If you’ve ever wondered if publishing a book yourself is worth the risk, Michelle Davidson Argyle is here to talk about her experience so far with her novella, Cinders. While some people may still take a negative attitude toward self-publishing, the fact is that many writers are working hard to make their books just as good as those offered by a traditional publisher. [Full disclosure: I edited Cinders for Michelle!]
Sometimes, the experience can even lead to a publishing contract…
Cinders originally started as a project me and my co-hosts on The Literary Lab blog were doing. We each wanted to write a novella and then put them into a compilation, but once I was halfway through the book I realized I wanted to self-publish the novella on its own. I’m glad I did. Now Davin has written his own novella he may independently publish, and Scott is starting on his soon.
I know you started off writing it just for yourself. At what point did you start to consider self-publishing Cinders?
Cinders was always for myself, but I did know from the very beginning that I would be self-publishing it. That was the reason I decided to self-publish instead of shop it around to traditionally publish somewhere. I didn’t want to have to deal with anybody wanting to change anything or getting frustrated because I couldn’t find anyone to take a novella. There was a point, however, near the middle of writing the book, where I decided to push more with marketing than I originally intended. I saw the potential of a niche audience really liking it.
Since releasing the book on July 28th, I have sold 251 books for profit. Out of those, 91 have been print copies either sold through online channels or directly through me. 160 copies have been e-books. I don’t think I can really say yet if e-books are outselling print books these days. It’s hard to say from my sales because I sold a lot of copies at my release party and I’ve sold a lot of signed copies. Since this is my first book most of my sales are obviously from people who know me, and because of that people were at first more likely to buy a print copy. Still, now the e-books are outselling the print.
I don’t think the expense of creating a physical book has paid off immediately, no. I’ve spent over $1500 on the book so far and most of that is shipping expenses (materials and postage, etc.) and the cost of ordering the physical books. It can get pricey so I can see why many writers just go with e-books to start with. I really wanted a print book, though, and I think after getting a few books out there the costs will dip lower than the profits. I hope. I’ve almost made back what I’ve spent, but not quite yet. I think this is pretty good, however, for only the first few months of the book’s release and that it is my first book I put out there.
It’s hard to get people to buy your book. Really hard. Especially when most of the world has no idea who you are and it costs a lot of money to distribute the way a publisher would. I’ll confess right now that I expected to sell 200 copies of Cinders within the first month of its release. I was sadly disappointed, but once my vision of how things actually work clicked into place I realized how well the book did for a first release of an independently published book.
When I published Cinders I didn’t expect to sign a contract for another book, so I had already made plans to write three fairy-tale themed novellas and independently publish them. This became a project cemented in my head, so even after Monarch was signed to a publisher I still had that plan.
Because my small publisher has offered me so much freedom on Monarch, I seriously considered them taking on my novellas and then realized how much more time I’d have to write if I didn’t self-publish the books as well as get them published through Rhemalda. It simply became too much work and seemed very redundant. I can only shoulder so much!
Do you think the experience you gained from self-publishing Cinders will help you with marketing all of your books through Rhemalda?
I do think the experience I’ve gained from self-publishing Cinders will most definitely help me with marketing all of my books through Rhemalda – and even other publishers if I get to that point. Already I’ve discussed with Rhemalda different ways of marketing and how I can add to it with my own networks. It’s really nice!