Follow The Advice of a Successful Self-Published Author


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Successful Self-Publisher says no to traditional publishing

Self-publishing a book can be the only option for many authors. I had to work long and hard last year on a book proposal for a first-time author to get her book published. Self-publishing wasn't her desired route.

But, we worked hard at the book proposal, and managed to land a $30,000 book advance, which is a great feat for a first-time author. She was happy she didn't have to to self-publish her book. However, we still had to write the book!

Most people would scream with joy at such a large advance. In fact, most first-time authors get far less, and sometimes nothing at all - just the same as someone who is self-publishing a book. My client was pleased, but also knew that after paying her agent and me she'd still have to have a chunk of money to spend on selling a book. Unless your publisher believes you've got the next best seller, they won't do much more than hand you a stack of post cards and a fistful of good wishes to market your book.

Michael Sterns - self-published author - figured it this way:

Let's say you get picked up by a big-name publisher, and you sell 50,000 copies of the book. That may seem like quite a bit of money, until you figure that (unless you're a really good negotiator), you'll get 8-10% of the NET sales of the book. Michael did his calculations. If the book sells for $16, the wholesalers get about a 60% cut. That leaves about $6. Then, best case, you get 10% of that, or 60 cents per book. Multiply that by 50,000 books (a wild dream in almost all cases), and you'll end up with $30,000. That, Michael figured, would barely get him out of debt.

"The decision at that point wasn't hard, " Michael says. “All I had to do was see that even in the best case scenario, I couldn't pay my rent and I'd still be living on peanut butter sandwiches. "

Math and finances aside, there was also the issue of control of book publishing. Like many self-publishers, Michael wanted complete control over the self-published book. Many authors become frustrated with the changes publishers want to make to their babies. Publishers are in it to make a profit, and not necessarily to make their authors happy; unless, that is, the author sells a lot of books. Then, maybe, both parties will walk away smiling.

Michael Sterns took the self publishing route for what are now obvious reasons. He also decided to use high-quality offset printers instead of POD (print on demand). “I believe that to be successful, your book can't look like it is self-published, " he says. While print on demand quality is about on a par with offset printing in black and white, Michael felt that the quality simply wasn't there for full color.

His emphasis on quality, and of course his passion for his work, are perhaps two major reasons that Michael Sterns has sold over 33,000 copies of his first book, Kokopelli and the Butterfly, and almost 9,000 copies of the book's sequel.

What's in a good children's book? Great illustrations, a moving, touching, or funny story that educates, and things to keep the child engaged. When I gave Michael's books to my grandchildren, they couldn't put them down for hours!

You can order Michael's books at, or read more about him at

Writers and business owners: Become a member of Write and Publish Your Book and get a shot at winning an iPod Nano. If you've got a book, be sure to enter their current Writing Contest . Sid Smith, copywriter, freelance writer and founder of the Self-Publishing and Publishing web site for writers invites you to join his rapidly growing community of writers.


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