Fellow blogger Zoey told me she is interested in hearing my self-publishing experience. So to start off this new year of blogging, I’ve decided to fill you in on what it’s been like for me. But before I get into my five years in this indie industry, let me share with you my writing goal. It’s pretty straightforward. My goal is to write 100 books and die.
Simply put, I want to write as many books as I can in my lifetime. Whether or not it becomes my full time career, whether or not I become a bestselling author, whether or not the world knows my name, I just want to write. Money and fame are not my goals as an author, they are added bonuses (bonuses I would love to have, of course). But ultimately, writing and writing and writing is my goal. That is why I chose to go indie.
I’ve self-published five titles independently: The Dreamer, Dream World: The Lost Child, Raindrops, Magnum Opus, and Dr. Slubgob’s Letters. Have I ever thought of pitching these books to publishers? Yes. Did I do it? Only once for The Dreamer. Why only once? Because the work that goes into it equals to another book being written. This is a personal statement: I rather spend time writing than looking for a publisher.
Of course, the self-publishing work that comes after writing a book is not easy. There’s editing, designing, publishing, and marketing. Being that I don’t have the finance to fund myself, my books are not given a paperback chance. Having no money to spend on professional editing, I edit my books with the help of beta readers. The cover design of all my books were done by friends who were willing to do it for free (quick tip: be friends with artists/designers). Asking for free help is something I had to do, and being honest about the struggle of being an indie author is something my artsy friends understood. I thank God for having friends who would do book covers for free – these people could charge me for it, but were willing to ‘collaborate’ because I was budget-less.
After all the pre-production work is done, to the best of my ability (note this: I don’t release books I’m not happy with – I’ve ditched some stories too), I export my books into pdf and place them on Gumroad. Gumroad hosts my books online and emails them automatically to buyers. They only take a small percentage out of the sales, much less than Amazon. The reason why I don’t put on Amazon is because of the tedious process (call me lazy) and the low royalty rates. Yes, the book might sell more copies on Amazon, but I prefer to use a platform I have full control over (price, format, and earnings).
Have I made a lot of money from those five titles? No, and it doesn’t matter… because I’m still writing.
I believe the reason why I don’t make much money from my books is because of poor marketing. I had a marketing module in university, but the 4p’s of marketing is a surface level skill. I fail at promotion because the only platforms I have for promotion is here on this blog and on my social networking accounts. Even here/there, I don’t expect great responses. And that’s how it is as an indie author.
I have been doing this for five years, and only a year ago did I attempt to try a new form of publishing: crowd-funded publishing. Last year, I learnt so much from the production of The Battle for Oz through a successful crowd-funded project. I had no idea how tedious the full process of editing was! But just like self-publishing, crowd-funded publishing is not for everyone.
The truth about self-publishing is this: it takes work and you might not earn the money you deserve from all the work. But you have full control and you get to see it come to life. Knowing this, I’m favouring crowd-funded publishing so much more, but that itself is a different ball game.
If you’re wondering which route to take, I suggest you first ask yourself what your writing goal is. Why do you write? And base on your answer, see which route best suits you. I chose self-publishing and going indie because I want to share as many stories with the world. I’m fine dying as an unknown writer, as long as I’ve inspired a few lives with my work. But to some, this is not something they want. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because we all have different writing goals. What’s important is you do what works best for you.
So there you have it, my experience in self-publishing. It’s pretty general as I still have a lot to learn. I’m not sure if I would continue on this self-publishing route or plant myself solely in crowd-funded publishing, but no matter which path I take, I still have a lot to learn. This is the best I can share with you at this point of time, and I hope it helps 🙂
If there is something you would like me to share, leave a comment below!
Zoey has also asked about my writing process and if you’re keen about the same topic, let me know. Like I said in my A New Year, A New Journey post, this is going to be a different blogging year. I want to interact with you and I’m hoping to build a community of readers through this blog. Hopefully, the shift in blogging will help me in my authoring career. But even if it doesn’t, I hope it helps you, dear reader, in one way or another.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend ahead!