Wednesday, May 01, 2013

On self-publishing ebooks

Most writers will reach a point in their labours where they find that commercial publishers are not interested in the book which have been years in the making.  In days gone by, that was pretty much that: time to move on, either to another book or perhaps taking up carpet bowls.

More recently, print-on-demand self-publishing became an option for the enthusiast and not just the obsessive.  With no expensive print run, any writer could publish a book at minimal financial risk.  All four of my novels (including The Dog of the North before Macmillan picked it up) followed that path.

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Today, the growth of the e-reader has made self-publication easier still.  With print-on-demand merchants like Lulu, it was very hard to price books affordably.  I'm naturally a great enthusiast of my galley-racing fantasy Dragonchaser, but even I can see that sixteen quid for a paperback is a bit steep.  With ebooks, though, this is no longer an issue.  The most expensive of my ebooks, The Dog of the North, sells for £1.79; the cheapest, The Last Free City, is only 77p.  You could buy all four for just over £6 - the price you'd pay for a paperback in Waterstones.

You may lack the time, the skills or the inclination to turn your novel into an ebook and thence to Amazon.  I reached that point with The Zael Inheritance: with a new job and plenty of dense reading for my latest writing project, I simply couldn't face disinterring an old, if much-loved, novel and getting it e-ready. 

Luckily, there is no niche market without someone to fill it (no doubt even hitmen are available online if you know where to look).  I carry out my own murders when they prove necessary, however, so I needed only to find an ebook publisher.  Thus I came across Black Bee Media, run by an amiable Dutchman and fellow Jack Vance afficionado, Arjan Broeze.  Arjan swiftly and efficiently made the source files ready for publication, and within days of my sign-off, The Zael Inheritance was available for Kindle, Kobo, iBooks and any other e-reader you might own.

Word of mouth is the best advertising, and I'm very happy to recommend Black Bee Media to anyone who is looking to transfer the hard-won novel on their hard-disk into a permanently in-print ebook, and is looking for a crisp, efficient and friendly service.

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