Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Update: Some Unknown Authors Still Making Good Living from Self-Publishing

A self-publisher in the moneyMy previous posts on this subject on this blog give an excellent background on the birth, growth and sustainability of profitable self-publishers.

Other posts on this subject on my other blog (Writers Welcome Blog) can be accessed here for those interested.

Yes, there are quite a few authors, many unknown, who bang out quite good livings by self-publishing their works. And tonight’s post will show that some of them actually make MORE money than initially offered by big house publishers.

The links above provide mucho history through inside and sideway looks into the development of the new game-changing, self-publishing acceptance that has enabled more authors to make a living – and/or, in lieu of immediate financial success, at least get their work read by readers and gain a following for future projects.

This insight is provided by Nassau News Live (a hyper-local student-run journalism project from the School of Communication at Hofstra University in New York):


Unknown Authors Make A Living Self-Publishing


Five years ago, printing your own book was stigmatized and was seen as a mark of failure.

“But now,” says Dana Beth Weinberg a sociologist at Queens College who is studying the industry, “the self published authors walk into the room and they say, ‘I made a quarter of a million dollars last year, or a hundred thousand dollars, or made ten thousand dollars, and it is still more than what some of these authors are making with their very prestigious contracts.’”

Weinberg says there is still a strong financial case to be made for publishing books the old fashioned way, but there are now many well-known independent authors who have made a fortune self-publishing online.

One of those authors, Hugh Howey, recently published a report arguing that self-published writers earn more money overall from eBooks than authors who have been signed by the big five publishing houses. The report, which Howey created with an anonymous data researcher who goes by the name “Data Guy,” uses Amazon’s sales ranking and crowd-sourced sales data to estimate authors’ total earnings on eBooks.

The report has been attacked by critics who point out the figures don’t include cash paid to authors as part of a book advances. And they say Howey is underestimating the money earned from old fashioned print sales. He’s also been called a tool of Amazon in that company’s war against established publishing houses.

Trustworthy data is difficult to come by. And Amazon doesn’t release detailed sales numbers.

Howey says he’s just trying to point out that self-publishing can be a decent way to make a living even if you aren’t selling millions of books. And he points out that self-published authors are able to keep 70 percent of royalties on all eBook sales. As a result, he says, many relatively unknown authors are making a decent living self-publishing their work.

One of those authors is Michael Bunker, who has a long beard, close-cropped hair and a wide brim hat, and describes himself as an “accidental Amish Sci-Fi writer.”

His latest book, Pennsylvania Omnibus, hit number 19 earlier this month on Amazon’s best seller list. And Bunker’s first book — about living off the grid — was an instant online success.

“It went to 29 on all of on the very first day,” Bunker said. “And I got messages from agents and publishers. And I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no clue what I was doing.”

The first agent who reached him offered a $5000 advance and a guaranteed publishing deal.

“I made more than that yesterday,” Bunker said.


Damn interesting how things are dancing around in the publishing dance halls, huh?


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Source research article:


How To Be An Authorpreneur

Kamy Wicoff, author and entrepreneur

As most can decipher, an authorpreneur is simply an author who thinks as an entrepreneur and handles his/her new book as a product that s/he takes full responsibility for in determining its success. They think outside the box — especially the Big Five publisher box.

In so doing, they can keep and reap more! They keep more artistic and business control and reap more profits (70% vs a paltry 15%). They take more risk — BUT, new tech and business models have minimized that risk.

Tonight’s post shows just how one previously successful traditionally published author, Kamy Wicoff, jumped the TP ship and struck out on her own and learned how to think like an entrepreneur — even after she was offered a Big Five TP publishing contract for her first ‘fiction’ book effort.

Kamy has also started her own startup book publishing press, She Writes Press, to give assistance to those who wish to learn and follow in her footsteps — This link includes some short, informative videos.

Key excerpts:

“… entrepreneurship has become part of our professional lives whether we like it or not. New books are like startups, and authors are their founders, CEOs, marketing departments, and human resources, all rolled up into one. In light of this, authors need to stop viewing the average traditional deal as the only legitimate way to publish, but to think instead as business owners evaluating the terms of a partnership, weighing what they get against what they give away. And I would argue that for most of the 99%, what traditional publishers offer is not worth what they demand in exchange—a whopping 85% of the ownership of an author’s book.”

“Of course this isn’t right for everyone, the biggest issue being the initial investment in a book when weighed against the possibility of an advance. But it certainly deserves the attention of any thoughtful authorpreneur, who should take a look before making the traditional-publishing-deal leap.”

