My publisher recently sent me a copy of “The Wealthy Writer.” Not because they thought I needed a prod to assist me in making more money, but to review. It’s their book; they wrote it. You could do worse than read this book-—the marketing tips alone are worth the cover price—-but if you have aspirations akin to mine, you may come away more disheartened than before.
The book is part pep-talk, part practical advice from a duo who have been successful on both sides of the publishing game—-being publishers and self-publishers. This puts them in a unique position and makes their guidance worth heeding. The most impressive thing about the book is, even though they are publishers, they advise self-publication as the best way to make money with your writing. And they have real-life examples to back that up.
As they point out, if you self-publish your book, you stand to make a profit of £7 to £10 per book instead of £0.45. If you flog your book unmercifully and sell 3,000 copies, you make £30,000. If that sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. There are hard truths to back that up, but there are also mitigating factors.
The Hard Truths:
- Even if you go with a major publisher, you are still going to be responsible for most of your book’s marketing, so you save little here and give up a lot.
- If you go with a major publisher, you would have to sell over 66,000 books to give you the same amount of money you could make selling just 3,000.
- You are not not going to sell 3,000 books.
The other, oft-visited issues I have with self publication are:
- No matter how hard you try, your amateur product won’t be as good as what a professional would produce. I can personally attest to this.
- You still have to face that "self-published" stigma.
All that said, self-publication is clearly a better option than it was just a few years ago. The advent of POD and computer graphics means you really can put out a (nearly) professional looking product, and get it printed, for a nominal fee. No more stacking boxes of unwanted books in the garage or laying out thousands of dollars for a print run. And as the option becomes more and more viable, the stigma appears to be shrinking. Even in its self-published form, I was able to get “Postcards” into a few books stores.
After reading this book, I am convinced you can make a decent living writing and publishing and flogging your own books, just as I became convinced you can make a decent living writing service articles after I read “How to Become Embarrassingly Rich by Writing Service Articles,” or something like that. In each case, however, it presupposes you are doing this full-time. Now I have nothing but admiration for people with the courage, conviction and drive necessary to quit their job and devote themselves to full-time self-employment, but the vast majority of us simply are not in the position of being able to walk away from a steady pay check. And take it from me, there comes a time when you simply cannot devote more of your non-work life to marketing.
But all of this is academic; self-publishing is not for me, and neither is it—-if you have writing ambitions similar to mine—-for you. This book, as well as “Aiming at Amazon” both state plainly that this model works only for non-fiction. Novelists, short story writers and humorists need not apply. Now, you are certainly welcome to publish your book yourself, but they practically guarantee you won’t sell many. A non-fiction book provides something tangible that people want: “How to Live on £0.37 a Day,” “Three Steps to a Better Orgasm,” “Eat All You Want and Still Stay Thin—-a Bulimic’s Guide to a Beautiful Body,” . . . really, I could do this all day, but you get the point. With non-fiction you have a built-in customer base; with fiction you have a story.
This isn’t a gripe, I’m simply pointing out the facts. And, personally, I’d rather have the stories; I just wish there was a way to make some money with them.