Self-publishing: will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, join the dance…?
Publishing is big business – a $35 billion industry and it’s as cut-throat as any other business. Which author has no apocryphal tales to relate about the ability to wall paper a room with rejections from mainstream publishing houses and literary agents?
Publishers are like dress designers. They decide what’s going to be the next mass appeal theme/genre and a trend is born. Not you, not me, not the general reader, but them. Then they use all the dark arts to achieve that. If your book fails to fit the design brief then, no matter how promising, it will be binned.
What do you do when, when an agent or publisher takes the greater part of 6 months to tell you your submission does not interest them? What do you do when, lucky enough to find an agent who thinks your book is the best thing since sliced bread and touts it around to every publishing house in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, it hears only the resounding sound of silence? What do you do when your publisher who contracted to publish it 3 years ago has your typescript gathering cobwebs in its pending tray? What do you do when the topic of your book was popular when your book was accepted 18 months earlier but tastes have moved on since then and you haven’t earned out your advance? What do you do when your first novel emerged in traditional manner but subsequent publishing efforts ran into the sands?
You’re sick of the whole ruddy carousel but believe implicitly in your book. You’ve decided its throwing good money after bad to nail your publisher. You’ve re-drafted until you know every word by heart; you’ve ignored it and stored it in the boot of your car for months then re-written it. You’ve isolated yourself in a darkened, incense filled room for days on end with a brown paper bag over your head humming mantras. Still no one is biting. Your agent has long since jumped ship and you’re clinging to a rapidly sinking life raft. Do you:
1 Print out several copies of your masterpiece and timidly circulate them to friends over a drink?
2 Shred it and turn your talent to baking cakes (oh so memorable and satisfying and a sure-fire guarantee of no remainders)
Or grasp the nettle and self publish? For those who thrive on statistics here goes. In 2008 the volume of sales of self-published books exceeded those published traditionally. The following year 76% of released titles were self-published and publishing companies published fewer books. With the rapid decline in physical bookshops pundits predict that, within 3 years, 75% of all titles will be retailed online – that’s 50% ebooks and 25% printed books. Bookshops will stock only 25% of printed books.
Advances in technology have generated this turn-around and utterly changed the publishing landscape.There are two main ways you, as author, can have complete control of the entire process (content, book cover, formatting, price, marketing, PR and distribution) without involving a third party publisher.
Print On Demand: Whereas in the past a self published title was sneered at because of its sub-standard quality, now many P.O.D. companies pride themselves on producing a quality product that equals that issued by a traditional publishing house. Their prices depend on whether you want the work to be edited, proof read or marketed. You decide how many copies you want printed depending on how many orders for the book are placed.
Digital or online channels: Here gallops the cavalry to the rescue headed by big hitter Amazon although Smashwords and Kobo are sledge-hammering away for a chunk of the market. You upload your work on such sites to be read and enjoyed electronically as an eBook and with the advent of many e-devices and platforms such as Kindle, Kobo and other eBook readers, mobile phones and tablet computers your food for the mind is readily accessible to readers on the hoof.
And remember, investing in a professional edit before unveiling the book to public scrutiny is always worth it.
Self-publishing is fast disappearing as a dirty word or stigma. Many self-published “indie” authors who unsuccessfully trod the traditional publishing route have surprised themselves when they switched to selling their books direct to the public and a few have sensationally soared into the best seller lists. What are you waiting for?
If you want to see an example of my indie publishing please visit my website: