Indie Author Dan Norris Reflects on Self-Publishing

Entrepreneur and author Dan Norris tells us what he has learned from his self-publishing experience and explains how he managed to turn self-publishing into a 6-figure side business.

By Giulia Trentacosti — article first published in December 2016

Self-publishing is a growing reality, as more and more authors decide to embark in their publishing journey without the support of traditional publishers. According to figures released by Bowker, the agency assigning ISBNs in the US, only in the States 625.327 books were self-published in 2015, which means a whopping increase of 375% on 2010.

Being in charge of every aspect of the publishing cycle – from content creation, to editing, design, marketing and distribution –, indie authors are certainly not tasked with an easy job and possessing initiative and entrepreneurial skills is absolutely key to self-publishing success.

Following our feature on the French self-publishing platform Librinova, our Publishing Industry Insight Series returns to the world of self-publishing, this time by exploring the pros and cons of self-publishing according to the Australian award-winning content marketer and independent author Dan Norris.

self-publishingOver the last two years, Dan has self-published four business books, all of which have hit #1 on Amazon’s bestselling lists in various categories. His first title The 7 Day Startup sold over 35.000 copies and 2 Seas Agency has sold its translation rights to 8 territories so far. The 7 Day Startup has been followed by Content Machine (15.000 copies sold and three translation rights territories so far) and more recently by Create or Hate and Operation Brewery. Overall, Dan’s books have totaled more than 55.000 orders and his self-publishing activity has transformed into a “6-figure side business” that he runs in parallel to his core business projects, WP Curve and Black Hops Brewing.

 

Giulia: Why have you decided to self-publish your books?

Dan: To be honest, when I published my first book I was just going to put the e-book on my website and a marketing friend of mine said I should upload it to Amazon. I did that and the book took off. Since that one (The 7 Day Startup) I’ve followed the same process. I haven’t really had any reason to find a publisher. I like being able to do it all on my terms and not reporting to a publisher.

G: What have you learned about self-publishing through your experience?

D: I learned you can turn it into a nice side business which I never thought would be possible. I’ve also learned a lot about the process of creating, writing, designing, editing, formatting and marketing books. The main thing I’ve learned is: yes, there is a lot to know but really it’s not that complicated. I never would have thought you could write and publish a book for virtually $0 and have it as a print book on Amazon.

G: With hindsight, is there anything that you would do differently? 

D: I’ve followed more or less the same process with my books. The only thing I would do differently is that I would also do audio books, as well as written books. The way I do my books via Amazon and Createspace has been great. One thing I’m changing is that I’m going to start selling my books directly via my website. That way I can get the customers’ email addresses and start a direct relationship with them. If you can deal with customers directly you can usually earn more money from each customer, it’s just more work. I’m in a position now where I feel like I can get a team to help out with directly selling the books and doing it this way will help me monetize the book ideas further.self-publishing

G: Will you consider traditional publishing for your future titles? 

D: I don’t think so. I would have to have a pretty good reason to do so, and I can’t think of one right now. Never say never though, I’d always consider any opportunity at the time.

G: Which is the biggest advantage of self-publishing? And the biggest disadvantage? 

D: The biggest advantage is having full control and being able to manage the marketing and publishing process fully. A lot of my friends with traditionally-published books can’t do a lot of the marketing things that I do with my books (giveaways, etc). The biggest disadvantage is not immediately getting into book shops and other traditional outlets.

*In a recent blog post, Dan described in detail his experience as an indie author by going through the various steps of the process and giving precious tips to fellow authors. He also discussed the importance of exploiting the many sources of income that are available to independent authors and provided a detailed account of his books’ earnings over the last 12 months. You can read his post here.

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