The usual response of people who find out I have unpublished novels, is to say, ‘Have you thought of self-publishing?’ My standard reply is, ‘It’s not the game I’m playing.’ Which is sufficiently left-field to confuse them slightly. I then stun them with a hypnotic trick that I learnt in Delhi, pack them into a wicker basket, and ship them off in the hold of a slow cruise ship to the Polar Ice-Caps.
Do I hell. No. I stand there with a coat-hanger smile while they explain.
Any hey, it’s not their fault. I’d do the same. Lack of resolution causes panic.
But it has begun to bother me. To self-publish or not to self-publish? (One of many questions.) In the end I have done what many writers do when stuck with a problem: attend a day conference. I won’t summarise the whole thing, but these are some of the interesting things I learned.
• Self-published books are currently five percent of the overall market. But e-books, in particular, are one of the few growth areas in publishing.
• 69% of self-published e-books are bought by women between 35-55, particularly genre. Only 11% are bought by men under 45.
• A writer like Nick Spaulding has self-publishing sales of 450,000. He has now been signed by Simon and Schuster. Prove you can sell, and agents and publishers get interested.
• There are several platforms for ebooks include Kobo, Smashwords, Wattpad, Nook, and iBooks. The one most recommended by speakers was Amazon KDP Select. The downside is that you are exclusive to them for a renewable (by you) 120-day period. The advantage is a 70% royalty if you price under £2.49 (dropping to 30% over this price) and market reach. Other platforms allow you greater freedom to use other channels.
• The average selling price is £3.28. Most books sell at £1.00. £1.49 is a good standard. Note that you can tweak the price at any point.
• You will be asked to fill metadata, which is important. These are the details that allow readers to search for it. The Amazon tool is not as easy as the others.
• Consider Print-on-Demand.
• Use Wattpad to share writing in progress. It helps to promote your work and create interest
• Collaborate on editing and marketing. Hire someone to look at your contract. Do a book launch. Go to target market and campaign – features in newspapers, hospital radio. Invest in a cover that makes people want to read (this was mentioned by several speakers).
• The average cost for a novel published through a crowd-starter site like Unbound is £450.
• Polly Courtney is a writer who was signed by a large publisher, but returned to self-publishing because her books were being misrepresented. Look at pollycourtney.com for self-publishing course.
For anyone interested or within reach, Writers and Artists are holding another conference on self-publishing in London on 29 November. Nick Spaulding is one of the speakers. Find details at: https://www.writersandartists.co.uk/events/self-publishing-in-the-digital-age