Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More thoughts on becoming a publisher

I need to expand a little on my previous post.

The world of publishing has undoubtedly changed as the internet has evolved. For no-one more so than writers. The whole dynamic has shifted in our favour.

Think about it. Traditional publishing is a business with high overheads and big fixed costs. It is a small part of a marketing/supply chain with absolutely no leverage. The only way it can survive is by selling large numbers of books. Most authors are not going to sell in large quantities. Either because they are not very good, or their niche market is too small, because the market place is too crowded or because their publishers do not have the marketing muscle - for whatever reason - to make them a success.

By definition almost, traditional publishing is the wrong route to market for most writers. The internet, though, changes all that. So, based on my blogging experience, here's what I would advise if you want to start your own Publishing Company:

1 First write your book. This was, and still is, the hard part. Make sure you have a killer opening sentence because that's the only way you'll attract readers in the new world you're about to enter where attention span is short, not to say non-existent. In fact, keep everything short. Sentences, paragraphs, the whole damned book. Dickens or Walter Scott wouldn't cut it in the blogosphere. Readers, too, have changed.

2 Set up your own blog. One about yourself and your book. Promote this blog as hard as you feel inclined/have the time to spare. There's plenty of advice and help out there on how to do this. And it's not difficult. Nor does it cost anything. Use it as a promotional tool AND as a way of connecting with your fellow writers and, equally importantly, readers.

3 Now set up a second blog and put your book on it. Protect your masterpiece with a Creative Commons Licence in case it becomes a best seller/blockbusting film. Keep the layout clean and simple so that people can read it easily online. Turn your book into a PDF file and put that up as well. People can then download your book and read it at their leisure. Make sure you enable comments so that you get plenty of feedback. Your new readers are your new editors.

4 Link your book blog to those online book sites that suit your genre. They will channel a steady flow of vistors from around the world to your site.

5 If you get any favourable feedback on your book publish it in hardback/paperback via a print on demand company like Lulu.com. Carla Nayland is following exactly this route. The Grumpy Old Bookman is doing something similar.

6 Pat yourself on the back because you are now a proper, bona fide author and publisher. And you've more or less done it all yourself.

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