AUDIENCE QUESTION: Just the terminology you’ve used – ‘independent’ – do you mean independent as in indie publishers or do you mean people doing it themselves? DAVID WAKE: You need definitions, don’t you, here. A traditional publisher is the big five, it’s Gollancz, Penguin, etc, etc… Small presses are people like Tindall Street Press, they’re cottage industries ANDREW SPARKE: Or even smaller, APS Books? DAVID: Well, I would say you’re a mix of two different types. Okay, then we have Independent publishers which is self-publishing, And vanity press.
And we’re desperately trying to pull those two things apart. Vanity press has such a nasty connotation to it. AUDIENCE: Can I just say, I think you’ve got it spot on with ‘punk’ because what you’ve got is an artist who just wants to get his work out there. And you’ve got a commercial imperative. Now, big publishers, their priorities are that commercial imperative rather than those artists, shall we say, who spent two years producing a piece of work, and they just want people to read it. They just want people to see it. And they are less concerned… I mean, obviously, it’d be nice if you could do it for a living like punk bands wouldn’t mind getting a few quid for a gig, but I think that’s the real difference. And I think that’s what we see across a number of platforms: broadcasting, traditional publishing, the blogs social media. They’re beginning to really challenge those established media companies and publishers, and that is such a positive thing. Because you’re getting people to see something that previously the gatekeepers would stop.
ANDY CONWAY: Exactly, and we talk in the book about making a living and that notion, and I appreciate that people come to it for many different reasons and for some people it’s just ‘I want to get my work out there.’ I was really really surprised when I started on this journey myself that I started to get reviews from people I don’t know. In fact we talk about this in the book This lie that if you put your ebook out all your reviews will be from your friends and family. It’s just such a lie because none of your friends or family will ever buy your book! I’ve discovered this. It’s the cruelest lie of all. But what I was shocked about was I started to get reviews from complete strangers and from complete strangers in America and in France and around the world. and I’ve got for free, this global marketing platform. And it’s just me in my loft pressing a few buttons to publish my books. AUDIENCE: It’s difficult to put a price on it.
And that can be a real motivator to actually let you carry on. DAVID: I’ve had exactly that experience. After years of going to SF conventions and trying to get editors to read your book and they say they’ll take the book and they take the book and they spend two years before they tell you they’ve lost it. and I independently published a book Sold one at a convention and at the next convention I went to, I was in the registration line And this bloke who I didn’t know bounced up to me and said, ‘I read your book. Brilliant!’ and ran off. That’s validation. Almost instantaneously. I went and found him and had my photograph taken with him. My first fan! AUDIENCE: What made the stranger buy your book? ANDY: I think what’s happened is Amazon has put in place an infrastructure for selling books that are far superior to the traditional publishers. You go to the traditional publishers’ websites. They’re not user friendly and they are about pushing books in front of you that they want you to buy.
Amazon has the exact opposite philosophy. Their philosophy is what they will put in front of you is what they think is the book you will most likely buy based on their algorithms reading all of the books you’ve previously bought, books shown interest in pages you’ve looked at, irrespective of publisher, irrespective of price. So that’s what’s selling my books, and that’s what’s putting my books in front of people who probably will like my kind of writing. DAVID: That there is a belief that ebooks created this independent publishing phenomenon And it’s not true. The two things happened at more or less the same time. What happened was Amazon made it a level playing field and gave us a bookshop in which we could all put our books on the shelf and that is what changed it.
ANDREW: Actually that’s true, isn’t it? I mean my first book was only a traditional print run because I had a printer I knew would do it at a reasonable price and I put it on Amazon. And you’re right The Kindle eBook and indeed then much more recently Print On Demand are the steps that have followed to broaden what you can do. DAVID: Yeah, I think the e-book made it free to produce. I think that’s probably it made it so much easier to put your book out but it was the creation of the marketplace.
ANDY: The idea behind the book is that I think half of it as we say is the rant about the publishing world at the moment and against traditional publishers using vanity publishing imprints to get your money. But the other half is that very practical step-by-step guide of: here are the buttons I need to press to turn my novel in its Microsoft Word format (if that’s what you use) into an e-book, into a paperback. ANDREW: You’ve got quite a lot of detail in there, as well, It wouldn’t have occurred to me that there was stuff in there that I needed to learn.
