The rush is on


My post content

There IS a gold rush in independent publishing, and it's been going on long enough now that we can finally draw some conclusions. If getting rich is your thing, some people are, but the pure, unadorned truth is this...the vast majority of people aren't. This fact is supported by Amazon itself who, quite rightly, stresses up front that most people sell only a few copies of their novels, and those are purchased by their family and friends. Many people don't sell any books at all.

All of this reminds me of the California Gold Rush in the 1840s and 50s. If you're unfamiliar with what happened, here are the simple facts: a guy found some gold, word spread, and vast numbers of people braved stupendous hardship to travel to California to seek their fortune. When it was all said and done, a few people did make some money, but most of the prospectors went away broke and heartbroken. The only folks who consistently made money were those who serviced the prospectors--store owners who sold them shovels, coats, etc., saloon keepers who kept them "fortified", hookers who...well, you know, and numerous unscrupulous characters who cheated the miners out of everything they were able to scratch from the ground or siphon from the rivers.

Unfortunately, the same thing is happening in the independent publishing biz. A couple of writers have made some money--mainly those writing nonfiction, romance, and thrillers--but most of Amazon's writers aren't making their original investment back. So who's making money? Well, Amazon, of course, as well as those selling "the secret to self-publishing success!" Yes, there are a lot of these, and most of them are failed writers trying to make a buck off their fellow writers. Not all of them are unscrupulous, of course. Some of them honestly want to help you, but here's some tough love for you, folks. The self-publishing model isn't working well yet. Why? Because the traditional publishers are still the big kids on the block. Their distribution models have been in place for a long time, and it's difficult, if not impossible, for you to compete with them.

What also continues to harm the independence model is that a lot of book contests won't let you enter their contests, and many bloggers, vloggers, teachers and librarians won't read and review your books. Some will (and kudos to those who do), but you can't blame the ones who won't. There are a lot of self-published books out there, and some of them were dumped on the market by people trying to make a quick buck. Worse yet, some people are using AI to write their books, and most of these are garbage.

So it's not surprising that many bloggers, teachers, and librarians shy away from self published books. However, this makes it very, very difficult for legitimate writers to reach their audience--especially those, like yours truly, who truly care about what they write.

The other factor that limits the outreach of self-published books is money. Traditional publishers can provide a huge, world-wide launch for a book, sending out thousands of review copies, offering book and blog tours, ad campaigns, etc., etc. Most self-published novelists don't have the resources to compete with this.

There are companies that will supposedly give you this same world-wide clout, but all of them cost you a considerable amount of cash. My advice would be to tread carefully and investigate them thoroughly, for you see this a lot in the independence movement. Someone is always promising to help you launch your book in exchange for your money, but can they really? I'll let you decide, but I would read the fine print of anything they ask you to sign.

However, without this ability to reach your audience, you can write a wonderful book, get it edited professionally, add a professional cover, etc., and you still won't make a dime. And if you can't make a living, folks, you can't publish. True, you can write, but you can't publish.

Is there hope for the future? Yes, there's always hope. The publishing business HAS been positively impacted by the independence movement, and I'm hopeful that even traditionally published authors have benefited from this impact, and that eventually the independent novelist will benefit as well. But we're not there yet.

So if your goal is to write your first novel, be warned...before you start, spend considerable time investigating the best way to market your book. There is no point in spending a year or more of your time and a lot of your money if you can't get your book into the hands of your readers. Believe me when I say I'm not discouraging you from writing your novel, for true writers write regardless of whether their books make money, but I am encouraging you to approach the process with your eyes wide open. Besides, who knows, you might be one of those breakout people! The world can always use another great book!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a note in my contacts section.