The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why I'm self-publishing a 99¢ ebook

Several months ago, Mike Masnick at Techdirt asked the question "Have We Reached A Tipping Point Where Self-Publishing Is Better Than Getting A Book Deal?" The answer, as he sees it, is definitely yes, at least for may writers. The real services that a publishers provides are editing and marketing and if you can manage these on your own or can independently hire someone to do them for you, then self-publishing really is a better deal. In fact, Masnick noted, a few months after, that "More Authors are Realizing They Can Make A Damn Good Living Self-Releasing Super Cheap eBooks." For many authors, selling cheap e-books in the 99¢ to $2.99 range is much more profitable than going the traditional route simply because of the large amount that publishers take and the small pittance they give to their writers. Again, that's not to say, it's always a bad idea, but it should make a writer think twice about going the traditional publishing route. Last week Kristine Kathryn Rusch went through a long explanation of how poorly publishers really pay writers and that, since publishers no longer control the whole market (since there are ways to publish and distribute without publishers), it simply is just a better idea to get those services independently: you can hire editors to edit, hire designers to design your cover, hire marketers to market, as well as doing these things yourself. According to Yahoo, publishers earn nowadays a 16.1% net profit margin, which is very impressive, ranking them 21 out of 215 industries. And David Friedman similarly argued that the traditional services provided by publishers are more and more being more competitively provided independently of publishers, such that publishing might eventually disappear (or at least radically change).

Most notably, for the digital self-publisher, good money can be made at very low prices. Glenn Reynolds at instapundit, among others, had noted in March the 99¢ kindle ebook trend, and it got picked up by others. Technium showed us the math of how it is that lowering the price from the already cheap $2.99 to 99$ can translate into much higher profits, and Coyote Blog noted how lowering the price for his ebook even helped his far from bestselling title.

While all of this is going on, ebooks have only been growing in popularity and traditional paper books declining. Just today Amazon announced that ebook sales now surpass in sales all forms of print books. This is in terms of numbers of books sold. They noted that for every 100 paper books (including both paperback and hard cover) they sold 105 ebooks. It helps that the ebooks are cheaper, but the overall trend is unmistakeable. Traditional paper publishing is declining.

Admittedly, not all of this really applies to me all that well. I'm an author at the very beginning of his career with limited following who's going to struggle to market his work. But nonetheless there simply is a lot to recommend about going for cheap ebooks: I can publish it much quicker, don't have to spend months finding a publisher, will fully control rights to it and might not even get that much better marketing from the publisher anyways. Thus, I've published my first release, a collection of short stories titled The Merpeople of Old Lagoon & Other Stories for National Short Story Month at 99¢. 99¢ is the cheapest I can sell an ebook for (except free), and it only leaves me 35¢ per book. So, I won't really be seeing anything on this for a while, but we'll keep at it and hope for the best in the long run.

And this summer I'll release a few other works that need to be finalized. And then it'll just be the long hard road of getting my name out. One can't say that the advantage of digital self-publishing is that it's easy.

1 comment:

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