'Writing part is the easy part' — How Utah's self-published authors survive and even thrive without big-name publishers

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  • Roadside Philosopher Fayette, UT
    Jan. 11, 2019 12:32 p.m.

    This is the age of 144 character attention span? I don’t see reading books as competing with video novels or movies for the upcoming generations.
    Yes, I’m a published writer. My book was kickstarter funded for its publishing by a nich group of supporters. “Virgin’s Handbook on Virtual Relationships,” answers the question “What is Reality now that we have a digital component?”
    I don’t wish to spend my time marketing myself. That is a never ending egotistical job where the rules change constantly. I wish to write new things, not formula books. But I acknowledge there is no money in that. My envisionment trilogy of what reality is will be a totally new view on reality. Will I ever get past 3 figures a year from my writing? Lol Probably not, but any true artist’s focus is creation... The money would be nice but should not be the motivation. You write and then turn it out into the universe.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2019 8:58 a.m.

    @waterrocket:

    I agree that POD and ebooks are best suited for self-publishing success, but if for whatever reason, you want a printed book, I think you can get a better price from a reputable company that specializes in such things. Most local printers aren't equipped for that. Unless your books are really long and you were ordering a boatload of copies (which you definitely don't want to do ... unless you need extra insulation for your garage), $13,000 sounds high to me. Evanston Publishing is reputable and will give you a quote based on page length and print run.
    Whatever route you follow, however, it's important to recognize that the odds of commercial success are vanishingly small, so you need to be realistic about your skill set (especially in marketing) and about how much money you can afford to commit to the project.

  • John Brown 1000 Laketown, UT
    Jan. 8, 2019 8:28 p.m.

    Water Rocket, if you're going to go indie, you're going to be focused on ebooks. Forget about print. Do what Heather says so the few who want paper can get it POD style. Give up the desire of appearing on the shelves in brick and mortar book stores or libraries. If you're a skater, your sweet spot is on the ice, not doing the shot put, so exploit the ice. When you go indie, your sweet spot is ebooks.

    Entertainment is a business. Approach it as a business. If you open a pizza joint, there are no guarantees you'll make a dime. You're on your own to find and serve people who are hungry for pizzas as best as you can. And to figure out what people want and deliver it to them with your own special twist. Same with writing books :)

    Most new businesses fail. Most new book businesses fail. It's a long shot. But more folks than ever before are figuring it out and making money at it. The US is reading now more than ever. And the money is being distributed among more authors than it ever was. Again, it's still a long shot, but the indie world has allowed more authors to make something decent than ever before.

  • Heather Moore Lehi, UT
    Jan. 8, 2019 5:15 p.m.

    Water Rocket, don't pay for a print run unless you have a distributor & book stores putting in orders. You can do print-on-demand through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon). No money out of pocket unless you have to hire a formatter to get the interior file & print cover ready. Once you have your KDP account set up, you upload your print ready PDF and cover PDF, then Amazon goes through an approval process. Once approved, the book will appear on Amazon, and you will get royalties on any books sold. No pre-paying, no warehousing. You can also order "author copies" at a wholesale rate.

  • water rocket Magna, UT
    Jan. 8, 2019 1:08 p.m.

    I have the complete manuscripts for five books, four of which are self help books, and one is a barn burning novel about an LDS teen having some miraculous spiritual/life experiences. I went to a local book printer who said they could print one of my books in soft back form for $13,000 with no marketing, no placement, nothing other than printing the book. So far what I have found out is that everybody has their hands out for your money, but give no guarantees that you will make money.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 8, 2019 11:20 a.m.

    I agree with Orson that this article is too optimistic. There are a million reasons to write and publish a book, but for the vast majority of writers, even those who are relatively famous, making a living from your book sales is not one of them.

  • Orson Woods Cross, UT
    Jan. 8, 2019 8:27 a.m.

    As a published author, I would say this article is way too optimistic about self-publishing and that readers should pay close attention to the parts that describe self-publishing as a graveyard/wasteland.

    Keep in mind this story talks only about self-publishing novels, non-fiction is not mentioned.

    The publishing industry itself is in trouble and has been contracting for years. Fewer publishers, fewer bookstores, lower royalties, authors expected to market their books, and so forth.

    Self-publishers need to know that after they have spent money for editing and formatting and good covers (paperback usually meaning no dust-jacket) that when their book comes out it will be a guppy in an ocean--tremendously long odds to have any kind of success. Family and friends will expect to be given a copy, not buy one, and they won't read it anyway unless you are pressuring them to act as reviewers.

    Royalties are so thin these days and competition so fierce, be prepared for constant rejection and ego-bruising. Your books will be like your children, but no one else cares about your children. It's a harsh cold cruel business.

    Online publishing might be the way to go for many.