Hello all. I just wanted to offer up some words about a few weeks back. I decided, amid the enormous rise in popularity of digital books, to start my own digital press. It was a decision I made on the spot and, within days, had the company up and running. The challenge was not in getting the systems in place, for that I had all of the necessary skills. Website, conversion process, cover design…I had all of that in place. What was (and is) a challenge is in the marketing of the books and company. It wasn’t until I hit that wall that I realized there is a reason companies hire people to do their marketing for them. But more on that in a bit.
I have been writing for a long time. The bulk of my professional writing experience came in the form of technical writing for Techrepublic, Ghacks, and Linux.com. For these sites I have written thousands of articles. It wasn’t until one summer between acting gigs (I was a professional actor for some twenty years) that I decided to continue serving my inner artist and write a book. That book turned out to be my first thriller “A Blade Away” (Purchase it for your Kindle on Amazon.com, for your NOOK on Barnes & Noble, on Smashwords for other devices, on Autumnal Press, and you can find it in the Apple iPad book store). The moment I wrote the final word in the back will stick with me to the end of my days. But what next? I happened into a time when publishers and agents were very wary of new writers and there was little room for thrillers, horror, and odd genre fiction.
But it wasn’t until I completed my fourth novel, “I Zombie I” (purchase this exciting title on Autumnal Press, for your Kindle on Amazon.com, your NOOK on Barnes & Noble, on Smashwords for other devices, and find it in the Apple iPad book store) that I realized the epic shift that had begun in the business of publishing. For years the e-reader had threatened to make a dent in the book industry. The problem was the hardware wasn’t living up to the promises it needed to keep. It wasn’t until Amazon’s Kindle really made some major breakthroughs in getting the form factor and the shopping process right, that e-readers were taken seriously. And then…the iPad hit the shelves. The iPad was the real game changer because everyone HAD to have one. And in the having, the users would realize how much an e-reader actually made sense.
Fast forward to the current climate and you see that Amazon sold nearly 8 million kindles to date and that e-books are starting to eclipse regular books in sales. And thus I realized I wanted the edge over other writers. How did I do that? I created my own digital press.
Autumnal – belonging to or suggestive of autumn.
Autumn – a time of full maturity
So, for me, Autumnal Press means two things. First and foremost it is a maturity in my skills as a writer. Next, it is my favorite season of the year which brings us my favorite holiday – Halloween. Autumn is a time of change, beauty, and chills. That is what Autumnal Press is all about. But writing about and managing a digital press are not the same things. Why? The digital press in and of itself is a new beast and has yet to be tamed. What does it do? How does it survive? How does it make money?
That final question is the more interesting of the lot. Here’s the issue:
Anyone can self-publish…especially in the digital world. You can write your book, format it correctly, create a seductive cover, and submit that book to any number of services. But just because anyone can, it doesn’t mean anyone will. Why do I say that? Well…human nature is a lazy nature and the process of preparing a book for digital press is not the easiest process. Above all else, not everyone has the ability to create a cover for their books. A cover is like sex to the normal marketing industry – it sells. In fact, a good cover can sell far and above a good description. That’s where presses like mine come in. I have the skills to create covers for books. I created all of the covers for my digital books and find them (with the exception of one that is about to have a reboot) as good as any other cover. But this process goes beyond the cover. Not only do the words have to be appealing to read, they have to be appealing to see. You must format your book correctly for the service you submit to.
But still – how can we make money from this? Is it enough to say “I will create your cover, format your book, submit your book, for just X dollars.” Yes that is appealing to writers who do not want to go through the process, but want to collect the royalties. That’s a good model for this new digital existence. But is it enough? Currently Autumnal Press only offers my own books for sale. The goal is to sell other writer’s work to validate the very existence of Autumnal Press. But can this work? Can indie digital presses compete with the bigger companies? Only time will tell…but more than likely we indie publishers are going to have to work WITH the big guns or we’ll find ourselves very much on the outside looking in.
How does that work? I don’t think we know yet. This industry is quite new (and exciting I must say), so it’s going to be an interesting journey. Suffice it to say, Autumnal Press (and other indie presses) will have to stay as fluid as possible to continue to migrate around the ever-changing waters of digital publishing.