I really have no clue, but as I’m thinking about self-publishing (as soon as I get rejected by every publisher in Australia) I’ve been reading article after article trying to figure out if I have any chance of making a living. And yeah, it’s very possible. But making a fortune? Not so much. The chances of that happening would probably be the same as scoring a Big Five Publishing deal (or winning the lotto).
But it could happen. Steve Henn over at npr.org recounts the story of Michael Bunker and how his novel Pennsylvania Omnibus, became an instant online hit. At one point he was approached by an agent who offered him a $5,000 advance – but Bunker had actually made more than that just the day before. So my guess is he didn’t take the offer.
Reading stories like this makes you think, why not at least give it a go? What do you have to lose?
It’s always been my dream to become a published author. Sorry, CORRECTION. It’s always been my dream to become a traditionally published author one day.
So far I’ve written and completed three novels – the first was so tragically bad I still refuse to let anyone read it (except my mum, God bless her), but when I wrote my second novel, I thought finally this is it! This has to be at least half-good!
Um, yeah no.
Everyone always goes on and on about how aspiring authors can be really naïve at first, and yep, everyone would be right. The rejection stings like hell (especially when you have no clue it’s coming) and it takes a lot of willpower and constant ‘affirmations of positivity’ to steer yourself away from sinking.
With the rejections trickling in (if at all) I decided to write a third novel in a completely different genre that I interpreted as being ‘commercially friendly’. This was also rejected by every agent, editor and publisher I sent it too. I did get a few requests for partial submissions, but nothing ever eventuated. The silence was deafening.
Do I still want to be offered a traditional publishing contract one day? Hell yes, I do! But seeing as that’s a very far off dream (perhaps forever), I’ve decided self-publishing may be the way to go for me, especially as I don’t believe that the Big Five are the sole gatekeepers to success anymore. Even traditional publishing is a game of luck nowadays. You could get an amazing publishing deal only to have your book bomb badly.
A very successful author (let’s call her Annie) once told me that when I’m starting out, ‘I should have at least 3-4 books ready to go before I even publish the first’ and that I should ‘attempt to publish one book every 2-3 months if I want to have any chance of being successful.’
When I asked her about the money issue, she said (for the average Jane) it takes ‘roughly 8 books and 2 years before you can make even a modest living from self-publishing.’
And where did she get this idea from?
Annie told me the story of one of her friends, let’s call her Jane, who was able to quit her day job after she had published 8 books over a 2 year period. Annie also told me that Jane ‘started making more money than her accountant husband after 5 years.’
They seem like pretty good numbers to me. But you know what? Even if I only end up selling 2-3 copies per book a month, I think it will be worth it.