Sunday, 11 December 2011

I Am Glad

Olives - A Violent Romance has launched and I am glad. It launched, in that any self-published book 'launches', with a talk/reading/Q&A session at last night's TwingeDXB event, 'Praise for Prose', which took place at the Wild Peeta Open Space down at Dubai World Trade Centre. It was fun.

I had a couple of conversations at the event about my decision to self publish and what that meant to me after so many years chasing a 'conventional' publishing contract. Those conversations were perhaps a little more poignant in the light of the internal memo from publishers Hachette, leaked to 'Digital Book World'. The memo outlines Hachette's 'messaging' for why it remains relevant in a world increasingly dominated by e-books and populated by a new wave of self published authors.

I had seen mention of the memo a couple of days back, but read it in full this morning after a link was sent to me by writer pal (and self published author of the most excellent Diary of a Small Fish, which I recommend as an interesting, fun and enjoyable read, BTW) Peter Morin.

The DBW story is linked here. It's worth a read - as is the memo DBW gleefully reproduces in full. There's an interesting rebuttal of the memo by self publishing poster child Joe Konrath, if you have the patience to read it all. If not, I can sum it all up with this sound.

How does this link to the chats I was having? Well, I was explaining to people how at the end of the day I was actually very glad indeed I took the decision to self publish. I can't say I could have taken the decision sooner, because there was a road I had to travel to get here - and if I hadn't taken that road, I wouldn't be as well equipped as I am now.

But I am glad for a wide variety of reasons. First and foremost, I have the cover I want for my book, created by the designer I passionately wanted to represent my work. A publisher wouldn't have let me within a mile of the cover design. I got to control the 'look and feel' of the book, from the paper (I know, I know, I've become a Paper Bore) to the typography. I also own all the rights to my work and can assign them as I see fit - a publisher would have insisted on me assigning my rights en bloc to them. And I have been able to promote and represent my work as I see fit - not have the way my 'content' is 'packaged' dictated by a marketing department somewhere in London. Those include the rights to translated editions, especially Arabic, by the way.

I have had to invest thousands of hours into promotion, writing, planning and executing my own marketing campaign - which has barely started. I'll have to invest thousands more before I'm through. I've enjoyed every single one of them. I would have had to invest just as much as if I had signed with a publisher but suspect I'd have enjoyed myself a great deal less.

The Hachette memo leaves the most important part of nurturing a publishabl project to last:

We offer marketing and publicity expertise, presenting a book to the marketplace in exactly the right way, and ensuring that intelligence, creativity, and business acumen inform our strategy.

 In today's crowded publishing world, where literally tens of thousands of voices are clamouring for attention out there, publishers are finding their efforts at 'traditional' marketing are ever less effective - more onus is being put on the authors themselves to get blogging and Tweeting as well as meetin' an' greeting. It's a world where social networks, word of mouth and content are driving traffic and conversation that defines the success or failure of a project - big budget advertising campaigns aren't cutting it. Not that publishers ever launched those unless it was to support a book already proven to be so wildly successful you could argue the campaign was in any case a redundant move.

Looking over the Hachette memo, I can see they offer me nothing at all I can't get for myself - and that with the confidence I gain from making my own decisions and knowing I am working with the best people out there in every case where I need partnerships.

And I am glad.

(The picture above is another odd milestone - seeing a 'real' price sticker on my book!)
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