Why I Turned Down a Book Deal, Part 6

If you’re just joining us, here’s Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 and Part 5.

If you’ve read the other parts in the series, you know that I turned down a traditional book offer in favor of self-publishing.

I’m not the only one. Others are singing the same song…and some are turning down a lot more than I did (think half a million dollars).

book deal

I linked to all kinds of resources throughout this series that explain why you should consider self-publishing. If you’re convinced and want to know how to write your own ebook, check out my How to Write an Ebook series.

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing

I like how Guy Kawasaki puts it in APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How to Publish a Book (affiliate link):

The problem isn’t that traditional publishers are dumb or evil. There are plenty of smart and nice people in the industry – probably more than most industries because a love of reading motivated their career choice.

The problem is that traditional publishing grew up in a world with limits and logistics such as shelf space, access to printing presses, editing and production expertise, and shipping of physical books. In the old, constrained world, somebody had to select, print, and distribute what was worthy of royalty, shelf space, and killing trees. That somebody was an employee of a traditional publisher; he served as a filter, finisher, and arbiter of taste. Several thousand traditional publishers added this kind of value for hundreds of years.

Shelf space for ebooks, however, is infinite, and anyone who can use a word processor can write and publish a book. These changes don’t mean that books are better—no more than a democratic political system guarantees better leaders—but at least the system is more accessible.

Forget the Royalties—Just Give Your Book Away – Imagine my surprise when I published my last post and then opened my email to find this post by Michael Hyatt that was published almost at the exact same moment as mine. The gist of both? YOU are in charge of marketing. Don’t write your book and be done. Use the book as a catalyst for all sorts of other opportunities. Fortunately, the internet makes that possible.

On the Future of Books: A Discussion with Seth Godin – Also ironic, after I finished final edits on my last post, I found this in my reader as well.) If you’re interested in what leading thinkers think, this is a must-listen. It’s a discussion between Leo Babauata of ZenHabits fame, and Seth Godin, two of the most well-known bloggers alive.

Why Bloggers Should Self-Publish – This one was also published on the same day as my last post. The theme is the same around the internet and that is, traditional publishing affords you much less control. On ProBlogger.

7 Ways to Mine Blog Posts into Publishable Gold – Instead of creating entirely new content, take advantage of what you’ve already written.

How Authors Really Make Money: The Rebirth of Seth Godin and Death of Traditional Publishing – From another leader in current thinking, Tim Ferriss.

What the eBook Revolution Means and How Copywriters Can Prosper From It – The title speaks for itself.

The End of Book Publishing As We Know It – Michael Hyatt talks about what digital publishing means for the future.

Ebooks and Self-Publishing – A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath – Both authors. Barry Eisler is the one who turned down $500,000. It’s a long discussion (I only skimmed) but interesting nonetheless. Be forewarned that there’s some language. One quote I picked out: “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 Real Deal on Self Publishing – A fun read from Annie, another author who abandoned the pursuit of the traditional publisher for self-publishing.

Why E-Books are Hot and Getting Hotter – 10 factors that are driving ebook sales. Written in 2009, but still great insight.

My Perspective on Publishing, Christianity, Social Media, and Being a Dad: An Interview – Lots of discussion in this video with Michael Hyatt interview about the future of books and publishing.

Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know – Offers perspective on self-publishing a “real” book (as opposed to an ebook). This article was written in mid-2010, so if you want to go this route, I’d look for some more current information as well.

11 Tips to Avoid Self-Publishing Traps – And old article (2004) about self-publishing a “real” book, but still some practical tips for all self-publishers.

An Interview with Kevin Weiss About Self-Publishing – Michael Hyatt interviews Kevin Weiss who runs a company that I’ll describe as a mix between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Interesting discussion.

Ebooks and Money

Why Publishers Should Pay a 50-Percent Royalty on E-Books – Author John Soares shares his experience and gives reasons why a higher royalty rate on ebooks should be a given.

The rise of the 99-cent Kindle e-book – Thoughts on the current trends in ebook pricing. Warning: some language.

The keys to epublishing success? – Interesting stats from a list of indie authors selling over 1000 books a month on Kindle. Further discussion about it here as well.

Published Authors Who Are Switching to Self-Publishing

Why (and How) I Decided to Self-Publish ‘Focus’ – Leo Babauta

Moving onNew York Times Bestselling author Seth Godin. (And The Wall Street Journal’s article about Seth’s move.)

Some others I found after a quick search: Linda Jo Martin, Ashley March, Michelle Murrain.

Authors Who Have Sold Over 1 Million Ebooks

An epic tale of how it all happened – The story of Amanda Hocking in her own words. And a follow-up.

Amanda Hocking and the 99-Cent Kindle Millionaires – More thoughts from author Nathan Bransford.

Independent author John Locke joins Amazon’s million-Kindle-seller club, but at what cost?

Charlaine Harris sells 1 million Kindle ebooks

Other Resources Quoted in This Series That Would Be Good to Read in Their Entirety

Amazon now sells more Kindle e-books than print books – LA Times

Advice for authors – Seth Godin

Four Reasons Why You Must Take Responsibility for Your Own Marketing – Michael Hyatt

4 Reasons It’s Easier Than Ever to Be an Author – Michael Hyatt

So what now?

