Self-Worth in Self-Publishing: Where Do You Rank Yourself?

Over the last few weeks of focusing on freelance projects, I return to my blog with some interesting observations that I feel I should share. If only so that you go away a little more informed about what’s happening in the self-publishing realm.

You may have read my article for Yahoo last summer about Amazon v. Hachette, my James Patterson rant, and the facts surrounding distribution with Amazon. (Why Indie Authors Are Leaving Amazon)

My print editions are listed, but not available. However, that didn’t stop an Amazon Associate from listing one of my unavailable print editions for $999.11. I had to contact them to remove it. Amazon refuses to remove ANY title regardless of status, so your title remains on their website forever, for anyone to list it at any price. The Seller informed me that the Amazon system is automatically pricing books, and they have no control over it. True or not, they removed it from their Amazon store immediately. That may have been due to my Cease and Desist Notice, but regardless, they were prompt. No response from Amazon Author Assistance – is anyone surprised?

This happened right after I had a wonderful phone conversation with an author friend of mine about book promos and trends in advertising popping up on our social network timelines. We compared notes and shared insight on conversations we’ve had with some of our writing peers. The conclusion was that many indie authors are selling themselves short. 

This led me to say to my friend, “It’s about self-worth. They’ve lost it or never had it to begin with.” My friend agreed, then told me about someone that said they just cranked out ebooks to become a millionaire.

The truth is you are not going to become a millionaire self-publishing and selling your ebook for $.99. You will have to find more than 1 million people to buy your ebook based on the current royalty rates to become a millionaire. Ebooks sold at $.99 are a dime a dozen. This is why serious publishers are not taking self-publishers seriously. The indie industry has dumbed everyone down to $.99.

I almost want to apologize to James Patterson. Almost. He still owes indie authors an apology – we don’t take a dime out of his wallet.

So, now, I have to ask – how close is your bank account to hitting the Millionaire mark? How big has your piece of the pie been thus far from the KDP Global Fund? Currently the March fund is $3 Million. There are over 8 million titles on Amazon. Do the math. What are your financial projections for this quarter from the Fund?

There’s an old saying I heard when I was a kid and I never forgot it. “When you give something away for nothing, people will treat it like it’s nothing.”

Here’s a bigger question: What is your self-worth as a writer?

There are three types of authors today. The first type has been writing since they could hold a pencil, and holding onto their dream to become published since they could walk. They are rare and wonderful creatures that enjoy small successes, maybe prefer blogging to books, and feel that flutter in their heart when someone reads what they’ve written and resonates with the words. That means more than anything to them.

The second type of author has never written a word, but they want a ghostwriter to do all the work so they can jump on the indie bandwagon and make a million dollars. They only want to pay the ghostwriter $80 for ten books of 5,000-10,000 words per book, and do all the research as well. Yes, that was an actual project that was posted to which I responded: “For $80, I will write for you the highest quality, 100% professionally researched 1.5 pages of content you have ever read. Anything less than the standard ghostwriting rate is an insult to professional writers.” 

My comment was deleted by the Admin not for my snark, but because “freelancers are not allowed to negotiate on the forum”. Go ahead and laugh – I did. Laughed it off and moved right along.

The second type is not a real author at all, and I talk more about them in Part 2.  

The third type of author is a combination of the other two types. They have the dream, but they have lost their sense of self-worth. Somewhere along the way, they began selling themselves short at $.99 a pop. Sadly, this is the state of the current literary world. There’s more of the third type on Amazon.

If you think your book is worth only $.99, then you’re probably right. If you think you can make a millions dollars selling your book for $.99 at only a 70% royalty, less VAT and all the other fees, you live in the maya. 

If you have never written a word in your life, have no clue what it takes to write a novel, and want a ghostwriter – simply, very simply, prepare to pay them what they deserve and get some original thought behind it, or stay out of the publishing business. Harry Potter has been done. Twilight has been done. 

If you are producing ebooks just to get rich fast, easy and to become recognized by name, you are not an author. I have no problem saying that because the real authors have been writing since birth, not since the birth of Amazon. They have sent query letters and SASE’s to traditional publishers and taken a risk, only to be rejected harshly, and repeatedly. Have you ever put your writing under their microscope? Most have not and therefore, there is no high standard of book writing anymore. Most of what is being cranked out on Kindle is crap with fake 5 star reviews and paid comments. This is the norm today, folks.

How do I know? Because I’ve been asked to review those books and seen the ads for the freelance jobs to do so.   

Read Part 2…

13 thoughts on “Self-Worth in Self-Publishing: Where Do You Rank Yourself?

  1. A fine assessment of the publishing world the way it is, Cairenn.

    Too many wannabes are willing to give away their work for .99, or even free; while the Pattersons of the industry are selling ebooks for $11.99 or more.

    If I hadn’t learned to enjoy the creative process, I’d have stopped writing long ago.

    1. Thank you Conrad. I am so happy to have found you on LinkedIn and that we have connected. I have almost walked away completely from writing myself, so discouraged by what I was seeing, and thinking, “How do you compete with that?”. The answer is, of course, you keep writing, improving and you do better.

  2. A superb post with observations that others may have made but were too afraid to voice. I read both parts of your commentary and then went back and read the first part again to define myself as a writer.
    At first glance I considered myself of the third category, but after my second reading, I opted to be much more closely related to the first type. I’ve had two other careers prior to my serious writing ambitions and both of those careers were in excess of 20 years (British Army and then Retail Management). Since leaving school I’ve dabbled in articles, poetry, instruction manuals and reports, but it was as recently as 2007 I took the final plunge to do the writing I’ve always hankered after – thrillers and short stories.

    1. Thank you Tom for replying here and on LI. It makes happy to hear when people have finally taken that step to follow their passion. When you do what you love, you can’t fail. I’ve had other careers as well, but writing is a constant. No one can take it away.

  3. Thank you so much for validating practices and trends I’ve questioned for some time. Self-worth is a big part of the picture, but so is cost. Sending out manuscripts can be expensive, but the process hones skills a writer needs, regardless of the responses, including backbone.

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