about that, but I’m not sure readers are as forgiving as an author who’s been trying to get their book published might be. I have read seething reviews over books with one or two errors, which even traditionally published books seem to have. I agree with your terminology, we are all writers whether or not we are published, and no matter how we are published, in fact, I wrote a blog post about that specific point. But, I do believe that, even though it’s expensive, and maybe bartering might be the way to go, that sending work out for public consumption before it’s edited is not the smartest way to gain a true following. I wish readers were all as forgiving as you:-)

  18. Anthony Lund November 8, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Melissa,

    I think you have got it pretty much down perfectly here.

    I self published a book around three years ago purely because the option was available. It has sold around 100 copies, but i didn’t mind because it was a parody novel I mostly wrote for myself. I didn’t do any promotion (mainly as it is specifically tied to Christmas) so the result was expected.

    My new novel, which was intended as a “proper” book was self published in October. I completed the novel back in 2011 but then spent around a year editing and reviewing it with the help of a few people to prepare it. I feel that if you don’t take the time then it does look like you don’t know what you are doing which is never going to get you dedicated readers.

    I launched the book with the lowest selling price (just under £1 in the UK and I think $1.55 in the US) and have made around 50 sales with nothing more than a few blog posts and a youtube self-made trailer.

    I have always written for the love of writing and creating. I write the things I like to read, so until it becomes my full time profession – which is the ultimate goal one day – I still write for the love of writing rather than income. To me as long as the quality is there, there is no reason not to charge a low cost for Kindle books in particular. The main problem, as you said, is the number of badly written books and how to tell them apart.

  19. Pieter December 5, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    Hi

    Thank you for a very informative article about the industry. Although I agree 100% with your sentiment, we must remember to “play the game” against a traditional publisher cost allot of money. For example $150 to edit 8000 words is not within most indie-writers budget. Therefore your only way is producing something you have edited yourself/a relative and play the game with price. Anyhow dont know if I make any sense.

    Kind Regards
    P

  20. Doug Elerath December 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    I am an unpublished writer. Oh, I could be published – just throw any old dreck out for free. Indeed. I am also an avid reader, and I choose NOT to read self published/indie books because there isn’t enough time in my life to wade through the poor quality to find the few gems. Question is: How might the indie world establish a quality measure that readers can trust? For me, that is the value of an agented book and corporate publisher – vetting.

    So many indie authors are in business as vanity writers, or only to make a few hundred bucks, that until there is an independent quality standard I can trust, why waste my time? Any suggestions?

  21. TYREE June 1, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    You could certainly see your expertise in the paintings you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart. “Until you walk a mile in another man’s moccasins you can’t imagine the smell.” by Robert Byrne.

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