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All Things Writing & Publishing > UK Indie Author Makes it Big

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message 1: by John (new)

John Triptych https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

Not just a feel good story, but here is one tidbit in the article I would like to point out:

Croft’s success comes in the wake of a new report from Enders Analysis, published by the Bookseller, which found that 40 of the 100 top-selling ebooks on Amazon US in March were self-published. Self-publishing is “only going to grow more attractive” as an option for writers, said the report, which went on to warn that it was “the largest threat to incumbent publisher businesses in the medium term ... and publishers cannot be complacent”.



message 2: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1020 comments Thanks for sharing, John! This is an encouragement :).


message 3: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) good data point. although the guardian is a well-respected media producer, i wasn't able to access the Bookseller report b/c i needed a subscription, which leaves me somewhat circumspect. it should be easy to verify, though, by going thru the 100 best sellers, manually. (maybe a project for this weekend).

generally, i'd agree with the statement that self-publishing is "only going to grow more attractive"--if it hasn't already--mostly for the "midlist" (the bestsellers would get the best deals at the big 6 or thru self-publishing).


message 4: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1020 comments I could live comfortably on 2,000 GBP a day :)


message 5: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Thanks, for bringing this story in, John. I might be a bit skeptical (although I think of myself as realistic), so it's good to have someone much more enthusiastic to outweigh my often doubtful approach -:)
I'm pretty excited with indie revolution too and each such story as Croft's shows that there is a chance. It exists. My own experience from communicating with many indies is that most tag their sales as 'abysmal', some as 'good' or 'reasonable' and a few as excellent.
I think the fact that Croft prior to starting his writing career ran an internet marketing company made his choice of the route kinda natural. If I judge by myself, my marketing abilities are minimal. I do learn and try to improve, but I'd rather outsource the entire thing.
In any case, it's good to look at success stories as that's where we should aim and maybe to borrow an idea or two how to improve writing, performance, visibility, sales...


message 6: by M.L. (new)

M.L. John wrote: "https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

Not just a feel good story, but here is one tidbit in the article I would like to point out:

Croft’s..."


Thanks John for the article!

I'm not skeptical! :) There are other indie success stories like this one. The take away is what they are doing and how they are doing it. Happy to hear about this latest.


message 7: by John (new)

John Triptych Nik wrote: "I think the fact that Croft prior to starting his writing career ran an internet marketing company made his choice of the route kinda natural."

Wayne Stinnett was a truck driver, Mark Dawson was a lawyer, Nick Stephenson worked many odd jobs, Andy Weir was a programmer, EL James was a gopher for a film school, and Hugh Howey worked in a bookstore.

The bottom line is that these bestselling authors learned as they went ahead. Your success in this field will be based on a combination of willingness and luck ( both of which can be improved upon).


message 8: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments John wrote: "Wayne Stinnett was a truck driver, Mark Dawson was a lawyer, Nick Stephenson worked many odd jobs, Andy Weir was a programmer, EL James was a gopher for a film school, and Hugh Howey worked in a bookstore..."

Good examples. What I'm saying about Croft though, that people which specialize in internet marketing are 'pre-disposed' to indie route. I'm particularly intrigued by John Locke's (claimed to be the first indie selling over 1 mil copies) success.
And your list of resounding successes can be extended. Unfortunately, the list of lowsellers is uncomparably longer.
Willingness and luck sound like a good tandem for any field of activity and I wish all the members here will have both, succeed and do well -:)


message 9: by Mehreen (last edited Jun 04, 2016 09:00PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Success depends much on what people write. When there is an agreement between the market and the book. We call it success. It has got nothing to do with how many odd jobs writers did.


T. K. Elliott (Tiffany) (t_k_elliott) And hard work!

I don't know about the others, but part of Mark Dawson's strategy has been to publish lots. I read an article by him a while ago, and cranking out books on a regular and frequent basis is one of the elements of his success.

What's even more interesting, though, for those of us who may not make it to selling thousands of copies, is the relative merits of indie vs trad.

The Author Earnings Report for May 2016 makes interesting reading:
http://authorearnings.com/report/may-...
and
http://authorearnings.com/big-five-ma...

Couple that with the blog series Kristine Kathryn Rusch has going, on contracts:
http://www.kristinekathrynrusch.com/

One comes to the inescapable conclusion that if one is approached, say, in the street, by a publisher with a book deal, the most appropriate response is to back away quietly until you get around the corner, then RUN AWAY.

