In the last two years I’ve published two novels for young adults – What They Don’t Tell You About Love in the Movies and How Do You Say Gooseberry in French? I say ‘published’ but of course what I mean is ‘self-published’ or ‘indie-published’.
A note on forms of publishingI’m sure the majority of you reading this know the difference, but just in case, here it is:A traditionally published book is published by a publishing house, who pay the author a share of the proceeds of the sales of the book. They pay for all the costs of production, so all the author is putting in up-front is their time (lots and lots of it of it) plus the emotional stress of the whole submission process, of course. Although the publisher will do a certain amount of PR and marketing for the book, these days the author is expected to do a lot themselves. However, they had the advantage that their book will be easily available through bookshops.
An indie-published book is published by the author, who will receive most of the proceeds from sales of the book. A small royalty will go to whatever body produces and sells the book in e-book and paperback form. So theoretically, I could write a book, format the pages, take a picture for the cover and, hey presto, it cost me nothing but time so it’s all profit from now on. However, no one who thinks their book is worthwhile would do that. I want someone to have the same reading experience when they pick up my indie-published books as they would if they picked up a book from one of the big publishing houses. And for that, I need to invest money in having professionals help me create the best book I can. I need the services of an editor (yes, I am an editor myself, but it is absolutely necessary to have someone else do a thorough edit of your book), a cover designer (because I wouldn’t know where to start) and a proof-reader (no way is my book going anywhere with typos). If I keep the interior of the book very, very simple, I can format it myself and save the expense of a designer. After I’ve paid all these people, I will have to pay to have a stock of paperbacks printed unless I choose to go down the e-book only line. Personally, I think paperbacks are necessary because you need actual books people can handle when you do reader events.
You get the picture. Theoretically, the author earns less money per book from traditionally published books, but they have no upfront costs, so every penny earned is profit, and their books are easily available in more places, so more potential customers will happen to come across them.
For an indie-published book, on the other hand, there is a large upfront cost and, after the book is published, the marketing is harder because the availability of the book is restricted.
So I’ve decided to have a go at generating some of the costs of publishing my next book up-front by using Kickstarter. This is a site where people introduce their creative projects to the world in the hope of getting financial backing to enable them to complete their project. I have no idea if this will work for my book. It seemed to me that it was worth a try, because my previous two books are nowhere near breaking even yet. I’m interested to know if releasing the idea of the book into the world in this way will generate more interest than before, or different interest and also whether it is possible to generate sufficient interest to pay some or all of my up-front costs.
|Sourdough starter for yummy bread!
The way it works is that you have a project page (you can see mine here) which tells the potential supporter all about what you are planning to do and when you hope to do it, plus what the possible pitfalls will be. You offer a series of rewards with different financial values to supporters. Mine vary from £2 for some of my four-year-old sourdough starter to £50 for a deluxe package of books and other goodies. For £5 plus postage, you get a copy of the book when I publish it. That’s less than the paperback will cost on publication, so it’s worth supporting me now if you were planning to buy the book anyway.
When the campaign is over, if you’ve reached your target, your supporters are charged, you get the money (less a small commission), you complete your project and distribute your rewards. If you don’t reach the target, no one is charged and you don’t get the money. My Kickstarter project was easy to set up and I can see that checking how it’s doing is going to become addictive.
So here’s hoping my new book Gingerbread & Cupcake will pay for itself before I publish it.
Here’s the video I made (I know, but amateur is cute, isn’t it?)