Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Self Publishing Report Part Two

As promised, part two of my report on the CBC self publishing event on 18th June 2013.

Gareth Howard - CEO of Authoright was a confident and engaging speaker. Originally a lawyer he wrote his first book and had it rejected despite good writing because the publishers thought it wasn't marketable enough.
Gareth disagreed and decided to self publish. This was in 2004 before ebooks existed but with the marketing campaign he ran his book became a bestseller and he was then signed by LAW agency.

He set up his own P.R company offering marketing services for authors and he works with self published and traditional authors.They also offer consultancy services for agents and publishers to help them adjust to the changes.

 Gareth was very positive about self publishing and believes that authors are now mobilising and becoming extremely savvy about the business. He said that lines were breaking down and this was leading to the democratisation of publishing.

He followed up with the idea that self publishing is becoming quicker and easier and the benefits of marketing that used to be offered by traditional publishers are no longer available for all authors. This is why many authors with publishing contracts are paying for their own marketing campaign.

He believes that debut authors need to think of their book as a start up business and that S/P authors are savvier than their counterparts in trad publishing. Gareth also thinks that  eventually the S/P system will work as an incubator for traditional publishing with authors proving the market is there for a book before being signed.

Authoright charge around £2000 for a marketing campaign and £400 for an original cover which he thought was excellent value.
He also warned authors to beware the sharks and do their research before using any company.

Two other company's that were recommended by Karen Inglis for authors were Silverwood Books and Matador

The final speaker was Emil Howard, the digital editor at Random House. He was also positive about self publishing, he thought it would provide more culture, more niches and more routes to publishing. However this huge explosion of books is still facing a finite number of readers.

He spoke a little about the role of trad publishers. The two pillars of a publishing company are -

1. Efficient purchasing services or getting stuff cheap! Paper, designs, even editors are all cheaper when bought in bulk.

2.Risk management - i.e the publisher takes all the risks and pays the author whether the book sells or not.

Emil said that it was interesting to see authors banding together to pay for services and to manage any risk. Also, by talking about putting quality stamps on S/P work, they were almost taking on the role of a publisher!

My favourite part of his talk was when he decided to take us back to the 19th century and related how expensive paper used to be because it was made from linen. This kept books out of the reach of most people, only the rich could afford them BUT when it was discovered that paper could be made from wood pulp it quite literally changed the world.

"Pulp" fiction was the result or "penny dreadfuls" as they were called over here and they made stories available to everyone. Much of it was trash but hidden away in there were diamonds, a little like the S/P market today.

Emil likened the disruption that occurred at this time to what is happening now - ebooks are changing the economy but he's not worried about the competition.

He thinks the changes will supply new literature, new niches and new genres and that's a good thing.

He finished by saying that publishers needed to demonstrate their value every day but he thinks that the different areas of publishing can all co exist. With regard to Random House he informed us that they offer their authors twitter workshops and help them build a blog platform and coming up in the future they will have author portals where they can check their sales and royalties in the same way as a S/P author.

Overall I found the event very useful, it has allowed me to consider self publishing with a little more knowledge and it gave me some idea of what to do if I decide to make the leap.

I'm not quite there yet however but who knows what the future holds?

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