As I earlier have been writing about how news shifts from print to digital editions, I happened to discuss the matter with a friend of mine, who has written lots of short stories, but does not know where to turn to get his works published.
After been digging into how citizen journalism is reclaiming their right to exist in news business, I realized that there must be ways out for my friend. This post is written with the purpose to help him and other in his position.
For a first-time author the situation is not easy, partially due to lack of experience. Except for the normal self-critical thinking about one’s quality of writing, which I assume most people have, I have listed some important questions based on the mistakes first-time authors often do:
- Which way of publishing should I choose?
- Do people read books from authors they never heard of?
- Who will be reading my stories and how do I find them?
- How do I get published?
How to get published
After doing all the research and the writing, one ends up with the next problem. Essentially, after deciding to publish digital, there are different ways to go. One way, is to go through a publishing house, which, without well established contacts or a very good agent, is like going along an intense trafficked highway in bad weather at the wrong time of the day and at the same time learn to drive. In short: hard.
Secondly, and as an alternative of the above mentioned, is to self-publish, for example through Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble Nook. Self-publishing in digital avoids the maybe largest obstacle how to finance a printed edition. Obviously, and since there are not production costs, the profit margin for all involved parts will increase, which economically means lower price on a competitive market, but most importantly, that more authors can publish and be read. However, the economic split between the two parts might not end up in favour of the writer. And how the split looks might also vary between companies.
Ebook reader – or not
Some people might at this point intervene and claim that not everyone is having an ebook reader, and that the best choice of publishing is the printed traditional way. If you consider this to be true, I want you to read this article about how the usage of ebooks in Russia is spreading. Anyone who, like me, has been travelling with the metro in Moscow surely remembers what the travellers are doing on their way to and from work. They don’t text their friends. They don’t play games on their smart phones. They read. They read mostly books. And now they use ebook readers. If not yet discouraged from the idea of a paperback edition of your book, read what Lynn Serafinns, a succesful book promotion expert, is advicing other newcomers to do
Even stronger claims comes from GeekWire’s Frank Catalano, analyst of digital education and consumer technology, who argues for the extinction of paperbacks, when ebooks are getting more popular.
Choosing your own platform
Another direction to go is to publish your works on your own platform. This takes time to create and effort to spread your message. In a long perspective however, you enjoy the benefits of setting the most suitable price, getting a better share of the profit, but also building a community. On the flip side though, one should keep in mind that one will not be exposed as much on the big sites, as Amazon which normally generates sales. Also customer service and copyrights will be managed by no one else than yourself.
There are some first-time authors who choose to self-publish even though they have the possibility to go with a publishing house. One example is Jack Bergstrom, who finds the hardest part of being a writer to find the right platform for the book. His main reason for self-publishing was basically an economical decision, but he also very strongly believed in the capacity of his own platform.
A person who under four different pseudonyms has managed to reach high on the Kindle ranking lists is Bob Mayer, largely viewed upon as a high priest in this business. Getting to where he is, is a result of many factors. Not only must the targeted group be identified, the title of the book must appeal to them, the content must be right. Some basic knowledge about consumer behaviour obviously also have been useful for Bob Mayer when making strategic decisions, because he states that “people are willing to impulse buy an unknown writer’s book when it’s under three dollars”.