At last week’s book release party for my new thriller “Biohack,” about 30 people — including several notable figures from the tech, marketing and media worlds — turned out for an event that doubled as a book party and a media salon discussion about self-publishing.
Over the next several weeks, I’ll be writing a series of articles about my return to book publishing. It’s a completely different world today than in 2005, when I published “Darknet” and needed an agent (Deirdre Mullane), a publishing house (John Wiley & Sons) and had to wait a full year to see it published.
As I said at the outset of the Facebook Live circle-in-the-round conversation, it reminded me of my last book release party in May 2005 — at the now-defunct Varnish Art Gallery in SoMa — but it also showed how dramatically the book publishing landscape has changed since “Darknet” came out.
Back then, after submitting my manuscript to the editors at John Wiley & Sons, I had no say about the title of the book, the book’s cover design, how it would be marketed or just about anything else. The business and marketing processes were opaque, the book contract assigned all intellectual rights to the publisher for something like 30 years and an author would make perhaps 7 percent of the book’s sales in royalties, with the lion’s share going to the publishing house and 15 percent of my cut to my agent.
Well, how times have changed.
Independent authors, also called self-published authors, now make up an increasing percentage of the book publishing landscape. Look at any of the major book categories on Amazon — romance, science fiction, thrillers and suspense, mysteries — and indie authors dominate many of the top 20 lists. It’s still a struggle to get indie books into bookstores, but even that is no longer the challenge it once was thanks to the rise of services like Ingram Spark.
With moderator Tom Foremski tossing out questions about the creative, business and marketing facets of self-publishing, some of the eight published authors in the room chimed in as we discussed how different writers and authors were picking up the tools available online and handling nearly every aspect of the publishing process without the need professionals in expensive midtown Manhattan offices to do it for us. And from a financial standpoint, a 70 percent royalty for your sales on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing, plus a cut of revenue through Kindle Unlimited, sure beats 7 percent.
Some of the tools and resources we touched on in the session:
- Scrivener, an inexpensive software tool that helps authors organize their manuscript and that guides them through the creative process
- BookFunnel, an inexpensive service that lets you share copies of your manuscript before publication with a launch team you should be putting together
- Gooodreads is a great place to find beta readers who’ll read early versions of your completed manuscript for free
- Book formatting tools, including Vellum and Polgarus Studio, an Australian outfit I use that makes it impossible to tell your book apart from tiles put out by the Big Five publishing houses
- A host of podcasts to guide new authors through the process, including Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula and Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn podcast
- Groups where you can pose questions to other authors, including the Alliance of Independent Authors and dozens of Facebook groups
At the new mini-site I just launched, you can read about the book, see early testimonials, read the first four chapters for free or download a free full-color 60-page freebie that comes with the book, the Hacked Celebrity Files.
- 8 tips on how to manage a book launch team (part 1 in this series)
- Jane Friedman on how to publish an ebook
- Epic guide to self-publishing resources