Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mars vs. Venus

Last week I attended panel discussion on self-publishing. Five women, five different reasons for going the self-pubbed route. The conversation was informative until one man wanted to know what the ROI was on one author's books.

"How much are you making per book?"

She did some quick calculations. "About $2.50."

He shook his head. Clearly, he knew he'd do a lot better. Another man asked the same question of a different author. Her answer was similar. His disappointment was also.

Each of the women talked about how satisfying it was to see her name in print. On a book that she could hold in her hands. That friends and strangers were reading. None had published with the idea of making a lot of money. Two were happy they'd made back their initial investment.

Women in the audience asked the soft, squishy questions: how long did it take you to finish your book? How much research did you do before you picked your publisher? Would you do it again? How satisfying is it to be a published author?

Men wanted to know metrics: how many books have you sold? Over what period of time? What was your initial investment? What was your net profit/loss? What factors went into your calculations?

I sat back and marveled at the differences between the men and women. The women rated satisfaction as having their books available for readers as the most important reason for writing and publishing their work. The men wanted their books (in one case, his wife's book) to make lots of money. Both sides knew that writers today have to be salesmen/marketeers/publicity gurus, but the men wanted someone else to do most of the heavy lifting.

Several cited "Fifty Shades of Gray" as an example of what could happen. When one of the panelists remarked that this was one of about 500,000+ books self-pubbed in the last few years, her comment was dismissed.

I wonder how many men felt they had the next "Fifty Shades of Gray" in them?


  1. Interesting! I match up with the other women! I like to sell my books for something - I don't want to give them all away - but mostly I want people to read and enjoy them! I want to yak about them with other people! And as for 50 Shades of Grey, I haven't read it, and I would never write that sort of book, no matter how much money it might make for me!

  2. Lorinda,
    I agree with the rest of the women. Years ago I read an interview between a top Washington Post book reviewer and the top romance writer at the time. The reviewer sneered because he didn't consider her work "literary." I remember him asking, "What do you say to that?" She answered. "3 million readers." Kaboom!

    As far as Fifty Shades is concerned, my daughter gave me her copy last year. Still sitting in my TBR closet. Maybe one day if I get curious enough. Maybe not.