self-publishing

Baboon Fart Odyssey (via @cstross)

You may or may not have seen Chuck Wendig's joke about being able to create an ebook with 100,000 instances of the word 'fart', slap a cover of a baboon peeing into its own mouth on it, and self-publish it on Amazon:

This is true-ish, in that I can literally write the word “fart” 100,000 times and slap a cover of baboon urinating into his own mouth, then upload that cool motherfucker right to Amazon. Nobody would stop me. Whereas, at the Kept Gates, a dozen editors and agents would slap my Baboon Fart Story to the ground like an errant badminton birdie.

It was a joke, although not everyone saw the humor in it (as is true always of jokes). Nonetheless, @phronk went to a lot of effort to make the joke real, and because jokes can go viral it quickly gathered more reviews than the average book (most were 5 stars of course) as well as likely earning more money than most authors see in their lifetime (this is not a joke, and actually only needs to be a small number to be true - the long tail is long, folks).

Charles Stross threw in some commentary of his own. The book isn't just fart repeated over and over; it's broken into paragraphs and sentences with punctuation and so forth. It raised this interesting question:

If I take an existing novel and replace all the words with words of my own, retaining only the punctuation and pagination, is this plagiarism?

And this raises the converse idea: taking Baboon Fart Story's structure, and replacing each instance of the word 'fart' with an actual english word to craft a coherent narrative!

There is much more of course, and it's worthwhile reading here: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/02/baboon-fart-odyssey.html#more

Self-Publishing: How to Pick the Size of your Book (via @jfbookman)

A detailed article from The Book Designer on considerations for your self-published print book, including the different formats and sizes offered by the various online printing services and distributors:

Some pricing on digital books is in a range of sizes rather than having a different price for every different size, but that only helps a bit.

If you plan to print offset, you’ll need to specify the exact size in your request for an estimate. So one way or the other, it’s good to figure out near the beginning of your planning.

I can't really add much to this. If you are looking into self-publishing in print I'd click through right now.

Full article here: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/book-sizes/

Survivorship bias: why 90% of the advice about writing is bullshit right now (via @tobiasbuckell)

Tobias Buckell raises some very important points about listening to successful self-published authors:

In an interview recently, David Kirtley pointed out that in business school there’s this point made that if you interview rich people who have won the lottery, you might come to believe that playing the lottery is the only way to become rich. I thought that was interesting.

He's pointing out, using some excellent stats from Smashwords, that the 'average' (mean) success rate of self-published work is cruelly skewed by disproportionate bestseller figures, and that the more useful figure to look at is the 'average' (median) which is of course much lower, due to the well-known long tail of publishing.

I am trying to say ‘please approach this with some rationality.’ I’m slowly building up a portfolio over time of work that I hope will offer me an additional income stream. There are some benefits to this form of publication that I like, but to be honest, in a direct apples to apples comparison, I’m making more off the much despised traditional publishing still. By a large margin. This piece of anecdotal data means that the formula for each writer is different, and the constant ‘us vs them’ battle going on is harming artists who are losing a chance to make more money, or get a larger audience, who are being led astray.

Worthwhile read, and certainly the graphs are a little eye-opening. I'm on Tobias's side when it comes to picking and choosing which publishing model works for which project.

[P]ay attention to those charts and adjust your expectations accordingly.

There’s a lot of snake oil sales going on. And a lot of well meaning people who won the lottery telling everyone to go buy lottery tickets while financial advisors shake their head.

Pretty much the same as its always been…

Tobias also helpfully links through to a more general article on survivor bias, which includes a great 'Department of War Math' propaganda poster. From that article:

The Misconception: You should study the successful if you wish to become successful.

The Truth: When failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible.

