Well, if I’m pulling out the Kindle image, it must be once again time for me to talk about self e-publication. This time the origins come from Saturday morning when I grabbed the Sunday Washington Post Arts section and was greeted by the headline: Novel rejected? There’s an e-book gold rush. I tucked into the article, expecting another story about how Amanda Hocking has made millions of dollars and so too could anyone else who put their book up on Kindle.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Yes, the media darling of Kindle self-publication was mentioned as part of the article, but not with the glowing amazement of the websites that picked up her stories around two months ago. Rather, the article points out that she has since decided to sign with a traditional publisher saying, “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc.” But the main focus of the story is Nyree Belleville. She’s made a good amount of money through self publishing to Kindle.
But here’s the rub. What is she publishing? Well, she started with novels that had been traditionally published years ago, but the rights had long-since reverted to Mrs. Belleville. Thus, what she started putting on Kindle were novels that had been through the traditional vetting process and been professionally edited. She has since put original titles on Kindle, but she’s also a writer who thus has experience creating professional quality novels.
I’m not going to say that’s the only reason that she’s successful. That’s selling her short. But the story is very even handed with presenting the idea that, while some people are being insanely successful with self e-publication, it’s a huge outlier. From the article, the founder of Smashwords is quoted saying, “We have less than 50 people who are making more than $50,000 per year. We have a lot who don’t sell a single book.” I’m massively impressed by those 50 people, but the article also cites nearly 20,000 authors on the site, meaning only one quarter of one percent are making what could be considered a living wage on their writing.
Then again, what percentage of authors traditionally published can say the same? I don’t have the numbers, but even mass market authors still have day jobs.
Anyway, I wanted to pass along the article as being one of the better presentations I’ve seen of the actual trials and tribulations of self e-publication presented from a major source. It actually bothers to look at the work people put into it, where the success stories come from, and the reality that self e-publication isn’t some magic money making machine. It also comes at a time when I’m considering ending my own experiments within self e-publication, but you’ll have to head over to my blog to read exactly why. And go read the article linked above. I gave some bullet points, but the whole has far more information than what I digested.