Tag Archive: About Authors


The Free Rooster is alive and well

Commitment.

I recently listened to a back episode, Episode 36, of the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast by Simon Whistler where he was interviewing Beverly Kendall about her writing, publishing, and the survey she had done on what self publishers are earning.

Beverly said that she had purposefully targeted places where “committed self publishers and writers” gathered in order to get the best responses for her survey – responses which completely trashed the popular idea that self publishers were earning nothing.

It was this distinction of “committed” that was the real key. That caught my attention.

What was the difference between a self-publishing dabbler and a committed self publisher?  Well, for one thing, the income.

I had been serious about my self publishing and certainly had the time commitment dialed in, but I started to think… and read… and listen… and follow… and like… and pin… and subscribe… about what I could do to really commit to my writing and self publishing. About what that would mean.

I took a simple first step. I went (online) to the places where “committed self publishers and writers” gathered (twitter, hashtag #selfpublish, find and follow the industry gurus)- and I listened.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of voices were saying the same thing – which made it astonishingly easy to hear amidst the crazy babble that is twitter.

Engage: with readers, with industry gurus, with other self publishers, with my local community. Maybe writing is an activity that an introvert can successfully do all alone in a garrett – but publishing requires connecting with this huge peopled world. And self publishing means personally connecting.

Publish Great Content Constantly: blogging, tweeting, pinning… my content has to be out there and it has to be valuable, interesting and preferably accurate. If I can’t do “constantly” I can do AFAP (as frequently as possible.)

Pick a Genre and Stick With It: because readers do not generally leave their favorite genre to follow you, the author, to your next book. I muffed that one already. My aviation history biography is mysteriously not as interesting as I thought it would be to the fans of my family memoir chicken-raising homestead adventure. Aviation history fans love it – but chicken moms are meh. The income lies in an excellent and riveting series within a single genre.

Do All That While Still Writing All The Time: ah, jeez. (screeching tires on pavement sound.)

The unspoken, “and don’t quit your day job” was not as prevalent in these streams because many of the authors had actually quit their day jobs. These were the full-timers, the mid-listers and more who were making enough or more at self publishing for it to be their day job. So I was going to have to improvise in order to do all this while nurturing my day job.

My biggest challenge was going to be managing the time it takes me to write and self publish my books. The two I already have on Amazon, which sell even though I still need to market them, each took over a year to produce, and that’s too slow for where I want to be as an author – and what I want to earn.

I needed to find out How To Get More Efficient In My Writing And Self Publishing, and that answer was out there in the twitter stream as well.

Which brings us to SCRIVENER, and my next post.

Amanda Hocking Hollowland

Amanda Hocking started as a self published author, putting out her first novels as Kindle ebooks, as well as Nook and through Smashwords. They are well-written and took off like a rocket.

As I began researching successful self published authors, I kept running along the phrase: “… and, of course, there’s Amanda Hocking…”

But I hadn’t heard of Amanda Hocking, so I didn’t appreciate the “of course” – and I saw it several times.

Finally, I read one of her ebooks, to see for myself, of course.

I downloaded the Kindle app for my iPad, grabbed one of her young adult novels pretty much at random, and started reading. And kept reading, and read some more.

Because that is my experience of Amanda Hocking’s writing. I’m not a young adult, and I’m not a big fan of zombie apocalypse settings – HollowLand (The Hollows, #1) and yet I couldn’t put it down. It is very very well written.

She wrote her novels while working full time, and in 2010, she self published them as ebooks. Her ebooks sold so well, she broke every self published record and caught the attention of a major traditional publisher.

Her blog is fantastic and she’s taken some time to write about how it went for her, and it was NOT easy. She did a lot of sticking-with-it, not-giving-up, getting-rejected, and keeping-on-keeping-on. She also worked on making her writing better, and since I didn’t read her “before” I don’t know if she ever wrote poorly. I only know that she writes very well now.

Now, she is a traditionally published author. She made it. Self publishing was her pathway to traditional publishing, as it was for Hugh Howey.

There are a growing number of authors out there who are making a living self publishing and have no desire to go to traditional publishing. I’ll be spotlighting them soon.

In the meantime, there’s Amanda Hocking, of course, and she adds a new bullet to my bullet-list-of-things-successful-self-published-authors-have-done:

  • Her books are very well written
  • Her genre is popular – vampires, zombies, paranormal romance aimed at young adults (that’s the new bullet. Hugh Howey’s book is sci-fi, my favorite, but vampires are currently ruling)
  • She put them out as ebooks, alluringly priced
  • She did it all herself, keeping the costs low, and keeping herself focused on writing more

There are some valuable resources she recommends on her blog for authors planning to self publish, and she makes a really good point about the process. She suggests authors do a lot of research, and if I don’t feel I have the time to do the research, then I probably don’t have the time to self publish.

