Did you know that a large portion of ProWritingAid users are professional writers? Some are published authors, some run high-traffic blogs, others run successful content generation companies.
We love it when they take the time to share what they have learned over the years. We hope that their insights and experience help you become the writer you want to be.
This month, we speak to self-published author, Iain Rob Wright. We connected with him after he created a ProWritingAid tutorial video earlier this year. Iain was one of the first to see the potential of the self-publishing movement and managed to ride the wave back in 2011. He is now a full-time writer with fourteen books under his belt.
Are you a professional writer who would like to share the lessons you’ve learned? Get in touch with our Editor, Lisa Lepki.
Iain Rob Wright
Hi there, I’m Iain.
When I self-published my first novel, The Final Winter, in May 2011, I was acting out of pure desperation. I had just dramatically flipped over a table at work and stormed out. I was tired of working for petty bosses doing a job I hated (selling mobile phones).
Facing an angry girlfriend at home, I searched for a way to avoid getting another job I hated. I wanted to be happy, to do a job I enjoy. It had always been my dream to be an author. But the thing about dreams is that they rarely come true. Otherwise we’d all be movie stars.
I had a book I’d written. The first one I had ever managed to finish. I was pleased with it. I knew all about how to query agents and go through the laborious entry process of traditional publishing. I’d researched it all. But I was jobless. I didn’t have time for all that. I needed something fast.
I searched Google for a solution and threw myself headfirst into the first thing I could find – Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
Self-publishing wasn’t a phenomenon in 2011 (which shows how quickly things have evolved). It was seen as an amateur way of doing things (for people who weren’t good enough to actually get published). Yet, the more and more I read about Amazon KDP the more excited I got. Maybe I could actually sell my book here and make a bit of money.
Within 6 months The Final Winter was bringing in more income than the sales job I had just walked out on. I was making a full-time living as an author. Every day I would check sales and be amazed at the numbers. I was paying the bills even though I was getting out of bed when I wanted and didn’t have a boss.
I never had to get another sales job and 14 novels later I make about $10k each month from self-publishing.
Is Self-Publishing Worthwhile?
Anybody who tells you that self-publishing isn’t worthwhile, or that it’s just another form of vanity publishing, is dead wrong. It is a viable, respectable route to publication. What’s more, it is infinitely fairer than traditional publishing ever has been. Traditional publishing is based around winning the lottery and then being exploited afterwards. You pray and you pray that someone in “the biz” looks kindly on you and gives you permission (yeah that’s right, you need their permission) to be a writer. Then you give 15% away to an agent and accept unethically low royalty payments that massively favor the publisher. Traditional publishing isn’t about you, it’s about the publisher.
Self-publishing is different. It isn’t about winning the lottery – it’s about hard work. Hard work and smart methods are what will allow you to make your living as a writer. The strong will swim and the weak will sink. Self-publishing is business. It’s hard, it’s dirty, but it’s open to everyone. Not everyone will be successful, but at least everyone gets a try. That’s why I love self-publishing.
You might be wondering if I self-publish because I can’t get a traditional publishing deal (do I have a chip on my shoulder?). The answer to that is no. I started out with traditional publishing deals, but I bought back my rights because I was making only a fraction from those books compared to what I was making with my self-published titles. That, for me, speaks for itself. Today I still work with traditional publishers in the foreign markets that I struggle to hit myself. I guess it makes me a “hybrid” in that I have my feet in both camps. The foot inside the self-publishing camp is wearing a Gucci loafer! The foot in the traditional publishing camp is wearing a wet sandal.
So what is my advice to someone looking to self-publish in 2016?
Firstly, you should be prepared to build your business (for that is what it is) slowly. In 2011 I gained quick success from one book, but in those days Amazon published less than a million Kindle titles. Now it publishes several million. The market has also matured which means readers are less susceptible to the perceived bargains offered by independent authors. The chances of you striking lucky with one book are pretty low in today’s climate, so understand that going forward. Know that it’s not about becoming an instant bestseller, but about growing your business day by day, month by month. Each book you release is a new product for your business to sell. Every reader you gain is a loyal customer that you can keep and sell to again (make sure you get them on your mailing list by using a reader magnet). If you are committed to hard work and doing things smartly then you will gradually see your book sales increase. Eventually you will reach a critical mass where you don’t need that day job anymore.
Self-publishing is just like any other business (you are building a brand and selling a product) and so you need to understand many facets of building a successful platform. In the last 6 years my writing has taken a back seat to Marketing, Promotion, Web Design, Branding, Customer Management, Technology, Sales and Customer Services, Accounting, and Time Management. Today I feel more like a CEO than an author, but it’s a great feeling. I have self-taught myself so much in the last few years that I feel like I can do anything. Ask me to run a successful advertising campaign on Facebook and I can do it. Ask me to build a website from scratch and start making money from it, no problem.
Never stop learning.
As a free and open industry, Self-Publishing is ever-evolving. In just five or six years it has changed a dozen times over and will continue to do so. The greatest successes are those who stay ahead of the curve. Those who see the changes coming and act first. As a successful author, I have always shared my knowledge with others, and thankfully others have shared with me. It is my constantly growing knowledge that has allowed me to prosper in an increasingly competitive industry.
As well as having my own personal author website, I also manage a separate platform dedicated to self-publishing called A-Z of Self-Publishing, which features regular blog posts from myself and other self-publishing professionals. The goal is to share what works so that we all improve and grow.
Come check out the free mini-course, which contains more than 2 hours of HD video tutorials. Please also join me and many other helpful authors in our Facebook group.
All the best,
Iain Rob Wright
Bestselling Author and CEO of A-Z of Self-Publishing
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy these articles from our archive:
- The Geek Writer: Using Technology to Self-Publish Your Novel
- Why Every Confident but Struggling Writer Needs a Blog
- Build Your Brand. 5 Reasons Every Writer Needs an Online Media Kit
- How to Create Your Story’s World
- The Four Drafts Your Novel Needs (and Why You Probably Won't Use a Single Word of Your First Draft!)