Gone is the stigma associated with self-publishing. Best-seller lists now are jammed with self-published titles, and traditional publishers hunt online for the next E.L. James (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) or Amanda Hocking (“Trylle Trilogy”). Therefore, many independent authors are no longer interested in signing with traditional publishers, particularly if they have a fan base and pocket most of their cash. It is an appealing prospect, even if, like the majority of self-published authors, you aren’t a breakout success and only sell a few hundred or thousand copies.
Now, writers can digitally format their own books, buy stock photos as covers, and sell them to readers through a variety of online retailers as fast as they can crank them out. The money is pretty good, particularly as a side business. Amazon, for instance, pays 70 percent on books priced $2.99 to $9.99 and 35 percent on anything lower. Smashwords.comwill publish your book for free and take 10 percent of the book’s price. Bigger online retailers, such as Kobo or Sony, take 30 percent. But if you sell only through Smashwords’ store, you retain the majority at 85 percent.
Sky Luke Corbelli likes the immediacy of e-publishing. “If I finish the third book in my trilogy tonight, I can have it up on Amazon by tomorrow,” says the 27-year-old Hayward author of the sci-fi trilogy “The Will of the Elements.” “There’s no publishing delay while I wait for someone to get back to me.”
Amazon reviewers liken Corbelli’s first two books, “Wind-Scarred” and “Water-Seer,” to the works of British fantasy heavy-hitters Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony — not bad for a full-time programmer who considers writing a hobby. His wife, a graphic designer, provides the cover art and serves as one of Corbelli’s many editors and beta readers. He says he’s so content now, that a traditional publisher would have to offer him “a really, really good deal,” complete with digital rights, to consider giving up control of his work.
“There’s a global market out there that I can reach very easily on my own,” says Corbelli, who, like many self-published authors, increases the price of his books as he publishes them. The first was free, and readers were hooked. The second cost $3.99. He plans to charge the same for the third, “Child of Lightning.” However, he says he doesn’t care that much about money. “More than anything, I just want people to read the stories.”