Ben Nesvig @BenNesvig: Your first (excellent) self-published book came out a year ago. What have you learned about publishing/writing since then?
I’ll do a post at some point with all the statistics on my self-published books (now 4 self-published books plus one comic book).
But here’s what I’ve learned.
Several important things:
A) Books don’t make money. You simply cannot make money in the book industry. If you are a writer, an agent, a publisher, a bookstore. I get checks every month from Amazon. Sometimes they pay the rent (particularly if I have a new book) sometimes they don’t. Even when the book is #1 in its category for months on Amazon it still might not pay the rent.
This doesn’t mean don’t write a book. I stand by my premise from a month or so ago: Books are the new Business Cards. We all want to express ourselves. And it feels good, feels validating, to have “a book”. Because it means we are dedicated to the craft of writing, to improving ourselves, to delivering value to others. And it’s hard. It’s 5 hours a day for months of typing into a screen and sitting down. It’s brutal. It’s an addiction. It’s an obsession. It’s an insecurity. We want to write because we want people to read and like us. A book is a prayer we send out into the world and if that prayer is answered it means people are reading what we have to say.
B) Books will make you money. Leverage it into consulting, speaking, advising – all things which pay real money. My speaking, based on my books, has netted me much more than my books over the past ten years.
C) Would I still self-publish? Of course! For all the same reasons I list here.
D) We are in the “Choose Yourself Era”. No more middlemen. No more agents. No more producers. No more crack-addicted decision makers who can make or break your career over a bad night out on the town where they wake up and then have to decide on the art and creativity that you have slaved over. I have had horrible experiences where just because I dated someone who became some producer’s wife much later I’ve been thrown off of TV shows, etc. No more!
What do you need to do in the Choose Yourself Era?
You need to create your own platform. Facebook, twitter, quora, pinterest, writing a blog, self-publishing books, radio, internet radio, Vlogs – each format is interlaced but also becomes its own platform for distributing your content that is most suitable for that platform (as opposed to each platform being a marketing tool for just selling books). This is the way you maximize the value you deliver to others. Spend time every day on each platform. Spend time helping people each day on every platform.
Value will be created. Your name will be asked for. I am going to have more posts on how to build up in each platform. Figuring it out now as I expand beyond the blog format.
But this is critical now in the “Choose Yourself Era”
E) IF you Want to Make Money in Books. I would go the Amanda Hocking route (which is not easy): blog everywhere, comment everywhere AND write a book or two a month in a series. You want to write a book or two a month? I like this advice from one of my favorite authors from when I was a kid: Write an Adventure Novel in 3 Days.