Thursday, June 13, 2013

UK Games Expo 2013 Seminar: Kindle Millionaire

One of the seminars at the UK Games Expo was a panel discussion on self-publishing a book called "A Kindle Millionaire--Self Publishing for Authors." Five different authors who have gone down the self-publishing route told attendees about their experience writing and getting published on their own.

Several talked about their frustration with the "traditional" publishing process, where a writer finds a literary agent who shops the book around to various publishers. Finding a good, well-connected agent is hard. Often people in the industry not only send standard rejection letters; some don't even bother to reply to submissions! These reactions prompted the authors to try out self publishing.

A first step is to make an important distinction. An author needs to know whether they are getting a work published just to show off to family and friends (more of a "vanity" project) or to provide a viable and valuable commercial product. Sometimes the author can't tell till the end of the writing process,. At that point, the author needs to make a decision about which route to take. Printing a few copies for friends and family is a lot simpler than preparing a work for one or another form of mass publication.

For a commercial product, authors must have professional editing. One lady on the panel said she was an English teacher by profession and thought she didn't need an editor. She can construct proper English sentences, after all! But then she realized that being an author and being an English teacher are two totally different things, requiring different (though related) skills. Another fellow who had written some historical fiction said he went through three types of edits requiring others with more expertise:
  1. A continuity/story edit--parts of the story didn't match up with other parts resulting in continuity errors that he did see after his own editing.
  2. Cultural edit--one story was set in Spain, so he had someone familiar with Spanish culture read through it to see if any errors would pop up. Another author chimed in that she needed an American editor for her book when it was published across The Pond because she used a lot of British expressions that wouldn't make sense to an American audience. The example she cited was when one of her male characters put on a "jumper" which in America is a dress. "Jumper" in Britain is a sweater.
  3. Proofreading edit--after all the other edits are done, a last pass by a professional proofreader is a must. 

How does one find affordable editors? Several recommendations were made. First, check with friends. One author has a co-worker who edits legal documents for a living. The co-worker did great, detailed proofreading for very little. A second option is to search the internet for editors, especially in your field or genre. Finally, books listing professional editors are available from stores or at libraries.

The second option (i.e. searching the internet) also applies for finding a printer or small publishing house that will make hard copies of a book for an author. Print on demand services are also available, allowing people to buy as many or as few copies of their book as they want. is a resource for self-printing, including pre-designed cover templates (though professionally designed covers are much more impressive). The books may just be to give to friends (which would dictate a short run), but several of the panel authors have been selling hard copies of their books from their homes.

Which leads into another point. With self-publishing, the author becomes something of a small business. In addition to finding a printer or processing the computer documents into an e-book format, the author also needs to do all the marketing for the book. Even with traditional publishers, authors are often involved in marketing the book but self-publishing is that much more work. Using social media like Facebook or Twitter is helpful, but it is only a part of a much larger campaign. Again, the author may be taking orders and shipping physical copies of their books to customers who don't want to read an e-book.

Speaking of e-books, the panel talked about processing a Word document into the ePub format (which most readers use) and the Amazon Kindle format. The first time is always the hardest, but the process is not too hard and comes quicker with practice. With a traditional publisher, they often dictate what software and formatting should be used, especially how the tabs, paragraphs, etc., are arranged.

The panel was very informative. Even though I am no where near publishing a book right now, it is inspiring to see that many different avenues are available and that others have met with success in non-traditional routes.

The authors on the panel (none of whom are millionaires) were the following:

No comments:

Post a Comment