Going it Alone 3: RJ Scott on self-publishing

I’d like to welcome RJ Scott to my blog today for the third part in my series on self-publishing. RJ has over 70 published stories, 50 of which are self published.

rj_graphic

Why did you decide to self publish?

First I have to add a proviso. My situation is hardly unique but I lost a lot of money and books in the collapse of a publisher in 2011-13 so you may think I am biased by this. But I also have experience in self-publishing going back 4 or so years so I will try to stick to facts after my initial explanation of where I am now… J

I had no choice

So when Silver imploded I had twenty or so books with no home, including my Sanctuary series and the Texas series. In addition I already had Love Lane books set up as a name to get my YA short stories out. I was stuck in that peculiar place – should I go with a publisher for my released books? Or should I just try and get my books out there through LLB as an independent author? I was nervous about both options. Somehow there is this idea that having a publisher validates you as an author, but after a few days of consideration I knew I had to give self-publishing a try just because otherwise we could lose our damn house.

I needed the money

This wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but I lost a lot of money with Silver and I needed books out on the market as soon as I could. I had just written Sanctuary 6 and I was desperate to get income from the book. That is the simple story. So I put all of Sanctuary out, including the new book, and they sold well. I added the Texas series, The Christmas Throwaway, Oracle… and suddenly I had a self-published back list I could be proud of. Not only that but the income from sales came to me as soon as I earned it from direct sales, and from my biggest market, Amazon, I had the money within two months. Being self-published literally saved us from bankruptcy. I learned how to format, upload and boy did I learn a lot about the third party vendors.

And now I won’t have it any other way

So the pros and cons are discussed below, but I know that with maybe the exception of one publisher I am now committed to being totally self published.

What do you like about self-publishing?

Complete Creative Control

After getting the first few books out *independently published* I was hooked. I had complete creative control over cover art, editing, release dates, and price… I also worked hard on my own approaches to marketing and found they worked better for me than any marketing from any of the publishers I was with. I have 50 out of my 70 or so books that are self-published and apart from a couple of books with a few publishers that is the way I will continue to make my books available. In fact I am taking back work with publishers as it expires with the intention of putting the books out with my own company.

Answer this question

I guess, at the end of the day, anyone who is considering self publishing has to answer this one question: ‘what can a publisher do for me that I can’t do for myself or to put it more succinctly, what does a publisher do to justify the 60% they keep of your income (or 50% or whatever they are giving!).

Why you should traditionally publish

As I wrote that title I realised it doesn’t make sense to use the word traditional there. Self-publishing e-books is new, but hell, e-books are new in the grand scheme of things. The word traditional implies something that reflects long standing ethos. Not something that blew up in the last ten years or so. We are all learning our way in a brave new world.

Anyway I digress.

If you are an author who wants to hand the manuscript over and let others organise editing and cover art then self-publishing is not for you. And I totally support any author who wants this way of working. As they say in the UK it’s horses for courses.

Organising editing, and cover art, is a big upfront cost and if you can’t guarantee you’ll be ‘seen’ by enough readers to sell any copies, or if your book doesn’t capture an audience, then the costs will become way too much to justify self-publishing.

If you are new then you may get exposure through your publisher’s site.

Being found on the Internet

What about being *seen* by readers? This is an important point. Some self published authors write their first book, get seen and loved, and sell like woooahhhh, others will be fighting for space alongside all the other books out there and will get lost. Some authors find that being with a publisher gives them exposure to new readers and that is why they want to be with a publisher, and this makes absolute sense. I recently wrote books for publishers to hopefully get some new readers.

However, if you are an established author then you will find it easier not to get lost in the maelstrom of new book releases.

It’s all in the timing

If I write a book, I can have it with my readers within 8 weeks. No waiting for six months or even a year. Also I can pretty much guarantee I won’t get a rejection letter from myself (ROFL). I control the date it is released, the timing of release and I make sure it goes straight to Amazon who are my biggest sales base.

Pricing

Pricing is one of my hot buttons. I dislike the way my books are priced with publishers (apart from ARe who prices my short at the minimum of $2.99 which was good pricing!). As a self-published author I set my own pricing.

Cover Art

Cover art is vital to me. I have my cover art done before I write the book. This is both inspiration and also gives me a scene that is in my head to write in the book. Cover art both inspires me and also focuses me.

Do you have any advice for other authors considering taking the plunge?

  • Are you established? If you are then self-publishing may well be something you should try alongside your Publisher based releases. It is not all or nothing, you can try one or two and see if the idea of it works for you.
  • Look at other self-published authors and see what they have done – ask them questions.
  • Remember there’s a cost upfront for editing and art and also a cost in your time to get the book live and keep track of everything.
  • Remember editing is not an afterthought and you need to be as rigorous (maybe more so) than the e-publishers.
  • Remember that any sales you make becomes your income. The difference between getting $1 or $3 on a book sale soon adds up.
  • Become one with Marketing… 🙂
  • Set up small groups to talk marketing, publishing, cover art.
  • Learn the market and know your reach in that market so you can direct your energies accordingly.

Max And The Prince – Book 3 in the Bodyguards Inc series

Bodyguard 3 Max and the Prince jpg

Out 27 March from Love Lane

Add on Goodreads

Bodyguard Max Connery is used to being mistaken for being younger than he is.

Being carded every time he buys a beer is usual. Even though he’s just turned twenty eight and has two tours in Afghanistan as a pilot under his belt.

When a threat is made on the life of a prince attending University in the UK, Max is the perfect choice to blend in with  students and to keep Prince Lucien safe. Even if it means joining the swim team to be by his side.

But, when death visits the University, abruptly this job is a long way past keeping the prince happy and safe. Instead Max has to keep Lucien alive.

About RJ Scott:

RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway, Heart Of Texas, Guarding Morgan and Oracle. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

rj@rjscott.co.uk
www.rjscott.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/Rjscott_author
www.facebook.com/author.rjscott
www.librarything.com/author/scottrj
www.tumblr.com/blog/rjscott    (some NSFW (not safe for work) photos)
www.pinterest.com/rjscottauthor/

If you enjoyed this post, please check out the rest of the series on self-publishing here.

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About Jay Northcote

Author of LGBT romance. Trans (he/him), Parent, cat herder, professional procrastinator.
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7 Responses to Going it Alone 3: RJ Scott on self-publishing

  1. jaydenbrooks says:

    That’s a lot of great information and solid perspective. I’m a huge fan and I love your stories. In paying more attention to how different authors publish and what works for them, I’ve become particularly interested cover art. Many of your covers are some of my favs. How can I find out who designed your covers? Thanks.

    • Rj says:

      Meredith Russell is my main cover artist, I also have some art from bitter grace art. I should do a focus on art on my blog. Thank you for visiting and the comment. Hugs. Xxxx

  2. Andi Anderson says:

    What a great and informative post, RJ. I’m still recovering from the Silver fiasco. I’m on the fence on what to do most of the time, but after reading what you just wrote, I’ll have to really consider taking more chances and going at it one my own. Thanks for the info! *HUGS*

  3. Gosh you write fast! I think that point is particularly valid when going it alone. You need to keep books rolling out to maintain continuity for your readers. I’ve only done it with one book – as you know and thanks for your help!!

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