Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Two-Cent Tuesday: The Real World of Self-Publishing

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As sort of an epilogue to my series on self-publishing basics, here's a link to an article written by some dude named Guy Kawasaki who I guess made some money self-publishing and now feels free to dispense a lot of impractical, pie-in-the-sky advice.  I found this article unintentionally hilarious and then also sad because a lot of people are probably going to buy into this shit because he's an "expert."

Basically his top 10 "mistakes" are that you're not spending enough money to self-publish your book.  In his world you should fork over thousands of dollars for a "real" copyeditor and then hundreds or thousands more to a cover designer and then the topper--you should spend $10,000-$15,000 for a PR campaign.

Great advice, Guy!  Let me go out to my swimming pool filled with gold bouillon and pull out a couple nuggets there.  Or maybe I left $20,000 in my other pair of pants.

Good gravy, man, are you kidding me?  There is not one "indie" publisher I know who probably has that kind of money to invest in what would almost certainly be a money-losing venture.  I mean come on, I'm in credit card debt up to my eyeballs and I'll probably have to move because the rent is just too damned expensive on my apartment anymore.  I can't afford 20 large to market a fucking book.

This is what I hate about a lot of "experts."  Their advice is either blatantly wrong or so impractical that there's no possible way it can be of use.  It's like all those cooking shows where they make some recipe that sounds great but would cost you $500 just to make it from all the fancy ingredients and machines you'd need.

I mean, shit, Guy, if I'm going to take out a loan for $20,000 I'd go buy myself a Starbucks franchise or something.  That's far likelier to have a better return on investment.  Actually you have a better chance at making money if you take that $20,000 to Vegas.

It's a little ironic to me that his #1 "mistake" is writing for the money.  Well yeah, you sure as hell can't be in it for the money if you're spending $20,000 just in start-up costs.

Yeah, I'd love to be able to do more to promote my books and sell more copies.  But here in the real world I don't have the money to piss away on a gamble like that.  And I'm 99% sure if you're reading this you don't either.

So as I said in my non-"expert" articles, you can do most of this stuff fairly cheap.  Then even if you're not selling tons of copies you're not taking a financial hit.  Copyediting and cover artists are great, but it's not likely to pay off.  And unlike Guy, I hardly ever sell any paper copies of my books.  When you consider how much it costs on CreateSpace for the proof copies and whatnot, it hasn't been all that worth it.

The bottom line is that in the real world of "indie" publishing you aren't going to find fame and fortune.  So don't go put yourself in bankruptcy chasing the white whale of stardom.

Tomorrow is March's Phony Photo!


  1. $20k? I probably spent that in back waxing last year. No problem.

    Actually, self-pubbing is showing all the signs of any booming business - lots of money is being forked over by speculators. What's that old saying... The only people that get rich in a gold rush are the folks selling pick-axes.

  2. Fantastic post! I followed the link and read that joker's article. What a piece of crap. I really enjoy your blog, by the way.

  3. I think there's a big industry out there capitalizing on the hopes and dreams of unpublished authors. One needs to be wise and have modest expectations, and spend only what is reasonable and affordable.

  4. If I had an extra $20K just laying around, I wouldn't be writing. Well, that's probably not actually true, but I wouldn't be trying to sell my books. I'd -just- be writing and not worrying about any of the rest of it. I can't stand all of these vanity presses that charge people to publish their books and don't do anything more than the people could have done themselves, which is nothing.
    However, I suppose if some dude has that kind of money and wants to also say he's a "published" author, let him throw his money down the hole.

  5. I've developed the philosophy that the only money I'll spend is for the material that helps inspire me. I won't spend money to make money. It just doesn't make sense, and it's an obvious scam.

  6. Have you been Joe Konrath's blog? Your blog reminds me of his. Thanks for sharing this stuff, PT. I don't have the will to self-publish again because the first time worn me out, but never say never, eh. The lack of control with a publisher can be equally unsatisfying. During to circumstances out of my control, today I think I need a kick in the butt. But let's face it, writing novels isn't what it used to be. It's a complicated system these days. The fact there are bloggers like you, helps a lot. Thanks.

  7. Couldn't have said it better. I'm with Andrew. If I had 20K, man, we'd finally be able to do all the renovations we need to make, and then some. Loving these tips, sir. :)

  8. I read the comments over on said blog and found a lot of complaints. Lots of horrible advice for the most part, especially the part about buying a PR campaign. However, from my own experience, I think it's important to have a professional looking cover. But you don't have to spend a fortune to get one. Or you can learn to do it yourself. I think to some extent we all spend money on hobbies and entertainment, so why not invest something in our books? Publishing is a business and you do have to put some money into it just to reach readers, but not the numbers he was talking about. One good thing, business expenses can be written off at tax time.

  9. Wait, I'm still contemplating where I could have left that spare 20k. I know its around here somewhere.


  10. Great post. I spent like $100 on hiring a publicist and just got a small royalty check that basically paid for that and bought me dinner at a fancy restaurant. But that's it. No way I could come up with $20 large to do that tuff. I think some ppl just have no clue as to how much money ppl have and possess the "Romney" complex of money arrogance.



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