We had a great Holiday Party this Monday. A big thank you to Tina for hosting, and to Amanda Nikki for doing some outstanding caracitures (including the one you’ll see of Gregory in this newsletter interview).
Our conference is coming up! Don’t forget to register before the price increase on January 16th.
Interview with HWG President Gregory Kompes:
You’ve published with both traditional publishing and self publishing. What route will you choose for your next book?
The next several of my books will be self-published.
In your own experience, what are some of the benefits and drawbacks associated with each approach?
I’ve always said that every project has the perfect route to being published. Traditional publishing has the benefits of someone else dealing with the details (editing, cover and interior design for print and ebooks, printing, and distribution). And, most traditionally published books receive at least a bit of promotion, at least 30 days. And, if it does well, more.
Self-publishing is perfect for those who like the challenge and also control freaks. When you take the self-publishing route, you manage the whole process. This is both a benefit and a drawback. It can become expensive if you’re paying for others to layout, design, edit, and distribute your book. At the same time, working with a Print on Demand (POD) publisher like Create Space takes out most of the middle people.
Of course, no matter how you publish, the marketing and promotion falls on the shoulders of the author, so building your platform and niche markets are very important.
Self publishing has experienced a radical transformation in the last decade. What is your opinion about the future of self publishing?
I expect Self-publishing will continue to grow. Even some of the big name authors are stepping away from their publishing houses and publishing on their own. It’s so easy to publish. There are some who say that the quality of published works is lower now, but I think this enhances the capitalistic model of publishing. (It is a business, after all.) When you read something you like, you go back to that author for more. When you don’t make it through a work or can’t continue reading because of poor grammar, typos, and head-hopping POV, you don’t buy any more from that author. The successful, quality writers will rise to the top of the heap.
The other thing I like about self-publishing is that the prices can be lower than traditionally published works, especially for digital works (i.e., Kindle). Low prices on your first few novels helps you build a following and readership, which in the long run will make for a healthier bottom line.
How much have you adjusted the prices on your books— is that even an option with a traditionally published book? And do you see a direct effect on sales when you adjust prices?
For traditionally published books, the publisher sets the cover price for all editions (print, electronic, etc.) and online discounts. It is possible for me alter that cover price on my website or for back-of-room sales because I have already purchased the stock and can resell it however I’d like.
As for self-published books, it’s always possible to alter the price. I’ve had a lot of success selling books when I speak if I offer a 2-for-special. So, instead of $15 each, I often offer my books 2-for$20. That’s a 30% slash, and about what my books sell for with an online (Amazon, B&N) discount. My digital editions I keep at around $5 or less. You tend to lose buyers over $5 when you’re not a well-known author.
Have you noticed a significant difference between the sales of your traditionally published book and your self published books? Has that marketing boost from a publisher positively affected sales in the long term or does most of the responsibility come down to the writer’s platform and personal promotion?
My traditionally published book has remained an Amazon bestseller for nearly 8 years. It’s early success was a combination of promotion opportunities created by my publisher for the first 30 days, and my own promotional efforts. They got me on over 40 radio programs. My own early efforts garnered a few column inches in USA Today. That said, all of those early efforts got me and my book press years ago. The ongoing success is because of my own ongoing promotion. In the end, and shortly after being published, all promotion falls to the efforts of the authors. Those authors I know who are most successful have many published books, not just one or two, and are continuing to build audience through promotion and speaking opportunities.
That reminds me of the saying “your backlist pushes your front list.” Last question, what links or resources have been most helpful to you in navigating how to self-publish?
The Well-Fed Self Publisher by Peter Bowerman (He’ll be at our 2014 conference!)
The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
1001 Ways to Promote Your Book by John Kremer
Thank you for the interview Gregory.
The group is holding weekly Monday meetings through the holidays. December 23rd meeting is at the Lutheran Church. December 30th will be a first chapter read at the Coffee House. For more information about when and where we meet (as well as when and where other writing groups in the area meet), visit our calendar.