The first episode of The Authorpreneur Mindset seemed to be a hit!  So we took a few weeks between that episode and this to get ahead. You can expect 3 episodes over the next week and then at least 1 episode a week after that. I’m really excited about the content we have planned for you!

Also, I realized today the website hasn’t been updated with proper links to where to download, that will be fixed ASAP.

This episode is all about the Misconceptions and Scams in the Publishing Industry, so it’s one you really don’t want to miss! We talk about vanity publishing (both the good and bad), the misconceptions about traditional publishing, we also talked about the differences in money between traditional and indie and how you might be surprised at the changing times.  There’s a lot more content than that, as well!

The podcast is brought to you by Steam Powered Dreams Publishing but paid for out of my own pocket. If you’d like to show your support, there are many different ways to do it:

As always, below is a direct copy of the show notes. They were written before the episode was recorded but are here for reference and SEO.


Topic: Misconceptions and Scams

  • There are a lot of all too common misconceptions in the publishing industry and it doesn’t just stop when you’ve been published traditionally.  
  • In fact, that’s just the start for many companies who are trying to get as much money out of you for as little effort as possible.
  • Today I’m going to be talking about some of the scams and misconceptions that are spread across all aspects of the writing industry, from outlining and planning, all the way up to stealing your rights away from you with the promise to publish your book
  • I’m Jeremy Collier and this is episode 2 of the Authorpreneur Podcast
  • So, getting into our topic for this episode, let’s first talk about some of the misconceptions revolving writing and publishing.
  • Misconception Number 1: Self/Indie Pub are not truly published authors.
    • Self Publishing is now not only viable, but for most authors a better choice.
    • You get full royalty rates and have full control over the who, what, when, where, and how of your book.
      • If you want to sell your eBook on Amazon exclusively, your paperback at a local mom-and-pop bookstore, and create your own audiobook to sell on your website, you can do that.
      • If you wanted to give away a free copy of your eBook for every physical book sold, you can do that.
      • Decided on changing the cover, CTA’s, back, etc.? You’re in 100% control.
    • But it is a business and it takes some knowledge in not just writing, but everything else, as well. Even if you outsource things like formatting, cover, and the actual publishing, you should still know enough to understand the process.  
    • You’ll also get to choose how your book is marketed and when.
  • Misconception Number 2: If you get a traditional deal, they do everything!
    • Sure, if you’re name is Stephen King or JK Rowling they’ll take your finished manuscript and turn it into a masterpiece, with high quality edits, cover design, and formatting, not to mention thousands invested in marketing, but most of us don’t get that treatment.
    • In fact, in exchange for around 90% of the profit, the traditional published author gets very little.
      • Mediocre editing (enough to pass as edited), if that. Many require you to have your work edited ahead of time and they just touch it up. It’s becoming more common to see manuscripts rejected based on the fact they are not professionally edited.
      • Virtually no marketing, other than on the webpage of the publisher (and no one really visits there)
      • Royalty rates that kick in only AFTER advances are paid, if any advance is given
        • Advances are actually a dying art, at least big ones.
      • All of this with little to no say over what happens once you sign that contract.
  • Misconception Number 3: A traditional publisher has more reach and you can make a lot more money.
    • The first part of this is true.  Most traditional publishers DO have a much further reach, but as we talked about a few minutes ago, they don’t generally use it unless you’re a huge name, and even when they do, you don’t get as much benefit from it as you might think.
    • Recently, a NYT best selling author came out and said they only make $0.40 per book sold on their books, which range from $12 (eBook) to $14 (paperback).  That’s next to nothing.  
    • This means that a publisher would have to help you sell 21x more books for you to make the same amount as an indie. To put that into perspective, if an indie sold 100 books a month (very easy with a little bit of marketing smarts) at that price, they would make around $840 bucks.  In order for that same author above to make that much money, the publisher would have to help them sell 2100 copies.  See the problem there?
    • I know it’s not all about the money.  SOme people just want to be traditionally published, and I get that and that’s fine, but if you’re trying to build a career out of your writing, it is next to impossible to do with traditional publishing, unless you’re able to crank out 3+ books a year for the first few years and not expect much money in return.
  • Misconception Number 4: Self-Publishing is better because you’ll earn more money in the long run.
    • This is opposite of number 3 and something else I hear a lot, and much like the answer above, it’s not always true.  
    • I just talked about the earning potential difference between an author who sells 100 books as an indie vs. 2100 as a published, but that scenario would never happen.  There are very few, if any, indie authors who would try to sell their ebook for $12.  The more common price range is $2.99-5.99 (but as much as 9.99).  The reason it’s higher for traditional is because the publsihing house needs to stay in business.
    • So that same eBook that sells for $12 in traditional would probably sell for $5.99 in indie, meaning it would take more sales to reach any type of number to make a living.
    • It’s also less likely you will make much money off of a single book.  Most indie authors say they start making money around the third book and can comfortably rationalize either cutting back hours or quitting their dayjob at around 6-8 books. That’s a lot of books!
    • There’s also the fact that you have to bust your butt in all aspects of the job, from finding a cover design/formatter/editor to learning how to actually publish, and it doesn’t stop there because you now need to know how best to market your book.
    • So what it comes down to for both indie and trad. Is that if you want to be successful, want to make a living from your writing, and you want to do it for the long haul, it’s going to take work, and lots of it.  Yes, there is a higher earning potential for indie authors, but it also takes a lot more work to get there.
  • Misconception Number 5: Hitting a major Best Sellers list means you’re set for life!
    • I’ve kinda already busted this one above, but it in no way means that.  
