Thursday, April 30, 2015

Traditional Versus Self-Publishing Your Books

If there is one giant motivator for self-publishing books rather than trying the traditional route, it's the success stories from writers who hit the jackpot on their own.

Mark Dawson is one of the latest. After his first-self-published book failed, he embarked on a new plan:
“I wanted to put together something that was a bit easier and quicker write and something a bit more contemporary. So I started writing a series about a character called John Milton who’s an assassin.” 
Since Dawson started the John Milton series in June 2013, he has sold 300,000 copies. There are six books in total at around 80 to 90 thousand words per book. Most of which were written when Dawson held down a full-time job and raised two young children.

I've always thought traditional book publishers offered a writer something extremely valuable: instant credibility as an author. If you were backed by an agent and publisher, you must be good. You were now a member of the elite writing establishment. But Publishers Weekly says the "stigma" of self-publishing is a thing of the past:
The view of self-publishing as an outlet of last resort for desperate authors is also changing—the negative stigma that’s long been associated with the industry is being discarded for a more progressive outlook, along with the acknowledgement that self-publishing and traditional publishing can coexist and even benefit one another.

With self-publishing for anyone comes a glutted market and the question of how to stand out in such a large crowd. The ground has shifted radically in just a few years says the New York Times:
For romance and mystery novelists who embraced digital technology, loved chatting up their fans and wrote really, really fast, the last few years have been a golden age. Fiction underwent a boom unseen since the postwar era, when seemingly every liberal arts major set his sights on the Great American Novel. 
Now, though, the world has more stories than it needs or wants to pay for. In 2010, Amazon had 600,000 e-books in its Kindle store. Today it has more than three million. The number of books on Smashwords, which distributes self-published writers, grew 20 percent last year. The number of free books rose by one-third.
The traditional publishing route is for those who can afford to wait a long time from finished book to its publication--apparently about a year. If you self-publish, you can have it online tomorrow. Books published the traditional way easily find their way onto bookstore shelves, while for self-published authors, that is a rare event--unless you walk in and place your books on the shelves yourself.

I think it would be much easier to get noticed and sell books if I were to become a famous person. Name recognition along the lines of some old-style literary media stars, like Norman Mailer or Gore Vidal, to name 2, er, mediagenic writers of days gone by. Name recognition. Once people know your name, the sales will follow. But in today’s public arena, how does one go about that objective when everybody in all walks of life scream their heads off in an attempt to gain attention? My problem is that I don’t feel such behavior is natural to me and therefore it’s tougher to join in on the fun.

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