|Posted by michaeljmccann on July 29, 2011 at 11:29 AM|
Self-publishing a paper book in this day and age is a chancy proposition. As I noted in my previous posting, it is very much a solo venture, without any of the support mechanisms available to mainstream authors from publicists, reviewers and other professionals who will pitch in to help a book find its 15 minutes of fame. It’s a decision not made lightly, because it arguably closes many more doors than it opens.
On the other hand, there is a growing trend in publishing that’s seeing an astonishing success among self-publishers on a scale never dreamed of before. John Locke, self-publisher of nine novels in the crime/thriller genre, recently sold his one-millionth Kindle copy, a club currently occupied by only seven other authors, including heavyweights Lee Child, Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Nora Roberts. Not far behind, 26-year-old Amanda Hocking has sold over 900,000 copies in the Young Adult supernatural/horror genre, making well over a million dollars in the process. How did they do it?
The e-book phenomenon is real. According to a February 2011 report issued by the Association of American Publishers, e-books ranked as the #1 format in all categories of trade publishing, with triple digit (202%) growth compared to February 2010. Sales figures totaled $90.3 million, compared to $156.8 million in combined sales of adult trade paper books, including hardcover and paperback editions, which was down a combined 34.4% from last February.
I’m a book lover. My house is filled with books I don’t have the heart to part with, from old dusty hardcovers I’ve bought by the box for $5 at auctions to my complete collection of Lee Child paperbacks. When I’m gone I know that my son, a true child of the digital age, will have a job on his hands trying to figure out what to do with them all. However, I know a paradigm shift when I see one, and e-books are changing the way people will buy and read their reading material in the future. The numbers I quoted above from the AAP are not a flash in the pan. They represent a very real phenomenon that, quite frankly, excites the hell out of me.
Who are the major players? Amazon, the online bookselling giant, currently grips the e-book market by the neck, and they recently reported that they sell more copies of e-books than paper books. Barnes & Noble, however, is struggling to compete, and their story at the moment is interesting to consider. Their fourth quarter report issued on April 30, 2011, revealed a net loss of $59.4 million, affected in part by bankruptcy liquidation sales of failed Borders stores. Bricks-and-mortar book stores are struggling everywhere, and Barnes & Noble has been channeling all their profits into their developing e-book division. As a result, they’ve been able to claim 25% of the e-book market which, as a Standard and Poor analyst said, will be “their only driver of long-term growth.” Another player is Diesel, the online e-book vendor who recently partnered with legacy publisher Macmillan to sell their books in digital format. Also in the game are Apple, who sell e-books for their iPad and iPod platforms, Kobo, and Sony.
So, what does an old horse do when it smells water?
I focused my research on e-book publication outlets, of course. Buoyed by my success in figuring out how to create a paper book from scratch, I began to ransack the net for information on how to publish an e-book. Amazon offers a process in which authors can upload their manuscript, according to their formatting requirements, but I discovered that Smashwords offers a similar process that distributes not only to Amazon but all the other major platforms I mentioned above. Given that Amanda Hocking and many other successful self-publishers have used Smashwords, it was an easy choice.
I discovered that I was part of a trend. A huge wave, actually, washing over the shores of the Smashwords nation. On June 25, 2011, Smashwords announced they had published 6,400 new titles in the last 30 days, pumping their catalogue up to 56,543 titles. They hired additional employees to vet the backlog of titles being uploaded. For my part, I found it extremely easy to create a Smashwords account, format Blood Passage to meet their specifications, and upload the cover and bookblock. Almost two weeks after Blood Passage was published as a paper book, it was published as an e-book on July 11, 2011 through Smashwords. Just like that.
Now that it has been added to their Premium Catalogue, I’m waiting for it to be distributed to the big boys: Amazon, B&N, Apple, Sony, Diesel et al. A little chip, floating on the tidal wave making its way out to you, the reader.
Okay. So. Now, how the heck do I get it noticed?
Next: Book Bloggers.