Monday, 13 June 2011

Advice for Indie Authors: Are we there yet? Nearly!

Advice for Indie Authors: Are we there yet? Nearly!
Genuinely exciting moments can unfortunately be few and far between in your working and professional life. The clock hand hitting 5.30pm on a Friday is one of those moments, and having a vending machine that actually serves something that resembles coffee is another.

But neither of these two come close to raising the excitement levels I experienced this week. Despite my sarcasm, I did actually feel an overwhelming sense of exhilaration, as in the past week I have received both the final edited draft of my manuscript and the first draft design of my book cover from Pen Press. This is really happening!

In the past couple of months, my experience of working with Pen Press has been first-rate. I won't sugar coat it – I had absolutely no idea of how to get my work professionally edited, let alone get a book cover with blurb created. These services are immensely helpful, especially as you have a dedicated representative from Pen Press to talk you through both of these elements to make sure you feel involved during these important production stages.

But then it started to dawn on me. What is the point of being a published author if no one actually bothers to buy the book? It’s not like I have the marketing weight of the likes of JK Rowling behind me.

So what am I dealing with here? In an earlier blog I pointed out that one self-publishing company had published work for 1.1 million people over the last decade, and that doesn’t even take into account traditional published work. Check out these stats from Wikipedia to give you an idea of the minefield I am about to step into! These are pretty daunting numbers to contend with!

But there is hope. Stories of self-published authors achieving successful sales are becoming more common now than you might think. Just last month, Mel Comley, a UK-born self-published author of the Impeding Justice series of crime novels, signed a contract with the respected New York literary agent Richard Curtis.

Mel said: “It's been eight months of hard work, 14-16 hour days of writing and promoting my novels. But it was all worth it as I have now achieved 20,000 sales and obtained the services of one of the top agents in New York. Plus, I still have agents contacting me weekly on both sides of the pond.”

Hard work is certainly the key to success. There doesn’t really seem to be a magic formula, except to write great novels that people want to read. Without self-publishing, Mel might not have ever been discovered.

Earlier this year in March, PrintWeek published a special issue on books. Digital was once again the buzzword when it came to examining the growth of this market.

TJ International was ranked 11th in the UK book printers league table, and their managing director, Angus Clark, echoed the praise for digital book printing by saying: “Digital is our biggest growth market and we believe digital book manufacturing will continue increasing at phenomenal rates.” Further evidence for this growth came in the shape of the on-demand books feature in the same issue.

So now I have an edited manuscript, a book cover and blurb, and at the click of a finger I have a novel ready to be unleashed to the world via on-demand printing. Don’t you just love technology!

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