Looking at the Author Earnings reports, you get:
* The market share going to indies is rising steeply, at the expense of Big Five. Small press and single-author press are staying pretty much static.
* There are four times more new (debut in the last 3 years) indie authors earning over $25,000 per year from book sales on Amazon than Big Five authors; five times more indies than small press authors in that bracket.
* Big Five publishers have a weird pricing structure for ebooks - books from debut authors tend to be priced, on average, more expensively than established authors. This pushes readers away from new Big Five authors - if you're going to take a risk on a newbie, pick an indie at a quarter of the price. Or go with one of the old guard where proven track record goes with a slightly lower price.

Then you've got KK Rusch's blog covering the horrible stuff you find in publishing contracts, which adds up to "Most publishers want you to sign away your rights forever, in exchange for a measly few thousand dollars' advance and a miserable 15% royalties, the latter of which you will probably never see."

Honestly, the more I look at it, the more I think that indie is hte way to go, no question. Yes, you have to pay up front yourself for any services like cover design and editing, but at least if your book sells, you have a far better chance of actually getting a decent return than if you went trad.

Your chances of success, with a book of similar quality, presented similarly well, seems to be similar with indie vs trad, since in most cases a publisher will not do any publicity worth mentioning.

More and more sales are happening on Amazon, where indies and trad are on a reasonably level playing field. And given equal chance at sales, indies make more profit per book and price lower, so have the advantage in that regard.

So, the future is as bright as it has ever been for indies, and it's getting brighter all the time.


message 11: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Publishing, selling, marketing that's all writers seem to do these days. Where do you get the time to actually sit down and write?


message 12: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2112 comments Mehreen wrote: "When there is an agreement between the market and the book. We call it success."

Love this!


message 13: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Thank you J.J


message 14: by John (new)

John Triptych Nik wrote: "John wrote: "
And your list of resounding successes can be extended. Unfortunately, the list of lowsellers is uncomparably longer. "


Writing is just like any other business, there's no guarantee you'll be successful. Did you expect anyone who writes a book to become an instant millionaire?

There will be a lucky few who has success with their first book, and the rest have to work for it. If you don't want the hard work then you can do something else.


message 15: by John (new)

John Triptych Mehreen wrote: "Success depends much on what people write. When there is an agreement between the market and the book. We call it success. It has got nothing to do with how many odd jobs the writers' did."

That's a truism, you still have to promote your book. You can write the greatest book in the world and the most marketable one, but if no one knows about it then nobody will buy it.

If you look at the examples of the authors that I mentioned they all had to go through ups and downs, but they persevered and found a way to market their books despite the fact that they had to work their jobs and write too. That is what makes success.

But enough of this arguing. If people don't want to believe and just want to complain then I guess I'm in the wrong group. I'm off to hang out where the successful writers are and learn from them instead of whining all day. Ciao.


message 16: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments John wrote: "But enough of this arguing. If people don't want to believe and just want to complain then I guess I'm in the wrong group. I'm off to hang out where the successful writers are and learn from them instead of whining all day. Ciao...."

Good bye, John. If you find a group where mostly successful writers hang out, please let us know -:) Nonetheless, I hope with your determination you'll make it big time and your example will join those of other mega-successful indies


message 17: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments T. K. Elliott wrote: "And hard work!

I don't know about the others, but part of Mark Dawson's strategy has been to publish lots. I read an article by him a while ago, and cranking out books on a regular and frequent ba..."


Thanks for the up-to-date stats, Tiffany. The charts look good. They answer some of my questions indeed. For example, how many authors make 10K and more per year? A little less than 10,000 (from Amazon only). Is it a big number? Hard to tell. It's just a fraction of the total amount of writers. Don't we all strive to get to those 9990 'successful authors' and then to 5000 making 25K and more? Of course, we all do and the opportunity is there.
How to achieve it? No certain formula. Hard work? Definitely. But I can allocate only so much of my time into promotion and other auxiliary activity for obvious reason of the necessity to earn money doing other things.
So keeping doing what I can so far in the hope that it'll pay off one day -:)


message 18: by Alex (last edited Jun 03, 2016 09:54AM) (new)

Alex (asato) Nik wrote: "John wrote: "But enough of this arguing. If people don't want to believe and just want to complain then I guess I'm in the wrong group. I'm off to hang out where the successful writers are and lear..."

