Self-Publishing Reality Check

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of self-publishing, I thought it was time for a reality check.

Last fall, before the shortlist for the 2013 Giller Prize was announced, the three jury members gathered to answer questions about their process of whittling down entries.

In a context I no longer remember, Margaret Atwood, one of the jury members, discussed the inherently optimistic nature of writing for traditional publication. The writer spends months believing she can complete a manuscript, find an agent, sign with a publishing house and engage some readers with large risks of failure at every stage.

An indie author, though ignoring agents and traditional publishers, engages in a similar exercise of optimism. The odds of significant sales and royalties are long, yet scores jump into the fray.

Now, the odds of significant sales and royalties for indies may be improving. In a brilliant piece of work entitled The Tenured vs. Debut Author Report, Hugh Howey and a colleague estimate that authors can be in the top 2000 to 3000 of writers to earn a living, a large improvement that’s come about from eBooks and self-publishing. They also estimate that 700 indie-published authors who debuted in the years 2010-2013 earned more than $25,000 (US) from their Kindle eBooks alone.

Nonetheless, the reality remains that thousands upon thousands of self-published authors’ books languish without any meaningful sales. How does an indie author sustain her optimism to publish and promote her book given these tough, though improving, odds? Here are some thoughts.

Enjoy the act of writing. If you don’t, you might be in the wrong pursuit.

Completing each step of a project is its own success as I blogged about here. Celebrate them all.

For any chance of success, you need to self-promote. This can seem daunting to an introverted author, but the truth is, it can be fun, especially for the new people you meet.

And, as self-publishing reaches full acceptance and self-promotion possibilities improve, even more indies should be able to enjoy significant sales.

I’ll be speaking at the Dundas Public Library Saturday, June 21 at 2:00 p.m. on how to self-publish. Love to see you there. Also, PBS did an excellent piece on the changing book business you can find here.

Copyright ©2014 Peter Fritze

2 Replies to “Self-Publishing Reality Check”

  1. “Enjoy the act of writing.”
    Amen to that. Whenever I started getting stressed out that is what I focused on. Even if I wasn’t going to self-publish I would still write b/c that is what I love to do.
    Great post & great info!

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