Archives for posts with tag: publishing

A former boss and mentor of mine recently referred me to an article on self-publishing. It was written by someone who had been published before, using the traditional publishing routes and methods, and now was publishing his own books. The full post is here. It’s a fascinating read, especially so if you are thinking off putting stuff out there.

This post, however, is not so much an advert for self-publishing as it is a comment or two on how technology has changed how we write, and how we consume what’s been written.

Books are changing. They’re not books any more, much of the time at least. Sometimes they’re ebooks, existing on screen but not existing physically. Sometimes they’re printed on demand, one at a time, Sometimes they’re very short, like a pamphlet. Sometimes they’re simply a blog post, like this one.

Publishing something used to be this mammoth, self-contained, one-off project that ending up with something spitting out off the presses. Now we can publish something very short, very quickly, even charge for it too, and get almost instant feedback on what readers thought of it. Web 2.0 baby, what a wonderful thing.

This same technology has also changed the way we read, our reading behaviours. We have an unending wealth of information and diversion at our fingertips. We now skim read, and have a shorter attention span, so unless what we’re reading is a compelling page turner – digitally or physically – shorter is better.

So maybe this is a misleading post title. Maybe books have already changed.

 

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By some estimates there are about 2 million books published per year in the world. That’s an awful lot of books. By other estimates it also constitutes a very small percentage of the total number of books written. The publishing bottleneck is such that demand will only ever support the supply of a far smaller proportion of books than the total written.

For every 1,000 books written, perhaps 25 get taken on by a publisher, and perhaps 5 of those get published, and perhaps 1 of those becomes a best-seller. These are the kinds of odds you’re up against as a potential writer of published work. The kinds of odds I’m up against.

Of these 2 million books, maybe half a million are self-published. The writer has written the book, then used a self-publishing platform to typeset, lay out, proof read and publish the work herself or himself, so that the book can be available in both electronic and print-on-demand formats.

Unfortunately, by bypassing the traditional publishing industry, the self-publishing writers also have to market and promote the book themselves, and that’s the rub. Promoting takes time, more work and money. After all the effort of self-publishing, for the vast majority of self-publishers the numbers of books sold – and the consequent revenues accruing – are tiny.

So the publishing bottleneck, and the publishing conundrum, continues for every budding author.

 

When you decide to publish a book, and put it out there for the world to consume, critique or ignore┬ácompletely – either consciously or unwittingly – you have to decide what author’s name you’re going to use.

At first glance this might be an obvious choice, namely your own name. Then again, you might opt for a nom de plume. So it’s a decision between nom de plume or not de plume, you might say.

When it’s your own name, the not de plume option, there is the advantage of leveraging off and building on the reputation and social media equity you already have. Sounds obvious. But, there is a surprisingly long list of reasons why you might want to go down the nom de plume path. Here’s 9 I can think of off the top of my head:

  • you can distance yourself from your actual name
  • it allows you to forge a new identity that’s different from your ‘real’ one
  • it keeps you safer in the event of adverse reactions, mushrooming fame or notoriety
  • you can stay under the radar
  • your actual name may already be taken
  • your actual name might be not be easy on the eye, tongue or ear
  • your actual name might not be memorable
  • you can make something cool up
  • you can explicitly or esoterically doff your hat to someone you respect and want to acknowledge

Of course, if you go nom de plume then you do have to overcome the advantage of not de plume and build a following out of nothing, which is a lot of work.