Suddenly Hybrid—Mixing Trad with Indie

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After eighteen years of writing, eight of those as an Indie author publishing my own books, I have just signed a two-book deal with a publisher called Bookouture—recently cited by Publisher’s Weekly as ‘Britain’s hottest digital publisher.’

Bookouture has been in my radar for a while. The name is so me, I thought. It sounded so chic, somehow, as if the editors were all wearing designer clothes, carried the manuscripts in Prada handbags and walked around in Jimmy Choo shoes. The office would have Chanel no 5 wafting through the air conditioning and they’d only ever drink vintage champagne and eat caviar and croissants for breakfast. Heaven.

Joking aside, when I looked at their website and saw the great books they publish and the lovely covers they design, I thought they might be the right fit for me. I also read some of their books in my genre and loved them. So… why not jump in and have a go? Feeling I had nothing to lose, I submitted The Road Trip, my just completed book, in early December. They made me an offer in early January and the rest, as they say, is history. I signed a two-book contract last week.

It feels like a whole new chapter is opening in my writing life and I’m both excited and nervous. I hope I can live up to the expectations, but with the help of my terrific new editor Christina Demosthenous , I’m sure I will.

Some of my author colleagues might wonder though… Why sign with a publisher when I have been happily (and quite successfully) self-publishing for over eight years? This might look like I am now contradicting all the glowing things I’ve said about self-publishing, all the cheering and being proud to be an Indie and how I’d never give my work away to one of ‘them’ ever again, like a mantra. Was it a case of ‘the lady doth protest too much?’ Or sour grapes about not being traditionally published?

Not at all.  I meant what I said and I still do. But I feel Bookouture is a new kind of publisher—the kind that really ‘get’ e-publishing and the ever changing market. I also think that this new kind of publishing has happened because of what we as Indies have done. We made the market what it is today, and I’m very proud of what we have all achieved.

I will probably mix self-publishing with trad publishing along the way, like a lot of so-called hybrid authors. Exciting times ahead, indeed.

The Road Trip, My first Bookouture book will be published in June. You can read all about it on the Bookouture blog.

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My e-book Experience

I published three of my books as e-books on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle in the beginning of February. Two of those books were from my previously published backlist (‘Fresh Powder’ and ‘Finding Margo’), the third, ‘Swedish for Beginners’, my soon to be published fifth novel. All the books had been professionally edited and proofread, which, to me, is  a must when uploading a novel that you offer for sale. In any case, e-book readers are extremely discerning and expect books they buy online to meet a certain standard. And if they find the book wanting in any way, they will post a bad review on the book’s page for all to see (not happened to me yet).

I priced all my books at $2.99, which seems to hit the right middle ground between not too expensive and and high enough to earn the hard-working author a little bit of money. Priced any higher, the sales slow down and earnings are less. Imagine 10 books @, say, $5.99, compared to several hundred @$2.99. I’m no good at maths but the sales figures and the ‘grand total’ at the bottom of my sales report each day speak for themselves.

It wasn’t the earnings that delighted me the most, however, it was the direct contact with readers. I have been able to reach people right across the globe; in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and all over the US with the e-book versions of my novels. They have sent me e-mails and ‘talked’ to me on various forums, telling me they enjoyed my stories. They also put some wonderful reviews on all my books. The added advantage with e-books is also that they never go out of date. Nobody takes them off the shelves to make space for new releases. They are there for as long as I want them to be and will keep selling (I hope) without going out of date or coming to the end of their shelf-life.

So, in all a very positive move. I am planning to upload more e-books in the future. It appears that if readers like a book, they will look for others by the same author.

A few points to remember:

1) Make sure your book is properly edited, proofread and formatted (I had mine formatted by a professional, which cost me around $50 per book).

2) Have a nice cover. It’s important to spend a little time to do this, whether you do it yourself or get a cover designer do it for you.

3) Promote your book on Face book, Twitter and readers’ and writers’ forums. I like Amazon’s Kindle Authors Forum and Kindle Boards.

The e-book market is already growing very fast in the US and it won’t be long before it picks up in the rest of the world. I don’t think ‘real’ books will ever disappear and e-books will probably not ever be THE market. But it’s going to be a big part of it.

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