I understand many of you are interested in self-publishing. In support of that interest, here is a guest post by local author Andrew D. Richards talking about his opinion and experience with self-publishing.
For those of you interested in pursuing this route, Alexis Grant is hosting a free webinar on how to ‘Create and Sell Your First Ebook’ on October 24, 2012.
However, please note The Roanoke Times’ does not review self-published books. See this past post for our policy.
The publishing industry is in the throes of a revolution. Just look around – e-books sold online are out-selling hardbacks, independent books stores are closing daily, and, according to E Ink Holdings, sales of e-book readers are tripling every year. Couple this with the news that HarperCollins are accepting unsolicited manuscripts for certain genres, and the changes taking place are clear to see.
Vanity press, or self-publishing, was a dirty word with most literary agents, and it probably still is. But the reason self-publishing has publishers scrambling is that it does provide an opportunity for fiction writers to beat the system to publish, market, and sell their works. Quality writers who are not fortunate enough to win the lottery (the same odds as getting their work accepted by an agent or publisher) now have a sporting chance.
If you are a good writer, possess some marketing skills, and are an eager self-starter, then you can make a living. The royalties offered by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the other e-book platforms are far better than the “indentured servitude” of a publishing house contract, as once described by Stephen King.
But writing and editing are just the start – probably only about 20 percent of the process. You have to market your works everyday in a fast-paced industry. The e-book market is not the slow-moving dinosaur that the print publishing industry was known to be. You can convert a Word document to an e-book, post it online, and market your first sale in about 20 minutes. A lot of writers are doing it, including bad ones. An integrated marketing plan that includes social media will help you reach your target audience – and then you have to keep them.
Keep in mind that even e-book readers themselves are unique, devouring fiction works on their devices like thrice-daily meals. They need to be wooed and many are unwilling to invest in one-time novelists. Just look at how many successful novels have sold as trilogies in the last year or so. E-book writers need to think about plots and characters in the context of a series.
I have self-published two e-books, but I’m still far from emulating successful self-published writers like Amanda Hocking and Colleen Hoover. The point, however, is that I now have a chance. If I fail then it is down to me, and not the giant wall around the print publishing industry’s promised land.
Andrew D. Richards is a retired British Army Soldier, college rugby coach, work-from-home dad, and author of two e-books, The Devil’s Wave and Imperial Blood. He lives in Blacksburg, Va. with his wife and two daughters. http://www.andrewdrichards.com/