Sunday, January 13, 2013

More Self-Publishers Acquiring Traditional Contracts

A few years ago, I remember an agent telling us wannabe authors that self-publishing was the kiss of death. Nevertheless, I self-published Taxed to Death in 1995, a decision I don’t regret to this day as I sold nearly 950 print copies (it still sells), gained some great reviews, and learned the business of promoting and selling.

It’s been both amusing and irritating to read recent blogs by authors who are still being told the same thing by agents. I can understand it from their point of view. After all, an agent’s bread-and-butter is to acquire six-figure contracts on behalf of authors, for which they’ll receive a 15% commission (on average) and hope the large publisher and author do an adequate job of promoting the book. However, times have changed folks. Publishers are looking to the indie authors’ sales rankings on Amazon to decide which new author to invest in these days.

To that end, Amazon recently announced that among its top 100 bestselling authors, fifteen are self-published. According to an article in, at least one of those authors has landed a six-figure contract. Also, over 61 self-published authors have sold more than 100,000 copies through the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. Now, before you get overly excited and want to rush your manuscripts into the program, remember this is only a tiny fraction of all the self-published books out there, and most are selling far less than this. The article lists the top ten bestsellers, which you can find at

Prolific author Dean Wesley Smith posted an interesting blog that adds further information to the growing transition from self-publishing to traditional publishing. He writes that according to a piece in Publishers Marketplace, approximately 300 six-figure deals were made in 2012, in all categories of fiction and nonfiction. Of these 300, forty-five were from self-publishers. Smith ends the blog by saying he doesn’t know why an author wouldn’t start by self-publishing first. There are better royalties, more control, quick information on sales, and no time wasted on waiting to hear from agents and publishers.

Of course, there’s another side to all this. Knowing how to adequately market your book to gain some attention, but that’s a whole other story. To read Smith’s always insightful blog go to

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