Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Just Keep Writing

I published a book a couple of weeks ago. It's called Emon and the Emperor and it's my first attempt at science fiction, and only the second book I have self-published. (Click here to buy it in the US, and here to buy it in the UK.)

I'm a "hybrid" author in that my first five books have been traditionally published (that is, published by a publisher with whom I sign a contract giving them rights to the book in return for a royalty payment) and two have been self-published (that is, I retain the rights and publish the book myself using a platform such as Createspace or Kindle Direct Publishing, and there is no publisher involved).

One of the "problems" with self-publishing is that you can log onto Kindle Direct Publishing, or Createspace, or Nookpress, click on "Sales" or "Reports" and find out exactly how many people have bought your book so far. The temptation to do that all the time is overwhelming and soul-destroying because, on the whole, self-published books don't do well. Most self-published authors sell only a handful of copies and, despite the higher royalty rate, don't make very much money.

Compare that with traditional publishing which sends you a statement occasionally. One of my publishers sends a statement faithfully every month, occasionally accompanied by a cheque. Another does so just once a year. It means I can't get all worked up about how well my book is selling, because I don't know. My traditionally published books generally sell a lot better than my self-published books despite being more expensive because they look more professional, and they are actually available in physical bookstores.

The upshot of all this is that if you think you've written the next Harry Potter or Twilight, the scope for enormous disappointment is far higher if you've self-published than if you have been traditionally published. You can check your reports and see day after day tick by with no sales.

But we writers don't let that stop us. We're an optimistic bunch, and we know that there is no expiry date on our self-published ebooks. They're not going to get remaindered, thrown in the discount bin or taken off the shelves to make space for something new. There is plenty of time for them to get noticed and start clicking up steady sales.

More than that, in the meantime we're working on something else.

We know, you see, that the next big thing is exactly that - the NEXT big thing. Okay, so that last novel we published has slipped under the radar, but we're not worried because we're already halfway through something new, something wonderful, something exciting, something even bigger and better. We write because we have to, and we know that the next book is always going to be better than the last. Writing, like any other talent, gets better with practice.

Emon and the Emperor has been out for over a week, and I'm still waiting for Stephen Spielberg to call and ask for the film rights (maybe it's because he hasn't got my number - pass it along if you see him, will you?) but I've just signed a contract for a new book, and now I'm more excited about that one. I have the next five lined up after that one too. I'm not wasting time stressing about whether Emon is selling (although actually it's not doing as badly as I'd feared) because I am looking ahead -several years - to what's coming next.

Each new book also serves to promote every other book. As new readers discover your work and like your style they look to your back catalogue for other reading material. The more books you have available - even if they're only selling a handful each - the more successful you are as author.

Whether you prefer traditional publishing (as I do) or self-publishing, the trick to success is to just keep writing.


  1. I was curious as to why you chose to self-publish this one. (It is the next book on my list to read, by the way.) :-)

  2. Very informative. Pros and cons to both sides. I'm struggling with this decision now. Thank you, Anna!



Related Posts with Thumbnails