So I was always very wary of publishing on Amazon. A lot of judgement seems to go around that authors that have to resort to self-publishing don’t have particularly good works in the first place. And given my naturally self-deprecating stance, I was inclined to agree that if my work hadn’t been noticed by agencies, then they probably not be noticed by anyone.
But that’s looking at the publishing of books from a very narrow view. Yes, agencies are very good at finding talent and predicting works that sell. But that is their main priority; to sell. The literary world has far more depth than that, and many authors that have incredible stories and experimental styles which don’t fit in with the commercial market.
Looking at it from this perspective, it’s suddenly clear that any tool which allows an author to connect with the world on their own terms and not through the filtered and saturated world of mainstream publishing is invaluable. So I decided to give Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s own self-publishing tool a go last year.
Much like WordPress.com is made to be user-friendly and inclusive, KDP is also very easy to use. It’s simple to create your own book campaign with an Amazon login, and you can have your very own ebook up on Amazon within the hour. Your guided through appropriately, and also offered to start ad-campaigns to get your work noticed.
I used this to first publish a novel I wrote when I was about 19 called Of the Lies I Keep Inside, about a king with a curse which makes him have to choose between killing his queen or peasant children from his kingdom. Sound a bit like ethical fantasy bullshit? It was. But just like all my other tried and failed pieces, this piece shows a particular stage in my writing development, and though the plot and writing aren’t exactly award-winning, some parts are still readable. It got a small response having been published – I think I’ve sold less than twenty real copies. But, coming from a place where I had no way to connect and share my work with the world, all of those “sales” felt incredible – someone was reading my book! Whether they liked it or not, they had downloaded it and tried to read it!
I tried this again with a novella about falling in love with a dream. Nope, still not much notice. But I enjoyed having a copy of my own ebook on my kindle.
My self-publishing endeavours could be considered a failure in financial terms – I think I’ve only made £5.63 from book sales… But I still consider it a success as it publishing my books independently gave me a sense of power and motivation.
There’s the all too famous example of the 50 Shades of Grey series originating from the self-publishing world. Indeed, it is possible to have incredible success using this method, but this is very rare. For the majority of us, our works are only likely to be noticed by a few adept and random searchers. But that is still a success in my eyes – self-publishing meant I could share my work with the world, no matter how small. For me, that is what writing is all about.
If you feel like checking out my self-published attempts (this is not a marketing post, I swear!) please check out the links below.