This is a post I did on LinkedIn.com that I wanted to share with readers here at Two Drops of Ink. I wrote this post answering a question about self-publishing. I found some interesting data in my research (and it back up my own experience as a self published author) that I thought authors and writers should consider as they move forward with a book idea. I hope you enjoy it. WP
I recently read an article that posed some harsh news for the indie author. It was an article discussing the statistics of authors published in the three main categories: Self-published, traditional, and hybrid (both traditional and self-published). The statistics were quite clear that indie authors (98%) make less than $5000 on a book; moreover, only about 2% make $100,000 or more. Traditionally published authors made various amounts but the chart showed a vast majority made less than $30,000 (per book) and a small percentile (less than 5%) made above $100,000. Finally, the hybrid authors made more than both self & traditionally published authors did, in all categories.
I learned a couple important lessons—or at least some prior advice from my publishing professor and my own lessons and experience were confirmed. No one can simply launch a book without a good marketing strategy, or an audience that is already in place. This is why the big houses will pay $70,000 for a one page print ad in the New York Times to launch a book—even if it`s a relatively well known author. They build an audience first—then release the book.
My first eBook sold 1200 copies on smashwords.com. My second book, “Voices from the Heart,” (createspace.com) was a flop. It had a horrible cover and short stories and poems are two very tough genres for an unknown author. I recently decided to use wattpad.com as a forum to build an audience, and then go from there. It has its ups and downs in terms of the audience; however, there have been several authors that have developed an audience and then took that audience to an agent and said, “Look, 500,000 people have read this book.” There is no doubt about it—if you have several hundred thousand readers, an agent will pay attention.
A final example that brings this point home is a manuscript I recently helped edit for my university press. Lyons Press previously published the author; however, the manuscript he turned in to our press was a nightmare in terms of format. The press decided to publish this book (it was of course sent back for the author to clean up a bit first) mainly because he has a large following on social networks and an email list that is 10,000 strong. These recent experiences have made me re-evaluate my pathway to a successfully published work. I hope this helps. I`m sure some here may disagree, but I`ve been on both sides of this issue. God bless.