Wednesday, April 11, 2012

But where are the self-pubbed books?

For Easter, we went to a scrumptious Easter brunch hosted by my cousins, who live in a gorgeous old Victorian in San Francisco. Their house is so nice that you just ask for a napkin upon entering it to catch your drool. And they cook fabulously, too. They're gourmets with a trunk full of certificates from various international cooking schools. Accordingly, for brunch we had ham with four kinds of chutney, scalloped potatos with sage and garlic, and grilled asparagus with olive oil and preserved lemon. For dessert we had a four layer toasted coconut cake and homemade vanilla bean ice cream, and of course the vanilla beans were from Fiji.

Mein Gott.

But I digress. Before brunch was called (not, alas, by a butler but you never know--their house has an old servant's staircase in addition to the main one), we discussed publishing today. One of the topics was, naturally, self-publishing.

I don't know how to find a self-pubbed book -- and none are biting me in the arse. There, I've said it. What I mean is, I'm not being marketed to. I have zero clue where to find self-pubbed books in the genre I want to read. You know where I find new books and authors that I want to read? Amazon's recommends. Goodreads. Social networking. Magazine book reviews. And none of those places highlight self-pubbed books. (Amazon does stick self-pubbed books in the "recommended" list, but in my case I've never actually seen any in my "recommended" or "others bought" lists.) I'm not saying this to be inflammatory. I'm pointing out that yes--while authors have many more choices in front of them for publishing, until self-pubbed books get face time with the masses in some way, I'm not going for it.

This month's issue of Writer's Digest has a huge article in it on the state of publishing today. One of the things said is that the self-pub route is easy, with lots of options, and has good margins. And that big-six publishing will be a long, hard, cruel road with little to no advance or else paid out in tiny droplets over the course of an ice age, and who cares anyway since they rarely take on new authors. Um, okay. While some of that is no doubt true, I don't believe it's impossible nor miserable, and guess what? Big publisher books get marketed.

My uncle Vince self-pubbed his novel, Blood & Chocolate. But I know it's been a challenge to market it. So my question is, as writers, how can we embrace self-publishing if the marketing is so tough? How can we get people to buy our self-pubbed books? In what ways can we market it? 

There are lots of books and tons of blogs out there to help with this question. But at the end of the day, I'll repeat: I have not been marketed to. I have no idea what books are out there to read in my genre that have been self-published. 

What do you think? Has your reading attention been caught by a self-pubbed book? Where and how? 


Charity Bradford said...

This is exactly why I chose the small publisher route. The will help me with marketing and get me mentioned in places that self-pubbed isn't yet. And they are easier to get in with than a big six.

I'm excited to see how this works and if it will be all that I hope it can be.

In the end it comes down to how hard the writer is willing to work at marketing no matter what route you take.

Diane Henders said...

I make a point of buying a book from most authors I've "met" on Twitter or whose blogs I follow, even if their books aren't in a genre I usually read. I don't know if that says anything about the effectiveness of Twitter or blogs as a marketing tool.

On one hand, I wouldn't know about these authors at all if not for their online presence; but on the other hand, it seems like there should be a more effective marketing method than passively waiting for someone to find a website.

Wish I knew the answer to that one.

Cathryn Leigh said...

How can I tell a self published book from one by a publisher?

I'm pretty sure I have some self published book on my Kindle, but I don't make an effort to tell them apart from the regularly published ones.

And really, most of my recent purchases have been from reading reviews on the blogs I visit, or book by the author of the blogs I visit.

I can safely say nothings been marketed to me, self or regular published. At least not obnoxciously obvious marketing. :} I like it that way. *grins*

Sierra Godfrey said...

Diane, I do that too. I love supporting my friends that way. I agree there should be a more effective way. I don't know what that is.

Cathryn, on Amazon at least, the self pubbed books don't list a publisher where as traditional pubbed books list it--and you'll recognize it. Random House, St. Martin's Press, Penguin, etc.

I feel like there's a huge opportunity here, if only we knew what it was!

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