Linda Funnell will be running DIY Digital: Reaching Your Readers with E-books and Print on Demand on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 November. Here she asks one of her guest speakers, Anna Maguire, about the trials and triumphs of digital publishing.
How quickly is the digital publishing landscape changing? Is it getting easier for DIY authors?
The landscape of digital publishing is changing in terms of the tools to publish ebooks and digitally printed books. There are numerous new players in the market and undoubtedly that is opening up many avenues and some competition for services.However, that means that it’s harder to wade your way through the numerous services and work out who to deal with and what you should learn to do yourself.
What are your three top tips for authors considering publishing digitally themselves?
1. This first one should be fairly obvious but it’s worth saying: read digitally! If you intend to publish an ebook then be aware of the reading experience. Download some reading apps onto your smart phone if you don’t have an iPad or eReader and read a recent release. If you’re printing a book then be clear on how publishers present their books.
2. Another one that seems obvious but sometimes is ignored: edit. Don’t do it yourself and don’t expect anyone who loves you to give you an honest opinion about your work. Editing is not just about picking up typographical errors; it’s about structure and flow and character development. A great editor will help you improve your work and should be valued as an imperative step in the process.
3. Start building your ‘author platform’ well before your book is published. It takes time to organically grow your network of people who will hopefully buy your book, or be willing to spread the word.
What are the biggest challenges in publishing an ebook?
I’m sure that different authors find different parts of the process challenging. However discoverability is still a big challenge for everyone – often even for the big publishers, although they have marketing budgets to bring their books to our attention. An independent author needs to work hard to have their work discovered in an online environment.
Which authors do you think have digitally self-published successfully themselves?
Obviously Hugh Howey with his novel Wool is a wonderful and inspiring example of what can happen when self-publishing. Another author is Johanna Baker Dowdell and her book Business and Baby on Board. When a few publishers knocked her back, she decided to crowdfund to raise the money to professionally self-publish her book. Through her crowdfunding process she came to the attention of my publisher, Editia, who produced and distributed the ebook.
I’ve also read and admire authors who self-published successfully including Dionne Lister, Chris Allen (now published by Momentum) and Elisabeth Storrs. There are many examples out there but the ones who insist on professionalism will always stand out.