Hi Everyone, I am happy to have with me today author and publisher Jacqueline George!
Below she tells us about her experience in the publishing world and what drove her to set up her own eBook 'shop window':
'A long time ago, in the mists of time I sat down to write a book. I did it for the joy of creation, and it was fun. I enjoyed myself so much, I even took a correspondence course in writing, though I can’t say a learned much. The next step was getting it published, and here I ran full tilt into The Book Trade.
I’m not going to bore with a tale of disillusionment. You’ve heard it all before, and this one was nothing special, except perhaps I learnt more slowly than most that no-one cares! My book is good? Who cares! My book is commercial? Who cares! My book is unique, lovingly crafted, great to read, better than 80% of the junk in the airport bookshop? You’ve guessed - who cares!
It took me ten years to finally accept that a) I write good quality books and b) The Book Trade did not care. Getting noticed is a lottery, and my books were not even being assessed. I had very few rejections - because no-one took the time to read my queries and synopses.
I finally accepted that my involvement with The Book Trade was never going to end happily, except for one small light on the horizons. eBooks! The first epublishers were just starting.
I finally broke into the literary world, and did quite well. One of my titles was in Amazon’s top ten for its class for 18 months, and I actually earned some money.
My ebook sales were one of the casualties of the Kindle revolution. I changed epublishers. That helped a little but by now a flood of new material was hitting the market, and I was not writing what the market wanted. I live in Australia, and was able to hang on by releasing paperback editions of my novel on the local market. Only for a while - now the bricks-and-mortar bookstores are selling shoes or coffee, and I’m back to ebooks.
With a difference! Now no-one is allowed to look down their nose at my books. I have earned my stripes and when it comes to writing, I might not be brilliant but I can certainly look Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code in the eye. I have a good, solid list of novels, and I am building up a stock of novella material. If The Book Trade is not working out for me, it is not my fault.
Once an author dumps their unreasonable self-doubts, life looks different. Now I know I need to sell ebooks, as many as possible, in as many places as possible. Producing them is not difficult, and I have my own imprint Q~Press Publishing to handle my books, and those of friends who need a technical hand. I have even turned epublishers down when they are looking for original work. What can they offer me? Tiny royalties and Byzantine contracts that lock up my work ‘for the life of the copyright’. If you did not realise, that translates into 70 years after I am dead and buried. Do they think I am so stupid?
So how to sell your work? We definitely don’t need more epublishers. Some might earn their money, but my publishers have earned far more from my books that I ever have, and never did any real promotion for me. Everyone is getting into epublishing, including old-style literary agents, but no-one seems to have new ideas about how authors are rewarded for their work.
What do we need? To be honest, I’m not completely sure, but I am favouring authors’ cooperatives. If a group of authors who trust each other get together to sell books of similar style and genre, readers can come to their shop window with confidence that everything on display is good quality and worth reading. And the group can sell each others’ books, leveraging their marketing power and extending their reach. This is a way forward, and allows new or unknown authors to compete in the market place.
That’s a good start, but I think authors need more. Proper royalties, for a start, and they need to keep real control of their copyrights. The cooperative will naturally understand this, because they are authors themselves.
So, with a group of like-minded authors and a friendly ewholesaler, I have just started a shop window called Yellow Silk Dreams. We produce short, sexy romance and sell it for less than the cost of a coffee. There is no publisher’s contract, and the books remain ours to sell wherever and whenever we want. We receive all the revenue from sales, after the distribution costs. It is just a shop window, but a shop run by authors who help each other sell books, because every visitor to the site will see all the titles, and hopefully will come back for more.
I think this is going to work, and can’t wait to post more titles, from my friends, new members, and myself too...'