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PencilsThe good news is:  Self Publising has tripled five years. The number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287 percent since 2006, and now tallies more than 235,000 print and “e” titles, according to a new analysis of data from Bowker® Books In Print and Bowker® Identifier Services.”

The bad news is: According to the New York Times “most self-published books sell fewer than 100 or 150 copies, many authors and self-publishing company executives say. There are breakout successes, to be sure, and some writers can make money simply by selling their e-books at low prices. Some self-published books attract so much attention that a traditional publishing house eventually picks them up. (Perhaps you’ve heard of the novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which began its life as a self-published work?)

Still, a huge majority of self-published books “don’t sell a lot of copies,” said Mark Coker, the founder and chief executive of Smashwords, a no-frills operation that concentrates on self-published e-books. “We make it clear to our authors.”

So if the likely-hood of your ROI (return on investment is minimum), why am I insisting that becoming a self-published author is the 21st century way of becoming a success? Simply because after 10 years in this business and after personally helping over 150 authors to become published, I've been able to make distinctions between those who routinely sell thousands of copies and those who only sell a few hundred before calling it quits. The biggest difference is determining to see your writing as a business-which it is. The first step is creating a plan or proposal for your book.

Most authors and would-be authors do not have a plan or a proposal. Although the aim of the Birthin' Babies series for writers is to get you to be successful at being your own publisher, the first step is to treat your writing business as though you were seeking a major publishing house. And to do that, you need a book proposal. Not the one that is in your head. Not just what you think, but you need a solid book proposal which essentially is a absolute description of your book: a well thought out title, what your book is about, an outline of chapters, a market and competition survey, and a sample chapter.

Look at your book proposal the same way any entrepreneur views a business proposal. As a businessperson, a business proposal is perhaps one of the most critical documents you will write. It spells the difference between success and failure. With it, you're making an offer to someone you want to do business with. In the book industry, a publisher will read your proposal, assess its feasibility, cost it, and if it looks as if the publisher will make money, invest in it. Yet, you’re in partnership with your publisher to ensure it's success. If you do your part, both you and your publisher will make money. If not, I hope you haven't spent your advance on an Mercedes.

According to author Rebecca Brandewyne, “When a contract is negotiated between an author and a publisher, the author is usually paid an advance. Again contrary to popular belief, this is not a sum that is over and above any agreed-upon royalties, however. Rather, it is an advance against all future royalties, and it must therefore be earned out before any royalties are ever actually paid.

An author signing a first contract can expect to receive an advance of anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, on average, per book. Naturally, there are exceptions to this rule. However, it would be unwise and unrealistic with regard to your financial planning to assume you will be that rare, unknown author who garners a multimillion-dollar advance. So, let us say the author receives a $10,000 advance, for a single book. That means the author would subsequently need to earn $10,000 in royalties from the sales of that book before receiving any additional income from it.

If the author did not subsequently earn at least $10,000 in royalties from the sales of the book, then the contract would be unearned, and no additional royalties would ever be paid to the author. Further, the publisher might well — depending upon the terms of the contract — also have the right to demand the return of that portion of the advance that was unearned. For example, if the author's royalties amounted to a grand total of only $3,000, then the publisher could request that the remaining unearned $7,000 of the advance be repaid to it by the author (although this rarely ever happens in practice).”

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