Beware: deep author introspection ahead

photo credit: dreamstime freeMark Coker of Smashwords, a man I hold in the highest esteem, whom I’ve listened to at conferences, read word for word in emails, and have followed the advice of, recently posed this question: why would any author want to traditionally publish for 25% when there’s so much more to be made by self publishing and reaping a 70% or more royalty per sale?

I can tell him why–because I’m finding the percentage of readers and reviewers who are writing about my first Kensington Brava book that they’d never read me before staggering. And we’re only at the Advanced Reader Copy stage right now.

I have about 3 dozen titles for sale, most through one of the larger small presses, and some through self-pub. My top sellers at digital first publisher Samhain have sold over 20,000 copies each and have topped category bestseller lists at all the big outlets. These reviews from new readers are coming from people I see on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, and even live and in person at conventions, but still they never read me until I signed with a NY publisher and they picked up an ARC of that NY book.

Don’t get me wrong, it was for this exact reason that I signed with Kensington, knowing I would take a big hit in income, but also knowing in exchange I’d gain new readers by hitting a market who are print and NY publisher loyal.

For once I’m not happy to be right. I guess deep down I’d assumed that by doing a job and doing it well, those people I already had access to, who I see and who see me and my promotions, already read me. But, for these readers, I was just shouting in the wind–until I signed with NY. I wanted to believe “if you build it they will come”, but apparently, you can’t build it in a cornfield like Kevin Costner or at a small press. It has to be built in a high rise in Manhattan in the offices of a staid old publisher. The EL Jameses of the world are one in a million. The rest of us have to go it the old fashioned way. For me, that’s simultaneously juggling new releases from NY for legitimacy, small press for monthly steady income, and self-publishing for flexibility.

So, Mark, my answer to your question is this… I have back list, I promote and market and blog and tweet and all that other stuff. I think outside the box and hit outside the romance market, I’ve had my website and tagline on everything from a bull rider’s riding shirt and his skin in a tattoo, to a Oklahoma restaurant who promotes me right along with their menu items, but until I had that NY seal of approval I wasn’t going to be read by a large segment of the market. That’s the cold hard truth–for now, because if I’ve learned anything at all being in this business it’s that everything changes, fast and often. Adapt and overcome. Roll with the punches. Any and every cliche applies because we are in the wild west of the new world of publishing and anything can happen.

14 responses to “Beware: deep author introspection ahead

  1. I’m sorry but I much prefer my books in print. I haven’t read any of my digital books in over a year and I have over 300 of them. But I plow right through my print books.

  2. I found you by a self pub ebook. I have all your books and love my ebook reader. I read paper to but I have over 3000 ebooks. I will read you in any format. 🙂

    • LOL. I know, right? I still have a dusty pile here, I admit. Can’t avoid it with all the print books we come home with from every convention. And I give most to my mom and only keep ones I’m really interested in! But luckily Samhain and Kensington both put me out in print as well as eBook. I’m all about choice for the masses. 🙂 Now where are those masses? I got a new book coming out soon!!! LOL

  3. I found you and a whole slew of new to me authors because of ebooks. And now I have all of your ebooks and love them, in fact you are an auto buy for me.

    When my husband bought me an ereader it opened a whole new world of books. I don’t have to figure out where I am going to store them, how many can I carry in my purse, etc…. Now don’t get me wrong, I love print books, but ebooks have sooooo many advantages that they win. If I had the money to buy both print and digital, I would. But I would still just read the digital.

    This is one of my worries that the market for my first Erotic Romance ebook when it comes out, will be small.

    • An autobuy! I’m honored. Thank you!

      And as I said, I think the industry will continue to keep changing. What I’m not sure of is whether the huge rush on self publishing will make the pendulum swing toward or away from traditionally published books.

      Thanks to everyone for the great comments!!!

    • I keep all my books on an external hard drive my son got me for Christmas. I have over 3000 books on it. I have about 400 paper backs in my book shelf.

  4. I found you soon after I purchased my first Kindle – I love ebooks. Even though I still love print books, the Kindle is so easy on my poor arthritic hands as well as expand my exposure to new authors and some really great stories.

    • Thanks for the comment, Candy. I agree, I love ebooks too but I still read print as well.

      What is good is that NY publishers are starting to really embrace eBooks and not only paperback, and my small press publisher puts out both eBook and paperback. Now we just have to get readers to stop equating NY with print only, and small press with digital only.

  5. While I have a bookcase full of paperbacks, I haven’t touched one in a couple of years. Since getting my kindle in October, I have done nothing but read. I think it is much easier for me because I can adjust the size of the print for my eyesight, and with the back light, I don’t have my husband telling me to turn the light out so he can sleep.

  6. I have print books and ebooks both. I find I continue to purchase print books of the authors I read before I got my ereader. Some of them are just becoming available in ebook and the back list is really slow, so to continue the series, etc from them, I must get print. What really bothers me is when I have prints of a series and the next is only available in ebook or vice versa. Why would anyone do that to the readers? Ebooks have introduced me to many, many authors I would have never been exposed to otherwise. With my tablet and my 500g Passport, I can take my entire ebook library with me anywhere I go.Yea for variety and choice especially on a long trip or doctor’s office wait.

    • Sometimes it’s a matter of length, Mary. I know the latest release (What Chris Wants) from Lori Foster is short, so that’s only in eBook, but it is part of her Edge of Honor series that I read in mass market paperback. You really can’t put a short in print, or it would be a pamphlet. LOL But what would be nice is to bundle it and include that story at the end of the next full length print release. Unfortunately, it’s really all up to the publisher to decide, not the author.

      Thanks for your comment!