That link is here: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2013/05/23/survivorship-bias/

And check out Tobias's full (and comprehensive) post here: http://www.tobiasbuckell.com/2013/05/27/survivorship-bias-why-90-of-the-advice-about-writing-is-bullshit-right-now/

New Smashwords Survey Helps Authors Sell More eBooks (via @markcoker, HT: @thecreativepenn)

Mark Coker from Smashwords has collated the results of a Smashwords author survey, and there's a whole bunch of fancy graphs and juicy data in there. I'll just post the headers for each section, to give you an idea. It's really great information, and if you want to optimise your strategy for selling books you certainly can't go wrong with some Cold, Hard Survey Result Facts.

  1. Ebook Sales Conform to a Power Curve
  2. Viva Long Form Reading:  Longer Books Sell Better
  3. Shorter Book Titles Appear to Have Slight Sales Advantage
  4. How Indie Authors are Pricing Their Books:  $2.99 (USD) is the Most Common Price Point
  5. How Price Impacts Unit Sales Volume:  Lower Priced Books (usually) Sell More Copies
  6. The Yield Graph: Is $3.99 the New $2.99?
  7. A Closer Look at the Yield Graph Reveals Why Indie Ebook Authors Have a Competitive Advantage over Traditionally Published Authors

There really is too much for me to post without spoilering the lot (yes, spoilering is a word now*), but I found this an interesting comment from Mark:

Already, many successful indies, borrowing from the playbook of publishers, are assembling freelance teams of editors, cover designers, formatters and distributors.  Tell me again, what can a publisher do for the ebook author that the author already do for themselves faster, cheaper and more profitability?

In general I'm in the camp of 'assemble a team of freelance professionals to produce a book'. I realise that some authors are capable of being the person who does that assembling, and that other authors are more than capable of doing all those tasks themselves, and I'm also aware that this approach is quite expensive. I think it produces the best books though. Not that I have any evidence of this.

Anyway, read the survey results and Mark analysis. It's very interesting: http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/05/new-smashwords-survey-helps-authors.html

(*send your hate mail to Shakespeare)

Self-Publishing is the Worst (HT: @annetreasure)

I was going to present this without comment, but any of you who know me realise that was a lofty goal indeed. I ... I don't want to put the boot into Ted Heller for writing his article. But...well...he actually has an agent, and some books that the NYT has actually looked at. Despite the woes detailed in the story I think he's actually not got it so bad... Ted does acknowledge that towards the end of the article, though:

Now, I happen to know a few people at magazines and newspapers; I’ve had novels published and I have an agent. But what is this experience like for Jane and John Q. Self-Publishing Author way out there in South Podunk, who don’t know anybody at all and who have zero connections? My heart goes out to them. I know why I do it (I enjoy the piss out of writing, I believe I might be good at it, I don’t know how to do anything else, and I was laid off from my last job). I cannot explain how I do it, but I really don’t know how those other people — the 99 Percent of Writerdom — can do this. Where do they find the time and the stomach?

Read it in full here: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/03/the_future_is_no_fun_self_publishing_is_the_worst/

From Self-Publishing to All Sorts of Amazing Publishing Deals (via @PublishersWkly)

Just an interesting article about Colleen Hoover, who managed to turn her self-publishing into a step to more traditional publishing contracts, including movie deals. Although publishing, as we've said many a time before, is often a game of chance, there might be something in Colleen's story that helps or inspires you:

Soon after self-publishing, people she didn’t know were downloading the book — even after it was only available for a fee. Readers began posting reviews and buzz built on blogs. Missing her characters, she self-published the sequel, “Point of Retreat,” a month later. By June, both books hit Amazon’s Kindle top 100 best-seller list. By July, both were on The New York Times best-seller list for e-books. Soon after, they were picked up by Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint. By fall, she had sold the movie rights.

All sounds pretty easy, right?

When Hoover finished her third book, “Hopeless,” in December, she initially turned down an offer from Atria and decided to digitally self-publish again. By January, that book too was a New York Times best-seller and she signed that month with Atria to publish the print version, but kept control of the electronic version. The paperback is set to come out in May.