Now, Kamy Wicoff’s thoughts as related in (Personal Stories Section):


Turning Down a Big Five Publishing Book Deal

A couple of months ago, I did something I never would have dreamed of doing when I began my career as an author: I turned down an offer from a Big Five publisher—and not, as would usually be the case, to take a better offer from another Big Five publisher. Why? Because, after carefully evaluating the deal and stacking it up against the risks and benefits of publishing my book (not my first, but my first foray into fiction) with my own press, the case for doing so was so compelling that even my deepest insecurities weren’t enough to stop me from seeing the light. Yes, it was hard to walk away from the validation and status that comes with a traditional book deal. But when I took a long hard look at what that deal had to offer and compared it with the thrilling new possibilities that thinking outside of the Big Five box now have to offer, it wasn’t much of a contest. This is partly because, in the years since I published my first book traditionally and now, radical changes in technology have made it possible for independent presses to do just about everything big publishing houses can do. But it was also because, in the years since my first book and this one, I founded a startup and learned, for the first time, to think like an entrepreneur.

Story continued –

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Self-Publishing – Is it Meaningful or Not?

Meaningful? How would I know?

Meaningful? How would I know?

Is self-publishing meaningful? Depends on what you mean by meaningful? And meaningful to whom? That makes sense.

Self-publishing has gained respectability, earned fans, made authors known, got many more books in front of many more readers AND earned mega-bucks for a ‘few’.

For most writers/authors, however, the money from self-publishing is NOT pouring in — BUT, their books are being read by many more readers than they would have under previous model/s.

For that matter, the money from traditionally published books did not pour in for most writers/authors either — since, under the traditional pub model, 10% of the authors earned 75% of the royalties 🙂

So, the stats are not significantly different between self-publishing and traditional publishing.

The following 10 minute video titled ‘Can self-publishing ever be meaningful’ with speaker Steven Lewis, a self-published author and digital media strategist with a sense of humor, delves into more self-publishing stats and fills out the word ‘meaningful’:




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How To Hit a Self-Publishing Grand Slam

There are literally gobs and gobs of self-publishing avenues, advice, publishers, tech data, etc. out there. If one should have an inkling to try his/her hand at self-publishing a work — they simply can get overwhelmed!

Let’s try to cut through a lot of the thicket tonight and focus on three key elements needed for SP success. I have hit upon the elements in tonight’s subject in prior posts — but, not from this angle. We are going to refocus on just SP tonight, while, at the same time, reveal a great resource for future SP understanding and marketing success.

The three keys for SP happiness are:

  1. Hire your own experienced content editor.
  2. Hire your own professional cover designer.
  3. Buy your own ISBN.

Notice, that was a ‘content’ editor, not a copyeditor or proofreader. (I did a detailed piece on all editors, Editors! — Views from Both Sides of the Editor’s Desk – And then Some, back in May on my Writers Welcome Blog. Feel free to take a minute and learn even more.)

Tonight’s feature article explores a little about the content or structural editor — You will also learn exactly why having your own ISBN protects you as the publisher and not your ‘subsidy publisher’ (e.g.: Smashwords, Createspace etc.)

Published in BookWorks (and featured on Publishers Weekly) by Betty Kelly Sargent, founder & CEO of BookWorks:


Three Keys to Self-Publishing Success


It’s a jungle out there. Anybody who has ever self-published, or even thought about it, knows this. Sure, the opportunities for self-publishing success seem almost limitless these days, but why is it that some self-published authors have sold millions of books while others spend thousands of dollars and only manage to sell 122 copies—mostly to friends, acquaintances, and their mom?

Then there are all those other questions facing the self-published author. For example, right now, e-book prices are all over the place, so how do you figure out the best price point to maximize sales? And, what about digital rights management? There’s a big controversy over whether DRM is a good or a bad thing for authors in the long run. We will discuss all of these issues in future columns.

For now, what is a self-respecting, ambitious self-publisher to do? It all comes down to this: take charge. Whether you’re working with a subsidy publisher like CreateSpace, Book Baby, or Lulu, or you are taking the do-it-yourself route, it is essential that you oversee every aspect of the process. First, you have to make sure your book is the very best it can be. Second, you have to become smart, savvy, patient, and persistent in the marketing department—but we’ll discuss the second part of this equation in another column.

What are the three things every self-publishing writer can do to significantly up the chances for success?

