Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Self-Stuff is Awesome

I’m freaking out a little bit, that tomorrow it’ll be November. I honestly feel like the year only just started, and now we’re nearly saying goodbye to 2017… It was a good year, I think. And this month has been a really fun one, and an interesting time for me. You know me, I usually sing the praises of traditional publishing while warning everyone of the dangers of self-publishing. This month, I haven’t done that. And this week, the trend continues as we finish our series.

Self-Publishing is Great

Surprised? I nearly am. But really, self-publishing is really cool. It’s created a way for everyone to get published, for people who aren’t what publishers consider marketable to get their books on the market and hopefully make some money off their work. Yeah, it saturated the market. Yeah, it made things a little more difficult for everyone involved, but you know what? That’s how the game goes. It’s not supposed to be easy, it’s not supposed to be something you can do without putting time and effort into it. Self-publishing kept the system from going into a downward spiral of only-certain-people-can-be-published.

Self-publishing is the option that allows authors to maintain control of their craft. It’s the option that allows authors to work for ourselves instead of working for a company. (and as we all know, small business is what keeps the US running strong). It’s the type of publication that shows traditional publishers that people aren’t going to stand for their picky decision making, and the version of publication that puts the author in the driver’s seat.

For some of us, that’s just what we needed.

For others, it’s a wakeup call.

For still others, it’s a challenge we couldn’t rise to.

But you know what? That doesn’t mean it’s a bad way to go.

Every author is different, every book is different, and every marketing scheme is going to be different. Some books won’t do well on the general market, so it might be difficult for a traditional publisher to do well with them—but self-publishing allows us an alternative route for getting this book into the hands of the people who want to read it.

Self-publishing filled a void, really. It showed the world how many authors are really out there, and made readers realize that there are authors out there who aren’t the big names but write books just as good.

And really, that’s exactly what the system needed.

We needed competition.

We got it.


{Rani Divine}

P.S. I realize I’ve been doing traditional publishing topics on Tuesdays and self-publishing on Thursdays, but the self-publishing topic came easier to me this time. ;-)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Self-made royalty

Tuesday, we talked about the complicated side of sales and royalties. Traditional publishing is like that, sometimes, though I tend to find it the simpler of the two in most regards. Today though, we’re going to focus on self-publishing.

How do sales and royalties work, for self-published authors?

Well, that’s pretty simple. You make a sale, you get a cut of the sale price. Ta-dah! But it’s never quite that easy, is it?

All right, so let’s start at the beginning.

Unlike traditional publishing, when you sign (or agree to work with) a self-publishing company, one of two things will happen. Either you’ll pay them a sum of money to do much of the heavy lifting (generally mild editing, interior formatting, cover design, printing, formatting for eBook, etc.), or you’ll do all that yourself and primarily publish digitally (i.e. through Amazon’s KDP or Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press). So, you’ll either start out spending nothing or start out spending a lot.

Now, once your book hits shelves (whether they be literal or proverbial ones), you’ll start getting paid. And it’ll depend on what company you published with, as to how much you’ll be paid.

I’ve worked with two self-publishing companies in my day: Xlibris and Amazon.

With Xlibris, I can get royalties every three months. It works very similarly to how it does with traditional publishers. I get a cut off the net royalty (that’s the amount of profit the book makes when it’s sold, so sale price minus any production costs). So, if I haven’t made $25 in any given quarter, it rolls over to the final quarter (which usually means I only get money from them in January, since Telekinetic has been out for so long and they no longer really market it).

With Amazon, I get a percentage off the sale price of the kindle eBooks. I’m on the 70% royalty program, which is actually a fairly decent percentage of the sale price. But they do make it difficult to report for my taxes, on how much I sold when and how much I earned from those sales. Oy.

But basically, with self-publishing, you’re on easy street. You make a sale, the company pays you your cut. Depending on who you’re working with, you might not have to wait more than a couple months to start seeing money come in (Amazon sends you money two months after your sales, so any sales you made in July, you’ll be paid for in September).

Pretty easy, right?

