Fighting With Both Hands

18 April 2015

From author David Gaughran:

My goals and dreams have changed a lot since I started self-publishing in 2011. I haven’t been a big success, but I’ve been able to tick off little career milestones along the way. Some months my sales are wonderful, some months they are terrible – generally a function of how long it is since I released or promoted something. Overall, the good months more than outweigh the bad and I’ve been scratching out a living for a while now.

Dream: achieved.

But, as all writers know, the sales maw is insatiable. I’ve been noodling ways to take my career to the next level.

I feel like I’ve got a good handle on the publishing/marketing side of things, but I’m still serving my apprenticeship as a writer – especially as a writer of fiction. Non-fiction comes naturally to me. I find it quicker and easier and (much) less of a brain-melting puzzle. Whereas, fiction is much more of a challenge – probably why I find it ultimately more satisfying.

. . . .

Simon asked why I wrote all over the map: short stories, science fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, and asked if that was something I would recommend to others.

I believe my reply was something like “Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha… no” before comparing it to fighting with one hand behind your back.

If you look at my output since I started self-publishing it’s, eh, a bit of a mess. I first published a pair of short stories which could be classified as literary fiction, or weird fiction, or slipstream, or whatever. Next was a meatier SF short. Then a book for writers. That was followed by a historical novel more towards the “literary” end of the spectrum. Then another book for writers. Next, I spent quite a bit of time on a dystopian project that ultimately got shelved. After that, another historical novel, but this one was more towards the “action/adventure” end of the spectrum. And so on.

. . . .

I think this is a phase a lot of writers go through – maybe it’s something they need to get out of their system. Most seem to do it at the start, before they find their groove, but we’ve all seen successful authors walk away from a cash cow to write something totally unrelated, and then return to the series/genre that was making them money (when the side-project – as is often the case – generates underwhelming sales).

. . . .

It was time for a wake-up call, which came in the form of a speech Bella Andre delivered at the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, where she explained how she went from kind of treading water in traditional publishing to being a multi-million selling self-publisher.

The fascinating part was that she actually sat down and analyzed the market and concluded that (a) most mega-selling authors had a long-running series, (b) often didn’t hit that crazy breakout level of success until as late as the fifth book in a series, and (c) publishers didn’t like offering longer than two- or three-book deals (and, obviously, cut authors loose if the numbers weren’t amazing, or asked them to start a new series, or new pen-name, or whatever).

Bella Andre concluded, if memory serves, that she was going to write a five-book series and self-publish it. Or maybe it was eight books. Either way, the rest is history.

Her new series was an astonishing success and I think it’s up to ten or eleven books now.

. . . .

A light bulb went off (on?) in my head, especially when Bella advised finding the overlap between what you like to write, and what sells. I decided to try sketching out a series that was a little more commercial but still satisfied me creatively. I don’t really mean that in an overly arty sense – it’s more that I can lose focus if I’m not engaged with the idea (see: any number of abandoned WIPs on my hard drive).

Link to the rest at Let’s Get Digital and thanks to Barb for the tip.

Here’s a link to David Gaughran’s books

Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer

18 April 2015

From Forbes:

The London Book Fair lands on an unusually sunny three days in the capital. The scorching rays – rarely seen at all, let alone in April in the UK – seem at odds with a closed-off indoor book fair. But that hasn’t stopped scores of page-turner enthusiasts scouring the giant exhibition centre’s main floor, looking for publishers to schmooze, books to buy and advice to receive.

It’s the advice from authors who’ve ‘made it’ that seems to resonate most with attendees. Seminars and workshops are scattered in between the stands – all packed with a baying audience that fire off seemingly endless questions. They’re all trying to piece together an escape route out of the doldrums of full-time work.

One man, Mark Dawson, has a queue of wannabe writers lining up to speak to him as we sit down for an interview. Dawson is one of the self-publishing success stories that Amazon likes to wheel out when journalists like myself come knocking. But Dawson’s success isn’t down to simply publishing his crime-thriller series and hoping for the best.

. . . .

Dawson has become an entrepreneur. With the self-publishing platform, he had no choice. The tactics he employed to promote his series aren’t game-changing, or even particularly clever, but the scale in which he implemented them is what made the difference.

To date he has sold over 300,000 copies of his series about an assassin called John Milton. Dawson says he pocketed “ six figures” last year and he’s on course to make much more this year. And he’s got plans for bigger and better things for this series outside of print form.