(aww man, we chased him away. pretty soon we won't have anyone left to argue with and play with in our sandbox.)

i think that he had some good pro-indie points, but there were just as many good pro-contract-with-publisher points.

for example, just looking at face value of the stats provided by Enders Analysis, "40 of the 100 top-selling ebooks on Amazon US in March [2016] were self-published," we can say that 60 of the bestsellers were by writers contracted w/publishers (small, mid, and the big 6). clearly, indies are a significant portion of bestsellers--and by extension the midlist too--but writers that contract with publishers are still a big part of the mix.

amazon/smashwords/kobo/ezines (whatever publishing venue) double as both the new slush pile and hybrid publishers/distributors. there's also new hybrid social media/writer/publisher sites (patreon, inkitt, come to mind).

so, you just have to evaluate the various writing/publishing venues. also, just evaluate the contract at the time you get the offer. not all publishers are created equal.

scalzi ($3.4M/13 books/10-year contract w/Tor) had some thoughts on why he went w/Tor instead of indie:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/05/25...

basically, it was a fair contract, it was steady income and he didn't want to do all the marketing.

i wonder how many currently "indie" authors would stick up their nose at a decent contract that looked better in the long run than self-publishing.


message 19: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Alex G wrote: "(aww man, we chased him away. pretty soon we won't have anyone left to argue with and play with in our sandbox.)

i think that he had some good pro-indie points, but there were just as many good pro-contract-with-publisher points. ..."


I will miss John too -:) I appreciated his excited approach and insight he offered, but if he felt debate was not for him, what could I do? And he's too far away to offer him a beer -:)
Indie or trad, each has advantages and drawbacks. I, personally, would appreciate outsourcing the marketing part at the expense of a good part of potential royalties, but if someone else has time, wants to excel and embrace marketing, there is certainly nothing bad with that... Having not outsourced marketing, I have to tackle it though -:)


message 20: by Mehreen (last edited Jun 03, 2016 10:33PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Discussions, unless they are personal attacks on people, should not turn them away. No one whined about book marketing here. I think he has completely taken my words out of context. I merely said, writerly success has nothing to do what odd jobs or the many odd jobs they did.I don't think I was whining about marketing or anything at all? John has clearly misunderstood me. And this is a GREAT group if you ask me.


message 21: by Mehreen (last edited Jun 03, 2016 11:14PM) (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments I didn't realise it would cause such ruckus even to the hypersensitive minds. Given that every writer has the merit to succeed, however, I will say this that just as there is woman behind every man's success, as the cliched saying goes, there has to be a paymaster somewhere behind such writerly success, blind as it maybe, as winning lotto. If you are in the right place with the right people, then success may not be such a far cry after all. They will show you the ropes. Influential people can change people's direction. How to find them is the real challenge!


message 22: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Mehreen wrote: "Discussions, unless they are personal attacks on people, should not turn them away. No one whined about book marketing here. I think he has completely taken my words out of context. I merely said, ..."

No tragedy happened, Mehreen, there is nothing to regret -:)
If someone wants to see only the rosy side of the reality and other facts don't align with his/her world, no problem, there are lots of groups here that focus solely on wonderful things, support each other and ignore less attractive data. In such groups every day some author complains about low sales and 20 others, having similar low sales, convince and support that everything's gonna be great, just a little more effort, another book released and so on... I've nothing against such approach, but this group may truly be not the right place for those, who just want their backs patted -:)
Glad that you enjoy the group


message 23: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Thank you Nik.


message 24: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2112 comments Alex G wrote: "Nik wrote: "John wrote: "But enough of this arguing. If people don't want to believe and just want to complain then I guess I'm in the wrong group. I'm off to hang out where the successful writers ..."

I can understand why indie authors would jump at a contract with a professional publisher in a heartbeat. What I find interesting is that even the elite of the elite authors still choose to publish traditionally.

Someone like Stephen King could put out the worst book imaginable and he'd sell millions - and everyone would sing its praises. His name alone sells books and he shouldn't need the marketing at this point in his career that a publish could offer him. With only a little more of a time investment, he could now find his own editor, and self-publish his work, taking a larger portion of the sales. He certainly doesn't need the money where an advance would make the difference, and you would think he would make out financially in the long-term. All I can figure, it's that same attitude (he doesn't need the money) that keeps him publishing traditionally.