Bravo Amanda Hocking!  Your rock, of course!

 

 

 

review of wool omnibus

I bought the Wool-Omnibus e-book as a nook book, and it was a fantastic read. Hugh Howey is a do-it-yourself self published author, and I am a big fan!

Hugh Howey wrote Wool-Omnibus, which I just finished reading – and it is Really Good. I totally recommend it.
He used e-book technology to self publish a book. And he is on the bestseller list now.

Hugh started Wool as a series, and put it out himself as an e-book on Amazon. The book got a good response. He wrote more and in 2011, the story hit the big time – still as an e-book. Wool – Omnibus is the series, seamlessly pulled together as a full-length book. It sold enough copies to gain the attention of film producers and traditional publishers, and Hugh was able to negotiate a book deal he was happy with.

This is the kind of self publishing success story I have been watching for, where an author self publishes a book and then moves into traditional publishing based on the success of that book. Hugh Howey has done it with fiction, beating even more of the odds – since I think it is harder to sell fiction in any form, especially as a self publisher.

His success stems from

  • a really well-written book,
  • a uniquely intriguing original story,
  • and by having used the self publishing system and technology well.

Congratulations to Hugh, and as a Wool fan, I’m looking forward to more of the story!

Hugh’s website is also very cool – it’s got the kind of info and communication readers want from our authors – and is fascinating for anyone interested in self publishing a book.

In particular, Hugh Howey’s path was through e-books. He underpriced his books, making it very easy for a reader to take a chance, give it a whirl. The list price was not much of an obstacle, and the power of his storytelling gained word-of-mouth momentum. His bio on his website indicates some computer background, and so doing the e-book himself was clearly within reach. Only now, with his consistent presence on bestseller lists, is he coming out with physical books. Those are being produced by Simon and Schuster, the traditional way.

I look forward to adding spotlight authors to this series of posts – Successful Self Published Authors. Writers are making it work, and it isn’t pure luck. It’s about a great story, the right technology, and not giving up…

 

 

Just A Couple Of Chickens Is About Raising Chckens

Self publishing a book about raising chickens is turning out to be a lot like writing a book about raising chickens!

I raised over 100 poultry chicks and I wrote two books. One was about raising over 100 poultry chicks.

And I’m writing about how to self publish a book… and I’ve noticed a very big difference between raising chickens and writing about raising chickens.

When I fussed about the brooder temperature for the chicks, they grew…
And when I changed their feed and water, they grew…
And when I went in and out of their pen, they grew….

They grew no matter what I did. And if I had left the roosters to their own devices, they would have also multiplied.

But when I was writing the book, every time I stopped typing, the book stopped progressing.
And even if I left it under a warm lamp, with plenty of food and water, it still didn’t grow.
Every time I turned my back on the chickens, they grew, but despite turning my back frequently to my book, it didn’t grow…

Unless I wrote another word, and another, and about… 100,000 more.

Then I went and self published my book, and once again, nothing grew unless I made it grow. There was some independent progress, as word of mouth drove book sales, but mostly, it was like writing it.

One bright side of all this work is control. I can choose when to write, where to publish, and what things look like. Some of my poultry grew surprisingly out of control, either in size or behavior. And I never knew what they were going to do next… whereas my book rarely surprised me with plot turns or out-of-control sales.

But maybe one day, there will be a writing project that grows when my back is turned. It has happened to self published projects before, and it is happening more and more each day.

So maybe the difference between raising chickens and writing about raising chickens is similar to the difference between nature’s creation and literary creation… that’s kind of deep!

 

Me, Myself, and I are taking advantage of our opportunity to interview the author of “Just A Couple Of Chickens,” a book we wrote and self published. We’re not sure who that fourth duckling is…

The Westchester Press is pleased to present this exclusive opportunity to interview the author of “Just A Couple Of Chickens,” a funny and informative book about chickenistic and economic adventures that has sold over 1,500 copies so far and counting.

The author, Corinne Tippett, is here with us today – mainly because this is her blog and she is writing it. But enough about us, let’s get to the questions!

The Westchester Press: Thank you for being here with us today, Corinne. How is your book doing now that it has been out for almost two years?

The Author: You’re welcome! Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my book. It’s still selling pretty well, which is great for me and my publisher – I mean, for you, but one contributing factor is that the book talks about economic struggle and hardship, and I really thought it would be out-dated by now. But the theme is still current and all of us would like to see that change. Economic change.

The Westchester Press: We hear you there! High five on that one. Are you really working on a sequel? What’s taking so long on that?

