Self-publishing has really opened that stiff iron door of getting your book out there to a much wider audience. Writers and authors can connect with their reader on a much more personal level and the introduction of schemes such as KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has led the way of getting our work out there into the public domain. Not one author can deny that this platform has been useful to them and made them feel ecstatic, especially when you’ve made your first sale. However, with KDP and similar platforms (smashwords etc …) being so popular nowadays, has this made the book world so much more competitive?
Well actually, I have to say in my own opinion that yes it has made things much more competitive. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean I’m sure in the traditional publishing world there is as much, possibly even more, competition. But being a traditionally published author, generally means that promotion, price and other finite details are taken care of, and of course you are under contract, which possibly means that you are dedicated solely on your writing. Self-published writers rarely make enough money to live off, and so a day (or night) job is required to be able to live, pay bills, buy food … And so this leads onto another interesting question – how do you price your own ebook?
I remember reading an article not too long ago, where it went on to say that you should not undervalue your own work. Price it reasonably and the quality will shine through. OK – so if you bare this information in mind, how do you go about putting a value in currency terms, on your book? Surely, if a book has taken years to piece together, then simply pricing it at 99 pence is a little insulting. Maybe £4.99 may seem more appropriate.
Yet, if you do your market research and scan the prices of the books that you are competing against, you’ll probably find that £4.99 is incredibly expensive. If a fantasy reader has a wishlist of books to buy and twenty of them are far cheaper than yours, well I’m sure you get the picture. There are going to be authors out there that have no interest in becoming a writer full-time. They enjoy writing as a hobby and may not worry about the profits their books make. Just writing is enough of a payment for them. Then again, there are some of us out there that actually do want to be able to write full-time. Yes, the writing means so much to us, but then again becoming known and getting stable buys are also high up on that to-do list. By selling your book at cheap price may get your sales, but will it really stand out and be noticed?
I think it is extremely fair to say that programs such as KDP have actually forced you to price your own work considerably low. If you want to compete with other authors, you have to beat what your competitors are offering, and as a reader doesn’t know if books are good until they’ve read them, the price is going to be one of those make it/break it decisions. Its simple business – price it high and you’ll get overlooked, price it low and you may make enough sales to be able to buy yourself a little something nice.
Despite a lot of work going into self-published titles, the actual term ‘self-published’ is still seen in a derogatory light by some and no matter how much promotion, how many interviews, how many giveaways you do – some people will still not buy your book. And with many authors now offering their work for ‘free’, well it becomes even harder to stand out.
But there have been many examples of self-published authors who have gone on to be signed by publishing houses, simply on the basis of sales. Wool by Hugh Howey is a prime example of when self-publishing has become a platform for much bigger things. Now a series, and with a movie deal already signed, Hugh Howey has shown that self-publishing can work. But I think it’s fair to say that although as brilliant as it is, it’s also rare. There are hundreds of thousands of authors out there on KDP, and many of us are still eagerly awaiting that letter or email saying that they would like to meet you for a meeting to discuss a million dollar movie deal. The real world just doesn’t work like that.
So – what are we self-published authors to do? Write more? Promote more? Prayer? I’m afraid I don’t have all the answers that will make fellow writers millionaires, but I do suggest growing a pair of hardy boots and stand firm. Respect your work, but also play the game. If you need to sell your work for less, then be patient and put your ego to one side. Keep sending off those letters and scripts to agents/publishers though, because it only takes one person to become interested in you.
What do you guys think? How have you managed the promotion? How have you priced your ebook?
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