Although we can't expect to hit the same streak as Colleen, I do find it interesting that here she has agreed to contract out the process of distributing, printing, and managing physical books, while retaining her electronic rights. To me, this seems perfectly reasonable, but I have the impression that the idea that authors would have this much power to negotiate with a publisher would have been utterly alien even a few years ago...

Read it all here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/colleen-hoover-skyrockets-to-success-as-self-published-books-lead-to-publishing-film-deals/2013/04/16/67a842bc-a6bb-11e2-9e1c-bb0fb0c2edd9_story.html

I'm a Self-Publishing Failure (via @salon)

John Winters discusses the other, more common side of self-publishing:

An article in the New York Times claims that 81 percent of us believe we have a book in us. This sounds painful – both anatomically and for the readers of this potential deluge. In fact, extrapolated across the entire U.S., this 81 percent equates to 200 million books. Most of them no doubt about beloved dogs or written by celebrity chefs. I confess I was long among these wannabe authors. My cabinets and drawers are littered with more pages of fiction than the archives of the Nixon Library. However, recently I completed my first novel and subsequently set out after that dream of every writer: publication, followed by royalty checks of the six-figure variety.

I want to quote so much from this article, as John pushes his novel onto Amazon and gets bitten by the promotional bug after selling a few copies, pursues the dream of shooting a book trailer ("The Internet is full of tips on how to market your self-published book, and a trailer is high on the list.") and generally continues along a path of increasingly expensive self-destruction.

There was one more avenue I’d yet to try in my pursuit of literary fame: give it away. That’s right; many self-published authors simply give the e-book version of their novel away in hopes of building word-of-mouth interest that will in turn result in sales. Roughly 800 people took advantage, and afterward there was even a sale or two.

John writes with a charming and dejected wit, so do yourself a favour and read the full article: http://www.salon.com/2013/04/02/im_a_self_publishing_failure/

How WOOL got a Unique Publishing Deal (via @lkblackburne)

Interesting story by Hugh Howey, author of WOOL:

When Kristin Nelson first contacted me about representing WOOL, I warned her that I didn't think I'd ever sell the rights to a publisher. My series of stories were doing well enough for me to quit my day job, and I didn't think it would be advantageous to alter course. Other agents had been in touch already, and I'd passed up their offerings of representation by explaining that a deal was unlikely, but Kristin got my attention by saying, "I'm not sure you should sell the rights." She went on to explain that it might not be in my best interest to change what I was doing, but wouldn't it be fun to feel publishers out? To see what they were willing to do?

So began our journey together. In all the ways Kristin warned, it was unfruitful. The first round of submissions included bizarre plans to change the title of a work that had already established itself as a brand and the plan to take the book down from Amazon and wait another six months or so to put it up for sale again. Granted, it is a silly title for a book. I will give them that. But we declined six-figure advances that I would have leapt at just a few months prior.

It's a long but fascinating adventure through his publishing journey, and an interesting look at how the industry is trying to adapt to successful authors who've never felt the need for the traditional publishing route.

Original here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hugh-howey/how-wool-got-a-unique-pub_b_2852547.html

Simon & Schuster Pushing a Dodgy Vanity Imprint (via @indieauthor, HT: @pecunium)

True: You need professional quality work if you are self-publishing. False: You should pay a dodgy vanity publisher to do this for you.

True: Simon & Schuster emailed April L. Hamilton from Publetariat some spam, which included a bribe:

Your blog is an important resource to help authors navigate the variety of self-publishing options. We believe Archway is a unique new service for authors, and would be valued by your readers. The Archway Affiliate Program enables partners to earn a $100 bounty for each author they refer who publishes with Archway.

True: April eventually calmed down and replied:

I have always advised indie authors to avoid vanity publishers, and AuthorHouse is one of the most notorious among them. The reputation of AuthorHouse as an overpriced, under-performing scam agency far precedes its name. I have warned many a writer away from AH in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

I am very disappointed to see such an august and respected publisher as S&S moving into this new, arguably predatory market area: pairing up a respected publisher with a vanity press to offer desperate would-be authors various, fee-based "services"---any of which the writer could retain him- or herself from freelancers at a fraction of the cost---and/or a publishing contract offering terms that virtually ensure the publisher will turn a profit, but the author will not. Surely the strongly negative reaction to HarperCollins' Hydra imprint hasn't escaped your notice?