The Author: Okay, so high five from self publisher to author is kind of more like clapping, don’t you think? And yes I really am working on a sequel and it takes as long as it takes, okay? For one thing, I had to finish my grandfather’s aviation history biography which I was supposed to write first but I did the chicken book instead, and for another thing, I really want a happy ending of total economic healing and it’s taking the whole country a while to get that going.

The Westchester Press: A new book?  An aviation biography? Who is publishing that? Are we publishing that?

The Author: At this time, I am in the process of submitting my grandfather’s aviation biography to a traditional agent or traditional publisher. Because I think it’s a project that may be well suited for traditional publishing, and I’d welcome the team approach to producing it. But if that doesn’t come through, then I will certainly self publish, and you’ll be my first choice.

The Westchester Press: But you ARE a self publisher!  You ARE The Westchester Press!  How can you do this to us?

The Author:  I don’t believe that self publishing and traditional publishing have to exclude each other. And once I self publish a project, I will continue to submit it to traditional publishers along with a sales count… and we’ll see what happens.

The Westchester Press: We need a minute, sorry for the delay. We’re looking up the word “fidelity” in the dictionary.

The Author: This seems to be going just as well as our quarterly company meetings. There’s no “i” in team, people. Okay, now you aren’t talking to me. So, now I’m not talking to myself? Isn’t that a good thing? arrite. Two can play at that game. I mean, one can…

okay.
fine.

 

 

 

Sandy Grains of Self Publishing Advice

A sandy mix of answers to an ocean of questions.

Most articles I’ve seen don’t answer this question, and I’m not really going to either in this post, but I will describe my costs and earnings in my soon-to-be-available How To Self Publish series

So far, the figure is not zero but it would be if I valued my time at minimum wage. I did earn back my first print costs and more, but I used the earnings to fund another print run, so….

But my point in posing the question is to say that the real answer is based on another question…

“How many books can you sell?”

If you can sell 100,000 books as a self published author, you can make a decent living with even a crappy paying distribution channel.
But most books don’t sell 100,000 copies. Most books don’t sell even 2,000 copies.

As a self published author, you will receive payment on as many books as you sell.
Therefore, how much you can make depends on how many books you sold and how much it cost you to produce them.

The amount of payment you will actually receive depends on how that book sold. Each distribution channel should tell you up front how much it will pay, and it depends on the book’s retail price, and the kind of account you have with the distributor. The payment is often called a royalty. You may not feel like you have a book deal with a publisher, but you do. Your publisher is you, and the royalty deal you got is anywhere from cents per copy to dollars per copy.

But before you “make” any money, your publisher is probably going to require you to pay back the book production cost. Publishers are just weird like that.

So sky’s the limit, right?  As a self publisher, you are free to hit it big or quietly starve. You can make nothing as a self published author most easily. Or less than nothing, because you will incur some costs in getting set up. Or you can make a full time living as a self published author… people are doing it. But there’s a reason for the common term “starving artist” and the new eBook dictionaries are starting to show pictures of self publishers under the same heading.

Just kidding, but still… it was one of those kinds of questions.

 

 

 

 

One of the most fun pieces of useful advice I’ve gleaned from all my studies on How To Write A Book….

is to Read What I Am Writing.

WahOOOOOOOOO!  Don’t haffa tell me twice!  I’m a reader like I’m an air breather. Seriously. If civilization ever fails to provide both libraries and hot running water, I’m outta here.

So that was not a hard one to follow.

I’m writing an aviation biography of my grandfather so I went cruising for aviation biography, or any biography actually. I’m not picky. The Lindburgh biography of course. That thing weighs like ten pounds. I feel smarter already. Amelia Earhart’s books. The absolutely beautiful “West With The Night” by Beryl Markham. The strange little gem “To Fly Like A Bird” by the Vertical Flight Heritage Series – Joe Mashman’s words, he flew with my grandfather. “Adventures In Aviation” by Kim Schribner, another pilot who my grandfather knew.

The first thing I gleaned was that there’s a structure and form and voice to aviation biographies. And it’s GOT to be about the planes. But it’s also got to be about the people. And I learned what a beautiful lyrical thing a biography can be. Which raised the bar for me and put me in writers block.

Wah.

But anyway, I blazed back to the keyboard and kept with it.

The other piece of useful advice – to study my craft, the craft of writing – which I translated into taking classes, joining groups, subscribing to newsletters, studying or applying methods, finding and keep referring to websites, books, learning software…had also been useful. But the funnest of all is to READ.

And then it comes back to the writing. No matter what, I have to write the book. Writing Writing Writing…. no matter what to keep writing. So, I write.

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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