It does matter how you self-publish and with who you do it. For example, Smashwords appears to be very user friendly with its help guides, a writing template, ability to sell directly from their site.
What they didn’t tell me is that you might make sales on their site, they give you no proof they distributed your book to any of the big name seller sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among others. There is no indication that they ever went there. There is no dashboard indicator. There is no link you can use to see that your book was published. They leave you in the dark. Totally in the dark.
I spent three weeks on there and “sold” more books for free under the “pay what you wish” option than I did as paid sales. For 134 total sales across seven total books I earned less than twelve dollars.
A Twitter writer friend suggested Draft2Digital as they had a good amount of luck getting published and sales on the big name sites. I had my first story up in less than 24 hours from time of draft submission to published on five big name sites. The one site that’s an enigma is Amazon as I couldn’t confirm or deny if Smashwords published it there or not. Because of this ambiguous situation I had to fill out a release for Draft2Digital to take over the distribution. That is in a holding pattern for now.
A couple of other Twitter author friends explain that the best money comes from writing tropes in 5,000 – 7,500 word short stories with cliffhangers. Basically, write the same stuff as everyone else to make money because that’s the formula.
It’s slightly demotivational to think about wanting to write differently as an author but knowing that such work can reduce possible sales. I suppose one could be Hemingway and not make sales. Or write formula stuff under a pen name like Fluffy Leches McSmut and have Anal MILF Werewolves Volumes 1-20 to take in the money. I’m using hyperbole to make an observational point. Perhaps I’m making the point to myself?
My experience with being a writer so far is one of lessons about reality in writing and trying to be published. While its easier to publish, its harder to sell original work because that isn’t what makes the sales. Not if one wants riches.
It does create the question about whether the writing of a story is about art or if it is about marketability. It feels to me to be they latter. Write what sells and forget the creativity that originally sparked the desire to write. Save the original writing for personal enjoyment. Write the trope to earn the money.
Is this the hard truth about the writing world? From what more successful authors have told me so far, it is the reality. As much as I despise it, I must accept this reality and confirm to the format.