On my decision to self-publish…

Monday, 23 April, 2012 / Published in Blog

If you pay attention to book publishing news and blogs, then you probably already know I’ve decided to try my hand at self-publishing by re-writing and releasing a NEW version of my book The Bitch.

Little did I know when I gave an interview to Galleycat in February that the press would pick up the story so quickly!  To date, from that one interview, there have been over 120,000 stories and articles posted online about that one decision.

As you might imagine, the buzz has set off a bit of a firestorm of comments, gossip, conspiracy theories and the like about my publishers and me.

  • “Did she get in a fight with her publishers?”
  • “Did they drop her from their roster?”
  • “Is she dropping them from her roster?”
  • “Does this mean publishing is dead?”

So I’d like to take a moment to set the record straight.

First, I have fantastic relationships with my two publishers, Simon & Schuster UK and St. Martin’s Press US. No juicy story about a tiff or spat between us—we’re good. I’m currently writing my 29th book “The Power Trip,” and it will be published by both companies, respectively.

But times are changing, and technology is changing, so I wanted to experiment with this growing trend of self-publishing.

Of course the industry is changing – it ALWAYS is

I’ve been a published author for many years, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with several great publishers, and I’ve seen MANY changes in the publishing industry.

From new printing techniques, to new advertising mediums, to direct-to-fan digital publishing, the industry has always been evolving.  And it will continue to do so.

At the end of the day, it’s about finding the best way to get your content (Hollywood and relationship fiction in my case) into the hands of your fans who are clamoring for it.

My thoughts on eBooks

Let me say up front that I will personally always love physical books. I love how a new book feels in your hands.  I love turning the pages one-by-one as you curl up in a chair and engross yourself in the story.

But I also know that to stay successful, you’ve always got to be thinking two steps ahead of the game.  And by all counts, the book industry is going the way of the CD industry. Almost nobody buys CDs anymore; we get our music fix on iTunes.

And more and more people are opting for eBooks over paper. For example, with Goddess of Vengeance, I think we sold an equal amount of hard covers and eBooks.

And in England, they just bought the digital rights to all my books and Lethal Seduction immediately jumped to #2 on the bestseller’s list. That’s a book that’s 10-years-old! I was quite impressed with that.

Always ask questions about the numbers

I’ve always been involved in the business side of my career.  Even in the very beginning, I realized I had to double-check the things my publishers were doing.  (After all, no one cares more about your career than you do.)

When it came to advertising, I remember hounding them about what they were going to do for me once the book finally came out. What promotions are they buying? How long is the ad campaign?  Is there a co-ops and author tour involved?

Most first-time writers when they finally get their book published, throw a big party, and then scratch their head in bewilderment when they can’t find their book in the bookstore.

So they go to the clerk and say, “Oh, my book’s on the back shelf? Can you get it on the front table?”

They don’t realize that their publisher hasn’t paid for the front table display.

So, there’s a lot to learn, and I’ve learned much of it over the years, but I’m still learning. There are still things that I don’t know that I find out with each new book.

Be prepared to fight for what you want

Publishers are in the publishing business to make money (and that’s a good thing). But remember that their goal is NOT to make your dreams of being an author come true. Their goal is to make money through the careful and thoughtful exploitation of your book.

So, you have to fight for what you want. (Even I do.)

If you want a full-page ad in People magazine, you have to get it in your contract; otherwise it’s not going to happen, and you’ll hear things like, “it costs too much.”

If I were starting again…

If I were starting out in the business today, I don’t think I would change anything. But, I was extremely lucky because my first book, “The World is Full of Married Men,” was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to, and became an instant bestseller.

Today, if a publisher isn’t interested, you have options.  You can sign up with Amazon KDP or Barnes & Noble Pubit or Lulu or SmashWords or CreateSpace or a host of other helpful sites.  Google it.

There’s no substitute for hustle

I was thrown out of school for poor grades and playing truant, although I always came in top in writing class.  Everybody told me I couldn’t be a writer unless I studied more and went to college.

I said, “No way, I’m following my dream. Writing is my passion.”

Turns out, people don’t buy books because you went to college.  They buy books for the characters and the story.  (And dammit, I can tell a great story!)

Looking back, being stubborn and tenacious and constantly asking questions has worked out OK for me.

If you believe your stuff is great, then don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough.  Pick yourself up and make some more calls.  Network with as many people as you can in the industry.  And sweat.  Sweat a lot.  And keep writing!

Also remember, when it’s time to publish, you’ve got options.

Follow your dream. I always say, “Girls can do anything.” (And so can boys, for that matter.) Put your mind to it; follow your dream, and keep learning and growing.  Don’t stagnate.  And most of all – love what you do!  Writing is a joy – enjoy it!

64 thoughts on “On my decision to self-publish…”

  1. What wonderful advice! I am an aspiring writer and am almost finished with my first book. yay! I have started the process of researching agents, publishers, etc and hope one day to be as successful as you!

  2. Great advice – especially “don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough….. And sweat. Sweat a lot. And keep writing! Follow your dream.” There’s a world filled with people who want to tell you what you’re doing wrong or how you will never succeed – you have to put them in the r ear view mirror and keep moving forward.

    Good luck and much success with your latest book.

