Category Archives: Self Publishing

Terry Goodkind’s First Rule: Self-Publish

Bestselling fantasy author Terry Goodkind released his latest book, The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus) as a self-published book in both Kindle format and print on July 2. Sales skyrocketed on day one with the book coming in at #28 on Amazon’s bestseller list. Today the Kindle version has slipped to #73. Obviously loyal fans were waiting to get their downloads after the pre-publicity that involved a lot of social networking.

Terry Goodkind’s fanatasy novel series that began with Wizard’s First Rule has a huge readership, so the Amazon results are no surprise. But what do these # ratings mean in terms of actual sales?

How to Estimate Sales From Amazon #Ratings

Here’s an estimate of how to work out your sales from your Amazon rating. Obviously these figures are not set in stone but it’s a broad estimate of what to expect in terms of revenue when self-publishing an ebook. Starting from the bottom:

#Rating Sales per month
200,000+ 1
175,000-199,000 2
150,000 to 174,999 4
125,000 to 149,999 8
100,000 to 124,999 10
75,000 to 99,999  25
50,000 to 74,999  35
40,000 to 49,999 55
30,000 to 39,999 75
25,000 to 29,999 100
20,000 to 24,999 200
15,000 to 19,999 300
10,000 to 14,999 400
5,000 to 9,999 650
1,000 to 4999 1500
1 to 499 2500

But there are always exceptions to rules. Currently Jennifer Probst has sold nearly half a million units of her bestseller The Marriage Bargain and sales are still going strong at 5,000-copies-per-day.

Terry Goodkind’s First Rule: Self-Publish

In an earlier post I discussed Terry Goodkind’s decision to self-publish as opposed to taking the traditional publishing option. Presumably the book publishers were getting the largest share of the ebook price.

Note: Unless an author retains the electronic rights when signing with a print publisher, it’s likely that the writer’s share of the ebook profits will be very small.

According to my estimate above, The First Confessor is selling at least 2,500 copies per month. The digital price is currently $8.99 so the take home fee for each book @ 70% or thereabouts is around $6.30. Multiply that by the number of sales and you get a figure close to $15,750 per month. You can see why Terry Goodkind’s First Rule is Self-Publishing.

Is Self-Publishing A Good Idea?

There are many inspiring stories around just now from authors who have made it big by self-publishing their work rather than taking the long and often depressing route of traditional publishing. However, before jumping into this e-river of stories and information it might be wise to reflect on the reasons for doing so.

After having had some success with traditional publishing  Andrew Galesetti decided to question why he would now move into self-publishing and become an indie author.

The questions weren’t only about whether or not I would make more money. They required deep thought. Self-reflection is important for the business AND, more importantly, the soul of self-publishing.

Here’s my take on the questions and answers he came up with.

How Does Self-Publishing Benefit Readers?

Authors need to consider the audience they are writing for.

  • Readers obviously benefit from being able to buy books at lower prices. Some e-books sell for as low as 99c.
  • And then there’s the benefit of being able to access books instantly. Perhaps browsing online is not as rewarding as browsing through bookstores but when I’m desperate to find something to read having a seemingly endless supply of books available for instant download has to be a plus.

Is it Worth Waiting in Line to be Published?

Self-publishing is practically instantaneous – push the ‘publish’ button and your book is out there. Well, not quite. There is a small waiting period while Amazon, for example, reviews the content to make sure it meets their publishing requirements, but this often takes no more than a few hours.

What Skills do You Need to Self-publish?

Apart from writing, are you prepared to become the editor, typesetter, cover designer, marketer,  and so on? Would your book benefit from a more professional edit? Do you need to outsource some of these skills before deciding to self-publish?

How Badly do You Want to be Published?

This is perhaps the one question that really carries most weight. Here’s how Andrew Galesetti answered it.

Writing and publishing a book, whether traditionally or independently, is an ambitious endeavor that requires determination, creativity, talent, know-how, practice, physical and mental strength, and other skills, traits, and mindsets. But there is another element, something that can’t really be defined, which sets indie publishing apart from the traditional route.

