|Lexi’s books, Remix and Replica
We’re really thrilled to bring you a guest blogger.
We’ve had many discussions with other writers about the merits of e-publishing on Amazon.
I’d urge ALL of you to read what Lexi Revellian has to say.
The guest blog below is a summary of her experiences, and you will find lots more detail on Lexi’s own blog.
Do read her books as well, they are tremendously good!
Travel back in time with me to 2005, the year I started my first novel. I was naïve and full of enthusiasm and writing was huge fun. I knew nothing of technique apart from what I’d learned in a lifetime of reading, and had some strange ideas about the publishing industry. I thought (cue rueful laughter) that if one wrote a reasonably coherent novel, then a publisher would publish it and after that The Public Would Decide. If readers loved your book, they’d turn it into a best seller.
I joined YouWriteOn and discovered this was not so; I would need to acquire an agent in order to find a publisher. I read about the importance of polishing my text, researching each agent and writing an appealing letter. Hey, I could do that. Over the next year I realized that agents like books to fit neatly in a genre, and my fantasy-for-people-who-don’t-normally-like-fantasy-novels wouldn’t hack it. Which was a shame, as I’d written another one while waiting for the agents to get back to me.
Okay, I thought, I’ll write something more commercial. Something as pacy and unputdownable as an early Dick Francis. So I wrote Remix
. This one, I knew, was good. I decided to give myself a year to find a publisher. If I failed I would self-publish, even though with publishers’ monopoly of distribution to bookshops, selling my own paperbacks would be hard. But I was certain this drastic step would not be necessary.
Forty-odd agents and a handful of publishers rejected Remix, mostly with form rejections. Over Christmas 2009 two agents were reading the full typescript simultaneously – what would I do if they both wanted it? Turned out I need not have worried. Neither did.
Time to self-publish. Summer 2010 I designed a cover and formatted the paperback. I heard that Eric Christopherson had sold 600 ebooks of his thriller Crack-Up
– then, in a little over a year, 6,000. Impressed, I decided to e-publish too.
I was lucky in my timing. The Kindle was new in the UK, and ebook numbers low. Remix
spent over eight months in the UK Kindle Top 100, my next novel Replica
more than two. To date I’ve sold over 57,000 ebooks, and made serious money. Best of all I now have readers, who sometimes email me to say they’ve enjoyed my books.
What is the moral of my far from unique story?
Publishing has changed. Up till quite recently, if you wrote an excellent book, it would find a publisher – and you could submit directly to them, with no need of an agent. If rejected, you would receive a personal letter explaining the reasons. If no publisher would take your book, that meant it was not good enough. Many people assume this is still the case, hence the stigma lingering about self-published books.
These days, publishing via Amazon’s KDP is so simple and offers such generous terms – 70% of the selling price goes to the author – that some writers no longer bother with the angst-ridden traditional route at all. In the US Top 100 Kindle chart, 22 of the books are indie-published. Legacy publishing now offers less than it did – smaller advances, less exposure in bookshops, while demanding more concessions in its contracts and offering a royalty of 17.5% for ebooks and around 8% for print.
Books need writers and readers, but bridging the gap between the two does not necessarily have to be done the same old way. Now there is more choice, which is great for readers and authors – and even for those publishers who are prepared to stop grumbling about indies and digital and embrace change.
P.S. This year a prestigious New York agent approached me. But I decided with all the upheavals in the industry, this is not the time to acquire an agent.