Here’s my simple advice.

First, start a blog and get writing there. You’ll need that platform and you can’t build it once your book is ready to go.

While you’re doing that, write your ebook. You can follow How to Write an Ebook, my own step-by-step tutorial which guides you through the process.

Other posts in this series:

Why I Turned Down a Book Deal, Part 1
Why I Turned Down a Book Deal, Part 2
Why I Turned Down a Book Deal, Part 3
Why I Turned Down a Book Deal, Part 4
Why I Turned Down a Book Deal, Part 5
Why I Turned Down a Book Deal, Part 6

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  1. Judy says

    I am kind of shell shocked right now by all the wonderful information you have on here. But thank you, thank you, thank you

  2. says

    Thanks Amy, for all of your valuable insight on lessons in getting published (or not) and writing an ebook. Certainly very useful for my journey. I appreciate your journey being from an initially non-aspiring-writer background. You really captured my initial inertia around the subject and answered so many more questions than I would have thought to ask.

  3. says

    Amy, Thanks for my “all-nighter” I found your site some time last evening and stayed awake all night learning. I didn’t get through it all…but of course you have several years worth of information not to mention all of the links to others. I feel like I took the Olympic High Dive into the deep a couple of days ago launching a blog and signing up for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. I knew nothing have been learning much and I am grateful for your knowledge and sharing of it.

  4. says

    Oh – I also wanted to say it was interesting the series was as long as the book. So you also found out that you sometimes writing does come for your more easily!

  5. says

    I just finished reading your eBook, and loved it! Thank you so much! I was of course curious about why you turned down a book deal so I skimmed these posts. I am so impressed with your integrity and your thought process on the book deal. : ) Thanks for the great ebook and the simplicity of just 30 pages!!

    • says

      You’re so welcome! You know what’s funny to me? The series about why I turned down a book deal is about as long as the book itself. LOL

      • says

        Your comment popped up as I’m sitting here filling out my grid and weekly schedule! I so hope this helps!I know I spend too much time on the computer and watching TV and neither of those came up as things that were important to me – go figure!

  6. says

    Hi Any, thanks for blogging about publishing. I am writing my first e-book which is about leadership and not related to the blog that I have written for 4 years…hmmm. Maybe I’ll turn the blog into another book in future. You have been very generous in sharing your ideas and I will definately spend some time learning about affiliate marketing. Cheers, Lesley

  7. says

    I am new to your blog. What a great inspiration to read your story. I started a blog to aid me in obtaining a book deal, but now am unsure if the book deal is the right path for me. I had my blog done by an artist/blog designer to look more professional. I have been reading lots of things about e-books and talking to many other artists. Through this process I am finding out that these artists (some with published books) are making much more money with the ebooks they have created. Many of these people were struggling before doing the ebooks. I think you are right on track and in your case made the best decision. For me I have many of the projects done for my book buy am deciding what, when and where to take it. Thanks for all your help, insight, and links. XOXOXO

    • Amy says

      It’s my pleasure. I’m glad it has given you some new info to think about! All the best as you determine what’s right for you. :)

  8. says

    Amy, I can’t say enough good things about you. When I was ready to start blogging, I came across your site and it made the process simply make sense. I have been in the process of self-publishing my book and now you have this awesome series!!! You are spot on – all the time! Thanks for all the info, links, tips and honesty! You are truly a gem!

  9. says

    Wow, Amy! What a journey! I do fancy myself a writer, and I totally understand about all the hard work and how well your ebook was doing on your own. I hope people will be interested in my ebook, (which I’m still in the process of writing.) Remember to us little fish, you are a big fish and all the helpful info you share is appreciated! Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your experience. :-)

    • Amy says

      Thank you, Colette. That’s very kind. I certainly don’t see myself as a big fish…maybe just a bit further down on the blogging road and hoping to share what I’ve learned!

  10. says

    Hi Amy. Is there a button and button code available for those who want to promote your Tell Your Time e-book but don’t want to sign up for your affiliate program?

    i would love to have one if it’s available. if not, I’ll just save your image and then create a link for it so I don’t hotlink it!

  11. says

    Amy, I appreciate all the links. Because I am working on a real book of my art that I will self publish, these links (and from your earlier posts) are leading me to little helps such as writing a great author (artist!) bio. I hope to find a great printer (on demand style) and a great book binder (on the West coast for lower shipping costs) somewhere along the process.

    No hurry – I still have 220 pictures to draw first! And I have to learn how to use Adobe InDesign.

    Thank you again for sharing your experiences and information!

  12. says

    In-spite of so many links, arguing in favor of ebooks I should mention here that I read only short articles on the computer. Anything that is longer than 2500 words, I prefer old fashioned books. Ebooks can become a huge success if (old) kindle is available to everyone for ridiculous prices or even for free. Can’t Amazon do as much to promote their ebooks? :)

    • Amy says

      Oh, I wonder if Kindles will eventually be free (note the price drops we’ve seen already). Like cell phones…give the phone away for free and make all your money on the calling plans. Same thing with Kindle. Give away the Kindle and make all your money on the sale of ebooks. Who knows, but I guess we’ll see how it all pans out.