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Friday, 24 June 2011

Self publishing - make a million....or not!

The road to self publishing is paved with gold - yeah, sure!

There's an interesting article HERE on this very subject. It's a refreshing read since all we seem to hear about are the mega sales of folk like Amanda Hocking and J A Konrath, but for every big seller there are thousands of others struggling with low, often non existent, sales. So why is this? Well there's a lot of dross out there, of course.But even well established authors, with a proven track record are finding it difficult to shift units in bulk.

Raymond Benson, a well known  writer, the third official author of the James Bond series, recently wrote about his own difficulties in selling his back list as eBooks and Archive friend, Chap O'Keefe, a very well respected western author, has reported that sales are slow with his own eBook titles. My own eBook, A Policeman's Lot has been out a year and often goes months without a sale - mind you, things do seem to be picking up at the moment and a print version has also just become available. And I have sold a few hundred copies of my short stories that are available for the Kindle - not a massive amount but given that the stories are available for free elsewhere, I'm quite pleased to pick up the odd sale which helps support the Archive.

Is it all about promotion?  Take Joe Konrath for instance - he constantly preaches promotion while making claims of massive sales, often selling a truck load of books before dinner time. And yet I've tried to corner him for an interview with the Archive for some time and had no response. John Locke, on the other hand, has talked to the Archive and this week he became the first self published author to sell a million titles. Congratulations John - we're thrilled for you. I could make the outlandish claim that the Archive is responsible for Locke's success, but of course it isn't as the author is a bloody good writer and his work is addictive. He has also worked long and hard at promoting his books but the most important fact is that they are excellent books.  However  in the spirit of outlandish claims I'm gonna' make it anyway - APPEAR ON THE ARCHIVE AND SELL A MILLION!!!!!!!!

Maybe readers are reluctant to buy eBooks by new authors after being stung by some of the badly written, badly edited crap out there, but that doesn't explain why true craftsmen like Chap O'Keefe and Raymond Benson (expect an interview with Raymond here soon) are struggling to make the eBook model work. At the moment we live in a world where anyone can easily publish a novel to eBook using Amazon, Smashwords or Barnes and Noble, and believe me many do - some it seems bang out something in a matter of days, bung up a cover with Photoshop and then press publish and  their creation is soon available to the world.

I do strongly believe though that true talent will shine through - at the moment self publishing seems to be a craze, but as time goes on readers will soon discover what is good and what is not. But self publishing platforms like Amazon really do need to introduce some quality control if they are to ensure their eShop contains nothing but quality writing, still I fear this will never happen since money is made from the good as well as the bad, and the bad outnumbers the good by seemingly sixteen squillionwilliontwillion to one.

Though have no fear - writers will continue to write, since that is what they have to do, what they must do.


Col Bury said...

Excellent post, Gary. I've shared it on Twitter & Facebook.

Anthony Cowin said...

Nice balanced look at the e-book market and how the trend will settle. As for Amazon and other on-line stores ensuring quality, I don't think it matters because it doesn't even achieve this with the printed book format at present.


Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Thanks for the retweets Col.
Anthony - that is a point

Charles Gramlich said...

Outlandish claims are the norm it seems in this crazy new world we're in. I definitely have not seen a lot of ebook sales, though folks who've read my books that way have liked 'em and I've seen some good comments around. It would be nice to be a million seller.