Long-Term vs. Short-Term

Many traditional publishers target existing web rock stars. They identify desirable would-be authors by looking at their Twitter followers, site’s Google Page rank, Facebook fans, and the like. They’ll then approach these folks and offer them a nominal advance. They author is inclined to take the money but, in all likelihood, that is the last money the author will ever see from the publisher.

Understanding the Economics

I’ve heard different statistics, but something like 70 percent of all authors never receive money beyond the initial advance. Why? Because a $24.95 book will typically net the author less than $1–and even less if that author has an agent. So, to pay back a $5,000 advance, the book needs to sell just about that many copies.

Few books do this.

The solution: Bet on yourself. You won’t get an advance–and you might even have to pay for the costs yourself. (Sites like Kickstarter let you defray most of the cost of publishing the right way.) If you sell a decent number of books, you’ll quickly be in the black. You’ll make anywhere from 40 to 50 percent profit–and even more on the eBook version.

It’s risky, to be sure. But if your book sells a bunch of copies, you’ll be kicking yourself that you’re making virtually nothing on your book–and your publisher is cleaning up.

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