Category Archives: Indie Publishing

Adam J. Johnson: Benefits of Indie Publishing: Part Two

Part Two

When you think of indie publishing or self-publishing, what’s usually the first thing that comes to mind? You usually think—not quite as professional, right? Maybe not as much earning potential? Well, I’m glad you stopped in because we are going to break these misconceptions today! One thing that traditional publishing does have the advantage of is that it is a bit easier to become nationally recognized through a traditional publishing house, but we will cover that in Part Three of this series.

Issue One: I won’t be taken seriously as a self-published author.

This is something that many indie authors fear. We struggle with it and convince ourselves that we need to keep sending manuscripts to big publishing houses so we aren’t “settling” for indie publishers. Well, let’s talk about that for a minute.

Self-publishing is quickly moving to the foreground for a lot of reasons. There are some who will say that a self-published author isn’t a professional writer. The main reason for that is they don’t gain the preconceived success that comes with traditional publishing. But that’s all it is—perception. There are writers with book deals who are just scraping by, and there are self-published writers who are raking in upwards of forty thousand a month. I don’t know about you, but I would call that success! It all lies in your perception and the work you are willing to put in. If you don’t see yourself as a professional writer (even if you have a day job), then you won’t put in the work of a professional writer. Ultimately, if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, then you need to take yourself seriously and work hard at honing your craft and producing your best work! Which brings us to the advantages of indie publishing.

Issue Two: There’s not as much earning potential.

This is so far from the truth it hurts! The reason this is a popular notion is because of the instant accreditation you can get through a traditional publishing house. Publications and critics will see traditional publishing as a sign of quality because the work comes from a credible source. So you will have initial purchase orders, but as we covered in part one, purchase orders don’t necessarily translate into sales. Let’s look at how indie royalties work.

There are two ways you can go—completely self-published where you handle every aspect of creation, publishing, and marketing, or there are indie publishers who pick up some of the legwork. We will delve into the differences between the two in the next part of this series. Either way you go, the royalties end up pretty similar. Amazon royalties can vary depending on where and how you are publishing.

Through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), you can sell print books. After their cut is taken out for printing costs and a little to wet their beak, you are left with around 23-35% profit. Which isn’t bad when you consider that you won’t have an agent taking 15% of your profit from sales.

For ebooks through KDP, as long as you are priced between $2.99 and $10, you will profit a whopping 70% of your sales—something you will never see from a traditional publisher. With population growth and the widespread use of the internet and social media, that leaves you with literally billions of people that you can potentially reach. That’s easier said than done, though. That is why it is of the utmost importance that you build your marketing skills and practice them daily!

With an indie publishing company, you will, on average, keep a flat rate of your profits, and it can vary from 40%–60% of your sales. You also get the benefit of purchasing physical copies of your own book at cost, not retail price. So, with that being the case, say you decide to sell your book at $5 a piece. With 60% profit, you will make $3 per book sold. Meaning you will only need to sell 333,333 copies of your book to make a million dollars. I say only, but we all know that isn’t easy, either. However, it’s a lot better than the 1.3 million copies you would need to sell to make a million with a traditional publisher.

Other Benefits

Some benefits that I didn’t cover are that when you completely self-publish, you retain all of your rights and are free to do what you want with your work. This could come in handy in a lot of scenarios. Also, the rate of publication is exponentially quicker. You can have your book on the market in a very short time after the final edits are complete. As you can see, there are many benefits to self-publishing—it just takes a little more work than traditional publishing. So, if you are willing to put in the work, then you will be poised to reap the benefits!

Thank you for reading, and stay inspired! Stay tuned for Part Three in our Benefits of Indie Publishing.

Advertisements

Adam J. Johnson: Benefits of Indie Publishing Part One – Traditional Publishing

 

Part 1: Traditional Publishing

  Many of us dream of getting that acceptance letter from one of the big publishing houses. We wait by the mailbox or constantly check our email in a child-like fervor, hoping to see “Congratulations” come through. We think that once we get that acceptance, life is set, we’ve made it, and we are now successful authors, right? Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many hoops to jump through with traditional publishing, and for a brand-new author without an agent, you will almost certainly get the short end of a short stick. There are a few exceptions to the rules—those like J.K. Rowling, who found massive success with her first series, but that is a rare case. Yes, we all want to hit that goal, but we need to plan for reality and write like we’ve got that success waiting for us. Let’s look at some of the drawbacks of traditional publishing. 

Royalties  

Royalties vary greatly for traditional publishing contracts. They can be from as little as 3% to as much as 15%. It would be exceedingly rare to get anything more than 15%. They have overhead costs, binding costs, and distributing costs that drive your earning potential way down. For a new author, you will probably get between 3-5% royalties. If you got the high end at 5% and your book sold for $15 per copy, that means you would make $0.75 per book sold. At that rate, you would have to sell 1.3 million copies of your book to make a million dollars. Sounds doable, right? What they don’t tell you is that the big publishing houses don’t really do much marketing for you—that is still mostly up to you. If you want to get the best deals and have someone set up events for you, you have to hire an agent before even getting signed with a publishing house. Your agent will go to bat for you negotiating your publishing contract and could get you a slightly higher percentage. They will set up events for you and get you different speaking gigs, but their focus isn’t even marketing, so that’s still up to you. Not to mention the high cost that comes with having an agent. They are an invaluable resource, but most authors can’t afford one before signing with a big publishing house, so most of us lose out when entering into new contracts with publishing houses. The advantage that traditional publishing gives you is that they will get you into many of the bigger-name retail stores. However, even though they get your book in front of those buyers, that doesn’t guarantee a sale. Most bookstores and retail outlets will place an order for your book through the publisher, but they usually require that they retain the right to return unsold books to the distributor. This is damaging to your royalties and this is how.  

The bookstore puts an order in for your book and the publisher sends it to them through their distributor. Even though there is technically a purchase for your book, the publisher holds payment until they are certain of how many copies were actually sold. This process could take months. So, if the bookstore purchased 5,000 copies of your book and only 1,000 copies sold over the course of six months, then the bookstore sends back the other 4,000 copies. Once the publisher receives the unsold copies, they will release payment for only the 1,000 copies sold despite the large order that was originally placed.  

Book Advance 

 

Now, for people who have money already or are already somewhat successful authors, the book advance is great! However, for new authors and people without much money, it can be damaging. Here comes the tricky part regarding if the publisher had paid you an advance on your book, which they do a lot of the time. Say that 1,000 copies were the first copies of your book sold. It took six months to sell through them plus the time it took for the distributor to receive them and verify that they are there. Now, the publisher recoups their money from the advance before you even get to see a royalty payment. So If those copies that you sold don’t cover the advance, now you’ve waited around seven months and won’t receive any royalty payments because your advance wasn’t covered. So you can see how purchase orders from a bookstore don’t necessarily translate into sales. This is where marketing comes in. Most of the time, the big publishing houses won’t put much, if any, money into marketing your work unless you are an established author with a good following. So you are still left to market your book with your own resources and you are taking such a small percentage of the profits for your own work!  

So sure, traditional publishing does seem like a glorious pursuit, and sometimes it can be! The reality of it is—it’s not as glamorous as you would think and is actually somewhat unfair to the author who puts in a large majority of the work to get a small fraction of the rewards.

Stay tuned for part two of this series where we will dive into the reality of indie publishing and the benefits we can reap from it.