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Why Traditional Authors Are Switching to Self-Publishing? How You Can Also Become a Self-Published Author?

PS has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When she's not traveling and writing, she helps people with web design and development.


Before the Internet gained popularity worldwide, an aspiring author had to struggle to find and work with publishers and agents and even pay to print multiple copies. After a decade or two, you now have the pleasure of publishing your work right from the comfort of your home.

The number of e-book publications and their sales have gone skyrocket, especially after the introduction of e-readers. Now, millions of reading enthusiasts prefer e-readers over the traditional prints to access their favorite books. They readily buy books from self-published authors without even realizing it.

To date, self-publishing authors have made millions by publishing non-fictional books, novels, short stories collections, poetries, and so on. Now, anyone can be an author and make plenty of income. The only thing they need is a computer and an Internet connection, certainly, they need to possess a writer’s skills as well.

In this article, I am going to discuss the two modes of publishing: traditional and self-publishing, stories of successful online authors, and a few but effective tips on how to ensure your e-book success. This can be an intimidating process, yet exciting at the same time. The best thing is you are going to make yourself a successful writer without relying on anyone and handling everything under your control.


Mode of Publishing: Traditional and Self-publishing

A. Traditional publishing

  • You send a proposal to an agent or a publisher asking them to represent you.
  • You may need to send an entire book if you are writing a novel.
  • You possess the copyright over your work, but you may need to agree on certain other rights.
  • In traditional publishing, you receive advance and royalties.
  • You should opt for traditional publishing if you are writing about other than specialized topic which is applicable to the general public.
  • You must certainly go for this option if you want to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field.
  • You will be able to associate yourself with popular publishers.
  • You focus only on writing, rest everything is handled by your publisher.

B. Self-publishing

  • You finish entire work on your own, which many writers claim to be both nerve-wracking and exciting.
  • You decide all by yourself when and how to publish your book.
  • You preserve all the rights to yourself.
  • You don’t receive an advance, but you have the chance to make a huge profit out of it.
  • You decide the pricing, book design, and marketing tactics.
  • You can be a great self-publishing author if you already enjoy a genuine massive following online.
  • You can start a passive income stream as you set your own prices and also reduce the marketing investment by self-promotion.

Self-publishing is becoming popular day-by-day, but due to many right reasons, it is highly criticized as well. Many publishers and already published authors disregard the self-publishing method because there’s a possible risk of quality books. Despite that, readers still favor online books, so right now the scales are perfectly balanced. Probably, there may come some strict guidelines to preserve the quality of books, in the future, who know? For now, let’s read about people who gained success by becoming self-published authors.

Success stories of self-published authors

Most of the self-publishers have opted for Amazon as their online platform. They earn huge income by selling hundreds of thousands of books monthly. You can make your ebook a bestseller by working towards selling around 10,000 copies. This is not an official benchmark, just a popular number.

These self-published authors come from different backgrounds. The common thing among them is the pre-existing presence of the online audience, whether small or large and their desire to experiment.

Here are the stories of most-popular self-published authors:

J.A. Konrath's website

J.A. Konrath's website

1. J.A. Konrath

  • J.A. Konrath is known for his thriller and crime based novels.
  • He has a candid personality and openly elaborates on the advantages of self-publishing over traditional publishing.
  • Most of his books are priced lower than $2.99.
  • He writes more, sells at lower prices, and earns more than the traditional publishing.
  • He even managed to make a few of his books a real success which was earlier rejected by publishers such as The List of Origin.
Holly Lisle's website

Holly Lisle's website

2. Holly Lisle

  • Before self-publishing her ebooks, Lisle already had a massive following online. This helps her make a regular income.
  • Her reason for going online was due to her dissatisfaction with traditional publishers; reasons quite similar to Konrath’s.
  • She has written various books in fiction and non-fiction genres as well as produced several e-courses.
  • One of the main reasons for switching to self-publishing was the difficulty she faced in retaining rights for the books she sold to traditional publishers.
Amish Tripathi's website

Amish Tripathi's website

3. Amish Tripathi

  • Amish received multiple rejections by several book publishers to publish his first book.
  • He, then, decided to self-publish his book named The Immortals of Meluha.
  • He not only wrote an incredible story but was also fully involved in marketing strategies.
  • He is, currently, one of the most successful Indian self-published authors.
E.L. James' website

E.L. James' website

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4. E.L. James

  • Unknown to many people, E.L. James actually self-published her worldly-renowned book series, Fifty shades of grey.
  • She wasn’t sure of the book's success, so she posted it on her website and other fan-based sites.
  • Her book has done a record selling of 125 million copies worldwide by the year 2015.
  • She holds the record of fastest-selling paperback books in the United Kingdom.
  • She is also recognized as one of the highest-earning authors by Forbes.
Amanda Hocking's website

