From Pitch to Self Publication

From Pitch to Self Publication

an article by Adam Dickson

Self-publishing is big business. Unfortunately, many myths have sprung up about it in the last few years. The success of indie authors like John Locke and Amanda Hocking has lead to the belief that a similar success is available to everyone: you simply upload a book to Amazon and wait for the royalty cheques to arrive. But with over 32-million books available on Amazon, competition is overwhelming, to say the least. My first novel, The Butterfly Collector, was launched on Amazon in December 2012, following multiple rejections from agents and publishers. I followed this with my second novel, Drowning by Numbers, in 2013. Sales were slow, but the reviews were promising. I felt like the parent of a precocious child, scanning a school report: I loved my creations with a passion and wanted others to love them, too. But one question consumed my waking hours: How can I sell more books?

Read on

There are many ways to improve the chances of a book’s success. One of them is to get lots of 5-star reviews on Amazon; another is to buy advertising space on the most popular online platforms, a method that many authors can’t afford. But there are no tried and tested methods that guarantee a book will sell in huge quantities. Authors who achieve such success are usually as surprised as everyone else at their sudden good fortune. In the end, it’s down to word-of-mouth. The good old book-buying public decide which is the next bestseller, and no amount of self-promotion can change that fact.

Advances in technology have made it easier to self publish. It is now possible to produce a book that is every bit as good as one you might find in a high street bookstore. Online resources like CreateSpace and Lightning Source offer good quality and a formidable distribution network post-production. But you, the author, have to do all the preparatory work - editing, proofreading, cover design, formatting; and finally, the most time-consuming job of all - marketing! Today’s author has to be an accomplished salesman, learning the gentle art of persuasion when pitching his books.

Is there a stigma to being self-published? In spite of arguments to the contrary, I would say, yes, there is. Critics claim that the tide of self-published work lowers standards and threatens to devalue the industry as a whole. Traditional publishers have always been the gatekeepers, they say, preventing sub-standard work from gaining a foothold.

Self-publishing has fought hard to free itself from these accusations but the slur remains. But self-publishing does have one major advantage going for it (from an author’s point of view). The average reader cannot tell if a book has been self-published or traditionally published - and cares even less. All that matters is the story, the characters, the plot - oh, and the price! Of course, if the author has been negligent and filled his work with typos, grammatical errors and continuity lapses, then it’s unlikely the reader will ever consider one of his books again. But if the author takes a professional attitude and a pride in his work, he has every chance of succeeding.

Adam Dickson

This article is part of the Bournemouth BookTalk Newsletter