Dawson’s recent success isn’t representative of his time in publishing, however. He actually had a book published by Pan Books called “The Art of Falling Apart” in 2000, which completely bombed. Not because because it was bad – ironically it’s now available on Kindle and has 32 five-star reviews out of 39 – but because few people read it or are aware of it. Mark puts the book’s failure down to the publishers inability to promote his work and generate any sort of interest.

. . . .

“I live in the countryside outside of Salisbury [in the UK] – there are lots of farmers’ fields and one farmer was bringing in his crops. I was cycling my bike and I decided to take a break. I parked my bike, sat down with my back against this tree and got my phone out. Miraculously I managed to get some signal and I thought ‘I’ll check how the book is doing’.

. . . .

Incredibly,Dawson had sold 50,000 copies of The Black Mile over the course of a weekend.

But he was immediately presented with two problems. The first was that he’d made no money whatsoever from The Black Mile, a book he’d poured hours of research and travel into [because it was free]. The second was that he had no follow-up book for his new fanbase to dig in to.

It was at this point that Dawson went from being a simple author to an entrepreneur.

“It was a wasted opportunity.” Dawson admits. “ But it did give me a kick up the arse and proved to me that this is legitimate and that I should write a new book, so I did.”

. . . .

To get new readers onboard, Dawson does the usual stuff like getting blogs to review his books. But what he says works the most is Facebook advertising. Dawson is pumping $370 a day into Facebook advertising and he’s receiving double that in return on investment.

Link to the rest at Forbes 

London Book Fair 2015: Self-Publishing Smashes Through

16 April 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

Once again, events tailored to independent and self-published authors at the London Book Fair’s Author HQ were jam-packed, and among the London Book Fair’s most popular offerings. PW checks in with a leading indie service provider, Smashwords founder Mark Coker, about the state of self-publishing in 2015, and what the future holds.

So, to start, give us a sense of where you see the self-publishing market in 2015, and what you see going forward?

When I started Smashwords back in 2008, there was a tremendous stigma associated with self publishing. Self -published authors were seen as failed authors, and in a sense this was true because it was a print-centric world back then, and without the help of a publisher authors couldn’t get distribution into bookstores. But thanks to the rise of e-books, authors now have the chance to be judged by readers.

In 2015, self published authors are learning to think and act like professional publishers. They’re embracing best practices, and learning to use professional tools of the trade such as pre-orders, professional cover design and they’re hiring professional editors. And readers have responded positively. But, for self-published authors, for all authors, in fact, the easy days are over. There’s now a glut of high-quality low-cost e-books out there, and that glut will only increase as more authors up their game, and as more authors self-publish.

How do you see the impact of self-publishing being felt in the traditional publishing industry?

I think traditional publishing still doesn’t fully grok the impact self-publishing is going to have on their businesses. Self-publishing isn’t for every writer. Many writers would much rather outsource the publishing process to a publisher so they can focus on writing. But I think many authors are unsatisfied with things like publishers paying 25% net on e-books, and many are questioning the value-add of publishers.

The other week I interviewed a romance author, Jamie McGuire, who started out at Smashwords and Amazon in 2011, hit the New York Times bestseller list with Beautiful Disaster, and then sold her rights to Atria in a two-book deal. She loved her experience at Atria. She said they felt like family. But a year ago she decided to return to self publishing, because she couldn’t justify surrendering her e-book rights forever to a publisher. When authors who love publishers leave publishers, it’s a problem.

I think traditional publishing and self-publishing are complementary. Each can make the other stronger. But most traditional publishers still practice a culture of no, rejecting most of what comes in the door, and they still view this rejection as a core value-add. I think publishers can no longer take their power for granted, and need to recognize they are service providers to authors. And to better serve their clients, publishers will need develop a broader spectrum of services so they can say yes to more authors.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Jones warns on ‘internecine’ book wars

16 April 2015

From The Bookseller:

The shift to social reading is “liable to consign the traditional publisher and many a writer to decline and defeat in the Civil War for Books”, Philip Gwyn Jones is to say today (16th April), with the reader becoming the prize.

In a speech at the London Book Fair this afternoon, Gwyn Jones will say that the book itself “will become less commercially valuable than the details around its sales transaction – when it was done, where it was done, amongst what other activities, alongside what other purchases”.

The “Where is the Money Going?: The Civil War for Books” seminar at 1pm will look at where the money is literature is going and whether anyone is “raking it in”.

. . . .

Over the last few years, the book industry has been “stuck in our very own World War One re-enactment, in trench warfare over where the money lines are drawn”, Gwyn Jones will say.

