Candice: Phil and I toddled along to a “self publishing clinic” as part of Stratford Literary Festival yesterday afternoon. Having delved into the idea of self publishing before Phil and I had been reluctant as it seemed like the route for those who couldn’t get an Agent or a proper publishing contract, but having listened to tonight’s event, it seems things have changed in the publishing world.
In fact, in the two years since we started this project, and went to London to the Writers and Artists year book event, the perception of self publishing seems to have come along in leaps and bounds. No longer is the pariah of the book world, it seems that more people are going down this route than the traditional as the publishing world gets squeezed by ebooks and the recession.
The event was compared by Ian Davies, owner of a self publishing company Swift Publishing, Gareth Howard, a book marketing expert and Polly Courtney, self published author. Obviously, these guys are going to have a bias as they work in this industry (or have been successful by this route) but what they said made a lot of sense.
I really like Gareth’s description of this being like selling your house:
1. Get an Estate Agent – yes it’s slightly easier than getting a literary agent but their job is to sell your house/book. They don’t have to like it, it just has to be well presented and saleable.
2. Market it properly – be that rightmove or social media, it’s about getting your commodity out there on the market. In the book world, that’s about creating a good sales package that you can do alongside what your agent is doing.
3. It’s all about the money – remember this is a commercial enterprise so whether selling a house or a book, it needs to make money. Make your offering as good as possible, perhaps sell the first book online and then show you are a saleable entity – Agents aren’t about making the world a better place, they are all about ROI.
And then finally, you have to be an entrepreneur in all this. You can’t be precious about what you are selling, you need to put together a professional package, be that social media or a good spokesperson for the media. Tim backed this up by saying publishers may often turn away a perfectly good book if the author isn’t PR friendly.
Polly added some useful thoughts on how she made it in this book world. I admired her gumption as she had the offer of a publisher but stuck to her guns to publish the book she wanted, not what they wanted. And she’s carried on from there.
Another useful event for Phil and I, and has left us fired up to investigate the world of self publishing as it sounds like it’s no longer “vanity” publishing. Put us on your Christmas book shopping list now!
And of course, there were tea and cakes with this event, something I think we should have at all of our signing events in the future.