Seriously, Simon & Schuster is a big publishing firm. This kind of dodgy behaviour sounds more like ... Simon & Shyster.

SEE WHAT I DID THERE!

There is more, so do read her considered response here: http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/simon-schuster-is-trying-to-bribe.html

Self-Publishing and eBook Parts (via @jakonrath)

Joe Konrath shares the structure he uses to format his ebooks, with explanations for each part. I'll just post the headline items here. It's quite a useful look at how an electronic book differs from a print book. Just because, for example, excerpts are traditional placed at the end of a print book doesn't mean this is the best way to do it in digital format:

When someone downloads one of my ebooks, this is what they see in the order they see it:

  1. Cover art. That should be at the very beginning, like a paper book.

  2. If it isn't a compilation, the very first page should be the product description. AKA the back jacket copy.

  3. Title page. Include author name.

  4. Hyperlinked table of contents.

  5. Dedication, if any.

  6. The book, with hyperlinked chapters.

  7. Any extras.

  8. Acknowledgements, if any.

  9. About the author or bio.

  10. Bibliography.

  11. Ads.

  12. Copyright page

I particularly liked how he puts the back copy at the front of the text - in the good ol' dead-tree book days, the back is easily accessible. But if you want to give someone opening your eBook a quick reminder of what the book is about, it really needs to be visible as early as possible.

Check it out here: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/02/ebook-parts.html

An Observation About Amazon in Joe Konrath's Sales Breakdown

In a way Joe Konrath feels like the Richard Dawkins of self-publishing: unapologetic and divisive. But I'm not interested in people's reaction to him today, I'm merely reposting a link to his detailed financial breakdown of sales. Obviously this isn't a guide to how to make a lot of money - Konrath doesn't operate in the space of up-and-coming writers, and his sales don't reflect how well your own ebooks are going to sell. What is interesting here is two-fold: the significant disparity between his income from Amazon and all other platforms combined AND Konrath's own ambivalence about Amazon's demands for exclusivity. It seems that despite the much larger income he's receiving from Amazon titles, even Joe Konrath is starting to consider the slow rise of alternative platforms (I note Kobo gets a mention).

Now this might simply be how I'm reading it, and it might be my own bias against Amazon coming through, so do check it out yourself. I did find it noteworthy though:

Amazon still demands KDP Select [Kindle Direct Publishing - ed.] be exclusive, and recently offered a 70% royalty in India for KDP Select titles. They seem to like the exclusivity of it, even though their customers get fewer titles, and Amazon scares away many authors from the Select program.

Kobo is on the rise. Nook seems to be holding steady. The same with Apple.

So what is an author to do? Pull all titles and go all-in with Amazon, to hopefully make more money? Or self-publish on multiple platforms, encouraging competition, and perhaps earning less?

I want to hear from writers on this issue. Do you go with Amazon Select or not, and why?

I'm going to remain on multiple platforms for the time being. But come the holidays, I'm not sure what I'll do. A lot of my KOLL [Kindle Owners' Lending Library - ed.] earnings, and KDP earnings, were the result of the Select freebie program and resulting bounceback to the paid bestseller lists. But all signs point to the bounceback being not as effective as it once was. I want to hear from writers on this issue as well.

Read the breakdown here: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/konraths-sales.html

A Sincere Warning About the Entity in your Home (via @jasonarnopp)

I love literary experiments, and this is a great one by Jason Arnopp. So great, that I'm posting another post on Friday, when I should be relaxing instead of thinking about the publishing industry:

A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home, on the other hand, is a whole other kind of experiment.  As you might expect from the title, it's a ghost story: one which takes place in YOUR home.  Yes, the place where you, the reader, lives.  This 10,000-word story takes the form of a creepy letter which arrives at your property, telling you things you really don't want to hear.