  1. Hire your own experienced content editor.
  2. Hire your own professional cover designer.
  3. Buy your own ISBN. 

Let’s talk about editors first. Content editors are also sometimes called developmental or structural editors, as opposed to copyeditors and proofreaders, who read manuscripts more closely and check for style, punctuation, and grammar. These content editors are the people who often become your new best friend. They usually work with you from the start, with a single goal in mind: to help you make your book the best it can be. You is the key word here. This is your book. Your name is on the title page, not the editor’s. If you ever find yourself working with an editor who seems to be more interested in having you do things her way than your way, dump her. Good editors always listen to the writer and try to understand what it is that he or she wants to accomplish, whether it is to tell a good story or create the first and only history of the American Beauty rose.


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E-Book Formatting and Marketing Help for Indie Authors

E-Book Formatting and Marketing

The busy, busy world of publishing transformation,  transmutation, transfiguration and metamorphosis has spawned unprecedented growth in indie publishing (self-publishing by writers) and the study of supportive skills such as editing, marketing, formatting and cover design graphics, etc.

The main drawback to the growth in self-publishing is a lack of growth (to date, anyway) of the same support usually furnished by a major publisher — sooo, indie types must experiment and use trail and error in ferreting out these luxuries to increase their chances for success.

Jason Boog, God bless him, of GalleyCat, has assembled some free e-book formatting and marketing guides:


Free eBook Formatting & Marketing Guides for Writers 

As self-published authors enter the eBook market, formatting has become more important than ever.

Indie authors don’t have the same support as a major publisher, so we’ve assembled a list linking to formatting guides for all the major eBookstores.

Follow the links below to access these free style guides…

1. Smashwords Style Guide (provides guidance for “major ebook retailers such as the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel”)

2. Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines (PDF link)

3. Barnes & Noble PubIt! Support & Resources Page

4. Kobo Writing Life FAQ for Writers (PDF link)

5. Creating ePub Files with Apple’s Pages program *

6.Calibre User Manual (how to use this powerful eBook conversion tool)

7. Smashwords Book Marketing Guide

Read and learn more

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Beware of ‘Author Services’ Shops in 2013

"Need some author services, buddy?"

“Need some author services, buddy?”

The burgeoning self-publishing world has exploded a need for so-called ‘author services’ — you know, the services that used to be provided by the traditional publishers (TPs) if your manuscript was chosen from a gazillion other entries. Services such as editing, proofing, book production, packaging, and distribution, as well as back office tasks such as accounts receivable, accounts payable and year-end tax reporting.

These ‘author services’ shops exist now to some degree but will propagate wildly in the coming year.

So, before you spend ANY money (and most probably needlessly) heed this insight from Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, in this article by Jason Boog:

Mark Coker Predicts: ‘More money will be made in author services than in book sales.’

In his 2013 Book Publishing Industry Predictions, Smashwords founder Mark Coker included this warning for aspiring writers: “In the self-publishing gold rush, more money will be made in author services than in book sales.”

All independent writers need to remember this advice as we head into the new year. We asked How Much Should Self-Publishing Cost? in November and received a wide-range of responses. Indie authors can pay everything from nothing to $50,000 in an effort to publish their work.

Here’s more from Coker: “With the shift to self-publishing, writers must carry the publishing burdens once borne by traditional publishers, such as the cost of editing, proofing, book production, packaging, and distribution, as well as backoffice tasks such as accounts receivable, accounts payable and year-end tax reporting … With this burgeoning demand for professional publishing services, thousands of service providers will open up virtual author services shops in 2013. The challenge for writers is to procure the highest quality services at the lowest cost. Plenty of scamsters and over-priced service providers will be standing by to help.” 

Coker also included two tips for keeping your self-publishing work at a respectable cost. Here is his first tip:

As I write in Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, pinch your pennies.  As a self published author, you’re the publisher.  You’re running a business.  The lifeblood of a business is profit, because profit generates cash.  If you run out of cash, you go out of business.  Since profit equals sales minus expenses, and sales are difficult to predict and often minimal, it’s important to minimize expenses.  DIY as much as possible, especially when you’re starting out. Invest your sweat equity (your time and talent) first.  If you can’t afford editing, barter for editing, and leverage beta readers.  Once you start earning a profit, then carefully reinvest.  Never borrow money to finance your ebook publishing adventure. Never spend money you need to pay the mortgage or to put bread on your table.

