Category Archives: Self publishing
Just as new indie authors benefit from the single-minded, entrepreneurial determination to make their books work no matter what obstacles they may encounter, they can also benefit from collaboration and compromise, based on the input from an experienced specialist publishing team around them.
Joel Ohman is a Florida-based tech entrepreneur. His debut novel, Meritropolis, self-published earlier this year, is already proving popular and has topped several of Amazon Kindle’s bestseller categories. We spoke to him about his writing, the publishing process, and how he’s managed to drum up such a buzz about the novel.
The Other Side of Loss isn’t your first book; No Ordinary Experience, an autobiography about your nightclub business was traditionally published. Why did you opt for the independent route this time around?
As a 66 year-old debut novelist I was finding it very difficult to be taken seriously by either literary agents or traditional publishers. I also discovered that one reason for this was that traditional publishers have become much more risk averse, and therefore rather unadventurous and predictably conventional. I had sufficient belief in my first novel and was lucky enough to be introduced to the future of books – independent publishing – by a literary agent who liked the premise of my book but could see that it might have trouble attracting the attention of a traditional publishing house. I was able to self-publish to a very high standard and I feel that most readers would not be able to discern my book from one produced by a major publishing house.
How different is the process of writing a novel as opposed to a biography? Did you find one easier than the other?
I found writing a novel much harder than my first non-fiction book, which was a ‘warts and all’ corporate biography about the early years of my international nightclub business. It was actually fun writing that book as it was a riotous story! Writing fiction takes a great deal of effort and isn’t at all easy. It is also riskier; you have to be prepared to invest in, and show, a lot more emotion.
What have been the biggest advantages of publishing independently? And what difficulties have you come across?
For someone who doesn’t know a huge amount about the publishing process, using a publishing services company who can help guide you through it all is a great way to go. Having had everything explained, I was led through the whole confusing publishing process by professionals who knew what they were doing and who knew the publishing business from top to bottom. This additional help gave me the confidence to see the project through, which I might not have been able to do if I was entirely alone; one thing I learned was that ‘independent publishing’ doesn’t have to mean doing it all by yourself.
While the process ran surprisingly smoothly, there were a number of challenges surrounding the technical aspects of book publishing, which I may not have been able to overcome without the help of the rest of the team working on the book. At one stage my eagle-eyed copyeditor spotted an issue with the ISBNs which could have been disastrous, and which would have gone entirely over my head if someone hadn’t pointed it out to me!
How important is collaboration with the likes of editors and cover designers for independent publishers? If you had to, do you think you could have done everything by yourself?
I think close collaboration between all parties – editor, copyeditor, publisher, cover designer, publicist, digital marketer – is vital for the coordinated success of any independently published book.
I’m hugely indebted to the designer for the really beautiful cover she created for The Other Side of Loss and I couldn’t have done any of the other things needed to produce a book of such high quality, nor generated its early success in book sales, without the help of other professionals.
Are you working on any more writing projects at the moment?
Yes, based on the early success of The Other Side of Loss I’ve started work on a sequel with the aim of having it finished by the end of 2015. I’m also looking at updating and republishing my first book No Ordinary Experience: The Juliana’s Story during the course of next year. The subject matter has become timely again on a wave of nostalgia for the great Rock ‘n’ Roll period of the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s.
If you were to release another book in the future, would you go straight for the self-publishing route or would you prefer to work with a traditional publisher?
I’d almost certainly work with exactly the same team with whom I worked on this book. They are all talented people of integrity and I’ve grown to like them. In business we have choices and the older I get the more I want to work with people I like!
Dan Gennoe is a London based writer and novelist. A former music journalist, he’s written cover features, interviews and reviews for Esquire, GQ, Arena, FHM, Q, Mojo, Red, Time Out, The Independent and The Mail On Sunday. He’s mixed with rappers and rockstars, ghosted the memoirs of a celebrity chef and lent his musical expertise to Amazon, Yahoo and Google. He now writes stories about lost souls and their need to be found; his début novel, All Neon Like Love, is out in early Spring next year.
Susan Hawthorne, director of an independent Australian book publisher, wrote an interesting article for Publishing Perspectives this week. TLDR: mega publishers are too driven by a desire for commercial success, resulting in a homogenisation of their output; independent publishers, on the other hand – more interested in artistic merit than the potential for commercial success – are likely to put out more original material. The result of such quality-driven publishing decisions is the cause of what Hawthorne wonderfully calls ‘cultural bibliodiversity’ within the book market.
The Amulet of Sleep is the opening book in the Iskìda of the Land of Nurak trilogy, a series of epic fantasy novels for YA readers. Already award-winning in Italy, Andrea Atzori’s home country, the books look set to join the booming market for genre fiction. Having found success after publishing traditionally in Italian, Atzori turned his sights internationally. He saw the UK’s ever-increasing appetite for magical fiction as the perfect fit for his venture into independent, foreign self-publishing. Available this month from Kobo, The Amulet of Sleep will not disappoint fantasy fans of all ages.
When you’re representing freelancing talent to publishers and corporates, you have to get used to the peaks and troughs that dot the publishing calendar. When we set up whitefox, we were raring to go 24/7, and some of the patterns that had been familiar to us when we worked in a large organisation started to frustrate us, peering in from the outside. In December, no one makes a decision in December that can’t be put off til January. August is both holiday-quiet for senior execs and crazy-busy for the teams assembling those all-important Christmas books. The London and Frankfurt bookfairs are distractions for entire organisations.
So August 2014 has been something of a revelation inside whitefox towers. We now enjoy a steady pulse of work, a rhythm and flow that is dictated not by companies but by individuals. In the world of indie writers, deadlines are self-determined. The pace of workflow is your own, month after month.
We like the new rhythm and hum of regular work with writers who are self-publishing. We like it a lot.
This week I was interested to catch up with a friend and ex-colleague who has spent the last few years in the USA. Once close and familiar with UK trade publishing, he is now very much on the outside looking in, immersed as he is in educational and corporate digital subscriptions on the other side of the Atlantic.
We discussed what had happened since he left. The mergers and acquisitions. The spectacular falls from commercial grace. The speed of disintermediation. The astounding statistics of the self-publishing industry. Amazon, of course…
‘So it’s actually happened, then? The “correction” we’d been discussing for years, which never seemed to quite materialise?’
Perhaps it finally has. So much has changed in the UK publishing industry in recent years that warnings of a coming tipping point are beginning to sound passé. What was that story about frogs and boiling water?