Say you work your tail off on a project close your heart for oh, ten years, and then a day arrives when you not only get to share it with fabulous friends at your high school reunion, but with a TV news station too. That’s what my day was like yesterday–absolutely, unequivocally unforgettable.
See the camera on the left side in this image? Beside it is Rod Stevens, a globe-trotting veteran photographer (plus military vet and total nice guy) on duty here for KGW-TV (Channel 8) in Portland, OR. He talked with me about my book, The God of Sno Cone Blue, in preparation for a story about my book and self-publishing that will air soon.
KGW Knows News
Congratulations to the NBC affiliate for seeing the value of this topic. It’s hard to understate, but I’ll put it like this: The digital age threatens to bring traditional publishing (think Viking Press and Simon & Schuster) to its knees. How? In a word, technology. While the old way of publishing (through gatekeepers with the means for printing) has been around some 500 years, the digital industry of self-publishing (still in its infancy) is already dominating the marketplace.
It’s difficult to get straight statistics, but most sources say that if self-published books aren’t outselling the traditionally published already, they will very soon. Personally, I’d bet that it’s already happened. A source called Bowker, which issues ISBN numbers, reported more self-published eBooks sold than traditionally-published hard copies–and that was a few years ago. Since then, the business of self-publishing has only increased exponentially.
What Does It Mean To Be Self-Published?
They’re here at left, yesterday, in our old Marshall High School library (fittingly) getting their copies signed by a clearly-giddy yours truly. I think they’d agree that the physical quality of the book–it’s cover feel, the paper and print–is as good if not better than traditionally-published paperbacks.
What sets my book and other self-published works apart is how they came into being: not by way of an agent (though I had one) or through a traditional house, but through an online, digital company. In my case, I published the paperback through CreateSpace, but there are others as well also known as print-on-demand, meaning you can order a copy online and they will literally print yours and have it delivered to your doorstep within days! Imagine how that is shaking up traditional publishing.
Notice I said paperback, not hard copy. That’s the way self-publishing in the digital age rolls–it’s fast and amenable to modern technology. And don’t forget eBooks, which are not only fast, but practically instant. I had help with the uploading because I’m not technically inclined, but now you can find The God of Sno Cone Blue at five eBook retailers. That’s five. Pretty amazing, huh?
Self-Publishing Does Have Its Drawbacks
As with anything, there are pluses and minuses. In the minus column: you have no one but yourself to rely on for marketing; CreateSpace makes it financially prohibitive for book stores to stock your wares; and you may end up getting lost in a sea of books for sale on Amazon. But the plus column is encouraging: authors take a bigger profit margin (in the case of eBooks, it’s nearly 70 percent!); the gatekeeper is gone and writers control their content; not to mention getting books to the actual reader is much quicker than the usual up to 18 months with traditional houses. Heck, a woman can have a baby nearly twice over in that time!
There are pluses and minuses for readers too, including more choices and competitive pricing, but also the frustration of weeding out poorer-quality books. My guess is that readers will get help with this in the coming years as more online reviewers emerge to comb through self-published works.
Thanks Channel 8
In closing, I’d like to thank KGW for seeing the news in this. And though I may not get much advance notice, I’ll be sure to let you know when the story will air (for those in Portland, OR) and offer a link after it does for anyone who’d like to see it. As to The God of Sno Cone Blue, it’s hard to predict where it will be in a year or two. As 5-star reviews continue coming in, I will hope it keeps climbing and gaining exposure. But with self-publishing, I think it’s a safe bet that it will continue setting records.
If you have questions about publishing, my book or my experience, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll do my best to be helpful!