Unfortunately for James Grea, who writes under the pseudonym Solomon Inkwell, the current market of young adult novels is saturated with vampires. Overrun with vampires, even, which doesn’t bode well for an author who has written a vibrant and thrilling novel about…vampires.
“I actually had an agent tell me how incredible my writing was, and that he would have snapped up my manuscript if I had queried him with it about four years ago. The publishing market is done with vampires, for now,” laments Grea, who is in the editing stage of the first book in a series for young adults that he will still publish traditionally, The Chronicles of Dead Anna: Haunting Thelma Thiblewhistle.
The publishing industry may have washed its hands of the undead, but as an author Grea knows that the teenaged audience is still eagerly sinking its teeth into all things bloodsuckers. So he turned to Amazon.com’s self-publishing imprint, CreateSpace, to bring the vampire book to market.
“They really are an amazing model. It really is very similar to the amount of effort it takes to publish a book traditionally. Just like other authors, I still have editors to discuss and revise with, a designer to create the overall look and feel of the text, and deadlines to meet on proofs.”
While Grea is bringing his title, Vickie Van Helsing, to print through the self-publishing imprint at his own cost, he is also working through various sites on digitally publishing the manuscript on e-readers.
“I worked with Book Baby years ago when they first appeared as CD Baby to produce some music, so I knew they were consummate professionals. For a very reasonable fee, they were able to convert Vickie to all of the necessary formats to sell it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iStore, and more.”
And how important is it to have a manuscript available in a wide variety of formats? According to Grea, it is the only thing that matters to an author in terms of overall sales.
“You can’t be the writer who only publishes for Kindle or for Nook. The readers won’t stand for that and you will lose your following while making a bad name for yourself. Being able to meet all of your readers, whether they are Kindle or Nook or Sony or Kobo fans, that’s the way to ensure that when someone tells a friend about this great new book, anyone can have access. Word of mouth is key and you lose that if you don’t reach all of the e-readers.”
According to Grea, self-publishing already has a stigma with most readers. The days of getting by with a cheaply constructed book with run-of-the-mill cover art are over. Readers want the overall experience of a book that they enjoy aesthetically, not just words on a page. While Grea incorporated appealing graphics and fonts into his manuscript, when he tried to format the text for digital publishing those extra features didn’t come through. He turned to the professionals to make the book, both printed and digital, a complete experience for the reader.
“The downside of all the availability of e-publishing means that anybody with a few words on a page in a document file can become a ‘published’ author, so those of us who have really made this our life’s work are fighting the label of ‘self-published author.’ The only way to maintain the respectability that will lead to devoted readers is to make sure I produce a book that is worthy of my readers’ time.”
Of self-publishing, Grea makes this recommendation. “Your self-published book can ultimately be your livelihood, or it can be your calling card to the business. If you know you want to publish a manuscript traditionally down the road, having the right self-published or e-published book and being able to produce those numbers of devoted readers for a potential agent can mean finding representation or not.”
This article is part of our Indy Author Initiative Program at Good e-Reader.