Friday, June 25, 2010

Self-Published Authors--The New Millennia

If you follow publishing news, as most authors do, you may be surprised to find a host of new authors emerging via e-book. Not only are they emerging, but many are reaching success levels they never dreamed possible. Unable to find an agent willing to take them on, or a publisher willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, authors are reaching out to e-book self-publishing and readers are responding.

Competition in the e-book reader market has been heated for the past several months. Prices are dropping, making e-readers more readily available to voracious readers. Smashwords is making it easy for authors wishing to self-publish to get their work into the market in a variety of forms easily downloadable on most e-readers.

Having just uploaded my first book on Amazon’s Kindle, I have to admit the process is actually quite simple. I hope to have my second book, Sacred Secrets, uploaded and available for sale within the next week. And now, knowing how easy it is, perhaps I can pull out all the other novels I’ve shelved over the years, polish them and see where they go. Although authors need to make a living, I think our first and basic need is an audience. We want to share our stories, our thoughts, our words. I never felt I needed an agent or publisher to validate my work. I needed readers. When The Gifts first came out I received hundreds of emails from people I had never met telling me how much they loved the book. That of course wouldn’t pay my bills, but it gave me much more than that. It gave me that validation that I had written a good story. An enjoyable story, and one people wanted to read.

So what’s driving the self-publishing frenzy for readers? Plain and simple it’s price. Readers want to read, and their favorite authors can only produce so many books a year. Trying a new author is risky. You may not like them. The first page may be wonderful, but the author didn’t carry that wonderful plot and wonderful story all the way to the end of the book. In making a choice to try a new author price becomes one of the major decision factors in making a purchase. At prices as low as $.99, a reader can take a chance on a new author. In fact, they can take a chance on five to ten new authors for the same price they would pay for one paperback in the bookstore. Self-published authors can afford to sell for less. They don’t have the overhead expenses of agents, publishers and bookstore fees. And with e-books they don’t have the added expenses of personal appearances for signings.

Is this a good thing? Search the web on self-publishing e-books, and it appears to be. Publishing houses are changing. Bookstores are changing. Self-publishing is the new market, and one that seems to be thriving and prosperous.

What does it mean for the future of books? For many readers like myself, I will always have my favorite authors and I collect their books. Paperbacks are still a source of major sales for the book industry. I don’t believe that will change in the near future.

What does it mean for authors? A whole new world. A way to reach more readers. And do it faster. Publishing a book can take anywhere from three months to two years from date of acceptance to actual print. With e-book uploads you can be up and running in 48 hours.

Are the books as good? Having read several self-published books I have to say some of them were as good, or better than a few New York Best Sellers I’ve read. Some were not. Self-published authors wishing to succeed will have to go the extra mile to make sure their books are properly edited, formatted and attractive. But first and foremost they will have to start with the same thing every published authors starts with—a good story.

The good news, at least in my humble opinion, is readers are the real winners in the self-publishing world. They get a chance for an affordable price to use their imagination to travel to distant places, fall in love, save the world, fight crime and enjoy a good book.

If you’re looking for a new mystery novel, like a touch of paranormal, and a little romance, I hope you’ll give the Jacody Ives Mysteries a try. Sacred Secrets is a prequel to The Gifts, and I hope to finalize the series with two more novels in the near future.

Linda S. Prather, Author
The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery
Sacred Secrets, A Jacody Ives Mystery

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