“The skirmishes in the global book industry are internecine and unrelenting: the independent authors bombard the traditional publishers; the traditional authors bombard the literary festival directors; the traditional publishers bombard the retailers; academics denounce those who would defend copyright as traitors to the public good; and the retailers take the publishers to courts martial” says Gwyn Jones. “With the new armaments of disruption and disintermediation whirring nicely, the ‘creative destruction’ of techno-capitalism is at full tilt in the business of writing. But who will taste defeat first? Will it be the publishers? Or the booksellers? Agents? Or, dread thought, might it be the writers? Mounted on my high horse, surveying the scene, I fear it is another regiment on this clamorous battlefield which is most in peril. The Readers.”

Gwyn Jones will say that the traditional copyright payment structure “will come under ever greater pressure” as the “cost of copying approaches absolute zero in the digital space, and the belief hardens that ‘sharing’ writing on the Internet by hyperlinking is not the theft it would be deemed to be were it to take place in print”.

. . . .

“Which is why the income to be had from live events might become crucial to writers,” Gwyn Jones will say. “Readers increasingly want intimacy: access to writers, online and in person. They seek proximity, to share an experience with writers, conversation, observation, questioning, at literary festivals and at the new salons like Damian Barr’s, Pin Drop, Local Transport, Intelligence Squared et al, and beyond that in other initiatives where writers sell their unique wisdom in person.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Weinstein Company Acquires Book, Film Rights to Self-Published Hit

15 April 2015

From The Wrap:

French self-publishing success “Happy People Read and Drink Coffee” will see new life in the United States with The Weinstein Company (TWC) picking up rights to publish the book and adapt it for the big screen, the company announced Tuesday.

French writer Agnes Martin-Lugand’s debut novel was a self-publishing smash success in France, where the book outsold “Fifty Shades of Grey” and landed at the top of the French Kindle bestseller list in 2013.

The story follows Diane, who is still mired in grief, her cafe no longer a sanctuary, after the loss of her husband and daughter in a car accident a year prior. Searching for a way to remain close to her husband, Diane takes a trip to a place he always wanted to visit: Ireland. Once there, Diane discovers a whole new sanctuary in the form of a bitter and mysterious neighbor, and must decide whether she is ready — or able — to love again.

. . . .

“As lover of French culture, I couldn’t be more excited to be on board with Agnes Martin-Lugand’s fantastic novel,” said Yazdi in a statement. “It’s a huge thrill to bring the book stateside and we greatly look forward to working with Maeva, Sebastien and the Source Films team in giving the book’s millions of fans a big screen adaptation.”

Link to the rest at The Wrap

Hybrid Publishing: Getting a Handle on the New Middle Ground

14 April 2015

From The Huffington Post Blogs:

It’s strange, but this word — “hybrid” — is somewhat controversial in some publishing circles. I guess, like a lot of terms, there are certain people and even factions who want ownership of it, and others who want to distance themselves from it. I came across a guy online who claimed to have “coined” the term in 2011, but the origins of hybrid publishing go back at least another full decade, if not farther.

My introduction to hybrid publishing coincided with my introduction to publishing in 2000, when I landed a job at North Atlantic Books in Berkeley. They had in place a hybrid publishing agreement with some of their authors that offered creative terms — usually in which the author paid for some or all of their production and print costs in exchange for higher royalty rates. North Atlantic is hardly the only publisher to have ever cut deals like this, and the longer I’ve been in the industry the more I’ve seen how commonplace this practice actually is, especially in smaller houses and especially among business-minded authors.

. . . .

1. Traditional publishers who’ve been brokering hybrid deals for years. All it means to have a hybrid publishing agreement in this context is that the author pays up front in some capacity. It was my early exposure to this kind of publishing that gave me the foundation for She Writes Press, the “hybrid” publishing company I co-founded that falls under partnership publishing below.

. . . .

2. Partnership publishing models. Models like these include She Writes Press. We are a publishing company, and our authors pay to publish under our imprint. The authors keep a high percentage of their royalties, so they absorb the financial risk of their publishing endeavor. We offer traditional distribution and the benefits that brings, including the ability to have your books preordered and your data streamlined; a curated, selective acquisitions process; and we have a publisher at the helm making sure there’s a cohesive vision and that all of the books are adhering to a level of quality that’s on par with traditional publishing. Another benefit unique to publishers who have traditional distribution is that they qualify to submit their books to the traditional review channels, like PW, Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal.

. . . .

3. Agent-assisted publishing models. Many agents are starting their own publishing companies to publish the works of authors whose books they cannot sell. For the most part, these efforts are valiant.

. . . .