  3. I wrote a book called ALL I EVER NEEDED WAS THE ONE and it is under Susan Gale and under Romance. I put it on lulu.com but I don’t know anyone. Would you check it out and let me know what you think? By the way…….I love your writing.

  4. A friend of mine is self publishing right now. She’s amazing and has several on Smashwords and Amazon. Definitely good advice in the article.

  5. YOU GO GIRL !! The very 1st Jackie Collins book I got my hands on was in 1982 & it was “Chances” .. I was 13 years old 🙂 .. & I’ve been addicted ever since .. Now in 2012 I can say that I am a proud & devoted fan and Jackie has been a true Inspiration through out the years .. I will support you in any adventure you wish to follow and I’m sure all of your fans will agree 🙂

  6. Jackie knowing me working in a Bookstore for 23 years I totally agree with Your decisions with Self Publishing and Ebooks You have to keep up with Technology and be Hip to the times of Today. Pop Stars are doing it And so can brilliant Authors Like You!! Love you lots! xo

  7. I the same I was 12, in the 80.s total prime time soap gay boy, my first book was Hollywood Wives, loved it, went out and brought all the back catalogue books, ever since then, always buy the 1st week it come out in the UK, totally loyal, to many great books to pick one favourite. But of course Lucky my No1 girl x

  8. Great advice Jackie. There are options out there now for writers.

    I find this quote useful

    “Publishing has only two indispensable participants: authors and readers…. any technology that brings these two groups closer makes the whole industry more efficient — but hurts those who benefit from the distance between them.” The Economist, 2008

    Also, this blog post might be of some interest to you. It lists 135 authors who have sold more than 50,000 self-published ebooks. (at 70% royalties for book priced higher than $2.99, it adds up to a whole lot of income for the writers)


  9. This is great! 🙂 I loved this: “Turns out, people don’t buy books because you went to college. They buy books for the characters and the story. (And dammit, I can tell a great story!)”

  10. Fabulous decision! I’m happy to see more and more mainstream authors embracing the world of self-publishing. I made the decision to go Indie way back at the beginning of my writing career in 1997 and have never regretted it. I’m so glad to see that it is finally becoming ‘respectable’ instead of being considered vanity publishing.

    Kristie Leigh Maguire – Indie Author and proud of it!

  11. Congratulations on your decision, Jackie. I’ve been self-publishing for the past 18 months and love the freedom it gives authors.

    We’re able to write what we want to write, and more importantly what our readers want to read. We don’t have to conform to the publishers ‘rules’.

    Go indies.

  12. Jackie, I’m happy to hear that an established author is embracing both models (traditional publishing and self-publishing). So many folks are 100% DIY or 100% old-school. Since you have options, it’s great that you’re exploring the benefits of each model. Maybe one book requires the traditional blitz, while another book benefits from self-publishing and overnight distribution once it’s finished being edited. Wishing you success through both methods.

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  14. Jackie,

    Best of luck with your self-publishing venture. As someone who’s a popular author, you’ll do fantastic.

    I’m grateful I self-published my sweet historical Western romances. I’ve sold almost 100,000 in a year and made the USA Today list last week! It’s been quite a fun ride!

  15. Pingback: Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing-The Creative Pen | what elise wrote
  16. Thank you for the wonderful advice and inspiration. It’s a great time to be a writer because of the options available thanks to technology. I would add that it’s a good idea for writers to guest blog as a way to introduce themselves to readers before starting an author blog or website. Put up an opt-in form and give readers something for signing up like the first two chapters to your book. This is a good way to position yourself and build your platform and opt-in list.

    Write on!

  17. I sent your thoughts off to our followers. We are trying to shine a light on the worthy self-published books at B.R.A.G.Medallion. So many writers are now choosing to SP and not just because they have been rejected by traditional publishers, it is now a very viable option in the course of getting ones book out to the reading public and maintaining the control that many authors want.

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  20. Wow! & Double Wow!!
    I have tears running down my cheeks. I saw a photo of you when I was a wee lass, in the 80’s. There you were a beautiful women, wearing a great jacket. You struck me as intelligent, wise, fun, and happy, and I thought I want to be like her when I grow up. I want to be a women who has used her brains, but also looks great. Now I am 38, and I’ve been slogging it out with my pen for the last 3 decades. My late mum said to me that I have probably written ten books in all the notepads I’ve filled. Finally, this year I am taking the plunge! Diving into the world of self-publishing. My book series – What Would Love Do? Volume I is going to be released via my website and Kindle. It is about a young women, Layla Hartwell, a struggling writer from England, who meets a hot guy over a social media site, Matt Page, who is the grandson of a famous Hollywood actress – Helena Page. Layla and Matt fall for each instantly, through their emails, texts and phone calls. The story is set against the advent of the digital age, but also a troubled family life that Layla is trying to escape from. Thank you Jackie for being such a brilliantly positive inspiration to writer’s world-wide. You’ve injected colour, fun and glamour into the stale jackets of traditional and formal tweed wearing writer’s. I’ll send you a copy when it’s released. Love C

  21. I just want to tell you how happy I am to be able to re-buy your older works in eReader format! My eyesight is starting to go, happens when you get older, and I needed to switch to an eReader. I own all your books in physical form, and now you’re doing eBook format and I couldn’t be happier!!

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