Self publishing in an authorpreneur’s world

I was interested to see that the talk of the London Book Fair this year was the relatively new concept of authorpreneur.

The big question which vexes us all is: to self-publish or not self-publish?

I’ve heard it is still true that there is a lot more money to be made by following the traditional route to publishing. In the UK this is: find an agent, agent finds publisher. To the majority of writers, this is probably never going to happen. Harsh but fair.

Happily authors can now follow a self-publishing route, although the term self-publish only tells about a tenth of the story. If you decide to follow this route, what you are also doing is signing up to all the marketing and publicity work a publishing house would normally do for you. Sounds like a full time job to me! Hence the aptly named ‘authorpreneur’ title.

As a digital communications person by day, this gets my brain working on all kinds of exciting tangents. The first and most important of which, is to get the actual product right for digital – in my view, and given that word of mouth is the most important marketing tool in any publishing arena, this must represent the lion’s share of the work needed in order to sell online. Once you have a book you think people will like, there are a few other things I think could be quick wins. These are my top three:

  1. Choose a title which works online. We now have google and a vast array of forums (such as goodreads and authonomy, but also nanowrimo and others) to help us test drive different titles for our work. Use them.
  2. Think about how people read in a digital world. Make the first 10 per cent count – more than ever before. Even books that were written five years ago had more leeway. I got my teenage son to read the first few pages of a few books to test this theory. He’s widely read and will stick with lots, but I was horrified at the number of books he just put down with the words ‘no, I’m bored already’. Look at the readers of the future. Think Hollywood movies. Think distractions of modern living. You have about 30 seconds to get my attention. That’s it.
  3. Mobile devices – I’ve seen the stats in my day job. No matter how much you may want to deny that your audience will ever go near your books on a mobile device (including tablets), be sure that they will. And you’ll need to be ready for that. How does your book read on a mobile device? Does it still flow as you envisaged?

Will I self-publish? Probably, yes. Am excited at the thought of doing what I do in my day job for my own product? Well – ish.  SEO, adwords, social media presence and interaction all take incredible amounts of work to get right. Running my own book tour and writing press releases? Sounds pretty full on to me. Let’s see.