But I have., ANDY: And you’ve written a book on indie publishing. op. Oh. Yeah. Oh, yeah sure much much sketchy ANDREW: I have. Much sketchier. It’s a much smaller book. ANDY: As practical How To book we’re hoping it’s going to be very useful to a lot of people. ANDREW: What do you think the biggest selling point of the book is? DAVID: The rant. [Laughter] It is a book of two halves. So yes, there is a lot of argument and reasoning as to why you should do it, and anecdotes about how things have changed and so forth. And then there’s the practical ‘Follow these steps, you will have an e-book.
Follow these steps, there’s your paperback. ANDY: There’s another thing in there as well. You’ve just reminded me. One of our other people who’ve read the book already, and commented on it, said what she really really likes about it is that there’s a lot of our personal experience in there, and it’s the kind of thing she thought would not sell the book to her at first, but actually the more it went on, the more she thought actually it’s kind of very, very friendly, and very practical. ANDREW: It’s got real advice for real situations. The sort of things you actually have to deal with. It’s not hypothetical or theoretical, in that sense. DAVID: Well, we’ve hit a number of snags in the process. We’ve written them down so other people won’t make those mistakes. That’s the aim. ANDY: And it’s our experience of publishing 40 books between us. We counted them and there’s about 40 titles between the two of us.
ANDREW: Can we talk about what channels for publishing, because again, the range of options seem to increase all the time. When we started with books we were saying the bulk of the market is Kindle and the alternative for other platforms was Smashwords, and there are a few issues I’ve experienced with trying to get books onto Smashwords. But there’s a new player on the block, Draft2Digital. Do you want to comment on them? It’s an interesting situation and it changes almost on a monthly basis going back and forth between what you should do Amazon is the biggest player. Absolutely and everybody should have their books on Amazon And that’s a quote from Mark Coker, Head of Smashwords. who has a lot of nasty things to say about Amazon, but at least admits that. Your choice then is how you do what we call ‘going wide’.
And going beyond Amazon. Amazon’s the biggest book store in the world but there are many others as well. Apple have moved into this market, Barnes & Noble and lots of others and how do you feed your books through to those? Now there are two aggregators that will do this for you. ANDREW: Explain the word aggregators for a minute. ANDY: Well, if you go to either Smashwords or Draft2Digital You can just upload your single manuscript, it will convert it into an e-book edition and then it will automatically send it out to Apple, Barnes & Noble, and a host of others.
It’ll even do it for Kindle as well. its a nice convenient way of having put out your Amazon edition, you can then just deal with all the others in one stroke. Now Amazon also have a kind of exclusivity deal as well where you can sign up to their deal That’s Kindle Select. Then you have to take your books off all the others And you can kind of weigh up the pros and cons of doing that. It means you’re not wide. It means you’re exclusive to Amazon. And I’ve gone back and forth with this because I think you sign up for three months with any one of your books to do this.
There are advantages to it and some people say go all-in with Amazon. You’ll just make more money A lot more coin on it. Others say no. what you’re doing is kind of sacrificing a lot of future audience by going exclusively with Amazon. DAVID: And also some people object to it ethically. There shouldn’t be just one person selling books. ANDY: Yeah, I don’t object to it because it’s a business decision. ANDREW: What’s your personal experience? I hardly did anything with Smashwords and I found them so bloody difficult to upload my books to. But when Draft2Digital arrived I wasn’t even sure I would use them, but I thought I’d try them, discovered that, like Kindle, they were so easy to use, and I’ve only had my books on Draft2digital for what? Three months, and they’re already a nice little stream. Nothing like the volumes on Kindle, but it’s coming in in a way that it never did with Smashwords. It’s so easy to use. A few minutes to upload a book. ANDY: It’s a very clean environment and the conversion process is absolutely beautiful.
It’s so simple. It just takes your Word document, you upload it and it just turns it into an e-book and turns all your chapter headings into a searchable index And it’s fantastic..
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