15th November 2013: e-Publishing and all that jazz
I self-published my first novel, Heron Fleet, in June, available for Christmas from all good book shops as they say. It been published in paper form with Matador, though it has a e-form as well.
The main involvement I've had with sales has been those I've made myself at readings from the 100 Copies I saved for the purpose. They have been steady and disproportionately rewarding. They have certainly focused my mind on my marketing and I've rapidly become aware of mistakes I made and opportunities I missed when preparing Heron Fleet.
For instance in copies of Heron Fleet I never thought to put notes for Book Clubs or Reader's Groups in the back of the book. Since I have started selling the book to Libraries as stock to supply their Book Clubs it would have been very useful. What's even worse I put nothing in the book about myself, no picture, no biography, no directions to this website. Those mistakes are going to have to be put right with some discreet inserts into at least the copies I sell.
Last week I was in independent publishing action on my own account in a different way. Seven of us from the MA at Manchester Metropolitan University I took when writing became something more serious than a pass time, formed a small press after we graduated called Pandril Press after we graduated. We put together anthology of short stories called Panopticon. Last week we rolled out our second, much more professional job called Weird Love. Our ambition is not huge and we will rapidly have to do a second printing run at even very modest demand. But if we go ahead and make it available as a e-book it will be available worldwide very quickly.
Making a book available in e-form has never been easier. Amazon supply tools that allow you to publish on the Kindle store simply. There are limits to how complicated a book can get using such tools but a text based book such as a novel or even a book with some photographs or illustrations can be done without huge technical expertise. It is true that to do a really good job, which some mainstream publishers don't bother doing, requires extra expertise but not an impossible level of technical expertise.
Rumour has it that the book trade is waiting to see if this Christmas e-book sales will out strip paper sales. Of course e-sales already outstrip paper sales in the sense of number of books sold. With effectively a worldwide sales base and the advantage of lower sales price this seems unexceptional but remember that most e-books do not have the advertising backing a main stream book has, though people may well buy e-versions of main stream books. The really important threshold is when e-books take more money than paper books. If that happens this Christmas in the UK, a very significant barrier will have been passed.
We will see.