Since I have yet to define it, I just ask myself: “How bad do I want it?”

This question, and what it reminds me of, is all I needed to confirm my choice to self-publish and all I need to keep me pushing forward when things become challenging.

It’s because To Breathe Free isn’t just for readers or for me, but for my late Grandfather.

If, like many authors, you’ve spent literally years waiting in line for a traditional publisher to pick up your manuscript you will probably opt for self-publishing.

After his grandfather passed away the author found a collection of his poems from many years ago written in pencil on small sheets of notepaper. The poems inspired him with a passion to publish and to use the resources that were unavailable to authors and poets in the past.

When I ask myself: “How bad do you want it?” I remember what I’m doing for my Grandfather. Any obstacle that self-publishing puts in front of me is no match for the intense fire burning within me.

This is an inspring story from an author who really cared to question his abilities and his needs. Are you prepared to take on the challenges of self-publishing? Do you have the passion to make it happen?


Indie Publishing or Waiting In Line

Print On Demand How It Works

For authors considering self-publishing there are now a number of ways to get into print that don’t involve costly contracts or big up-front expenses. Print on Demand is one way to get published and it’s becoming more popular now that this service is offered by major booksellers instore.

How does Print On Demand work?

Here’s a summary of one type of Print On Demand service:

  • You start with PDF files of your book.
  • The files are either downloaded from a database or uploaded directly in the bookstore.
  • The book printing process is not a lot different to the way sophisticated office printers work. The pages are printed in black and white, double sided, on 8.5” x 11” paper, by a laser jet printer.
  • While this is happening the cover is being printed by a full-color inkjet printer on a 17” x11” (tabloid) sheet of coverstock.
  • Then all components are glued together, the book is trimmed down to size, and it slides out of the machine ready to be picked up and read.

What are the advantages of Print On Demand?

The main advantage is that you have complete control of your book. As author you get to retain all the distribution rights, set the price yourself and print as many or as few copies as you want.

Booksellers who offer this service such as Politics and Prose in Washington DC will offer to take your book and sell it instore or through their website, provided it meets their review standards.

What does it cost?

Most printers charge setup fees and these will vary according to the amount of preparation work they need to do. For example, if your book is ready to go the setup fee could be as little as $20. If on the other hand you want input such as a file review, a copyright page added or a standard template cover, the setup cost will rise accordingly.

Printing costs are reasonable – I’ve seen quotes of $7 per book printed, plus 2 cents per page. This means that a book with 100 pages will cost $9 to print. Discounts are generally available for bulk printing – the more you print the cheaper the cost.

So if you sell your book for, say, $15 per copy you’ve made $6 profit. That’s not bad considering the absolutely woeful percentage offered to authors by major publishers.

Another advantage – no waste

Print on Demand is an environmentally sound process in that there is no mountain of pulp fiction going to landfill. And if you’ve been through the traditional publishing process, unless you happen to be a bestselling author you’ll know how it feels to have a shed full of books that will never go anywhere. Having the ability to just print what you think you can sell is a far better alternative.

Self-publishing is now also becoming popular with bestselling authors. See my previous article on Terry Goodkind’s new release.

Ebook News: Terry Goodkind To Self-Publish

Aspiring fantasy authors can take heart from this ebook news snippet that one of the major players in the fantasy fiction genre, Terry Goodkind, has decided to self-publish his next book in the ongoing Sword Of Truth saga.

The Sword of Truth series sold twenty-five million copies worldwide and was translated into more than twenty languages. It was adapted into a television series called Legend of the Seeker; it premiered on November 1, 2008 and ran for two seasons, ending in May, 2010.

source: Wikipedia

Promo video for the new book

I found this rather startling video on YouTube. If you’re a Terry Goodkind fan you’ll probably understand. Warning: The sound is very LOUD.

So the question is – why would a top selling author decide to go the self-publishing route rather than stick with traditional publishers who have obviously looked after his interests?

