Want To Self Publish? Rasana Atreya Has Tips For Aspiring Authors

by Lindsey Francy May 29, 2023 News
Want To Self Publish? Rasana Atreya Has Tips For Aspiring Authors
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The picture shows an open book on a bed of leaves
An open book (image annelies geneyn bhBONc07WsI unsplash)

I relocated to India for a few years and wrote a novel. Tell A Thousand lies was short- listed for the South Asia prize in 2012 In India, self-publishing was unknown so I figured it out and self-published.

I wrote about it in the paper. Interviews with major newspapers and magazines followed. I was invited to several literary festivals.

I was flown to New Delhi by Amazon when they launched their product. The book is called Daughters Inherit Silence. I'm working on a novel.

I was at a literature festival when I heard this. There is no such pressure when it comes to self-publishing. Your first book isn't your best one. It's possible that your 10th book is your breakthrough book. If you self-publish, you won't be punished for it.

It has been known for a while that books have long tails. If there aren't enough copies sold in the first few weeks, books aren't dead in the water.

Colleen Hoover's books are dominating the charts, but they weren't always this way. After her first book was published, TikTokers drove her sales through the roof.

The merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster was the subject of an anti-trust case by the Department of Justice. Big publishers don't always have all the answers. They don't know which books will be big. Acquisition of books is similar to throwing spaghetti at a wall. Half of all trade titles sell less than a dozen books, according to the antitrust trial. This isn't a bad thing Indies don't have to split their royalties with their agents or the publisher.

Authors are very aware of their rights. Younger authors tend to sign away all of their work. The publisher will acquire all your rights but not exploit them for you. It is a good idea to tell authors not to sign away all of their rights, but newer authors don't have the power to negotiate.

Trad publishers are losing market share to independent authors. Romance, mystery, crime fiction, and sci-fi are genres that are driving this change.

According to Secrets of Penguin Random House, two out of three books lose money, and 4% of the books that make money lose money.

The bigger the advance, the better the marketing budget. Mid-list authors whose books are not as good are often overlooked.

The missed opportunity is because younger readers are driving this trend. The app is available in 50 languages.

A whole other Penguin Random House is sitting out in the market that no one sees, according to the CEO of the ebook platform.

The romance market has dried up and gone to digital originals. Many independent authors are making six figures or more, and romance is a big business. Their fans drive their sales.

The high price of Ebooks is due to the protection of the print book market. Indies can make money from both. A lot of independents put their books into subscription services to make a living. Independent authors are paid nearly a half billion dollars a month by Amazon.

If you can't show them you have a platform, they won't take you on as a client. A platform is a fancy way of saying that you have followers who will buy your books. Your job is not finished even after you get a publishing contract. You will need to work harder. You may not get a second publishing deal if your book doesn't earn out its advance.

What is self-publishing?

You can self-publish if you create an account on a self-publishing platform like Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, etc. When you become the publisher, you set the price from the dashboard and get royalties from the vendor. There is no third party involved in the production of a book. As they get more successful, self-publishers hire out parts of this process.

There will be scam artists where there is money. It goes with self- publishing. There are a few things to keep an eye on.

  • Vanity presses, subsidy presses, hybrid publishers: These “publishers” charge authors to publish their books. In reality, all they’re doing is uploading your book to platforms like Amazon, Apple, etc., which anyone can do for free. The danger in allowing someone else to do this on your behalf is that they become the publisher of record. By doing so, they control access to your dashboard, which includes sales data and royalties.

The author is often pressured to purchase more services. They often don't try to sell the books. They have already made their money by selling you. You may be required to purchase copies of your own books.

Money should flow from the publisher to the author, not the other way around. The book was written by you. If the publisher wants to make money off of your work, they need to put in a lot of effort to make money and then give it to you. Like legit publishers.

  • Self-publishing services that promise bestseller status: No one can guarantee this, not even trad publishers.
  • Self-publishing services that promise book reviews: Some companies may offer to write or arrange for book reviews, often for a fee. This could get you banned on Amazon.
  • Self-publishing services that promise to get your book into bookstores: Some companies claim to be able to get your self-published book into physical bookstores. All they do is buy an ISBN and upload your book (formatted for print) to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or a catalog like Ingram Spark. You don’t need someone else to do it for you. You can do this yourself.

Vellum and Atticus can be used to format your books. I format everything I own.

  • Self-publishing services that promise to get your book into libraries: you can do this free by signing up for legitimate aggregator services like Draft2Digital.
  • I’ve conducted various self-publishing workshops over the years and heard horror stories of stolen copyrights and royalties. Protect yourself by learning all you can about self-publishing. I have a list of resources below.

Successful authors make a lot of money from their work.

