Thursday, August 25, 2011

Let’s Get Digital, a Review

The publishing industry is undergoing a rapid transformation. Hardback sales have collapsed. Sales of trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks are down. In July last year, sales of ebooks on Amazon outnumbered sales of hardback books for the first time. In February this year, ebook sales comprised 29.5% of the market, more than paperbacks.

The Borders bookstore has closed its doors. Amazon has begun publishing its own titles. The Kindle is the top-selling item in Amazon’s history. Authors are expected to market their own books. And self-publishing no longer carries the stigma it once had when it was considered solely a vanity press.

In this changing landscape, prospective authors have a new option available to them. Instead of turning with a manuscript to a literary agent to search for a publisher, authors can publish their own books. According to self-publishing advocate David Gaughran, if a new author has “the technical capability to operate an email account and download [his new] book, [he/she has] the capacity to learn what it takes to become a publisher.”

After years of writing novels and short stories, and after collecting hundreds of rejections slips, Gaughran decided to become a publisher himself. And he has decided to share his new-found knowledge with others.

Gaughran has self-published a guide to the digital revolution appropriately called Let’s Get Digital, which is subtitled: How to Self-Publish, And Why You Should. What credentials does Gaughran have to write this book? He lacks any experience in the publishing industry and he has not yet published his first novel. “Yet I can still publish professional-looking books like the one you’re reading right now,” he writes in the introduction. “The first thing you need to learn is: anybody can do this.”

The book starts out with an overview of the rapidly changing industry and then dives into the “nuts and bolts of digital self-publishing.” The book covers topics like finding an editor, formatting a book so that it will read well on both the Kindle and the Nook, and a wide range of marketing tips.

The book also includes the stories of 33 self-published authors who successfully published their writing entirely on their own.

Anyone can self-publish their book these days, Gaughran contends, and therefore one of the biggest “challenges we all face is getting our work noticed. Twitter helps, Facebook helps, blogging helps. Anything that can increase the chances of someone discovering you or your books helps.”

In order to self promote his book and his writing, David Gaughran has a very active blog and he is a frequent guest contributor on other blogs that deal with the changing world of publishing. He is a 33-year-old Irish writer living in Sweden who has also self-published two short books of stories. He is currently editing an epic historical adventure novel about the fight to liberate Argentina from the Spanish Empire which should be available in the coming months.

As I consider myself a prospective author, I am eagerly following Gaughran’s posts and learning everything there is about the self-publishing option.

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