There are a lot of debates happening online over the self-publishing movement. Some people are screaming that the ebook bubble has burst because sales have flatlined for the first time in years. I don’t think so, but it will eventually…several years from now. Others are attacking the technology bringing readers ebooks. Talk about a lost cause. Then there’s the other side, the creator side of the coin. The most vocal of this particular group seems to be traditionally published authors. Their opponent isn’t the format or the tech. They fight is aimed at other traditionally published authors, who have ventured into self-publishing. Some of the traditional authors rallying have tried self-publishing without a lot of success. Some are too frightened to even consider it. I was one of those authors who thought I’d never try self-publishing. NEVER. Nine traditional books and nine epub books later, I’m finding it difficult to imagine ever going back.
Although self-publishing is a lot of work (i.e. covers, formatting, editing, isbn’s, etc.), I’m having the most fun writing that I’ve had in YEARS. Self-publishing has brought back my love of writing. I didn’t realize how much the traditional business end of publishing had interfered with that joy, until it was removed from the equation. Could I have self-published when I first started out? Yes, but for me, it would’ve been a BIG mistake. I didn’t understand how to write a book or edit a book. Heck, I’m still learning how. I needed the time I spent entering contests and submitting to epubs to learn the craft. Even now, I wouldn’t trust myself with editing anything over 30K. It’s just too easy to ‘miss’ mistakes and leave out important stuff that should be in the story. It’s why I intend to hire an editor for my longer works.
One of the things I’m seeing lately is frustration from a lot of traditionally published authors, who’ve released a self-published work (new and backlist). Their expectations are not being met. One commonality that all the authors seem to share is they haven’t given their releases enough time to catch on. They expected to have a nice income within a couple of months of their releases. They also haven’t released many books. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but that hasn’t been the case for me. J.A. Konrath was right. You have to continue to release books to build up your ‘shelf space’. Two years ago, a writer could release an ebook and have a pretty good chance (if the book was decent) of hitting it out of the park. That was before the tsunami of self-published authors hit. Now, it takes time to find/build an audience.
I’m still working on building an audience. Like many of you remember from one of my earlier blog posts, I FINALLY had a jump in sales last November. It took me ten/eleven months to do so. Yep, nearly a year to ‘start’ finding my audience. Part of it is because of the minor popularity of a pre-existing series (thank you Phantom Warriors), but I believe most of it comes from releasing new work. I also believe it’s taken that long for readers to FIND me.
I have no doubt it is frustrating for traditionally published authors who’ve already established their reader base to have so-so ebook sales. I was frustrated in the beginning, too. And I was not working with a big reader base. It was made worse by knowing that my reader base like my writing is all over the place. (Yes, I love to write in multiple genres, so shoot me.) What the authors that aren’t already huge have to keep in mind is that building an online readership is a bit like starting over in the business. Sure, they may have heard your name before, but that doesn’t mean they’ve read any of your work. You have to ‘prove’ yourself to the new audience and that unfortunately takes time. So be patient and keep at it. The readers and the algorithms will eventually catch up.