The "Doing It on Their Own: Self-publishing Authors Find Success" panel at the Digital Book World conference January 25 was one of the most enthusiastic session of the show. It featured Bella Andre and Elle Lothlorien, both successful self-published authors, as well as Bob Mayer of Who Dares Wins Publishing and Tony Van Veen, CEO of BookBaby.
Andre and Lothlorien led off by sharing their success stories. Andre has sold 400,000 copies of her books in the last year and has made over $1 million. Her books have been translated or are in the process of being translated in nine languages. Lothlorien, author of The Frog Prince, which she published herself on Amazon after having a bad experience with traditional publishing, saw her title peak at #859 in the Kindle Store. She started the book at a $2.99 prince point, but as she raised the price, she saw her sales increase.
On the publishing side of the self-publish model, Mayer and Van Veen emphasized the benefits of doing it yourself. About getting books published, Mayer said, "I can move very fast," and that he doesn't believe there's such a thing as backlist anymore. "Backlist is frontlist," he said. Van Veen stressed BookBaby's "welcome all comers" mentality, saying that their $99 price point for basic formatting and distribution is set to offer the most value so authors can get their works out there.
Andre, who has authored books with BookBaby, stated: "[Self-publishing] is a window of opportunity for people" with an entrepreneurial mentality, stating that she spends an hour every day just keeping up with publishing and the latest on e-books. Lothlorien seconded the beneftis of total control, stating that she wasn't ever interested in letting someone else be responsible for her content. "If it's a success, it's on me; if it's a failure it's on me," she said. Echoing the authors' point, Mayer stated that authors produce content, readers consume content, and everyone else is in the way.
During the Q&A part of the panel, the question of whether it's too late to get into self-publishing with a backlist titles came up. "You're not too late," Van Veen said, "you're never too late." The rest of the panel agreed. Said Mayer: "If you have content, that's the gold. If you have good content, now is the best time to be a writer."