Brenna Aubrey self-published her debut romance novel At Any Price on the Amazon Kindle on 9 December 2013. One month later At Any Price had netted a total profit of £16,588. Aubrey’s success is far from unique – 2013 was a breakout year for “indie authors” led by the phenomenal success of Hugh Howey. But Aubrey is among the first in a wave of authors to do what, until very recently, would have been unthinkable; turn down a $120,000 (£72,000) deal from one of the big five publishinghouses and decide to do their job herself.
“Ebooks have changed everything and the traditional publishing establishment is not quite keeping up,” Brenna Aubrey answered when I asked her about some of the negative responses to her decision from traditionally-published authors. “I also think that in some ways authors who have been chasing their own dream deals take my rejection of the dream deal as a rejection of their core values and aspirations.”
The six-figure deal has been the aspiration of many authors for decades. A major advance – such as the $2m deal announced for Garth Risk Holdberg – can cement a literary career. But the reality is that advances for mid-list writers are often no more than $5,000. Aubrey’s deal of $120,000 was significant, but would have been split across three novels, divided with her agent and paid in instalments. When she cranked the figures Aubrey realised that – even as a debut author – self-publishing offered far more potential reward.
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