Saturday, August 03, 2013

Self-publishing versus traditional publishing.

While browsing Twitter recently I discovered a link to an article with American self-published author Hugh Howey. For those of you who haven't heard of him, Hugh's ninth novel, "Wool", went viral and became a huge best-seller. James Cameron bought the film rights, and Hugh's now a full-time author. The link below will take you to the article, written in April 2013:

I found this all incredibly interesting, as it details in some length the fact that many authors are now making a tidy living from self-publishing. They're not names you'd likely have heard of, but their books occupy what is sometimes called the "fat" end of the tail. This refers to a graph of all book sales, whether digital or traditional. A small number of authors occupy the top, high-earning part of the graph, while the vast majority occupy the long "tail" of the graph along the bottom. But there is a small chunk, buried deep in the bottom left corner of that graph, where a sizeable number of authors earn enough to make a difference in their lives without ever getting famous. Figures vary, but as the above article describes, they can be earning anything from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month.

This sweet-spot is where I think many authors aspire to be; nobody expects to be the next J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown, but all who work hard at writing good material aim to earn a living from it, and the number of people achieving this is on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic.

It led me to think about how best to get there. The fact is that right now I rely on traditional publishing contracts to earn a living, and right now that's where I want to remain as no author can achieve the brand awareness that a major publishing house can provide. But, and it's a big but, right now I can produce up to three novels per year writing full time. Every time one of those novels isn't quite right for editors in the big publishing houses, it will be self-published. There's simply no longer any good reason not to. Why rely on one book to be in the sweet spot in the charts? Why not two, or four, or ten?

Eden is still climbing the charts, reaching the mid-3000 spot this morning and selling about 30 copies per day. That's further on than it was last week, and it now has 3 five-star reviews. My fourth Ethan Warner book, The Chimera Secret, is vying for position with it in the charts. Chimera has an international publisher behind it. Eden has nothing but me. See what I mean...?

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