    • The best seller’s list doesn’t actually measure how well your book has done since release, but instead how fast it has risen. This is why you often see books that are only a few months old on the list, while books like Harry Potter, who sells consistently well each month even now, isn’t.  
    • This means that if your book goes from 1-10,000 in the first month and you hit the list, and let’s say you’re on there for 3 months straight, selling 50,000 books all together, you are very happy and have made anywhere between $20,000 (for that traditional published author we talked about) to $210,000 (an indie author selling their book for $6), but then sales start to fall off and eventually you find you’re only selling a few hundred copies a month.
    • Taking the median between the low and high end here, you might have made $100,000 in that first three months, but the next 3 months you only make 70k, then the next 3 months only 50k, and so on until it stabilizes because your book is no longer new. Sure, in that first year, you made $300,000 bucks ($210,000 after taxes), but now you’re starting to look at that book only making you $20,000 or less a year.
    • This isn’t uncommon and in fact it happens all the time.  Many NYT best selling authors live high for 6 months to a year off their placement on there, but then are either forced to go back to a day job or try and repeat success with another book.
  • Now, let’s switch it up a bit and talk about straight scams and how to avoid them.
  • These are in order of how you might find them in your path to being a published, profitable author.
  • Scam Number 1: Most standalone, mainstream editing houses will take advantage of you.  
    • These are companies that go all out to make their website look like a well oiled, and busy editing company.  They talk about guarantees, their professionalism, speed, and other factors that explain why their prices are so much higher than other people.  I mean, they’re a professional editing company that does a top notch job, of course they cost more!
    • Many times they seem like just what you need, but the truth is there are very few editing companies out there like this who are legit.  Why?
      • For one, publishing houses have their own editors or a list of very trusted freelance editors they hire as needed.  A publishing house will NEVER outsource editing to another major company, it just doesn’t make sense because of cost.
      • For two, there are hundreds and hundreds of freelance editors out there.  Yes, they might go under the name of a company, like my good friend and trusted editor Robin does under Shadowcat Editing, but you can see the difference right from the home page.  
      • You can see and learn about Robin herself, instead of a faceless “editor” right on her homepage, and even more on her about page.
    • A great example to compare to is http://www.firstediting.com/.  Any editing company (or really any company within the publishing industry) that looks like that, my advice is to avoid them.
    • A client of mine went to first editing before I knew her and spent over $4000 on a single pass copy edit that turned out to not even be that.  They made some changes, but when I got ahold of it, I made over 1000 new changes just in the developmental editing alone.  When she tried to fight it, they pointed out that they are a “first editing” service and that she got exactly what they promised.
  • Scam Number 2: This brings me to my next scam, not signing a contract.
    • We all know the importance of reading over a contract when it’s presented to you and making sure it’s legit and you understand it all.  In fact, making sure others read it over is also a good idea, but what about having NO contract?
    • Many scammers don’t use contracts because a contract will give the client rights.
    • I use contracts for everything, even made my brother in law sign one for tutoring!
    • Make sure if you sign with someone, be it a major company or a freelance editor, you have a contract and you understand everything in that contract.
    • Also, they should be simple.  The longer the contract, the more chance of missing something is, and people know that.  Car dealerships and mortgages still do this (not all the time, thankfully) and it’s not uncommon for a $20,000 car to end up with a $25,000 loan attached to it before you know it.
  • Scam Number 3: Vanity Publishing
    • In general, it’s best to avoid vanity publishers.  These are the publishers that offer a range of services and package deals from simply taking your book and putting it on amazon to full packages that include editing, formatting, cover, publishing, and marketing.
    • There are a few legit companies, but even they don’t care about you or your book.  They publish it under their banner and charge you thousands of dollars to do so.  Their editing is usually a joke, cover design is spotty, and marketing almost non-existent.
    • Their small print is the worst, though.  One scam company in general states that you keep 100% of your royalties!  What they DON’T tell you up front is that you only get that after they have made a certain amount of money from your book.  So, if you get their elite package that costs $4000 and your book is published, they still take 100% of your profit for the first $5000 or even $10,000, if you ever reach that point, since your cover is bad, editing is bad, and there is no marketing.
  • Scam Number 4: Marketers
    • This one is a little harder to point out exactly who and what to avoid because, unless it’s a well established marketing company/person, it’s impossible to tell.  
    • Maybe worse is that they deliver on their promise, covering themselves, but the results never show up.
    • A legit company that markets books to thousands and thousands of people is BookBub.  They are hard to get, but they can do amazing things for your book, well worth the price of admission. They work by sending out emails to their email list that they have grown over the years the right way.  You can sign up for different lists and get good deals right in your mail box.  It’s a service that serves both authors and readers.
    • On the flipside, there are companies that promise they will promote your book to 10,000 people on their mailing list, but what they don’t tell you is that their mailing list is bought or fake, resulting in most people never seeing that email or getting mad because it’s spam.  
    • Of course these people tend not to last long, or they change names often, which is another way to tell if it might be legit.
  • These are the main things I’ve ran into. I don’t feel comfortable calling out specific companies as scams, but I will provide links on the website to articles that talk more specifically about this.
  •  And if you’ve ran into any of these types of companies, or need advice, feel free to contact me.

Ending

  • Where to find me:
    • The website is at steampowereddreams.com/authorpreneurmindset
    • you can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/jeremylcollier
    • on Twitter at SoulScribbler,
    • and finally on Instagram at authorpreneurmindset
  • Until next week, I am your host Jeremy and don’t forget to keep moving forward.

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