Every writer, from a crusty newspaper hack to flowery wordsmith of prose, usually thinks they have at least one book lurking in the shadowy recesses of their minds.
Though that book lives there, sometimes growing deep roots, for some, getting it to see the light of day as a published work can be as daunting as actually writing it.
Then, tack on the agonizing self-analysis: is my story original enough? Are the characters realistic? Will anybody really like it beyond my mother and closest friends…if that? and it is a wonder that anything gets published at all.
“The old model of book publishing is a dying model,” says Alex, author of Two Scoops is Just Right, his recently self-published first novel. “This will all really change when e-books get fully accepted and that will leave publishers looking for a stream of e-books. Also, if critics start to review self-published books, that is going to help get those books into distribution.”
Alex has no issue in sharing his rationale for moving away from traditional publishing: agents and publishers want exclusivity, they get to set the price; sometimes they demand copyright; royalties “are a pittance” -between seven to 15 per cent at best, he says and sometimes books are held up if a competing one is coming to market.
“Still, the old model has the one big advantage- access to bookstores, supermarket shelves and so on. Their distribution is the key,” he notes. “However, for those who do self-publish it is simple, you have to do the promotion yourself which means working social networks like LinkdedIn and Twitter and making a meaningful presence there.”
The economics of printing an e-book is what will change the market, says Alex. Author royalties with e-books are as much as 50 per cent; self-publishing royalties through Amazon are 33 per cent. The key to turning a profit is volume and putting in the time to market yourself and believing in giving self-publishing a shot, he says.
“For those writing books, why should it not see the light of the day?,” Alex says. “If you have the wherewithal to self-publish why not do it. Get it out there and take your lumps along the way.”
Taking the hard road of so-called “legitimate” publishing is not foreign to Donna, as she celebrates her recent self-published book The First Excellence:Fa-Ling’s Map. She attempted to get her earlier works published through an established publisher but found the process disappointing.
“My first goal is to reach readers through whichever channel I can,” she explains. “I have seven manuscripts and three self-published works. I know the first few manuscripts were practice but at what point do you decide as a writer to have more than just manuscript paper under the bed collecting dust. You have put your work in front of people.”
Donna adds that if she ever does get published by an established publisher now it will be because someone discovered her via her online footprint.
“The fact is now the writer who may be shy and wants to go off and write has to be this exotic dancer, promoter and songstress in order to promote themselves and help with their self-publishing,” Donna says.
BookSurge and Lulu offer a cheap and relatively easy opportunity to fulfill a dream, say the Carricks. Kirkus Reviews has recently established a division to objectively review self-published books and the Carricks have paid to have their works reviewed.
“They say they are objective and we are not looking for a puff piece,” explains Alex. “The ultmate goal is for someone to read what you have done even if they do not like it.”