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Amazon Kindle e-Books: To Self Publish or Not to Self Publish
Dylan Moran: Rejection
Old World Publishing
When I finished attending the Horror Writers Association World Horror Convention in New Orleans in 2013, I felt deflated. I was struck by how set in their ways many publishing companies seemed to be. (Or maybe they just keep their heads firmly in the sand?)
Upon attending a panel that purported to offer guidance to new writers, I received the following advice:
- Expect to be rejected at least a hundred times before you sell even one short story.
- The industry is about perseverance; authors must wait decades to break into the field.
- Hobnob with every writer, editor, or agent you can; it's all about who you know.
This was the panel that was supposed to help smooth the way for new writers and "keep those contracts coming in"?
Kindle Direct Publishing
The New Self-Publishing Trend
Come on. The idea that you have to pay your dues by suffering for years, practically suffocating under the the piles of rejection letters, is archaic. If this is the standard to which the publishing industry is proudly clinging, the industry is bound to get blindsided at some point down the road.
In our modern world of immediacy, why should authors continue to abjectly wait, only dreaming of one day being published? Should authors really refrain from self-publishing simply because it is the only way to be legitimized to the world of traditional publishing?
To be fair, there definitely is some self-published trash out there. Without hoops to jump through to prove oneself, anyone is free to upload a book, no matter how poorly conceived or badly written. However, since "read before you buy" is a standard feature now, this really shouldn't be much of an issue. What the old guard seems to be overlooking is that there are actually a good number of authors with talent who are going the self-publishing route simply because it is a faster, less painful option.
A Changing Industry
When I finish writing a book, I can have it edited, commission professional-quality cover art, and still have it uploaded and available at Amazon in little more than a month's time. By comparison, is the traditional model really viable, let alone appealing? It promises years of rejections and, if one does finally land a contract, it will still take another three years or more for the book to actually go into production.
Are there still benefits to going through traditional publishing channels? Well, yes, absolutely. Book contracts often provide an advance up front and, most importantly, authors receive the benefit of having their books professionally promoted. Comparatively, for a self-published writer, it can be a steep and rocky uphill climb.
A Self-Publishing Success Story
However, there are self published authors who have been extremely successful. Hugh Howie is the poster child for self publishing. He published his first book, Wool, online through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing system, and he soon went on to gain such phenomenal success that, in 2012, Simon and Schuster courted him for the rights to distribute it in the US and Canada. Howie was able to negotiate a deal for a substantial sum while still continuing to retain the e-book rights for himself.
So, if you're lucky enough to get noticed and talented enough to gain an audience, self publishing might just be the way to go. Not only is there the immediate gratification of being able to rapidly get your work out to an audience, but there is also a higher profit margin. Most small publishing presses grant authors 25% royalties on e-book sales (sometimes less). When self-publishing, you can receive 70% of the sale price. So, even if you are selling fewer books than you would with a publishing company behind you, it's theoretically possible to still come out ahead in terms of generated revenue.
Avenues of Distribution
How to Publish
Before uploading an e-book, it is important to make sure that your work is ready for public consumption. Make sure to obtain reputable editorial services and to commission professional quality cover art. These two factors are essential. A good cover is what draws readers to your book and, once the cover has intrigued them, they will read the first few pages in order to decide if they want to purchase it. If the book's writing seems amateurish, readers are unlikely to buy. Do some research. The Internet is rife with individuals offering editorial and graphic arts services.
Once your work is ready, convert it into e-book formats. E-books are becoming easier and easier to create. Sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble offer their own tutorials to guide you through the process. Or, if you prefer, you can pay to have your manuscript converted through an independent service.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to reach millions of readers. Uploading your e-book is quick and simple.
Barnes & Noble's Nook Press is another popular online, self-publishing portal where uploading your e-book is an easy process..
Smashwords takes a single file and converts it into a variety of formats. This author-friendly site gives 85% net of sales.
Createspace is an Amazon company that does printing on demand. Any book can be produced as a paperback at relatively little cost through this site.
With the availability of so many readily accessible self-publishing avenues, will traditional publishing be able to hold its allure to new writers?
The answer to that question will probably have a lot to do with how publishing companies respond to change but, right now, the future of publishing seems quite uncertain.
Learn More About Issues Facing Writers Today
- The Ever-Shrinking Short Story: Is Micro Fiction the Wave of the Future?
As the use of mobile technology increases and attention spans shrink, people are reading in smaller and smaller bites. Read this to learn why micro fiction may be the literary wave of the future.
© 2013 Alisha Adkins