Congratulations, you've finished your book
But publishers haven’t scooped it up. More fool them. You’re thinking, damnit, I’ll go the self-publishing route. But where to start? What are my options? For just £380 I'll take your raw Word doc and transform it into a finished paperback and eBook with a stunning cover and stylish interior layout with the minimum of fuss.
And that’s the service I provide, via AMAZON KDP. Soon your book could be printed, and available online.
Electronic publishing is a really big deal
In the space of fifty years we have witnessed printing technology develop from something Caxton would easily recognise to eBooks, whole libraries, mysteriously summoned through the aether. Although eBooks are a relatively recent innovation we take them for granted, such is the adaptability of the human condition. But, think about it for a second, not since the oral tradition has there been a non-physical method of storing and disseminating information, of telling our stories. (Please don’t say, so what?)
As a graphic designer, I’m passionate about physical print. The weight of a book in my hand, the crisp new pages, the cover artwork, the typography, the texture of the paper. All this is pure magic to me. I fervently pray printed books don’t join the album cover in graphic design Valhalla. But it may well happen, because nothing beats Kindle for convenience and versatility. It’s a book, it’s a library, it’s the biggest bookstore in the world. And you don’t even need a dedicated device to access it, all you need is a Kindle app. In the grand scheme of human civilisation clay tablets, papyrus, velum, paper and the invention of printing may one day be viewed as clumsy provisional stages between oral and electronic transmission.
Regardless of the advantages of eBooks I have a fanatical loyalty to the physical version. Call me eccentric, but if I enjoy a book in electronic form, especially a vintage classic, I’ll hunt out down a paperback for its cover art, hell I might buy a hardback as well, and lately I’ve even started to collect autographed versions of my favourite authors. My bookshelves are groaning with the weight. And I’m not alone in this, defying expectations there’s been a massive online boom in second hand book sales. Which was, of course, where Amazon got its foothold.
For the mass of humanity the most significant stage in conventional publishing was the advent of the paperback, reducing the price of books and bringing literature within the economic reach of everyone, by reducing the quality of paper stock and utilising a less robust binding technique.
We’re at an equally important stage with AMAZON KDP. If paperbacks democratised the reading experience, Kindle can be said to be democratising the publishing experience. Digital on-demand printing, by eliminating the set-up costs of conventional lithography, brings publishing within reach of everyone. And, importantly, it massively improves the quality of the finished book. Paperbacks were not called pulp for nothing. I have a collection of cherished examples from the fifties which I daren’t touch for fear the pages turn to dust. The digital printing process necessarily requires a superior quality paper stock which, whilst guaranteeing a significantly longer life, eliminates show through, and makes them a pleasure to read and own.
So mass-market paperbacks were originally envisaged as throwaways. Electronic books are, to all intents and purposes, immortal. Digitally printed books are positioned somewhere in-between. This is a really exciting time to be involved in publishing. On-demand printing and eBooks are reshaping the publishing industry in ways that have yet to be fully understood. And this may well break the stranglehold of publishers and agents on what we publish and read. We can only hope.
From a writer’s perspective, when I publish an eBook, it feels like a chore. When I publish the paperback version the whole process comes alive for me. I count the seconds until the postman delivers my author copies. There really is not much that beats the thrill of holding your new book. I’d go so far as to say the paperback is for the writer, and the eBook is for the reader. And this brings me to my big bête noire. Vanity publishers are charging fortunes to transform manuscripts into paperbacks and eBooks, when with AMAZON KDP the process is absolutely FREE.
However, conventionally published authors just have to write the stuff. When you embark on the self-publishing route you’re responsible for everything. So here’s my pitch. You just do the writing, I’ll take care of the rest. You’ll have the assurance that your manuscript will be processed by a fellow writer who knows his craft and understands your needs and sensitivities. And, importantly, has the experience and imagination to produce stunning cover art, won’t up-sell you with a whole bunch of unnecessary extras, or charge a fortune.