Tuesday, 5 July 2011

You can't polish a turd - but you can digitise it!

Ok, so you've finished your magnum opus and sit back smugly as the word count shows a monumental effort of literary genius. Then the thought arises, 'When this is out there in eBook land, how can my potential readers find it?' This is the topic of my ramblings today.
Unfortunately, as it is now so simple for any writer to encode and publish their work electronically and make it available for the world to download it also means that there will be a landslide of uploads to Amazon, iBook and others that will swamp the market. A veritable tsunami of books will make it very difficult to shine above the competition. There will, of course be some very good writing but, alas, there will also be a great deal of average, below average and downright rubbish. This will make the individual author a very small voice in a digital cacophony of those attempting to draw attention to themselves and their work. So how is it possible to rise above the noise floor of available eBooks and make a name for the author concerned?

There are a few options available.

Let us presume that the author has made their work available on line through their own efforts and has not secured a publishing deal with an established, conventional publisher who may or may not distribute hard copy as well as soft.

Firstly, the power of viral distribution. John Locke is a marvellous example of the unpredictable world of social networking. He promoted himself and struck a chord with a great many people and sold over a million eBooks. This is of course possible but hardly typical nor even that probable bearing in mind that every author will be attempting to do the same. But, however, do not discount this method as it should be followed irrespective of whatever additional course of promotion and distribution is used.

Second, an established online distribution package such as Lulu.com. You will pay for this and again will be competing with a great many authors who have taken the same route. Will work for some but not all.

Thirdly, a combined approach through a small digital press. One outfit can bear the promotion and marketing costs for a small band of authors, a collective of common ground, possibly by genre, demographic or even geography. The cost to the individual authors will be tiny compared to running their own individual campaigns. It is early days to comment on this method but it seems the most viable option, to me anyway. The press could, by cherry picking the right authors, create a brand aligned with excellence and attract readers by creating a reputation at screening the content.

I have read a few articles regarding those who have made the big time through self publishing online and on the whole there have been negative connotations to these. It seems that the literary reviewers are finding it difficult to accept that it should be the reading population that decides what is popular not a combination of publishers and reviewers. Again, John Locke was slammed by reviewers in the UK broadsheets but over a million downloads would say otherwise.

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