Can self-publishing be successful?

Amanda Greenslade, Director, Australian eBook Publisher

Success means different things to different people. Simply having some readers, leaving behind a legacy, seeing an ebook for sale or holding the book in print satisfies many indie authors.

For other people, because the investment in self-publishing involves both time and finances, success for them means making a profit on the book publishing project or even landing a film deal.  For example The Devil's Prayer.

So how do you make a profit on book publishing?

One of the difficulties indie authors face is they don't, or can't, invest a proper amount of time, money and/or expertise in their book project and their author platform as a business.

Like any business, an indie author will need to put considerable thought, time and money into marketing. If you want your book to sell, the marketing side of things is almost as important as the writing side. Without the marketing element, it is unlikely your book will see many sales because readers of your genre will not know about your fantastic new book.

Marketing is not just something to think about after the book has been published. It includes many decisions at the production stage of a book as well. I once provided consultation to an author, for example, who had used an ineffective title that was making his cosmology book get mixed up with religious texts. He engaged me for this advice too late (after design and printing had occurred). It’s never too early to get the first draft of your book marketing plan and start discussing the business side of selling your book. Doing so before even writing it would be acceptable!

Some writers simply want to get their work ‘out there’ and see how it goes. A surprising number of people have said to us that their plan is to publish the unedited/non-illustrated/poorly formatted/half-baked/cruddy-first-draft-cover version of their book to ‘see how it goes’ then use the proceeds to publish it properly.

This will never work.

It’s like saying you’ve invented a new toy, but you’ve made some prototypes out of cardboard and bits of string, and you’re going to sell these online and use the proceeds to fund the design and manufacture of the proper version of the invention. But why should customers spend money on a prototype? How would a new product without any branding or marketing compete with the thousands of other new products that are properly formulated and released to the market?

If the half-baked book fails, this ignorant author will consider it to be a poor book or wrongly conclude there is no market for it. The truth is that a book with incomplete production and marketing will not sell. Readers will not stand for badly edited writing. They will not be drawn to poorly designed covers. They will not recommend, rate and review boring books.

It’s also important not to draw incorrect conclusions about your book marketing efforts. Many self-publishing companies, including Australian ebook Publisher, receive sales data long before the payments associated with them from vendors. This may be as much as 120 days! So if you do some marketing in June, then don’t see a spike in your earnings by July, don’t incorrectly assume your efforts were a failure. Work with your data properly and carefully. Give every marketing activity enough budget and enough time to have an impact. In all forms of advertising a lack of repetition can spell disaster for the entire campaign. You’re better off arranging three smaller ads to the one magazine or newsletter than one big one or three to separate publications.

If you 'test the waters' with numbers that are too small, you may go off with an incorrect idea about what may have been possible. Yet, I can understand why indie authors don't, or can't, take the risk of putting up $10,000 on marketing.

Not to sound discouraging, but traditional publishers tend to only make money off the cream of the crop—usually their established authors. An average mass market book on their list will probably lose money. As in this example:

Now ebooks are changing this dynamic by giving indie authors full control of their production, marketing and subsequently reaping the majority of the reward. To be profitable, your book needs to rise above the 90% that do not sell well. To do that you usually need (a) an established market—or hunger—for your book, (b) a supreme product, be that author or book, and (c) an author who is 100% committed to marketing the product. If an author is going to be properly involved in their book marketing, and they have a good target market they can identify and access, then it is easier than ever to get "out there" both in person and digitally.

If you want to get an idea of some of the marketing opportunities we think are important to most authors/books, our existing customers can request our free book marketing checklist. We also offer book marketing services that include planning, editing meta-data and selling text, practical marketing activities and training for the author.

It's really you who has to decide to self-publish, promote, market and sell your book. We are simply here and available to get it done under your direction. We have all the skills, creativity, accounts and software to make it happen, and to do it well.

Contact us for a quote or to discuss your needs today.

Book Marketing

Customer Feedback

"I have really appreciated your support with my book, Amanda. I'm sure your other clients are of the same opinion. Quality professionalism is never in over supply, neither is generosity of spirit. You have both."—Henry Grossek, radio announcer and author of Game On: Building the Education Revolution

"Thank you, Australian eBook Publisher. I am delighted with the quality of the print edition of my novel, Beast-speaker. The service that Amanda and her team provide is exceptional: friendly, helpful and everything is delivered within the promised time-frame. The print on demand package is easy and affordable, and I highly recommend it to anyone considering publishing with Australian eBook Publisher."—W. A. Noble, author of Beast-speaker

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