Great change is occurring in the book publishing industry. Technology has allowed writers to publish their work cheaply and easily as an ebook and they no longer have to rely on traditional publishers or printed books.
I’m glad we are now called indie authors or indie publishers (indie being short for independent) rather than self-publishers (although this is still used) or that dreadful term, vanity publishing. It made out that anyone who self-published had an inflated view of their work and that if it was good enough, it would find a commercial publisher.
I don’t think this is true at all. My experience with literary agents is that they have to be “passionate” (to use one of their favourite words) about a work to take it on. A manuscript can be excellent but finding an agent that is passionate enough is the hard part. One agent nearly took me and my novel “A Weaver’s Web” on: “You are clearly a talented writer but, after much consideration …” Another compared my book to John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, but still couldn’t take me on.
In today’s market, agents seem to be taking on fewer and fewer new authors, especially of fiction. A contact who does reviews suggests that with traditional publishing, it was a 1 in 10,000 chance of getting “noticed and read” and says it’s now 2 in 10,000 with ebooks! Maybe this is a slight exaggeration, but it’s probably not drastically wrong.
There are so many ebooks out there. My publisher said there are 80,000 new ebooks a month for the public market. That’s a lot of competition, even if the quality does vary. The proliferation of freebies probably doesn’t make life easier either. I’ve read comments by authors at Amazon’s KDP that they get thousands of downloads during the free period. Then when the price comes back on, they get about one sale.
I don’t think there are any easy answers or magic solutions. Basically, I think you and your book/s have to become better known and that means joining book reading clubs such as Goodreads and Shelfari, as well as sites that promote authors and books such as Awesome Gang and Author Marketing Club, and asking reviewers for reviews. The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on probably help too, although not everyone here will be thinking in terms of what ebooks they want to read. It’s a long term process.
Non-fiction is probably slightly easier as an indie author than fiction. People probably search mainly on well known authors for fiction and by subject for non-fiction. I have two non-fiction ebooks coming up, “Through the Eyes of Thomas Pamphlett: Convict and Castaway”, and one on the history of daylight saving time around the world.
Meanwhile, I’m emailing a number of book reviewers asking for a review of my novel, “A Weaver’s Web”. There are hundreds of them. Some specialise in certain areas while others take on many or most genres including non-fiction. They are in high demand and often have a long waiting list and say they can only review a proportion of what they are sent. But it’s all good publicity as they add a review with cover image to their blogs as well as pasting a copy of the review to Amazon, Goodreads and often other sites.
I’m lucky writing is a hobby for me and would pursue it regardless of any monetary reward, although making a bit of pocket money is always nice. The old adage applies: don’t give up your day job.