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The Author Platform-The Published Book

There’s a lot of talk on writer and agent blogs about building your brand in order to publish and sell your book. But maybe we’ve got it backwards. What about publishing a book in order to build your brand? As you may remember, last month these three authors blogged about their royalty statements, revealing the dismal prospects of aspiring authors. This past weekend, Barry Ritholtz over at The Big Picture blogged about his own book deal in a great post titled Bookonomics. (It would be so great if more authors did this!)

What Ritholtz reveals: With a $100,000 advance, his earnings were not far above the minimum wage: $16/hour. But what’s even more fascinating than Ritholtz’s breakdown of where that $100,000 advance went is what benefits he got out of publishing a book BESIDES money (and I’m not talking personal satisfaction):

1. Respect
2. Higher pay for speaking engagements
3. More business
4. Publishers approaching him with book ideas

In other words, you write a book in order to build your brand, not the other way around. The upside to this scheme is that you can stop worrying about the size of the advance and focus on getting published, no matter how small the publishing house. The problem with this model is that it’s becoming more and more difficult to get a book published without already having an established brand, like Ritholtz does. Sounds like a Catch-22? That’s where self-publishing may come in. But we know that self-published books don’t have the cachet that traditionally published books do. So will they garner the respect, the higher pay, and the increased business that Ritzholtz got from his traditionally published book? We’ll explore that further in an interview with a self-published author in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile …

What are your goals for publishing your book? Money? Respect? Personal satisfaction? Building your personal brand?

3 comments to The Author Platform-The Published Book

  • Um, $16/hr is over double minimum wage…

    Regardless, I'm "in it for the money" — meaning only that I want writing fiction to be my full time job someday. If I'm never rich off that — if I can only ever sustain myself — that's alright. Obviously I'd love to do well, but if I can make a living off it, that would be *enough*.

    Also, I want people to enjoy my books. I want to encourage reading. I want to tell good stories. I want to make people laugh and cry and everything in between.

    (Clearly I'm an idealist, lol.)

  • I probably should worry more about the money aspect, but at this point, i really want to get published because I love the idea of others reading my stories. ANd I don't want to go the self-publishing route because I want to feel like I wrote a story worthy of traditional publishing. Right or wrong, I need that outside validation before I'll feel like a legitimate professional author.

  • I'm with you, Roni. I want a traditional publisher, too, but it's nice to know that self-publishing may serve the purpose of building our personal brands, which could help us get the second book published. (Or not? I'm curious to talk to people who've taken this route …)

    Kristan, you're right about minimum wage in most places. In CA it's $8, and in SF it's $9.79, but $16 is quite a bit more than that. When Ritholtz originally did his calculations, he subtracted the $25,000 advance he had to repay his first publisher (see the article for details), which gave him an inaccurate $8/hour, which explains the title of his article ("why writers barely make minimum wage"). On the other hand, most of us won't get $100k advances, so we probably WILL be making minimum wage.