Ebook News From Terry Goodkind on Facebook

Terry Goodkind’s Facebook page doesn’t actually give us an answer, but here’s the description:

The new novel is titled THE FIRST CONFESSOR: The Legend of Magda Searus. It will be available on July-2, this year. 18 days from now. English release, simultaneous and world-wide. There will be three formats available; ebook (available on all platforms including iPad, Nook, Kindle, etc), a printed and limited Collector’s Edition, and an audiobook version. The ebook price will be $9.99, on sale for $8.99 the first week only. More details on the Collector’s Edition and Audiobook will be revealed this weekend.

Terry Goodkind’s books are currently selling on Amazon Kindle at similar prices. Assuming Amazon takes 30% or thereabouts, how is the rest divided up between the publisher and the author? That would be interesting to know and could give us a clue as to why this particular author has decided to go down the self-publishing road.

Hope this little snippet of ebook news was enlightening – and encouraging!

Indie Publishing Or Waiting In Line

Indie publishing (or self-publishing for those who prefer) is causing a lot of excitement right now due to the fact that the big online booksellers such as Amazon and Apple et al are making the means readily available for authors to get their precious words distributed for very little cost. Never before has it been so easy to get your book published, but how easy is it to get that same book delivered into the hands of readers?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has come up with a neat description of the process of either traditional or indie publishing. She refers to indie or self publishing as ‘Hurry Up and Wait’, while traditional publishing is turned around into ‘Wait and Hurry Up’. Here’s why.


Indie Publishing is Hurry Up And Wait

Hurry Up and Wait

…could be another name for indie publishing. You finish a book or a short story or a blog post [cough, cough], and you want it out in the hands of readers right now.

Actually, all writers want their books in the hands of readers right now, but some writers are willing to delay that gratification for other reasons, which we’ll get to.

You have the finished manuscript edited, copy edited, and proofed. You design a cover, follow all the instructions to distribute your book electronically and in print-on-demand formats. Then you sit back and wait for the cash to roll in.

And wait. And wait.

Sometimes you don’t even have your first sale for weeks, maybe months. The cash doesn’t roll. You panic. You stop your current project and do “promotion,” contacting all the book bloggers you know. You annoy your followers on Twitter by mentioning your book’s title every other Tweet. You look at the real-time sales numbers (or lack of them) over and over again.

You’re waiting for the book to “catch on,” for “lightning to strike,” for “miracles to happen.”

So that’s the short route to getting published. Then there’s the other way. Traditional publishing goes like this:

Traditional Publishing is Wait and Hurry Up

Wait and Hurry Up

…could be another name for traditional publishing. You finish your book. Then you mail it to editors (and if you’re not too bright on the business side of things, to agents). The book editors take months, sometimes years, to respond. If you stick an agent in the middle of that, an agent will take months, sometimes years to respond, and then if you’re lucky, the agent will send the book to editors who will take months, sometimes years to respond.

Then finally, once your book gets accepted, you’re suddenly in hurry up mode to get the business underway. There’s the proof checking, cover design discussions, publicity, interviews, signings … whatever, and then it’s on the shelf.

Why the hurry? Your book has a limited time to prove its worth before it goes out of print. Once that happens very few people are going to get a chance to read it – unless of course it becomes an ebook and the cycle starts again.

Authors now have a choice of either taking the traditional route to publishing or going it alone. I’m in the fortunate position of having had my first book published by a traditional publisher so I’ve experienced both scenarios and although I’m eternally grateful to my publisher I guess I’ll go for indie publishing from now on. I like having total control of my product. I like looking after the publicity (or not) myself. I like watching the sales add up online, even if they are something less than an avalanche. Best of all, I like not having to share the profits. I created something and I’m responsible for it. That’s the bottom line.

What will you do: Hurry Up and Wait or Wait and Hurry Up?

If you are still thinking of writing and publishing your own story why not take a look at Your Life Story: How To Turn Life Into Literature?