This story is available in two ways:

1) A Kindle ebook on global Amazon sites for 96p (approx $1.49/€1.23).  [...]

2) A physical, typed, paper letter which will be snail-mailed to your home address.  Twenty-three sheets of paper in a card-backed A4 envelope.  This, clearly, is the most authentic way to receive and experience A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home.  It'll look like this [check out the image here], except with your name and address at the top... Why your name and address?  Because the text will be personalised in several ways.

  • It will include your first name, eight times throughout.
  • Your exact property type will be incorporated (ie flat/apartment or house)
  • Your address, road name and town/city will feature
  • There'll be one or two other surprises in the text, concerning your local area
The letter will arrive with no cover artwork, story title, author credit or advertising blurb: just the URL of the official webpage (ScaryLetter.com) at the end, in case the letter is ever ordered for someone maliciously!

I love this sort of stuff, and Jason has put a lot of effort in to help customise the story a little bit. I'm half inclined to get a copy, just to see how more effective a personalised horror story will be.

I hope he makes a huge amount of money with this project.*

Read more about it here: http://jasonarnopp.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/a-sincere-warning-about-entity-in-your.html

And find the home page here: http://www.shorthorrorstory.com/

*'huge' in the context of the writing industry, ie. a couple of lunches or a new XBox game, at least.

More Self-Publishing Home Truths (via @ian_sales)

Ian Sales fills us in on his experience with self-publishing:

Adrift on the Sea of Rains has been in print for just over six months and has so far sold around two hundred copies in all three formats. I didn’t set up Whippleshield Books and self-publish because I thought it was a sure-fire route to riches and success. I’d much sooner someone else had published the book. But I did it myself because a) I wanted it done quickly, and b) I didn’t want to compromise on my vision. Happily, I got the book out on time, and no one has had a problem with the way I structured the novella.

 

Ian breaks down some of the things he has learnt on his journey into these headings:

  1. Most forums have indiscriminate zero tolerance spam policies
  2. It’s not a level playing field, and Amazon has its thumb on the scales
  3. Never mind the quality, feel the weight
  4. Reviews are better for the ego than the bank balance
  5. Once tarred, that’s you forever that is

Click through to find out what this might mean for your own self-publishing journey: http://iansales.com/2012/10/22/more-self-publishing-home-truths/

A Million Books Sold; What's Next? (via @cjlyonswriter, HT @thecreativepenn)

Occasionally I like posting some good news from the self-publishing world. Yes, we all know that not everyone is going to achieve success self-publishing, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't look at the successes and see if we can gather tips:

Sometime in July, I passed one million indy books sold. Don’t ask me when; I was busy writing the next book (see, I do practice what I preach).

But here’s the real kicker: that means in one year I’ve outsold what traditional publishing has been able to sell of my books in the past four years.

I now make more in a month than I do in a year from traditional publishing.

C. J. Lyons discusses her approach (as well as linking to the various tips and tricks in her blog), and makes a few predictions:

Prediction 1: As more traditionally published authors enter indy publishing with their extensive backlists, it will be harder and harder to be discovered.

Prediction 2: As traditional publishers relinquish Agency pricing, there will be greater competition than ever for spots on the bestseller lists. As much as we want to treat our books as “art” we are in the business of selling them, and let’s face it, people love finding a great value.

Prediction 3: More authors will turn down traditional contracts once they start treating their writing as a business. Also, more traditional publishers will be offering contracts to indy authors.

Note: she does have a response to each of her predictions, so do check out her thoughts here: http://www.norulesjustwrite.com/a-million-books-sold-whats-next/

Reasons Why We Reviewers Won’t Read Your Self-Published Book (via @gavreads HT: @sydneywriters)

Over at Gav Reads, we get a list of reasons a reviewer might not review your self-published book, prefaced with:

We are still coming to terms with writers not only being able to self-publish but being able to get those words easily to anyone with an Internet connection and reading device or a postal service.

