Category: Self-publishing

Go Set A Watchman

go set a watchmanOne of the hardest things to do is to publish a book. Condensing all of one’s thoughts and feelings into pages and chapters is no easy feat, and yet those who start often can’t stop. For the procrastinators out there, there are plenty of excuses: “No one reads literary fiction anymore,” or “I can’t bear the thought of rejection,” or “I just don’t have the know-how to get a book published,”. Well those excuses are over. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, released 55 years after the acclaimed novel To Kill A Mockingbird, is a great example of why right now is the best time to publish your own book. The release of Go Set A Watchman confronts many of the fears and insecurities writers tend to have about their work.

What we can learn from Go Set A Watchman

Age: It’s never too late

You are never too old to publish a book. While some in the literary community seems to be fascinated with young authors, authors who have lived and experienced more of what life has had to throw at them have more experiences, regrets and memories to draw from. It’s never too late to start channelling your passions and create something substantial. Harper Lee released To Kill A Mockingbird when she was 31 years old and at 89 years old she has released Go Set A Watchman.

Inadequacy: Everyone has something meaningful to say

Mark Twain said, “Comparison is the death of joy.” As a writer do not be consumed with comparison as it leads to feelings of inadequacy. The quickest way to not write a book is to compare yourself to someone who has. If you find yourself asking the question: “Will anyone be able to relate to what I have to say?” the answer is yes. Don’t question your worth. You don’t have to live a grand lifestyle, or to have been swept off your feet in a whirlwind romance to write something meaningful. Use your surroundings, your family and your own experiences as inspiration. That kind of writing is always more believable and authentic than the “Tall, rich, dark stranger just changed my life” sort. Go Set A Watchman, like To Kill A Mockingbird, is set in Alabama where Lee was raised. Lee drew inspiration from her small town and the simple way of living there, yet her books are being bought in the hundreds of thousands all over the world. Some readers have never been to the States and yet they can empathise with the themes and character’s in Lee’s novel.

Market: People are still committed to a good (literary) story

Although it may appear that everyone is consumed with reality television and social media, many people are still willing to invest into a good book. Not only that but a literary work of fiction can storm the charts!

Go Set A Watchman in its combined print, electronic and audio formats has sold 1.1m copies in the US and Canada (pre-order and just one week of sales). In the UK, Go Set A Watchman halted E.L. James’ erotic best seller Grey‘s reign at the top of the book charts. According to The Bookseller,  Go Set A Watchman has sold 207,000 copies since it was released on the 14th of July (just 10 days ago, at the time of writing). Pretty encouraging stuff!

Not only that but the reviews pouring in on Amazon and GoodReads are very positive.

go set a watchman vs. grey

Rejection: not an issue today

A reasonable fear that many emerging authors have is that they might put all this work into a book and it may never get published. When Lee first started out, the landscape of the publishing industry was very different. Even as recently as 10 years ago, authors would submit their work to literary agents, who would reject 90%+ of work that came their way (this still happens today, find out more here), then those agents would pitch to editors at the big publishers, then those editors would pitch it to their bosses and finally, if you’re very lucky you would get a publishing deal. The circumstances around the manuscript for To Go Set A Watchman are unclear, but it seems that, for whatever reason, after Lee had finished writing it she didn’t feel ready to share it with her agent, editor or publisher let alone the world.

Thankfully, this is 2015. It has never been easier to self-publish and to do it to a really professional standard. No longer do authors have to languish for months or even years, waiting for replies from literary agencies or trade publishers. Go Set A Watchman is published by HarperCollins and is an international success but so is Still Alice by Lisa Genova and it was self-published. It spent over 40 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and has been translated into 25 different languages.

Access: It’s easy now

After Lee dropped out of law school and moved to New York, she really struggled. She took a job selling tickets for an airline and wrote when she could, although her time was limited. This is something that a lot of writers can relate to! However, she managed to use her contacts, namely famous composer Michael Martin Brown, to get her an agent and support her writing. Luckily, you don’t need celebrity pals to get your work published these days. Self-publishing has opened up the market for authors to get their work directly in the hands of their readers. Even if you have no industry contacts, you can still have a well-edited, beautifully designed, high quality book for sale all over the world and gathering reader reviews by worthing with professionals like us. If you want to find out more about self-publishing, our free guide to self-publishing is a great place to start.

Want to Know the Secrets to BESTSELLER SUCCESS?

