In this episode of the podcast I interview Holly Lisle who had a successful traditional career (31 commercially published books), but transitioned over to self-publishing before there were any of the services that are around today. She made the transition after not getting paid by her publisher for six months. We talk her journey, her advice for writers, and a whole bunch else.
Mugging the Muse – Writing fiction for love AND money.
More of Holly’s writing courses can be found here (click)
Scrivener – Holly’s preferred writing software.
WPEStore – WordPress plugin allowing you to sell your own stuff through you website.
MemberMouse – creating a membership area for your fans/readers/customers.
Moving to Self Publishing
Holly didn’t get a pay check from her publisher for too long so eventually had to do something to pay the bills so put out to a writing community that she could write a book on world building. She sold it through her HTML coded website with basic digital delivery and it did very well, and she could pay bills with her first self-published non-fiction piece. This was non-fiction that her publisher told her would never sell.
After doing this she realised that she could publish whatever she wanted without having to meet the requirements of her publisher. Even when she was selling 90% of her ordered books (a massive percentage) she would eventually get the orders cut down by the book stores meaning it was hard to get interest in another book, and increasingly hard to sell more.
On the other hand it was difficult as now she had to do everything herself (or find people to do it). Holly describes it as terrifying.
Holly is now taking the books that were traditionally published where the rights that have reverted to her and self-publishing them herself.
Don’t expect to go out with your first book and sell a million copies. You write one book and get a few readers, then write another, gain some more readers. By the time you get to 7 to 10 books you are going to have enough money to cover the bills (usually). Self publishing is a perfectly viable way to make a living, it’s not going to make you rich, but it is financially viable.
Critical mass – There is a point where things click and you get beyond just bills. The thing to do is just write more books.
Self-publishing is the right place to start if you want to go traditional. It builds you a base which will make you more appealing and you are less likely to get screwed on an early contract.
Your Own Shop
If you are a self-publisher you should have your own shop online, where you retail the products yourself through PayPal or Stripe. You can use a digital delivery program to deliver the books to readers. It is a great alternative revenue stream that will bring in a little extra money each month. It’s also a great way to reduce risk should you have a problem with your other retailers. The money is also instantly in your pocket when a sale is made.
“The definition of a writing career, is write a book, write another book, write another book”
“[Self publishing] is the most beautiful thing that could have happened to self-publishing”
“Self publishing is more fun and pays more than traditional publishing”
“Going in an seeing your books on a shelf doesn’t get old”
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