Gordon Bonnet is a science teacher by day, novelist by night. He quickly learned that writing the book might have been the easy part, because the process of finding an agent, working with editors, and meeting publishers’ deadlines is a full time job in and of itself.
Self-publishing seemed like the obvious answer, but he soon discovered that it can be extremely difficult to make one manuscript stand out in a publishing environment where digital publishing capabilities have allowed anyone with a Word document to proclaim himself an author. Bonnet had to develop a whole team for marketing himself, and he was fortunately able to look to friends who were loosely connected to the end he result he wanted to accomplish.
“I had several friends who were in marketing, and they were able to help me see that a book is no different than any other product when you are trying to get it into the hands of customers—in this case, readers—and develop a loyal following. I also happened to know someone who was an editor, and even though he wasn’t editing fiction novels, he was able to give me crucial advice,” remarked Bonnet. Even Bonnet’s wife proved to be a valuable connection, because when it came time to design a cover for his self-published manuscript, he was fortunate enough to be married to a professional artist.
One key area of marketing his novel proved to be his online presence. “I’ve maintained a science blog for years, so I was already in the habit of keeping up with posts, responding to comments, keeping my blog eye-catching, and the like, so creating a second blog strictly dedicated to my writing was not a dramatic undertaking.” Bonnet also relied heavily on social networking sites such as Twitter to develop a following of readers and stay in touch with people who would be in the position to spread the word about his work.
One downside to self-publishing, even if the author chooses to publish strictly to e-readers, is that it requires a break from the writing itself. “I found myself having to abandon the writing that I love to do in order to bring to market a project I had already finished and was ready to stop thinking about so much, creatively, at least.” Bonnet admits that this is one of the many things that agents and editors in a traditional publishing model take on for their clients on a larger scale, giving the author more time for writing.
“I just love to write, whether I ever publish anything or not. The writing is more important to me than the publishing.” Having said that, Bonnet is excited to have his work available to the public. Bonnet considers himself a writer of subtle paranormal fiction that explores human reality, rather than the popularity of monsters in fiction that has been the trend in the last few years. Three of his works, Shadow Boxing, Behind the Frame, and Periphery, are available for e-reader from Barnes & Noble and will be available from Amazon.com within the week.
For many writers, that leap of faith is the hardest first step. Self-publishing and digital publishing may seem like such a massive undertaking, but new software is making the process even easier for writers interested in making their work more widely available. Alongside the sites that will provide the necessary formatting services on a fee-basis to make a manuscript available at an online retailer or through the writer’s own blog, new platforms have appeared on the market to meet the demand for e-book formatting of text. Push Pop Press enables authors to format vibrant e-books for iPad and Calibre lets the author select from other e-reader formats, such as MOBI for Kindle.
For Bonnet, finding the motivation required to make his manuscript available to scruitny across the Internet was easy. “If I put my work out there for e-readers and only fifty people choose to download it, that’s fifty more people than would have read it if I had not gone this route. No one will ever read it if it doesn’t leave my desk.”