“The motto at I Am Self-Publishing seemed to be 'we want to get this right for you' and they did just that.”
~ Jo Mach, editor of Finding My Way books


90% americans want to write a book

Everyone has ideas, everyone communicates. So with the rise and accessibility of self-publishing, is it a surprise that 90% of Americans want to write a book? The stat was revealed at one of the biggest international publishing conferences, Book Expo America, a few weeks ago by Jane McGonigal, author and game designer. When this was live tweeted reactions were mixed from positive to those who thought the market was flooded already. So how have we reached the point when so many people want to write a book.

The rise of self-publishing

As recently as 10 years ago, only the few managed to become published authors. First, of course, they had to write a good manuscript. Then they had to get an agent (which was not easy as agents still report getting hundreds of manuscripts a week and they can only take on a fraction). Then the agent had to pitch that work to an editor. Then an editor had to pitch the title to her editorial department. Then, if they all liked it enough, they would pitch it to the sales, marketing and finance departments. Then, bingo, you were published. Only it was a long process and most authors didn’t make it all the way through.

Today, however sites like Amazon have made it incredibly easy for anyone with some text or pictures to put a book (of varying quality) together quickly. If you really don’t care about quality, you can get to market in a matter of minutes. However, the authors that do best are the ones that take the time to have their book edited and proofread, get a professional designer to work on the cover, ensure that the reader gets a smooth reading experience (no glitches or badly formatted pages). The authors that do this properly and carefully will inevitably rise to the top. Those that do not will fall silently into the deep pit of Amazon where they will wait a very long time for a single sale.

The rise of authorship – authors are taking over!

People are now writing more in their daily lives. Social media – particularly Facebook and Twitter – have given us a new generation of people who write and publish every single day, actually every single hour in some cases. We are getting used to sharing our thoughts with the world, however trivial, on a daily basis. So it’s not such a leap to think about publishing a whole book, when you may have already “published” thousands of words on social media.

A few years ago, Seed Magazine conducted a fascinating study into the increase of authorship over time. They looked at book authorship in the previous centuries (and today) along with social and digital media.

Since 1400, book authorship has grown nearly tenfold in each century. Currently, authorship, including books and new media, is growing nearly tenfold each year. That’s 100 times faster. Authors, once a select minority, will soon be a majority.”

write a book

This growth in authorship coincides with an even more staggering growth of online activity. The latest data shows that 211 million pieces of online content are created every minute, including 277,000 tweets on Twitter, 2,460,000 shares on Facebook and 4 million Google searches.

Whilst some feel overwhelmed by the amount of new content created each day, this is a really exciting statistic (yes, it’s OK to get excited by stats sometimes). Think of all the ideas, opinions, thoughts, philosophies and stories that used to be trapped in writers’ heads without an audience, now authors can self-publish with ease.

If you feel ready to make the leap from social media author to book/eBook author, then find out what you need to be thinking about in our free self-publishing guide.

Want to Know the Secrets to BESTSELLER SUCCESS?

“The motto at I Am Self-Publishing seemed to be 'we want to get this right for you' and they did just that.”
~ Jo Mach, editor of Finding My Way books


Kindle Cover Disasters – Don’t Be One

Kindle Cover DisastersThe Kindle Cover Disasters blog was recently picked up by the Guardian newspaper. God only knows how they found it, but it has caused quite a stir in the self-publishing world. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, you can visit the blog here: Kindle Cover Disasters. Basically, it is a collection of very bad kindle covers (that’s actually an understatement). They either totally fail to attract readers, use awful artwork, are incomprehensible at thumbnail size or are just simply incomprehensible.

Cover design matters. Think people don’t judge books by their cover? You’re wrong.

  • People browsing on Amazon and other retailers make decisions on whether to click or keep scrolling in seconds, if not split-seconds, so you need to fight harder than ever to get their attention and stick out over the competition (in a good way).
  • It’s not just the readers but also the merchadisers at the retailers that decide which titles to include in promotions – of course they don’t want to put the spotlight on a book or eBook that looks inferior, it would reflect badly on their brand.
  • If something looks really cheap, people won’t be prepared to pay very much for it.
  • A badly executed cover sends a message to the reader that your work is badly executed, and that you haven’t bothered to make an effort.
  • Your cover design is the cornerstone of your author brand and will be your visual message wherever you are promoting yourself. It should be used in your social media profiles, bookmarks, events posters, business cards, etc., so take time to get it right.

In our latest guest post for the wonderful Writers & Artists’ blog, which you can read here, we show you just how wrong some authors get it and teach you how to avoid those fatal errors of the Kindle Cover Disasters.

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