How to publish your own Kindle eBook
Thriller writer Barry Eisler landed himself a $500,000 publishing deal. He knew right away what he should do: he talked it over with his family, then turned it down.
Eisler isn’t alone in turning his back on traditional publishing. A New York Times bestselling author, he set himself up as a self-publisher, convinced by a growing body of evidence that he can earn more that way than any established imprint could pay him.
Eisler, like fellow author Joe Konrath, sees publishers’ relevance diminishing in a rapidly changing industry. “We’re the writers. We provide the content that is printed and distributed,” Konrath wrote. “For hundreds of years, writers couldn’t reach readers without publishers. We needed them. Now, suddenly, we don’t. But publishers don’t seem to be taking this very important fact into account.”
The rise of eBooks, the US sales of which overtook paperbacks in February, is putting old-school publishers out of their jobs, and eBook readers such as the Kindle and iPad are helping even novice authors find an audience and make real money from writing.
Barry Eisler landed himself a $500,000 publishing deal. He knew right away what he should do: he talked it over with his family, then turned it down
Bypassing the print publishing cycle not only leads to lower prices, but also to greater choice for readers. For most people, their bestselling novel remains unwritten not because of the effort involved in getting the words onto the page, but through lack of faith that those pages will ever be printed. Imagine what might happen if publication wasn’t a remote possibility, but a dead cert.
Signing a publishing contract is no guarantee of success. Publishers make mistakes, just like the rest of us, pulping the “next big thing” when it fails to find an audience and passing up a blockbuster without seeing its brilliance. Success comes through selling, not through having a Penguin on your cover. The more you sell, the greater your success – but how do you sell without a publisher? It isn’t easy in print. The biggest sellers in a bookshop are stacked on the tables inside the door. Without a spot on the table, your chance of success is greatly diminished, but landing one is expensive.
Authors of eBooks have no such concerns and, better still, their royalties are far in excess of what’s possible with traditional publishing houses. Most mainstream authors receive considerably less than 15% of the cover price for each book sold, but on Kindle you can earn up to 70% without any ongoing costs.
You’ll also receive your payments sooner. It can easily take a year or more for a printed book to find an agent, several months for the agent to sell it, and up to 18 months for your publisher to edit, print and market it in line with their leisurely schedules. Your chances of earning anything within three years of typing “The End” are slim.