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The Real Story: Romance Author Libby Waterford Talks Honestly

Libby Waterford recently switched from being traditionally published to self-publishing

Libby made the transition from traditional to self-publishing about two years ago

At the moment, she is selling a few hundred copies of any single book in the course

But, as she points out, some self-published writers sell in the thousands

“It’s not a living wage,” Libby tells me as we sip our coffees at Caffe Nero

You have to figure out what your goal is — whether you just want to see your book

Libby believes that her royalty income will soon surpass the income she earns from teaching at the

“You have to not give up if your first book doesn’t break even

According to Libby, if you do it all yourself (and don’t need a developmental editor) you

“A copy editor makes changes for clarity and points out continuity errors,” she says

For example, the editor will look at timelines and might flag the fact that a character in

Developmental editing is almost always the most expensive type of editing you can buy because of the

Once a manuscript has been through a copy edit — which usually costs Libby around $1,300 — it also needs

Libby tends to spend on the lower end of the scale for her covers (around $80) and has

Most indie publishing experts strongly advise against trying to make your own cover unless you have design

You can use this feature even if you don’t design a cover there

She swears by Vellum but points out that it can only be used on a Mac computer

Libby favors Vellum because she likes to save her work locally and not have it be stored

However, she notes that that there are other apps you can use for formatting, including Atticus ($147), Reedsy

She advertises a bit on social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram

“The people who service authors are making more money than writers

Netgalley, which used to be open to traditional publishers only, has recently opened its doors to indie

She tends to give away physical copies of books so that she can personalize these with a

A Goodreads Giveaway obliges participants to put the book on their “Want to Read” shelf and this

BookBub will charge you $1,024 to promote a women’s fiction novel that you’re discounting to the

But the financial benefits of the promotion are not immediate

In fact, many authors give their books away for free during these promotions

The benefits accrue over time, and result from the boost a BookBub promotion gives your book on

“I need to sell about 800 books to make my money back on a title,” Libby says

99, writers exclusive to Amazon currently earn 35% of the list price

99, writers exclusive to Amazon earn 70% of the list price minus the cost of file delivery

If you choose to enroll in the Amazon program known as KDP Select, your book also becomes

Subscribers gain access to hundreds of self-published books, and authors are paid out based on how many

The catch to KDP Select is that your eBook needs to remain exclusive to Amazon for the

You can, however, sell the book on other platforms in physical form

“You might make more money on KU but then you have all your eggs in one basket,”

Libby believes the key to maximizing your earnings as a self-published author is to gradually switch to

If you want to make a career out of self-publishing, says Libby, you have to not give

“You need to keep publishing and learning and being entrepreneurial

Rather than going straight to a hybrid publisher, she recommends handling the process yourself

But paying top dollar to a third party to do everything for you doesn’t make sense —

But with persistence and entrepreneurial savvy, a committed self-publisher ought to be able to cover the cost

A small number of self-published authors are able to sell thousands of copies of their books and

With commitment, luck, and a great product, that could be you!