Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

More on Self Publishing

I wish I could claim credit for today's links, but my friend, C, who yesterday had a problem with Tim Pratt's donation system, has found herself a new hobby, and is currently researching electronic self publishing and how to support yourself as an artist.

First, she notes the 1, 000 True Fans theory:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.


Assume conservatively that your True Fans will each spend one day's wages per year in support of what you do. That "one-day-wage" is an average, because of course your truest fans will spend a lot more than that. Let's peg that per diem each True Fan spends at $100 per year. If you have 1,000 fans that sums up to $100,000 per year, which minus some modest expenses, is a living for most folks.

One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years. True Fanship is doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate.

It's an interesting statement, actually, and as the article goes on to say, it's a very feasible number to achieve. In truth, a thousand is not such a huge number, though of course anyone who has dealt with the small press will also know the audience numbers of two fifty to three hundred. I think--off the top of my head--between two fifty and five hundred is what was moved of 26Lies and Black Sheep, respectively. I think the latter might be less, and sitting more in the three hundred range, but I could be wrong. Either way, while a thousand isn't such a great number, it still requires some work, and perhaps a different way of working it. Promoting books usually means reviews, word of mouth, and so forth--but could it be that generating fans requires a different tactic?

Who knows.

After that, C linked Lawrence Watt-Evans' pay as you go scheme for his self published book as something that she found more appealing to her taste. Perhaps because it is inspired by the Street Performer Protocol, perhaps not. I must admit, that from my standpoint, I don't see a whole lot of difference in either, but I must admit, I simply find neither appealing or insulting, so perhaps it stems from there.

And lastly, but not least, C also delved into the electronic publishing world, where authors being able to price their own work is raking in the cash, and leaving the electronic work put out by the major publishers in a kind of hole:

What would be the winning formula to stand out from the thousands of other eBooks on Kindle?

I'm not sure you have to stand out. Writers aren't in competition with one another. It isn't a zero sum game. If you have a good book, a good cover, a good product description, and a low price, you can sell well.

Currently, on the Police Procedure Bestseller Kindle list, my ebooks occupy ten of the top hundred spots. I'm outselling James Patterson, JD Robb, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Jonathan Kellerman, and many other heavyweights. Simply because I'm cheaper.

Print publishers have said that a low ebook price "devalues" the book. That's silly. The value of a book isn't its cover price. The value of a book is how much money it earns. On several of my ebooks, I've earned more than the average advance NY gives to a debut novelist. And I'm earning more money on a $1.99 ebook than I earn on a $7.99 paperback.


I'm not a huge fan of advertising. I've never bought a book based on an ad, so I don't use ads to sell my stuff. I once mailed letters to 7000 libraries, which was an expensive and time-consuming undertaking that didn't really seem to pay off.

But, honestly, I really haven't done much promotion for my ebooks. I blog about them, and I occasionally post on a few forums like I've been fortunate to get some good reviews, and decent word-of-mouth. People surfing Amazon happen to find my books, either on the bestseller lists or as an Amazon recommendation (Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought), and for $1.99 decide to give them a try. Once they do, some readers order all of my books; something I know happens because I get daily emails from new fans.

My bestselling ebook is called The List--a thriller with a sense of humor.

The List isn't just outselling all Kindle police procedure ebooks, it's also outselling all print police procedure novels. I've never even come close to doing that with my print books.

Sort of makes you think about where the future of publishing is headed, doesn't it?

What's this all mean?

Who knows!

But it makes for interesting reading, no matter what you think.
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