Self publishing used to be the Cinderella of the book industry. Critics looked down their noses at self-published books and assumed self publishing (or “vanity publishing,” as it was snootily called) was the desperate last resort of writers who’d failed to find a mainstream publisher for their work.
But how things have changed. It recently emerged that US author Amanda Hocking makes more than £1 million a year from her self-published books. Readers, it seems, can’t get enough of her paranormal fiction and she’s selling more than 100,000 e-books a month.
On this side of the Atlantic, the latest success story is Kerry Wilkinson, a Lancashire sports journalist who’s sold more than 250,000 copies of his crime thrillers. Instead of hawking his first novel, Locked In, round the nation’s publishing houses, he decided to self publish it as an e-book - at 98p a copy. Even though he didn’t have an agent or publicist to help him, he soon realised he was on to a winner. Locked In and its two follow-ups, Vigilante and The Woman in Black, sold so well that he was declared the bestselling e-book author at Amazon’s UK Kindle store for the last quarter of 2011.
But despite sales that many better-known writers would give their eye teeth for, Kerry still sounds delightfully down-to-earth. “I’ve only ever tried to do my own thing,” he told the Daily Telegraph last week. “I wrote a book I thought I would like and enjoyed doing it enough to write follow-ups. I had no expectations for it and so this has all been terrific.”
Now other writers are fast getting in on the act. Not only that, I’ve met several authors recently who are self publishing out of print titles. Actually, I reckon I’m missing a trick. I’m definitely going to look at self publishing my first two novels, Hard Copy and Moving On (above), very soon. Watch this space.
PS. When I switched on Radio 4 soon after 7am this morning I expected the news to be full of the NHS reforms, Syria and Greece. But instead, Whitney Houston's gorgeous I Will Always Love You was playing. It seemed slightly odd - and then I realised it could only mean one thing. Such sad, sad news.