Read and learn more

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A Podcast that Educates Writers How to Self-Publish in the “New Frontier” of Digital Publishing

My last post introduced Sean Platt and David Wright, the kings of ebook serialization. Well, they have teamed with Johnny B. Truant, a popular  blogger/writer/publisher, to do a weekly podcast that teaches writers the ins and outs of  how to make a full-time living self-publishing from fiction to nonfiction 🙂

This from PRWeb:

Self Publishing Podcast Helps Writers Achieve Their Publication Dreams in the High-Potential Kindle and eBook Age

Popular blogger Johnny B. Truant and self publishing “Kings of the Serial” Sean Platt and David Wright have launched a podcast aimed at educating writers on how to self-publish in the “new frontier” of digital publishing.

Self publishing is accessible to everyone, and the podcast helps savvy, hard-working writers learn how they can make full-time livings from fiction to nonfiction – something that was close to impossible before the eBook age.

“Digital publishing, through Kindle and other e-formats, hasn’t just revolutionized self publishing; it’s revolutionized all publishing,” said Truant. “Even established authors are now turning to this model and away from old-school publishing deals. And why not? Traditional publishers pay authors around 15% of a book’s sale price and hardly do any publicity, widespread distribution, or marketing for anyone other than their blockbuster clients. If those publishers are really only adding overhead, why not do it yourself? Why not build your own audience, spread the word yourself through the tools available on the Internet, and make 70% royalties while retaining total creative control?”

The trio launched the new podcast, located at, in mid April. Born from a desire to help others achieve the success they were achieving themselves, Wright, Platt, and Truant decided a weekly podcast packed with advice, best practices, and interviews with experts would help others avoid the trial and error they’d had when publishing their own work – primarily on Amazon’s Kindle e-Book platform, but also on others like Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store and the Kobo platform, which is popular in Europe.

“Self-publishing used to be expensive and ineffective, but also relatively straightforward,” said Wright. “You paid someone to publish your books, you stored them in your garage, and then you traveled around and tried to sell them. It’s completely different today. The best platforms are digital. Anyone can publish with very little out-of-pocket expense and be exposed instantly to millions of potential buyers. But now it’s trickier too, and you’ll never sell to those millions if you don’t put the pieces together correctly.”

Read and learn more

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Publishes First Book at 83 — Never Too Late to Publish :)

Lois SonnenbergAn interesting and inspiring story. I just had to pass it along.

From the Toledo Blade Dot Com by Roberta Redfern:

Happy Ending

At 83, B.G. woman publishes first book

Lois Sonnenberg appears to be a flawless paradigm of the adage “It’s never too late.”

The Bowling Green resident, who celebrates her 84th birthday Wednesday, also is celebrating the publication of her first book late last year — a move that already prompted her to start writing a second one.

She worked in her home as a team with her 87-year-old husband, Otis, and Joshua Ebert, a visual communication technology graduate from Bowling Green State University, to put together Grave Tales: A Mother Goose Spoof, a publication in the making for decades — in her head, through life experiences, and on paper.

The book — a satirical spin on age-old nursery rhymes — is not for children, Mrs. Sonnenberg stressed. It was officially launched Dec. 3. A second book signing is scheduled at a Local Writers’ Fair from 1-4 p.m. April 14 at the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green.

Publishing a book at her age is a feat that doesn’t shock many who know her, especially her children.

“Mom has wanted to publish some of her creative writing for many years and I’m not at all surprised that she pulled it off in her 80s. She’s a woman with a lot of energy and talent who sets goals and accomplishes them,” said her daughter, Meg Gaige, 55, a photographer and agricultural writer for Farm Journal’s Dairy Today in New York.

“It’s especially apropos that mom and dad pulled off this self-publishing feat as a team — they’ve been cheering each other on for more than 64 years.”

In the book, familiar nursery rhyme characters travel to the 21st century, only to find their situations stunningly different than they were in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Jack Spratt and his wife become “Fats & Lena Spratt,” a couple not so in tune with today’s world of high cholesterol and trans-fats; Little Miss Muffet, a child genius of sorts who, despite her intelligence, fails to read up on the perils of poisonous spiders.

Mrs. Sonnenberg’s road to authorship is as interesting as it is intricate. Her life experiences, stories from her childhood, and meetings with others prompted the subject of her second book currently in the works, memoirs of her life as a child of the Depression and World War II.

Born in 1928, Mrs. Sonnenberg grew up Lois Benzino in a small New York town near Buffalo. Her two brothers were off fighting in the war and her family ran a modest produce business. She had no real hopes of furthering her education until her best friend in high school suggested they try attending school through the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps program.