  • Andy Weir: Sci-fi author. His self-published book, The Martian, was later adapted into a movie of the same name, starring Matt Damon.
  • Bella Andre: Romance author. The New York Times bestselling author has sold over 8 million her books and used a variety of marketing strategies, including launching her own publishing company, to achieve her success.
  • Brandon Sanderson: High fantasy and sci-fi author. He asked Kickstarter fans for $1 million to self-publish four novels he wrote during the pandemic. His campaign topped $41.7 million from more than 185,000 backers. It is the most-funded Kickstarter in the crowdfunding site’s history.
  • Colleen Hoover: Romance and Young Adult (YA) genre. She has sold over 20 million books as of October 2022 and had six books in the Top-10 bestsellers’ list at the same time
  • Rachel Abbott: Author of psychological thrillers. Over 4 million books sold.

The superstars are the ones who make a lot of money. There are a lot of authors who make a lot of money from their books, but you don't hear much about them.

  1. Control: You have complete control over the content, design, and distribution of your book.
  2. Speed: You can get your book out to the market faster than traditional publishing methods (which can take two years or more).
  3. Higher royalties: Because you’re not limited by traditional publishing contracts and royalty structures, you can often make more money per book sold than traditionally published authors.
  4. Flexibility: You can make changes to your book at any time, whether it’s updating the content or changing the cover design.
  5. Global distribution: You can use self-publishing platforms to distribute your book worldwide, reaching a wider audience.
  6. Branding: Self-publishing allows you to establish your brand and build a following of readers.
  7. Creative freedom: Self-publishing provides more opportunities to publish niche and experimental works that may not appeal to traditional publishers. You can express your ideas and creativity without having to conform to the requirements of a trad publisher.
  8. Ownership: You retain full ownership of your book and its rights.
  9. Marketing and promotion: Because you’re not constrained by traditional publishing schedules or budgets, you have more freedom to come up with creative marketing ideas. Even when trad authors do marketing on their own, they don’t have access to the dashboard to see if their efforts are bearing fruit.
  10. More responsive to market trends: Because you’re are not tied to a traditional publisher’s marketing schedule (which can be notoriously slow), you can respond more quickly to changes in the market.
  11. Early adoption of new technologies and platforms: You’re able to use these tools to reach new audiences.
  12. Experimental in your marketing: As an Indie, you can try approaches that may not be possible within a traditional publishing framework.
  1. Financial responsibility: You pay for all the costs associated with publishing, such as editing, cover design, and marketing.
  2. Marketing: You are responsible for marketing and promoting your book.
  3. Quality control: You need to ensure that the book meets high editorial and design standards to be successful.
  4. Distribution limitations: You may not have the same level of distribution as traditional publishers.
  5. Credibility: Self-published books may not be seen as credible as those published by traditional publishers, though your readers are voting with their money, and self-published authors are doing quite well for themselves.
  6. Lack of support: Self-publishing can be a lonely journey without the support and guidance of a traditional publisher.
  7. No advance payment: You won’t receive an advance payment for your book, which may be a disadvantage if you need financial support during the publishing process.
  8. Limited bookstore presence: Self-published books may not be available in brick-and-mortar bookstores, though I don’t see this as a huge disadvantage. You can develop a relationship with your local bookstore.
  9. Legal issues: Self-publishing authors will need to handle legal issues such as copyright, trademark, and liability themselves, which can be challenging and time-consuming. Having said that, organizations such as the Alliance Of Independent Authors (of which I’m a member), provide help with such issues. If you choose the trad publishing route, they will help you vet your contracts, as well.
  • Writer Beware: Victoria Strauss’ mission for this blog is to “track, expose, and raise awareness of scams and other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry.”
  • Starting From Zero: David Gaughran’s free course covers topics like branding, platform building, etc.
  • The Creative Penn: Joanna Penn, who is a thriller writer and a podcaster, has a lot of resources for authors.
  • On YouTube
  • Facebook Groups
  • Alliance Of Independent Authors (ALLi)

It's useful for both authors.

  • A sample of guidebooks from ALLi (free to its members)
    • Self-Publishing A Children’s Book on how to get book reviews, how to self-published members
    • Your Book in Bookstores: ALLi’s Guide to Print Book Distribution For Authors
    • 150 Self-Publishing Questions Answered: ALLi’s Writing, Publishing, & Book Marketing Tips for Authors and Poets
    • How Authors Sell Publishing Rights: ALLi’s Guide to Working with Publishers, Producers and Others
    • Book Prizes And Awards For Indie Authors
    • Podcasting For Authors
    • Your Book In Libraries Worldwide
  • Helpful Facebook group.
  • If you want to be trad published, ALLi provides a contract-vetting service.
  • (Please note that the above is an affiliate link. If you use this link to join, you get a discount on your membership. You don’t pay extra).

    Annelies Geneyn took the photo.

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