Epub – What the Media Isn’t Telling You (Part 5)

February 27, 2012
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For several weeks now, I’ve been interviewing ordinary people about the average person’s experience with self-publishing. Today, I’ll be finishing up the last post with these five self-published authors who’ve explained exactly what it’s like to self-publish and sell a book. [Read the first postread the second postread the third post, read the fourth post]

I asked each author the same questions for today’s post. You can read their answers below their websites and book info. And, as a continuation of this series, starting next week I’ll be featuring some interviews from some HIGHLY successful e-book authors as well as some self-publishing executives and traditional publishing executives. More to come!

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Amy Bennett
Her book: Entangled
Websites: www.EntangledBook.com and www.PermissionToPeruse.com

Sarah: Before you started, had you read any big success stories of self-publishers? How did that impact your expectations? 

Amy: Yes, Sarah Mae’s first eBook made $20,000 in the first month alone just months before I started writing.  That, of course, set my expectations far beyond what they should have been.  Her message was a much broader topic and her reach is much greater than mine. While the message of Entangled was most important to me, it would be silly of me not to hope it would sell well too.

Sarah: Were you happy with the experience? Would you do it again? 

Amy: I’m very happy that I did it.  Like many projects, I think I underestimated both the time and cost.  I will probably try to get a sponsor if I do another one.

This book is a very personal story for me so it was more about getting the message out than it was about making money.  I think I would need to wait until I grow my platform more if I ever wanted to try to do it solely for financial purposes.

Sarah: Was there anything especially good, especially bad or especially surprising about the process that you’d like to share for people considering this option?

Amy: You have to find someone that you work well with and believes in your project.  Melissa of MOD is a long-time friend and I can’t say enough good about working with someone that supports both me and the project so much.  Getting to work with my friend was one of my favorite parts.

Brandon Clements
His book: Every Bush Is Burning
Website: www.EveryBush.com and www.BrandonClements.com

Sarah: Before you started, had you read any big success stories of self-publishers? How did that impact your expectations? 

Brandon: Everyone’s heard about The Shack…how it spread like wildfire over time with a $300 marketing budget. So yeah, it’s hard not to sometimes be like, “You never know…that could happen again!” But that is not AT ALL probable of course, and the opposite is much more likely. I know the statistics about how many books the average self-published author sells, and they are pretty grim.So I’ve worked hard to stay grounded in reality and count each person that reads my book as a genuine success. It has helped me to not have unrealistic expectations and freed me to be genuinely grateful (the conversations I’ve already had with people have helped with that so much). Just last week I had coffee with a non-Christian lady who read the book and that conversation alone made every bit of the sweat and tears I put into the book worth it.  So yeah—authors—I know we want our work to impact lots of people, but let’s actually count people and not numbers, okay? Because every single reader matters. And each one should spark genuine gratitude in us.

Sarah: Were you happy with the experience? Would you do it again? 

Brandon: Absolutely. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun. But mostly fun. I’d definitely do it again and may sometime soon.

Sarah: Was there anything especially good, especially bad or especially surprising about the process that you’d like to share for people considering this option?

Brandon:  People say that self-publishing is easier than ever these days, and that is actually very true. But the thing is, a lot of those people are writing terrible books that look awful. So, I guess the most surprising thing for me was learning how much work it actually took to do things well. But, again—it is definitely worth it.

Mike Hall
His book: Jigsaw
Website: www.JigsawBook.com and facebook.com/mikeisspeaking

Sarah: Before you started, had you read any big success stories of self-publishers? How did that impact your expectations? 

Mike: I have a good friend that had done it twice with varying success. He was the main catalyst for me in jumping in headlong.

Sarah: Were you happy with the experience? Would you do it again? 

Mike: I loved every second of the experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. I love the idea of getting picked up by a publisher, but if that doesn’t happen, no biggie. I am a speaker first and author second.

Sarah: Was there anything especially good, especially bad or especially surprising about the process that you’d like to share for people considering this option?

Mike: You have no choice but to write ferociously…day in, day out. Fortunately for me, I had recently stepped out in faith into this career path as a full time speaker to teens and had plenty of time to knock this out last summer (while kids aren’t in school). I began the process in early May, and had 10 boxes of books delivered to my home the third week of August. The book is around 140 pages long and 25K words.

Andy Merritt
His book: Eden
Website: www.EdenTheBook.com and www.recklessliving.com

Sarah: Before you started, had you read any big success stories of self-publishers? How did that impact your expectations? 

Andy: The only two highly successful ones I knew of were John Grisham, who got his start by self-publishing A Time to Kill, and William Young’s experience self-publishing The Shack. That said, I knew those were crazy unusual success stories. I knew that the average self-published book sells less than 200 copies, so my expectations were pretty low.

Sarah: Were you happy with the experience? Would you do it again?

Andy: Yes, I am planning on releasing another book, Completely Reckless, this February.

Sarah: Was there anything especially good, especially bad or especially surprising about the process that you’d like to share for people considering this option?

Andy: It is A LOT of work. Because I did the design work myself It meant that writing the book was only the beginning of the process. There are self-publishing options that take these pressures off of the author, but they also cost quite a bit.

Jimmy Spencer
His book: Love Without an Agenda
Website: www.book.lovewithoutagenda.com

Sarah: Before you started, had you read any big success stories of self-publishers? How did that impact your expectations? 

Jimmy: I had only heard the The Shackdid amazingly well with like 12 million copies. Crazy!?!?! While the possibility of having a huge seller is exciting for everyone, if you are not prepared to write your fingers to the bone and give your blood, sweat, and more that a few tears to the project AND still probably not make much money…then you should’t begin the writing process.Writing a book is not glamorous, nor will it probably make you notable…but it is a extremely personally  rewarding and professionally challenging process.

Sarah: Were you happy with the experience? Would you do it again? 

Jimmy: Yes. Self publishing is HARD, but definitely worth it. In fact, I wrote so much content that the next book is already essentially written and should drop at the beginning of 2013. It will focus on Consumer Christianity. We’ll be self publishing it also unless something crazy happens.

Sarah: Was there anything especially good, especially bad or especially surprising about the process that you’d like to share for people considering this option?

Jimmy: I believe we would have never gotten the creative product we finished with had we gone with a major publisher. I’m incredibly proud of the quality. It turned out especially good. I learned a ton about printing and crafting a story. That was surprising. Ultimately I loved the experience, though I had to set aside a large portion of my life and personal finances to do it. But that’s one flexible benefit of being single! One lesson that I did learn was that major publishers are generally only interested in people who have already reached a point in their career that they most likely don’t need a publisher. I’m a nobody. I’m not particularly well known. So for me this was really the only option if I wanted to create something that stood out from other speakers and writers. It was incredibly hard but well worth it.

2 Comments. Leave new

Considering how much work publishers require from authors these days in self-promotion, I think self-publishing has a bright future. I think many of theses answers could be the same for published authors. I know, after three books published in our family, that I’m unsure if a publishing house is the way to go for the next three books.

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@Dale, you’re dead on there. I wonder if what might happen is aspiring authors will self-publish to keep more of the profits and publishers will start taking less risks on people with smaller platforms… and just stick to the proven guns.

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