In her third year of nursing at the University of Michigan, Benzino met Otis Sonnenberg of Holgate, who was in the Navy. They married in 1948 and moved to northwest Ohio so that he could work on the family dairy farm.

Read and enjoy more

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New Online Tools Make E-Book Self-Publishing Easier :)

Just one of the new self-publishing tools

Self-publishing has become easier and easier over the last few years. As well as the distribution, marketing and formatting processes across all platforms, including the increasingly important mobiles.

So, a little revisit to self-publishing tonight is in order with some good links to new tool resources and a video.

This insight from Dana Dean   of KSDK in Missouri:

Tools for self-publishing e-books

St. Louis (KSDK/USA TODAY) — If you ever thought about writing a book, but didn’t know how to get published, now you can do it yourself.

It’s now easier to self-publish an e-book thanks to new online tools. You don’t need many technical skills and it won’t cost a lot of money either.

Our partner USA TODAY researched new tools for self-publishing e-books. They found several, ranging in price. These new online tools let you upload your books to Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Nobles Nook, Apple’s iPad, and Sony’s E-reader.

A company called Red Staple has a self-service online tool that starts at $30. Folium Book Studio has a tool for $99. Apple’s iBooks Author is a free software app.

One romance author averaged $2,000 a month in royalties. And one mystery writer says his royalties for the month of January were $60,000 for eight previously published but now out-of-print novels that he sold on Amazon.

USA TODAY tech reporter Jefferson Graham interviewed authors who say self-publishing an e-book is easy.

“What isn’t going to be easy is selling,” said Graham.  “I interviewed authors who have a following who worked their social media. And the guy who made $60,000 dollars is a mystery writer. Mysteries are the best selling genre out there. So, he’s got a ready audience. I think if you and I went out and threw stuff up there, it’s not going to move. We’re going to work to move it.”

You can find tools here:

For more information, visit the original USA TODAY article.

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Varied Results From Self-Publishing – Inside Some Money Numbers

Can I Make Money by Self-Publishing 🙂 ??

As most people can surmise, your success (at least initially) in digital self-publishing is directly related to your fame as an established author. Some with a rep can bring in rather large sums with an e-book.

Newbie authors, however, face another reality …  A reality with graded success … BUT, with talent coupled with diligence, the newbies will soon attain a following and hence become famous incrementally until they, too, will master larger profit sums. In the meantime, they can enjoy making at least some bucks while getting their written work published and read. 

You might call digital self-publishing today a somewhat paid query letter with benefits … Beats the hell out of outright rejections by some third-party gatekeeper, huh?

This from Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in the online Wall Street Journal:

Secret of Self-Publishing: Success

Authors With a Following Make Money Going It Alone, but It’s a Slog for Others

Self-publishing these days is increasingly a tale of two cities.

There are established authors, like Nyree Belleville, who says she’s earned half a million dollars in the past 18 months selling direct rather than through a publisher..

Then there are new authors, like Eve Yohalem. More than a month after self-publishing, she has grossed about $100 in sales— after incurring costs of $3,400. She said she’s in no rush, though.

Vanity presses have been available for decades. But thanks to digital technology and particularly the emergence of e-books, the number of self-published titles exploded 160% to 133,036 in 2010 from 51,237 in 2006, estimates R. R. Bowker, which tracks the publishing business. Inc. fueled the growth by offering self-published writers as much as 70% of revenue on digital books, depending on the retail price. By comparison, traditional publishers typically pay their authors 25% of net digital sales and even less on print books.

For some established authors, these terms can make self-publishing a financial home run. Ms. Belleville, for instance, a veteran romance author who wrote for seven years under the pseudonym Bella Andre and a year as Lucy Kevin, self-published her first e-book in April 2010. She has since cumulatively sold 265,000 units of 10 self-published titles, most priced between $2.99 and $5.99. Her total take from those 10 titles since last April: in excess of $500,000 after expenses, she says. Previously, the most she ever made from a book was $33,000.

Self-published women’s fiction writer Darcie Chan has seen her new work, “The Mill River Recluse,” hit No. 5 on The Wall Street Journal’s list of digital fiction bestsellers for the week ended Oct. 23. Ms. Chan priced her novel about a secretive widow living in Vermont at 99 cents, and says she has sold “hundreds of thousands” of copies since it went on sale on Amazon in May. The book, also carried by Barnes & Noble Inc. and other e-retailers, was previously rejected by major publishing houses.

Read and learn more

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