Amanda Hocking's website

5. Amanda Hocking

  • Amanda Hocking is known for writing about paranormal romances.
  • She started self-publishing out of a dire need for money. To her surprise, she managed to sell more than 100,000 copies of her work in less than a year.
  • She sells her ebook at pretty low prices to attract massive buying.
  • Her passion is so deep now that she can easily write a novel draft within three weeks.
  • She uses Smashwords to distribute her ebooks.
John Locke's website

John Locke's website

6. John Locke

  • John Locke’s favorite genre is crime-based novels.
  • He struggled to sell his self-published books in print, so he went online.
  • He sold millions of copies of his e-books within a frame of just five months.
  • He extensively involves himself in blogs and social media marketing tactics.
  • He prices his ebooks at a very low cost just like the rest of the authors.
  • His massive sale resulted from the blog posts that helped him hit more than 1,000 sales a day.
  • He emphasizes investing quality time to build strong relationships with the readers. He did it using his Twitter account and email services.

Crafting a bestseller e-book

Some e-books make a groundbreaking sale, while some go unnoticed. The majority falls between these two. To ensure your e-book becomes one of the bestsellers, you need to think clearly and focus on what type of book you are planning to write. Every sentence must be carefully framed to increase its chances of doing well.

If you can sell more than 10,000 copies of the low-priced e-book or around 500 copies of high-priced e-book, then both are equally great achievements. In both ways, your e-book can become a bestseller.

Your e-book can be a mass-market type, which is genre-based fiction or popular non-fiction. It can also be a specialist type, which is non-fiction appealing to a particular niche audience. There are other types as well such as academic works, memoir, but these don’t account for enough sales and money.

Here are some tips to help you sell lots of books and make them bestsellers:

  • Write in genre fiction or popular non-fiction.
  • Fiction genres like romance, crime, and thrillers are most popular.
  • In non-fiction, how-to guides and conversational self-help books are most in demand.
  • As a fiction writer, don’t only go by popular genre, but also think about which genre gives you the best chance to show your skills.
  • Good writing is important, but delivering just some beautiful prose without any conflict, action, or dialogue won’t take you anywhere. So, remember these three elements.
  • Readers are more driven to strong characters than the story plot (suspense thrillers are an exception). Work on building compelling characters, especially the protagonists and antagonists.
  • As a non-fiction writer, you have the advantage of asking from your followers or friends about any sort of advice they may need. Ask them for questions and problems, if any.
  • Write in a conversational tone and explain each acronym and jargon.
  • Take advice from your family, friends, and followers and show them a few prints of your e-book, before you finally publish it. At last, they can help you earn a good rating online without much effort.

Writing specialist non-fiction to earn higher

If your main aim is to make a higher income, then writing specialist non-fiction books for a niche audience is your best bet. You can easily price these books around $50 or even more.

These e-books are easier to market despite their higher price because it is specialized and has clearly targeted audience.

Some examples of specialist non-fiction are:

  1. Nasal Reconstruction by Frederick J. Menick
  2. Miller's Anesthesia by Ronald D. Miller
  3. A History of the World's Religions by David S. Noss and Blake Grangaard
  4. Fundamentals of Building Construction by Edward Allen and Joseph Iano
  5. Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan

Like these, there are many other non-fiction books priced above $100, and people happily pay for it. They are confident that the book will deliver them the promising content and help them to advance in their either career, personal life, or study. Here are some suggestions:

  1. First, start a blog or email newsletter services.
  2. You need to gain readers’ trust before you ask them to spend their hard-earned money.
  3. Ask your followers about their major problems and questions that bother them regularly.
  4. Write a sales pitch that shows the benefits of reading your e-book.
  5. You can also hire a copywriter and designer at affordable prices.
  6. You will get less royalty for high-priced books on sites like Amazon, so better sell your e-book on your own website.
  7. You can assure your readers about the quality of your book by giving them a money-back guarantee.
  8. Instead of a refund guarantee, you can also offer a sample of your e-book as a free download. This can include the first two chapters or content somewhere from the middle of your e-book.
  9. You can also add podcast interviews or video explanations to arouse readers’ interest in buying your book.

Finally, it all depends on your strong passion for writing a book and your deep knowledge about the subject. You should also work smart to establish your authority in a particular field.

© 2020 Prachi Sharma


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 04, 2020:

Very interesting stuff. I wonder what route I will take. Seems like both is best.

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