Kieran Murphy examines how self-publishing is changing the world of writing.
Self-publishing has always been around but was seen more of an indulgence rather than a legitimate path into the world of writing. The companies that printed them were even called “vanity presses”. However companies like Lulu and Amazon’s CreateSpace have changed the face of publishing forever.
While it’s not only the rise of e-readers and tablets that have given way to more self-published books becoming more popular, it’s the rise of Print on Demand, where your book is only printed if its ordered, that has resulted in an increase in writers getting involved. With an instant marketplace and minimal costs for a book, more and more writers are taking the plunge.
One such writer is Cork-based Catherine Ryan-Howard who runs a successful blog, Catherine Caffeinated (www.catherineryanhoward.com), on self-publishing (or self-printing as she prefers to call it). Catherine has published five separate non-fiction titles and has sold more than 18,000 books. Catherine’s most popular title is Mousetrapped, a book detailing her experiences of working in Disney World, Florida. Catherine had originally approached agents with this book and got close to being published, but after the final rejection she discovered Print on Demand and the rest is history.
The reason provided for her book, Mousetrapped, not being published via the traditional route was because the agent felt that there was no market for it, which was eventually proved wrong. This just goes to show how self-publishing can play to a niche audience. Whilst it may be difficult to walk into Waterstones and pick up books on paranormal erotica, all it takes is a quick search on Amazon and 99c to download.
Ebooks in general have given a rise to more self-published success stories. Amazon reports that ebooks now outsell physical books at a rate of 115 to 100. It’s reported that 130,000 tablets were sold in Ireland in 2011 and with everything from a computer to smartphone able to read ebooks, the audience is certainly there.
Many self-published writers do not stay self-published. Many just use it as a gateway to being signed and to reach a bigger audience. Catherine Ryan-Howard has stated that she still wants to be published. Another example is American author Cora Carmack who published her book, Losing It, for Kindle in 2012. Within four days it had sold 5,000 copies and within twelve it had sold 32,000 copies placing it in eighteenth position on the New York Times bestseller list. Since then she’s been signed to HarperCollins for a three-book deal.
Self-publishing is no longer the dirty word that it once used to be. People now view it as a legitimate way to get a leg up in the world of writing or even as a whole career on its own. While most self-published books only sell 100 to 150 copies in their lifetime, those writers with a quality book will be more successful than this. While no self-published book has been met with solid critical acclaim, many have become notorious in the media and society. Whether or not the readers or the critics view self-publishing as a legitimate form for the industry, it’s certainly making waves.