[...]

One thing that just isn’t happening for self-published authors on a large scale is breaking into the various circles of critics and reviewers, of which I’m one.

I'll quickly list the headings, but each point is elaborated upon in the original post:

  1. We don’t know who you are
  2. We don’t know how you’ll react
  3. We’ll feel guilty when we don’t read it
  4. We know you’re not going to generate hits
  5. We don’t read cute bunny love stories set in Ancient Rome (or whatever genre you’ve written in)
  6. We know it’s going to be rubbish

Obviously these are sweeping statements, but it's worthwhile to have a look at the rationale behind them. Especially the last one:

Not only have you compiled your opus without being consciously aware that what you’ve written needs to be redrafted or thrown away as it’s obvious that you’ve not yet mastered the craft of storytelling to an engaging degree. But you’ve got an ego that makes you think that someone else will not see your flaws.

Unfair? I'm not surprised that the majority of unvetted work is produced like this. It takes a lot of painful experience to get to a professional level in your writing, and it's trivial to skip that and go straight into publishing your work these days. It's also trivial to spam as many reviewers as possible with your work, regardless of suitability (refer to point 5 in that list above).

However, this produces a lot of prejudice towards self-publishing at large. 'Jay' wonders in the comments of the article:

On a more serious note, this trending view – that to self-pub means you were probably rejected by a major publishing house, is a little disturbing. What if you’ve rejected a major publishing house? Does your work automatically shift from ‘publishable’ to ‘suckable’?

Original here: http://gavreads.co.uk/2012/05/thoughts-reasons-why-we-reviewers-wont-read-your-self-published-book/

Margaret Atwood: Why Wattpad works (HT: @readinasitting)

The famed Margaret Atwood talks about WattPad for the Guardian site:

On www.wattpad.com – using your computer, tablet or phone – you can post your own writing. No one need know how old you are, what your social background is, or where you live. Your readers can be anywhere. And if you're worried about adverse reactions from your teachers, your grandmother, or others who might not like you writing about slavering zombies or your relatives, you can use a pseudonym. You can be FlamingLeprechaun and represent yourself with a picture of a bat or a spoon: the internet lends itself to surrealism. Then you can post stories about Pod People or affairs with smouldering hunks undead for 2,000 years, which beats "My Summer Holiday" every time. Not only that, you'll have readers who leave encouraging comments on your message board, thus boosting your morale.

I'm clearly still afflicted with an old-school aversion to simply posting my work up. I like to know I've polished it and that some kind of approved gatekeeper has decided it's good enough for publication. But consider the vast and varied world of gatekeepers, and how a story or manuscript that one gatekeeper wouldn't touch with a stick is snapped up by another; with that much variety in what is considered 'publishable', is it actually important anymore?

Wattpad was started in 2006, before the tsunami of ebooks. Everything on the site is free. Over six years, it built itself up under the radar of the traditional publishers, and it now has a membership of millions, in 25 languages, with 1.7bn minute views per month. Increasingly, publishers and music companies are looking at it as an aid to promotion. (For instance, the Wattpad One Direction launch has been viewed by 1 million, and has generated 12,000 pieces of fan fiction to date.) They're also talent-spotting on it, and some Wattpad writers have already moved over to other, more traditional, paid methods of publication.

Sounds interesting and worthwhile. Also, it extends beyond the often myopic 'Western World' of publishing:

Allen Lau, the co-founder of Wattpad, remembers getting a letter from an old man in a village in Africa. The village had no school, no library, no landline, and no books. But it had a mobile phone, and on that they could read and share the Wattpad stories. He was writing to say thank you.

The article is fairly short, so do have a look. WattPad could be right for you: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/06/margaret-atwood-wattpad-online-writing

Improved Reading Experience? No. (via @dailyexhaust)

This post highlights a change that Amazon made to the Kindle app on iPad. Specifically, they claim:

Improved reading experience on iPad: Smaller margins and a cleaner look help you focus on the author's words.

