I find myself confused by this article on the so-called digital self-publishing debate. At the end of the article I am still none the wiser as to whether the writer of the article is for or against digital self-publishing.
After a long year of trying to sell self-epublished books, attempting to self-promote on all available networking sites, and realising that they have been in competition with hundreds of thousands of newcomers just like them, the vast majority of the newly self-epublished authors discover that they have sold less than 100 books each. They then discover that this was in fact the business model of Amazon and other epub platforms in the first place: a model called “the long tail”. With five million new self-publishing authors selling 100 books each, Amazon has shifted 500m units. While each author – since they had to cut costs to 99p – has made only £99 after a year’s work. Disillusionment sets in as they realise that they were sold an idea of success which could, by definition, not possibly be extended to all who were willing to take part.
The now ex-self-epublished authors decide not to publish again (it was a strain anyway, and it was made harder by the fact that they weren’t paid for their work and had to work after hours while doing another job – and they realised that self-promoting online would have to be a full-time job.) They come to see self-epublishing as a kind of Ponzi scheme – one created by digital companies to prey on the desires of an expanding mass of consumers who also wanted to be believe they could be “creative”. They also become disillusioned with their ereaders, which are now out of date anyway. And so they return to the mainstream publishers to look for culture.
When it comes to my mother’s book, The Underhill Buttons, its going to to go on sale at £1.99 and I’m tempted to put my one at £4.99 (maybe £3.99).
For myself I don’t see it as working for nothing. I don’t write to earn a living from it (I work in a paid job for that). I write because I have to and I’m going to self-publish because it would be quite nice if those who want to read it could find it and publishers are increasingly only putting out safe choices. If people love it, then maybe I will a) be in a position to publish print copies, or b) be taken up by an established publishing house, and maybe, just maybe, years down the line I may be able to give up the day job because the hobby pays the bills but I’m not expecting that! It would be nice, but I’m not expecting it!
Meanwhile my illustrating is continuing well…