The Internet is all about the democratization of voices. I know this because I can @ my favourite celebrity – whether Chrissy Teigen will reply is another question.
Like the oil oligarchs, the publishing industry was once dominated by the Big 6 (now the Big 5 – Penguin and Random House joined forces in 2013). These publishing houses established the barriers to entry – some may even say quality – to this competitive industry.
However, publishing platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing have made it possible for anyone to pen their own Lord of the Rings. Once, self-publishing your own book was akin to your mum endorsing your OkCupid profile. Now, it is seen as a viable route for producing your own work. We only have to look at E.L. James’ breakaway hit: Universal Pictures offered her $5 million for the movie rights, which is enough for anyone with a keyboard and thesaurus to find as many synonyms that they can for gaslighting.
(E.L. James discusses her book. Used with permission from Giphy)
The Age of Self-Publishing
One of my biggest fears in life is rejection. When my boyfriend replies my thoughtfully worded text with ‘K’, I agonize all day whether he in fact likes me (disclaimer: we’ve lived together for two years). I think that submitting my book to a publisher would be a similar, more degrading process: I’m sorry, we cannot accept your product of imagination and hard work. Thanks though for the hours that you put in, and the illustrious but soul-sucking career as an investment banker that you could have pursued instead.
At least with Sam, I can harass him until he tells me that it’s not personal – he’s just busy. And yes, I am a joy to live with.
The reason that I write is that it helps me to organize my own experience and hopefully convey it in a way that when someone reads it, they feel a little less alone. How can publishers be the gatekeepers to what constitutes the universal human experience? In their role as a cultural barometer, they may risk marginalizing some voices. On a totally unrelated note, no books written about females or from a female perspective have won the Pulitzer Prize in the last fifteen years. #conspiracy
Somewhere, out there, someone may be interested in my exploration of Fainting Goats: A Failure of Evolution. Self-publishing would allow me, and other writers in my predicament to deliver our opus to the masses.
But there must be other reasons why more authors are choosing to bypass the traditional publishing model.
When you self-publish your book, it belongs to you. The copyright is yours and you get to set the book price. Not only that, you get to keep 70% of the list price. It does make sense: by cutting out the middle man, you are not paying for the services of a copyeditor, cover designer or the marketing team.
The downside is, well, you have to do it all on your own. This includes having the objective distance to kill your darlings, not to mention possessing design and PR skills.
How to self-publish your book
There are several guides online on how to self-publish your work. Publishers such as Amazon and Kindle make it easy: they allows writers to publish their work directly on their platform.
Penguin have also recognized the importance of this growing industry and spent $116 million to acquire its own self-publishing platform, Author’s Solution. The platforms help self-published writers move away from the margins of the market place. For example, Author’s Solution can help writers edit, design and market their book – for a price.
After you have finished and published your soon-to-be bestseller, don’t forget about blowing your own horn. This is not a euphemism, but if you are choosing this new publishing model, you should learn how to market yourself.
Don’t worry: I’ve got you covered. You can read my social media how-to for creative writers here. The principles should hold through for self-published authors. Your purpose and your audience may vary so tailor your strategy accordingly. You may even want to target a traditional publishing house: hopefully, they will see the popularity of your e-book and offer you a contract. Then, a major Hollywood studio will demand the rights to your film, and Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence will fight to be cast as your leading lady.
(The Hunger Games. Uploaded with permission via Giphy)
A girl can dream. And the best way to make this dream come true is with a consistent and compelling social media strategy.