Thursday, July 24, 2008

Amazon self publishing

If you've ever thought of writing a book, making a film, producing your own music, here's an interesting scheme. You can now self publish on Amazon, at virtually no cost. Amazon CreateSpace

I see a kind of double irony here, in that what many will dismiss as vanity publishing might actually be of most benefit to established authors, and that the very mainstream that helped establish those authors is what makes it possible for them to use - or even switch - to this system.

For those authors who already have a presence on Amazon, thanks to success in the mainstream, it would be relatively easy to add an extra title or two to any existing list. Past promotion will have given such writers a profile, they get Googled, there's a ready and waiting market for their work. A 30% royalty is likely to be a lot higher than any publishing house can offer them, so what's to lose?

Standards, possibly. More bookshops probably. But there could be gains as well, and not just in fiscal terms. I've spent a working lifetime in children's publishing, and have survived by writing and illustrating to a 'market', always going for the idea that seems most commercial, always thinking in terms of the broadest appeal, always producing material that I hope will work in translation. No apologies for that, but this scheme provides an opportunity to be a little more experimental, and adventurous. Poetry, for instance, is an area I'd never go anywhere near, likewise short stories, likewise local history. No mainstream publisher will buy material for which there is no broad market, and I can't afford to spend time on work that I'm unlikely to sell. But the Amazon scheme makes it tempting to try something a bit different. OK, there are no advances on offer, and there's still time and money involved in producing any piece of work - professional editing costs, for instance, should be factored in to any project - but I would certainly give this some thought.

For years we've been bemoaning the fact that publishing has narrowed, that commercialism rules, and that the bestseller lists are the be-all and end-all. Could it be that Amazon, of all institutions, will be responsible for a renaissance in specialist and limited appeal works, and actually end up enriching a culture that many have accused it of helping to destroy?


Jennn said...

Do you know anyone who has used Amazon self-publishing? I was considering this route myself.

Steve Augarde said...

Hi Jennn. No, is the short answer. I do know of several short story writers who plan to use the facility, and I'll be interested in seeing how they do. You're very welcome to post here with your own experiences.

Steve Augarde said...

Here's a post from someone on a writer's website, outlining her experience of Amazon publishing to date:

'For those of you who asked...

I went through and published my novel with Amazon. The proof arrived and the book is gorgeous! I can't stop smiling.

Now the hard part will be the marketing. Amazon's said it will market the book on its web site where it will have access to "millions" of amazon customers. Otherwise, I am on my own.

Grand total for publishing a 232 page book with Amazon's createspace? A mere 3.66 cents US dollars for the proof.

Other fees do come out of the royalties as with any publisher. They take a significant chunk. But I'm pleased otherwise. It has a normal ISBN, and I have the ability to create discount codes to give special book prices to book retailers. Which should make the book an easy sell.

So that has been my experience. I'm a happy customer. For now.'

asha sahana said...

I am about to publish my book with Amazon self Publishing, once I have sorted the us tax papers out. With this book I was prepared to take the gamble. I have my latest sitting on some publishers slush pile at this moment, waiting and waiting. so lets see what happens with Amazon.

Steve Augarde said...

I think that yours is the right approach, Asha. To always have something 'in the post' is good psychologically. It helps give you the strength to withstand rejections when you know that there's another project out there working for you.

Do let me know how you get on with Aamazon.

asha sahana said...

Thanks Steve for your reply, I will certainly let you know how it is with Amazon