Thanks a Bundle…
The old adage “I suffered for my art” describes many poor or forgotten artists, poets, composers, etc but it seems even more pertinent in the digital age. It is mildly sad that we don’t cherish someone’s time or trade any more because the digital age allows us easy access with mass copying and easier distribution.
There is no doubt in my mind that the eBook revolution has empowered authors and writers to self-publish in their 10’s of thousands. It’s a liberating experience and cuts out all those “middle men/women” that want a cut for their work. We no longer need a long drawn out process to get our books “out there”… or do we?
Self-publishing is relatively easy now with the Internet but that’s only part of the process.
The down side is making it easy also makes the book sales market a very saturated and competitive place to trade. Consequently there is just a very small chance of breaking through the large Indie pack. So do we make money? Whilst most authors would say they write for the love of it, many would (when pushed) would also like to think that their effort can make them a living or at least compensate for the 1000’s of hours writing a fully fledged novel. That’s not an unreasonable dream I think.
Of course, no matter how good a book is, the reality is many Indie authors will struggle to break their books into the mainstream distribution channels such as Book-shops, newspapers, glossy mags or get a top position with Amazon, iBooks or Waterstones, etc. It’s sad but true!
Often we authors can feel frustrated and our hopes dashed by the burden, time and cost that is required to promote your book. Work that in “old school” would be done by the Publisher. There are quite a lot of online initiatives to help the growing number of Indie Authors, some are free, others charge and a few take commission on sales. There is no “one-size” fits all.
Speak to several Indie authors and they all have their favourite way of publishing or marketing. It’s a mine-field and a costly one at that requiring upfront costs, high risk and no guarantee of sales.I have seen authors giving away PDF versions, free kindle editions and just offering bundles to “raise awareness” of their work. Often authors are truly giving away their work for free or a pittance.
I am not sure it works most of the time for Indie Authors. The theory that Free means more sales later is hard to believe for most of us because there are just too many books available. Granted it is an age-old marketing ploy to offer “loss leaders” so it may work for a few. And it seems that this “free model + advertising revenue” has boomed since the Internet age. There seems to be a perception that all creative downloads are free. Well someone has to create that content, story, image, recipe, music, video, etc… and it can takes hours, days, months and years to achieve.
I don’t know what the answer is in terms of making a living from your craft (or break even point even) but no doubt we will succumb to it as normal. Will this almost impossible goal of commercial success stop us from being creative? Of course not. For as long as humans can create, dream and hope there will be an abundance of art and crafts to amaze us – it is what makes life interesting after all.