Bryan at the Daily Exhaust shows some before and after screen comparisons, and for anyone working in typesetting for their own work, it's a perfect example of whatnot to do.

The new Kindle app presents a page in a suffocating block of text and looks unpleasant. Am I biased? Who knows, but let's go with yes: it's still an ugly page.

Bryan says:

When I first saw this in the blurb, I was immediately suspicious. It's hard to overstate the importance of healthy margins and whitespace in good design. Generally, it's also one of the earlier casualties when good design meets project managers and clients who aren't designers. But I updated the app anyway. Upon opening, I saw what had been a decent treatment of margins had been destroyed by the redesign.

There are other design issues with the new application, and the choices frankly boggle my mind.

As it happens, there is no reason for Amazon to have a clunky, poorly designed reader app on the iPad.

Have a look for yourself here: http://dailyexhaust.com/2012/06/improved-reading-experience-no.html

How Much do eAuthors Make Per Word/Hour (via @derekjcanyon)

I've featured Derek J. Canyon here before, and he continues to deliver helpful and candid analyses of his adventures in ePublishing, on the blog of the same name.

I started my self-publishing efforts back in September 2010. Back then, I planned to commit to 5 years of writing before deciding whether or not it could become my actual career. By late 2015, I hope to have 10 novels in print. The sales of those ten novels should give me a good idea if I'm successful enough to quit my day job and become a full-time novelist.

Read the analysis here: http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2012/06/how-much-do-e-authors-make-per-hourword.html

Jodi Picoult and the Myth of the Segregated Marketplace (via @davidgaughran)

David Gaughgran writes an excellent response to Jodi Picault's advice not to self-publish.

I won’t rehash all that, only to note that, by contrast, Ms. Picoult thinks it’s a fine idea to sign with an agent who has no clients and zero experience.

David explains in detail that there is no problem with the sea of crap that Jodi discusses when she defends her statement:

Jodi Picoult is urging writers not to self-publish as it’s “still too hard for people to separate the wheat from the chaff” because there is “a lot of crap out there.”

Newsflash: there is no segregated marketplace. All those e-books from publishers and self-publishers jostle for attention in the same retailers, side-by-side on the virtual bookshelves. Self-published titles aren’t ghettoized, and they don’t carry a warning label.

He tackles the myth of the segregated marketplace, the reality of 'the amount of crap', and uses a case study of his own recently released (and self-published) historical novel to highlight what the actual problem is with being discovered in this sea: the good fiction with which we compete.

[...] this is the key point, the crap is invisible. Nobody sees a book that’s #700,000 in the Amazon rankings. They don’t appear on any bestseller lists. They aren’t recommended in Also Boughts. Readers don’t see them.

I think his closing point is particularly apt:

I don’t know how you found [this blog] among the sea of crap – the one trillion web pages that swamp the internet – but you did it! Somehow!

Read it: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/jodi-picoult-and-the-myth-of-the-segregated-marketplace/

Respect Your Readers (Don't publish a first draft) (via @ayvalentine)

Amanda Valentine talks about self-published work and some problems with final product quality she's encountered:

Here’s the thing, though—the writing wasn’t bad, at least not irredeemably so. The book just wasn’t finished. It was someone’s first draft. Sure, it was probably proofread by a few helpful people, but it was obviously never seriously edited. What I was reading was a proofread first draft, not a final product. For example, each character was introduced with a paragraph that sounded like it came from an outline—she looks like this, her interests are this, her strengths are this—and each brought the plot to an uncomfortable halt. Combine that with a painful abuse of commas and some uninspired dialogue, and a couple chapters in I just gave up

She's right: a good editor (hell, even a mediocre one) contributes significantly to a story. I'm not even going to list the ways, in case an editor yells at me for leaving one out. Amanda provides some examples of collaborative improvement in writing projects that she's encountered.

Personal experience with editors compels me to tell you: read this story in full. (Here: http://www.ayvalentine.com/2012/04/respect-your-readers/)