The only thing you’re missing is the advance, which is sometimes the difference between our ability to keep writing all the time or not. Again, not lying here. Just trying to stay on the positive side.

The nice thing with getting paid in self-publishing, is that you’ll start seeing funds come in from sales fairly quickly. The amount you’ll be paid will vary, depending on the amount of marketing you do and your ability to sell the book, but you’ll be making something in royalties, right away.

It’s a decent system, certainly.


{Rani D.}

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

We like royalty

This week, we’re talking about something a little bit closer to home. All month, we’ve been talking about the publishing industry, focusing on the good stuff between traditional publishing and self-publishing, and by now, it’s time that we took a week to talk about the nittiest and grittiest of topics.

How do sales and royalties work, with traditional publishers?

This is where a ton of authors get really confused, which is why I wanted to talk about it this week. Thursday, we’ll look at the same thing from the point of view of self-published authors, but for today, let’s look at the confusion that can be getting paid through traditional publishing.

See, when you sign a contract with a traditional publisher, they will never ask you to pay them anything. Ever. If a so-called traditional publishing house is asking you to pay them a retainer, that’s not a traditional publishing house. That’s vanity press. Get out. Get out now. 

I’ve digressed.

When you sign a contract with a traditional publisher, most of the time they’ll pay you what’s called an advance. And most of the time, that advance cuts into the amount you’ll earn once your book hits shelves.

Let’s do a little example, on the super simple side of things.

Say you signed a contract with Traditional Publishers, LLC (that’s not a real company, if you couldn’t tell ;-)), and that in the contract, you have a $100 advance (that's fairly low, but this is just an example). Okay, so they’ll pay you part of that advance upon signing, and the other part upon publication (or they’ll pay you all at once at one of those two times—it just depends). The contract will also specify the amount you’ll make off every book they sell. Let’s say it’s 5% of the sale price on every copy (hardcover, paperback, and digital—though you’ll usually end up with different royalty rates for each).

Okay, so, now you’ve signed your contract, your book is on the shelves, and you’ve received your advance. But you haven’t been paid anything by the publisher, except for that advance.

Well, that’s sort of the point. The advance is (usually) an advance sum of what you will make off every sold copy of your book. So, the publisher won’t pay you royalties until your advance has been exceeded (i.e. they won’t pay you until you’ve sold enough to have earned at least $101 in your agreed 5% royalty rate).

The publisher will, of course, be the one who handles most of the sales. They’ll figure out stores in which to stock your book, determine where to send copies at a wholesale rate, and generally sell copies from their own stores as well. They’ll keep an account of how many copies they sell, to whom they were sold, and how much they were sold for, and they’ll send you a report of these sales.

Most of the time, publishers aren’t required to pay you until the amount you’ve earned reaches $20+, by the terms of the contract. So, if you don’t sell much in one quarter, the amount you did earn will rollover into the next quarter, and so on and so forth, until you eventually get paid.

Sounds a bit grim? Maybe still confusing?

Well, remember, your advance is usually going to be a lot better than $100. If you sign with a big enough company, you might even end up with thousands or millions in your advance, and if your publisher is smart in selling the book, you’ll be making money off your work for years to come. It might not look like much in royalty rates, but it adds up quickly. You’ll usually be making money within the first few years, at the very least. And many publishers may actually want to sign you for more than one book at a time. If that’s the case, you’ll get an even bigger advance.

The key is this: if you’re getting confused about how royalties work with any given traditional publishing house, it never hurts to ask. Most companies are more than happy to talk their authors through it, and explain exactly how everything works. After all, once you sign that contract, you’re basically married to them for the rest of your life. Divorce isn’t a common thing, between publishers and authors. In fact, it’s harder than you might think, if you decide that you want out of your contract.

But that’s not a bad thing, either. It’s designed to make sure that if you start freaking out for no apparent reason (it happens to all of us, at one point or another), the publisher won’t have to worry about you trying to pull your book from the shelves. And trust me, you want your book on as many shelves as possible.


{Rani Divine}