I'm going off-script today to share the story of "Polly" ~ an aspiring author who recently made a very expensive mistake. Obviously, I'm not using her real name.
My own personal mission is to help authors publish well, especially when they consider venturing into the realm of do-it-yourself. For that reason, Polly's actions make me both sad and frustrated. By telling her story I hope I can save future writers from doing the same thing she did.
Polly started by making disparaging comments, to the few authors she knew, that she would never self-publish. She bragged that she "was going to do it right." Get an agent. Sell to New York. Be sold in the big box stores.
Mistake #1: She alienated other authors with her attitude.
After some time had passed, Polly announced on Facebook that her book was with her editor. No other information was offered. Later, she said her book was in production. Still no information. Finally, she announced that her book was available.
She didn't have a website yet. She never said who her publisher was. The only place to buy it was Amazon, but she didn't provide any links.
Mistake #2: Polly is not a member of any professional writer groups so had no idea how to promote herself or her book.
Once her book was on Amazon, the publisher was revealed: it was a vanity press. For those who don't know what vanity presses are, they are companies which charge thousands of dollars for authors to ~ wait for it ~ SELF PUBLISH.
Polly, who was going to "do it right," did it completely wrong.
Mistake #3: Polly's arrogant words stood between her, and asking advice from those who went before her.
Polly spent about $4000 to get her book edited, printed, and uploaded, her so-so cover designed, and eventually her odd-looking web site (her website's domain name is NOT her author name).
Key point: vanity presses make their money from the author not from book sales. Her vanity press says she "keeps 100% of her royalties" (of course she does ~ because there is no agent) but does not indicate what her royalty rate is. A search of the site offers no further information. The vanity press average is 5-10% of the cover price.
Meanwhile, Polly's hardcover books are $28.95 ~ plus shipping. Her paperbacks are $18.95. Both of these price points are significantly higher than other books in her genre. Her ranking on Kindle is in the 400,000 range ~ meaning approximately 399,999 authors sell better than she does.
Bottom line: Polly is not creating the career she might have, if she truly had "done it right."
- Become part of a legitimate writing group with successfully published authors.
- Shut up and listen. Ask questions.
- Don't let your ego/pride/stubborn attitude get in the way of a successful career.