The real qualifier of a hybrid publisher is that the author pays to publish. The payoff for the author is the much-higher royalty, and that someone else does the heavy lifting of publishing the book (and in the cases of partnering with a traditional or partnership press, you’re benefiting from their industry relationships as well).

Link to the rest at HuffPo and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Want to Succeed in Self-Publishing? Do Your Research: Tips from an Indie Author

12 April 2015

An article featuring TPVregular Anthea Lawson from Publishers Weekly:

When Kensington Books didn’t renew Anthea Lawson’s contract, she was at a loss. But the RITA-Award finalist and author of the traditionally published romances All He Desires and Passionate didn’t let this dissuade her. Instead, she “took the plunge” into self-publishing, and her most recent effort, Mistress of Melody, received a starred, boxed review withPublishers Weekly calling it “entertaining and satisfying,” as well as a “well-paced, humorous love story will delight fans of daring Victorian cross-class romances.”

. . . .

We asked Lawson if she had any tips for authors entering the world of self-publishing.

Set High Standards

“I started out with some bad self-made covers, and was successful despite that. It’s a lot harder to do, now. The standard for indie authors in terms of professionally designed covers, well-formatted books, and good editing, is now quite high—which benefits us all. If you can’t afford a professionally designed cover and copy-editing, save up until you can. Check out the wide array of excellent pre-made e-book cover sites out there. Get recommendations for a good copy-editor (not necessarily a content editor — know the difference!) for your work. These things are essential.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Here’s a link to Anthea Lawson’s books

Fifty shades of green – now Irish authors self-publish in search of fame and fortune

12 April 2015


If you’re an aspiring author with visions of becoming the next EL James or Stephen King, then self-publishing could be the key to best-selling success.

More and more of the country’s writing talents are now turning to the ‘DIY’ approach to book publishing.

Nearly 460,000 titles were self-published in 2013 across the globe, up fivefold in five years, according to the research group Bowker.

. . . .

Andrew Haworth, from website, says an “end to the stigma” associated with self-published books has led to more authors coming to him.

“Most people who come to us will have already written their books and are trying to get it out in the public domain.

“In the past, there was some stigma in that it was for authors who couldn’t find a publisher. Some authors who come to us have tried to get their book published by a publishing house and not got there.

“It doesn’t mean their book is not good, it just means the publishing house needs to sell a few thousand copies to break even.”

. . . .

Marie also developed her idea as an eBook, and was able to sell 1,000 copies for €10, with €7 from each sale going directly to the charity.

“I wanted to get it made as cheaply as possible to get the highest return for the charity,” she said. “Making it an eBook opened it up and effectively makes it available anywhere in the world.”

Link to the rest at

The Industry View – Alison Baverstock

11 April 2015

From Words with JAM:

What do you see as the three key changes in publishing since 2010? 

[Associate Professor Alison Baverstock:] The first must be the rise on rise of digital, which has both revolutionised the speed and reach with which content can be made available.

The second is the rise on rise of self-publishing, which far from being a mark of shame is now a badge of proactivity.

The third is the breaking down of publishing structures and the launch of so many new ones – new companies, new services and new formats. It fascinates me to see how many different ways in which content can be shared, supported and commented upon.

And what are the impacts of those?

For publishers, agents and readers, the impact of self-publishing is a vast increase in the amount of content available. The reader is having to make more effort to decide how to spend their time, and we are seeing a real shift in how people access material they want to read.

While the speed with which material can be made available is mind boggling, the same principles for sharing apply – don’t press publish until you are ready to be judged by what you have written. You really can only make a first impression once.

Words with JAM is all about writers, but I imagine the shifting landscape has affected many other areas of the industry.

Yes absolutely. For example, I have just done a large piece of research on how self-publishing is affecting the lives of freelance editors. It’s fascinating. It seems the traditional assumption that the difference between a published and self-published book was the involvement of an editor, is regularly not true. Rather, self-publishers are now becoming a regular source of income to freelance editors. The impact of self-publishing on independent editors is a wider market for their work, a broader acknowledgement of their role – and possibly increased rates of pay.

Link to the rest at Words with JAM and thanks to Joanna for the tip.

Self-Published Author Meredith Wild Inks $7M Book Deal

9 April 2015

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Meredith Wild, whose erotic Hacker series has been a self-publishing success, has got a book deal.

The 32-year-old author signed with Grand Central Publishing’s Forever imprint for $7 million,according to the Associated Press. Her series has appeared on both the New York Times andThe Wall Street Journal best-seller lists.

The initial four books of the series were self-published, beginning with Hardwired in 2013. GCP says the series has sold 1.2 million e-book copies and approximately 200,000 print-on-demand trade paperbacks.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

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