Digital Publishing Empowers Authors with Total ControlBy Mercy Pilkington
Author Everett Powers took a bold step in choosing to self-publish his first novel, Canals, via the Amazon.com Kindle store, but then he did the unthinkable: he pulled it from the virtual shelves.
“After spending more time writing and communicating with other writers, I just wasn’t happy with that first work. On top of that, Canals is a dark horror fiction and I didn’t want my name associated with that genre anymore. I’m now more of a thriller writer and I didn’t want people to associate Everett Powers with horror. It’s very limiting.”
Powers was able to take that step for the same reason that more and more writers are turning to self-publishing and digital publishing: almost absolute control over their work. When first e-published, Canals was over 200,000 words, a massive work even for traditionally published fiction works. After some focused editing on Powers’ part, he whittled it down to 135,000 words and still feels there is more revision to be done. Meanwhile, Powers released his second novel, The Mighty T. in early April, again relying on Smashwords for their expertise.
This simply cannot be done in the world of traditional publishing. It would be akin to Stephen King deciding no one may buy any more copies of Carrie because he’s just not happy with it. But it’s this very empowered decision making that is leading more authors to consider self-publishing.
Authors who choose to go it alone in terms of formatting, marketing, and selling their books are enjoying the control over more aspects of their work than they would if it were traditionally published. Everything from how many copies are printed at a time, the price point, which retailers will have access to the work, it all leads to more autonomy.
Self-published author Michael Wood, author of Alchemy, has found that he is still able to enjoy some of the self-marketing strategies that traditionally published writers are privy to, such as book signings and speaking engagements, but the legwork is entirely his.
“Once I realized that as a first time author, I was selling myself, and not my book, it made things a lot easier. I’m an unknown in the publishing world, yet I’ve done several book tours on the Cape where the book is set, at last count about twenty independent bookstores were carrying my book, as well as two large chains. I’ve done at least a dozen book signings and talks. I’m making money (granted, not nearly enough to live on, but enough to go out to dinner every so often) and I’ve got a great review from Publishers Weekly, all from self-publishing. And as much as I would love to get picked up by a traditional publisher, I have to say that so far, being self-published isn’t half bad.”
The downside, of course, is that there is a reason literary agents, editors, and publishers still have jobs. The business of creating and selling a book is a full-time job, one that leaves many writers without the time to write as they abandon their writing desks to do the work of these teams of professionals for themselves. But in the end, more authors who are aware of the time demands needed in order to self-publish a manuscript, even to e-reader, are discovering that the trade-off is worth it.
The Good e-Reader Indy Author Initiative continues tomorrow with our spotlight on Rob Graham.
Mercy Pilkington is a young-adult author and a teacher in a correctional facility. She does not have a single textbook in her classroom. With the top-of-the-line technology at her disposal and the low reading ability of many of her students, there’s no need for standard paper texts. Instead she relies on e-readers, iPads, desktop PCs, Polycom video conferencing equipment for virtual field trips, live streaming for science demonstrations, and text-to-speech read-aloud software to teach English and science. Within the next ten years, public school classrooms across the country are going to look a lot more like Mercy’s classroom because the educational possibilities with these kinds of technologies are limitless. Have a question? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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