A Brave New World?

I have been reading a lot recently about self publishing, self marketing, the Kindle top sellers list and all the other stuff that goes with the brave new world of publishing your novel online. Not because I have written a novel I want to publish, but because I like reading about writers and their lives.

It seems that there is a whole community of self published novelists which has arisen from the world of e publishing. These hard working pioneers, are not only writing their novels, but they have developed clever strategies and are amazing business people, and some of them are willing to share their ideas and marketing tactics.  I wondered why I often saw similar groupings of recommended books when I viewed the Kindle store, sometimes unrelated in genre. These novelists seem to be supporting each other, helping promote each other, and some of them don’t even sleep. They need to be up at 4.00am just in case they miss their book hitting the top ten, on Amazon Kindle, or Waterstone’s bestselling eBook list. You get the picture. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? Well, it does to me.

Writers supporting each other, lots of choice for readers, samples available for free; without having to battle the daily newspaper buyers to read the back covers. Whichever end of the market you are at, what could be more wonderful? For the bibliophiles among us, it’s like being let loose in Charlie’s Chocolate factory, without having to find the golden ticket. This is all true, but like the emperors new clothes, things are not always as they seem..

Until I received a Kindle, as a lovely surprise birthday gift last year, I had no idea that there were so many self published books out there. Almost 12 months later the number has at least doubled. I know because of the recommendations, the daily deals and monthly deals. But who buys a book from an unknown author without reading the reviews? Not a problem, there are hundreds of reviews, and you begin to wonder at these terrific bestselling authors that you have never heard of. They come from nowhere, like mushrooms, they appear in the grass overnight, fully formed and liberally scattered, with no roots.

There was I, gaily filling my virtual book shelf, seduced by hundreds of 5 star reviews, promising the next Alice Hoffman or Iain Banks: and all for a pittance. After all, in New Zealand, where new books require mortgages, buying a new novel for the price of a decent coffee, or less, sounds too good to be true. After sampling my bargains, in most cases I wish I’d gone for the dry cappuccino. As throwaway as a couple of dollars can seem, it does all add up, and it can add up to a book you desperately want to own but cannot afford. So I began to be more selective. I still want to give new authors a chance, but now I read the 1 star reviews first, sadly I have found on the whole that these tend to be far more accurate. If the review passes the 1 star test, then I will take devote some precious reading time to the sample. No longer do I buy with abandon every daily deal that comes my way.

Self-publishing and e Books are indeed, brave new worlds; there are still some very nice deals to be had if you take the time to look more carefully. But don’t give up your daily coffee allowance, in the hope of getting the new bestseller on the day of its release for a dollar. On the bright side, there are some incredible marketeers out there, whom I would be snapping up if I had a product I wanted to promote!