But honestly, this is the attitude you see in the music industry. Artists hit it big, but instead of contentment to continue writing music for the big labels they branch off and start their own labels to keep more control of their work, and help other artists who may not be big enough to get the larger labels' attention (not to mention cash in if those other artists make it big).


message 25: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Personally, I find indie authors really vibrant and passionate. They not only have the artistic freedom but also don't need to worry about appeasing a publisher. Caring for the craft is really what matters in the end, I think.


T. K. Elliott (Tiffany) (t_k_elliott) Nik said:

this group may truly be not the right place for those, who just want their backs patted.

Absolutely! Please continue. And, of course, if one really wants to be successful, empty validation is no use. What you really need is people who are willing to tell you like it is, so you can fix your problems. Just being told "There, there, everything will be fine, you're a great person, you deserve to succeed" is like being given sweets: nice at the time, but ultimately it will rot your teeth.

As to why traditional authors haven't deserted their publishers in droves... well, there's a certain level of "the devil you know".

Plus, if K K Rusch is to be believed, many authors may be tied up in contracts that mean they literally cannot leave unless their publisher lets them.

From our (lowly!) point of view, with regard to marketing, it's worth remembering that - as far as I've been able to find - publishers tend to concentrate their marketing efforts on authors who have already made it big. That is, the ones whose names will sell books whatever they write. The publicity budget for mid-list and debut authors can be much, much lower - if it exists at all. There are plenty of horror stories from new writers who were promised the earth by their publisher, only to be treated like dirt...

It is certainly not safe to assume that by accepting a trad publishing contract, all (or even most) necessary publicity will be done by the publisher.

From what I have read, trad publishing is going to have to change if it is to survive. Obviously it won't disappear within the next five years, but their business model as is does not work well when authors have alternatives - which they now do. It will be very interesting to watch - preferably from a safe distance!


message 27: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Disgruntled authors find solace in nothing. In the end, bitterness will consume them. To survive in this rapidly changing world, one needs to hang in there, do what is practicable. It will be interesting to see how the publishing world changes. No matter which way the tide goes, there will always be winners and losers.


message 28: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments J.J. wrote: "I can understand why indie authors would jump at a contract with a professional publisher in a heartbeat. What I find interesting is that even the elite of the elite authors still choose to publish traditionally...."

I also think that the indie route is perfect for the established brands, because with the huge army of fans it doesn't really matter what they throw to the market, it's gonna be grabbed by hundred thousands probably...
The reasons why they stay with the publishers may vary. Some, as Tiffany mentions, may be locked with the contracts, some others may think that 'best is the enemy of the good' or prefer to do the art only, where they shoot their first rough draft to the army of editors, marketing team and so on without getting their hands dirty....


message 29: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments T. K. Elliott wrote: "It is certainly not safe to assume that by accepting a trad publishing contract, all (or even most) necessary publicity will be done by the publisher..."

Yeah, there is no much advantage to go with the trad, if they don't undertake the marketing burden... And here the agents should come into the picture to ensure the writer they represent gets a fair deal of exposure...
For better or worse, I'm myself indie, so the hardships of the publishers have just a theoretical significance to me -:)
But if to look at the bigger picture, I think the trends are quite interesting. The paper books give way to other merchandise on the shelves of the bookstores, which may disappear at some stage or re-orient to something else. With the growing share of the e-commerce, the online selling plarforms should gain the biggest say in the literary biz and I'm not sure all trad publishers will know how to adapt. BTW, I'm not that sure about Amazon's future domination either, if I compare how Aliexpress with its mostly free shipping pushes ebay & amazon out of other niches... It may be that most big players still haven't paid serious attention to the e-books market...


message 30: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments In today's publishing world, most books are not marketed by publishers. Except perhaps the big five, small presses depend hugely on the author to collect reviews, sell so on and so forth. However, vanity publishing or self publishing is not new. This trend has been there forever. Hogarth Press was run by Virginia Woolf's, husband Leonard who allowed her to indulge in experimental writing, without which the world would be poorer today. I doubt it that she would have got any of her works published if she had taken the traditional route for her books.


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