Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting self-published - not as bad as you think, for a new writer

Book Publishing News

Earlier in 2010, an amazing and to some, a worrying event took place - ebook sales officially overtook traditional books and are still heading to Pluto. To online ebook sellers, that spells the beginning of an even bigger shift. Google, Amazon, Lulu, they are very happy campers. So now that authors no longer require that goddam apparatus of publishing houses, why should they offer up the vast bulk of their sales gross? Why not cut out the middle-man and go directly to the audience through self-publishing? Writers paying themselves first? Zoiks! That's a new one. Actually, it isn't.

Okay, traditional publishers are doing a fine job for the most part. Their role is to herd your manuscript through the production process at minimal time and cost, get the book bound and printed, and send it through the usual distribution channels. So if you are lucky, the marketing department might generate a press release and ship out a few review copies. And then there's the royalty schedule. Excuse me? The Royalty schedule? For most writers, that's where the advantage goes off the road and into a ditch.

Traditional publishers have Brand, and writers have brand, and that is supposed to be good, right? The publishing world still deals with intangibles like prestige and reputation. That vast market is crammed with titles all screaming like newborns for the milk of attention. Publishing imprints remain an important shortcut for reviewers, purchasing agents and readers as they try to determine what's worth their limited time and attention.

I can give 4 major reasons why, as a new writer - you got nothing to lose by self-publishing...

1. You are an established author with a, seriously - you do. Megastars like John Grisham and J.K. Rowling are known brands, but names like Stephen King are too, only folks like him have demonstrated the viability of digital self-publishing. Remember the books he sold successfully online? But your audience doesn't have to be mass-market. If you know there are reviewers who know your name and thousands of readers waiting to buy your book, then the economics of digital publishing can suddenly make perfect sense.

2. You are a completely unknown author with nothing to lose, so hell with it. Well, it is called the internet, and its the world's greatest leveller. The entry costs are low, so why not? Nothing interests a traditional publisher or agent more than saying "my self-published book got 50,000 downloads." Jeez. Hand them the puke bag.

3. You are writing in a genre that's got a ready-made audience. Fan-communities for genres like science fiction, mysteries, romance novels, military adventure, poetry etc. are meritocracies that recognize good content, whether it's got the publisher's stamp of approval or not.You feeling righteous now?

4. You have alternative distribution channels. Um, in English please... The greatest advantage that a publisher provides is getting your book in stores. But what if you don't need stores? If you sell most of your titles at trade events and through your website, an e-book with a print-on-demand option (Like with provides the same service and lets you keep more of the revenue.

Aah, the penny has dropped. is showing writers how a book can burst into existence in the space of two weeks as opposed to a near 12 months by going the traditional route. Services like Amazon's CreateSpace  lowers the entry costs for self-publishing more again. They are moving to replace the few value-adds that publishers still offer, such as editorial and marketing support. (You still have to fill that void and promote yourself, except the web offers so much for the budding writer.) These online services are wearing away the traditional stigma of the "vanity press" and provide a broader, more profitable platform for authors who don't need the superstructure and processes of a publisher. Embrace the change - and get self-published.

This article originally appeared in my website Cheeky Girls Apartment. Cheeky Girl is shortly to publish the book based on her experiences growing up in the UK, and also including many parts of her romantic life, with guys, and girls. More announcements to come soon.

  If you are interested in becoming a published writer, check out some of my other webpages and articles written. I have also reviewed a self-published poet's book "Toss and Turn" by Marifel Dungo, published on 

Self-publishing is a great way to cut out the "middle-man" in the publishing equation, and reap more rewards and commissions for yourself.

Cheeky Girl out.

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