Self-Published, a view from this side

I have two novels now available for sale -- eVersion and paperback.  And my agent is still getting no traction with either novel at traditional publishers.  So I thought it might be interesting to update my views on the self-pub route at this point.

1.  Revenue is nice.  Got my first check from CreateSpace's September paperback sales a few days ago -- a whopping $77.  But at least it's something.  I've got about $2,000 invested in getting LEVERAGE to publication, and now I've only got $1,923 to go to break even.  And sales of LEVERAGE in October and thus far in November have been a bit more brisk, so I'm getting a little traction.  Even if I was able to land a publishing contract tomorrow, it would be a good year before I saw a cent.  Cash flow now is a nice thing.

2.  Marketing is tough.  In the back of my mind, I figured I knew quite a few people -- have 500 Linkedin contacts for instance -- and I could rely on these contacts (who are basically in my targeted market for the book) to purchase, review and help spread the word.  And to a reasonable extent, it has been true so far.  But the marketing effort is taking a lot more time than I expected, and it requires persistence.

3.  The big splash.  I haven't self-published on Amazon or B&N yet.  There are three reasons for this.  (1)  I didn't want to share 10% of the purchase price with Smashwords just because I was too lazy to prep and submit the document myself.  On Sony or Apple -- acceptable, not the big two.  I may rethink this stance as I don't want to end up with three different ISBN numbers out there, thus spreading my sales across three different tracking numbers.  Sales quantity is important for climbing the rankings (and ending up in searches) at these big ePublishers.  In retrospect, I should have just purchased my own ISBN numbers.  (2)  I wanted to enter with a splash -- having reviews lined up, and some buzz on the books already rolling.  I'm almost there with LEVERAGE.  Where to actually draw the line, is not obvious, however.  (3)  I wanted to be able to release three titles in a relatively short time frame once I put the first one up.  There seems to be a "critical mass" phenomena with the ePublishers, where more titles have a multiplicative effect.  I felt (rather arbitrarily) that three was the right number.

4.  Prices will need to drop.  Eventually.  Both novels are currently priced at $14.99 in paperback, and $7.99 eVersion.  This provides me with about $5 in profit on each.  And compared to known authors, these prices don't appear to be too high for those buyers that personally know me.  But in the Amazon/B&N environment, they will be high for self-pubbed work.  I will undoubtedly have to drop these prices once I release there, but to what level, I haven't decided.  The paperback price doesn't have a lot of room to fall, but since all the eBook pricing works off of percentages, I could go as low as $2.99 there.  This definitely requires some additional study.

5.  New work is suffering.  Not on a quality basis, but in quantity.  With me spending so much time on marketing, my next two titles are progressing quite slowly.  I suspect HEIR APPARENT is a year away, and EMPOWERED, which I just finished the first draft of last week, is even further out.  I'm not, however, certain this would be any different if I had a traditional publishing contract.

So the view this far in is a bit of a mixed bag.  But I love learning new things, and this Self-Publishing journey is at least providing plenty of opportunity for education.