16 Dec Learning about self-publishing
As we all know the publishing industry is changing fast. A couple of weeks ago Anthony Horowitz wrote a provocative piece asking ‘Do We Still Need Publishers’ in The Guardian. He mentioned a couple of newbies that are muscling in.
Apple has launched its own publishing arm—iBooks Author. While they say it’s as simple as ‘drag and drop’, according to Horowitz they take 30% of the profits. That’s fair enough. What is more worrying is you can only sell your book through Apple stores, so in effect, Horowitz says, ‘they own you.’
I also learned about Unbound. This intriguing British project allows authors and readers to ‘decide which books get published.’ This is how it works. You submit your book idea to the site. Then readers will pledge support (i.e money) to ‘make the book happen.’
As a sponsor, you then get your name printed in every edition of the book. I need to find out more if this actually works, but it’s another exciting example of entrepreneurialism in times of uncertainty.
Keen to learn more, this week I also attended the informative seminar presented by Geoff Bartlett on Self-Publishing. Geoff is a journalist, author and a veteran tutor at the Australian Writers Centre. In two hours, he covered all the nuts and bolts of how to self-publish, as well as the pitfalls—and delights.
One of the most challenging aspects of self-publishing is the amount of grunt work you do to promote yourself. Otherwise your garage (or worse, your living room) is likely to be full of unsold books.
Authors have to do so much promotion anyway. But when you self-publish you do it all—the publicity and marketing, as well as designing the book and working out how to distribute it. It’s not for the faint-hearted!
Travel writer and journalist Stephanie Dale worked out the system very successfully with her first book My Pilgrim’s Heart about her epic walking tour across Italy, through the Balkans and into the Middle East.
She sold the first 1000 copies of her debut memoir in just a couple of months. She now offers advice and workshops to writers who want to self-promote. In essence it boils down to living and breathing your book for as long as it takes. You are the brand, as well as the author.