Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Boot camp for self-published authors

What if I could tell you about a secret society which can open doors for you? Give your books a leg-up in the competitive bookselling trade?

Actually, it's not a society and it's not even secret, but it is damned hard to get in. I'm talking about trade publishing.

These days there are quite a few self-pubbed authors who have never been within a hundred miles of a publishing contract. I found one today, quite by accident, when I was going through the latest catalogue from my local bookstore. Something caught my eye and I went off to google the author. Turns out it was self-pubbed on Amazon and has now been picked up by major publishers around the world. (And all credit to the author for their success.)

There are also plenty of self- and indie-published authors who started out with trade publishers but - for whatever reason - are no longer with them. It doesn't matter what their current status is, indie or trade published, what matters is that having been trade published is like having a backstage pass.

An example: I approached a distributor who supplies local schools. As a self-pubbed author they might have considered my book, assuming it was available through their regular distributors, but chances are they'd have said no. On the other hand, I'm a previously-trade-published author who has - in the past - been invited to speak about my work at several of their functions. They've had my work on their shelves for years. As far as they're concerned I'm the same author with a new publisher.

That's just one example. Libraries, bookstores, all the schools I've visited (hundreds of which have my books in their libraries) ... each contact I've made as a trade-published author is ten times more important now I'm self-published.

Plenty of authors are now urging new writers to skip the rejection merry-go-round and build their careers via ebooks. We know it can work because we've all seen the success stories. All I'm saying is, if you're not a fantastic marketer and you'd rather write novels than sell them, consider going through 3 or 4 years of writer boot camp: that's agent hunting, querying, and hopefully trade publishing.

Who knows, with so many writers turning to self-publishing, maybe it's a little easier to get published now than it has been for some time?

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

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