Thursday, August 4, 2011

Self-Publishing as an Audience Building Tool

This week's topic is supposed to be about agents shuffling authors through the self-publishing process, but honestly I don't see any reason why a writer would need an agent to self-publish and I've heard nothing about this being a trend. The whole reason to go e and self is to get around the barricades imposed by agents and traditional publishing.

A writer gets higher royalties when delving into epublication alone, sans agent, which is part of its beauty. An agent would cut into that and for doing what? Until you're going after movie rights, gaming or some other right outside of publishing, I don't see them as having a role, at least not one that would be worth a cut of the revenue.

The author is shelling out all the expense to epublish -- editing, layout, book cover, promotion and marketing. The agent can't get us a better deal. Everyone gets the same royalty deal in the eworld. So, I don't see why a writer would want to pay this other person in this endeavor.

I once held a stigma against epublishing myself, but now I see it as a vital marketing tool. Blogs and social networking are all well and good, but we're not reaching our audience or potential readers, only other writers. Magazines and publications don't have the reach they used to, floundering. So why not go about it ourselves? Releasing stories, novelettes and novellas in the epublishing world can get us to our potential readers and build us an audience unlike anything else.

It takes time to build an audience, just like it takes time to grow a blog. I've found it very rewarding so far, reaching people who don't know me and who have enjoyed my stories. It's exhilarating and another step down the road. Maybe when I release my novelette for sale in the near future, I can earn enough cash to finance the next project, maybe actually build myself more than an audience and grow my career and a business. I see others doing it, watched some writers go from the starting line with chirping crickets to now considering quitting their day job as they're earning enough in sales. Nice. I want that. So, I'm going after it.

Before delving into the eworld and audience-building, do your homework. Be certain you're writing at a professional level, have a marketing plan, hire a profession editor [read other ebooks and if you really like one, contact the writer about which editor they used -- many now credit editors and it will become a stamp of quality like a publishing house is now], produce a professional ebook cover, and don't give up because you're not a landslide success with the first release. All things take time. Very few people are overnight successes, but if you have a good product and keep at it, you will see your career and business grow.

What thoughts have you about need of an agent or no? If you see some use for them in self-publishing, please share. Have any audience growing tips to share? Thoughts on epublishing?

Will note as per Angelina's comment, to be clear -- I'm talking about self-publishing in the eworld. As Angelina said, not all epublishing is self-publishing. Should also say not all self-publishing is epublishing.


  1. I am doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason. I too find that most of my blog readers are fellow writers and while I Love them, I've been trying to find readers too. I am going to self-pub collections of short stories with similar covers in the hopes of reaching a new audience and funding the editing and cover for a novel. This has become a new trend, or so I hear. :)

  2. Great post. Agents are pretty much useless anymore. It's sad that they encourage authors to self publish tough. I mean, the author then has all the expense of publishing and has to give a cut of that money to the lazy agent who couldn't find the author a read book deal! I don't think agents should be getting paid for that little tidbit of advise as ANYONE who can afford it can self publish. And with the amount of epublishers out there, a not so lazy agent would be able to find one that would accept the book.

    Now here's my little complaint (sorry. :-( ...) From this article I get the feeling that epublishing and self publishing is the same thing. It's not.

    Self publishing, the author doesn't go through the whole submission process, pays for the edits and cover art, works completely independently with their own deadlines, pays for all publishing explenses themselves, and does all the marketting themselves.

    In epublishing, the author does have to go through the submission process and there is a contract and all like in traditional publishing, the author doesn't pay for ANYTHING (not a single penny paid by the author), they work with the publisher and are required to finish everything according to publisher's deadlines, the publisher helps a little bit with the promotions (okay, not all publishers do that but mine does).

    Epublishing is the happy medium between self and traditional. It's more author friendly and the author has more say in editing and cover work as opposed to traditional and it accepts much shorter works. However, just like self publishing, there is no advance (royalties only).

  3. great article, mpax =) i agree that putting out an ebook could give visibility.
    here's my 2cnts on agents v indies
    some of the indie ebooks i've tried to read are filled with writing errors. ind pub seems too easy and some dont do their homework. either way, like you said, you should hav professional advice, an editor and marketing and either way you hav to pay for it. the difference w/having an agent is they do most of the legwork for you and by their experienced stamp of approval and connections, you get a big jump over doing it alone. just need to find the right matchup!

  4. I agree with you - why would anyone need an agent? Maybe they see their current roles dwindling and are trying to remain viable.

  5. I agree that many publish too soon, or don't get the kind of editing they need, but the cream always rises to the top. It doesn't matter what everybody else does, only what you do and what you do to promote yourself as a professional and your brand.

    Interesting about the agents. Thanks for the info.

  6. I had no idea some agents were doing this! I thought the whole point of being lucky enough to land an actual agent is so they show your work to an actual publisher. Unless of course, they have, but the publisher turned it down and the only other option is self-publication. But at that point I say drop the agent unless they are willing to give you advice on how to go about self-publishing for a small, one-time price (or better yet, for free!).

  7. Interesting, isn't it, Shawn? I've learned something new, too. I didn't know this was going on either.

    If they want to help market, agents can maybe offer writers something there - selling a marketing and promotion plan, maybe offering editing services, but it'd have to be something of value to the writer.

  8. "Be certain you're writing at a professional level, have a marketing plan, hire a profession editor" I think that's key. I've given a few self-published authors a go but they failed on that count. Their stories weren't edited properly, the typos were rife etc. It's unlikely I'll give them a second go.

  9. I think it's all fascinating. I've been reading so much on how the publishing industry, tradition and indie, is changing day to day. Thanks for your input, Mary!

  10. I heard of this a few months ago and thought it a bit odd. But I guess you'd get their editorial help, and then some marketing advice. And while they'd probably get their typical 15%, you'd keep the rest unlike with traditional publishing. So, I can see it both ways. Good post!

  11. Yes, there's crap out there, but there's also some really good stuff.

    As I said in an earlier post, I plan to go the old-fashion way and build my audience.

  12. Really interesting post! If I was going to self-publish, I can't imagine why I'd need an agent. For me, an agent opens doors that I can't - but I can self-publish all by myself (which is why it's called self-publishing, right?).

    "... don't give up because you're not a landslide success with the first release..." This is great advice, no matter what publishing route you take!

  13. nothing wrong at all with choice, so agree.
    I'm new to the whole thing, that is my first book was published by Vamplit in December.
    I did put up some short stories for free on Smashwords and Barnes and Noble and i'm glad i did.
    it got my name out there!
    so important!
    Great post btw

  14. I don't see the need for an agent in self-publishing either, Jennifer.

    I also put up free reads on Smashwords & B&N, Carole. It's been a great experience, so far.

  15. Apparently there are quite a few agents trying to get a piece of the self-publishing business these days. Others are using the Kindle bestseller lists to shop for new clients (why take on a slush-pile nobody when you can get someone who has a proven record of selling?).

    Scott Nicholson's Indie Journey ($5 ebook) is an interesting read from someone who spent years in the traditional publishing system and has switched to going it on his own (and making a lot more money that way).

    As for using e-publishing to build an audience, definitely! I think giving away free stories helps, but you really start hooking folks when you have a series of novels (or maybe novellas? ;) out, so I hope we'll see more from you!

  16. Will have to check out Scott's read then.

    Yes, I have more coming.