Monday, 5 March 2012

eBooks and self publishing

These days it is very easy to self publish and sell copies of books you have written online, and even to have those books available through Amazon. Self publishing sites provide a cheap and accessible means of getting your book into print and you can print according to demand or people can buy a copy of your book directly from the publisher. Most of these self publishing companies also provide distribution to online book sellers such as Amazon and will even give you a free ISBN. The popularity of eReaders and eReader applications for smart phones has also opened up the publishing industry to writers who choose to self publish eBooks and would be writers can now publish an ebook and release it directly through Amazon.

This is a prospect that I have been excited about for a few years. After finishing university I looked into trying to get some of my poetry published. I have a few poems published in magazines and looked at a few publishers but the bigger publishers have a set quota of books, perhaps 10 or so, they could publish each year, half of which would be books by existing poets

Prior to these advances the publishing industry appeared to be fairly impenetrable. As a poet you would be expected to get poetry published in poetry magazines to gain some experience and then you might be lucky enough to find a literary agent who supports poetry (most won’t). They then might plug your work to publishing companies, most of whom have a set quota of books they could publish each year, perhaps 10 or so, half of which would be books by existing poets. You might have tried contacting smaller publishers without the aid of an agent but they were likely to have a similar quota to work with and frankly what is the point with a small publisher anyway. With poetry being the lowest selling form of literature, accounting for less than 1 percent of all book sales, you would have had as much luck making your own books in Microsoft publisher and selling them at a car boot sale.

I think that that self publishing and the eBook especially could what the MP3 did for the world of music. As with MP3s there is a lot of rubbish out there and it is annoying to see such tripe. I have bought a few self published kindle books and only one of them has really been worth it but it is still equally exciting that I was able to scan through the poetry section of the kindle website and find something that I wouldn’t have seen before. It’s just a matter of sifting through some of the badly written poetry and literature written by nutters and the obscure translations of minor literary classics, Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species in German anyone? Unfortunately there does appear to be a lot of rubbish and there is a danger of good books getting buried underneath all the waste and filler.

Another slightly annoying but also amazing aspect of the eBook is that you can buy a lot of classic literature that is now in the public domain for little or no money at all. It is quite cool that you can buy the complete Sherlock Holmes collection for under £1. However, my current poetry book is listed at just over £1 and so I feel that I have to compete with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which is a little bit annoying but then I still have the opportunity to sell my book along side his. And I am still alive so in a way I am better than him. Cheg on Sir Arthur …

Overall it is pretty good though. I just think the next step is getting people to buy electronic literature and investigate new books and writers. That means you!!!