Good news, everybody! Vessel has a publication date: August the 1st, 2014. Most of the advertising is in place (some of it requires a certain amount of reviews to book, which of course a new release doesn’t have, so rats to that), so fingers crossed the book will climb the charts and be swept away on the tides of Amazon’s algorithms.
Of course, I would be hugely grateful to anyone reading this that buys a copy (it’ll be 99p/99c, so not too much), and doubly grateful to those who leave a review. The book has changed considerably since its publication on here in serial form, so hopefully it will be a worthwhile experience to pay for. Teaser: the final showdown with Bales is a lot different. It’s intense. I’m very pleased with it.
While I’m here, I wanted to talk a little bit about the publishing industry and where it sits right now. You may have heard the news story of a certain big publisher sticking it to Amazon, saying Amazon is crushing authors, but as a non-traditionally published wanna-be, I feel that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Both Amazon and the big publishing houses are out to make money, but only one of them gives new authors a proper chance to make it.
Amazon’s KDP service is pretty simple: you write a book, you publish said book via KDP onto Amazon, you market the book, you add a pinch of luck and hopefully, if it’s good enough, it does well. Yes, it means that anyone who owns or has access to a computer can publish a book, but Amazon has such a high outreach that a book will be measurable on its merits by way of review soon enough. Many people like to be the ones to find the new, exciting authors, the ‘beta’ readers if you like, and they take over from the traditional publishers’ slush pile. By the time a self-published book has reached the top ten in its genre with a hundred or so reviews, you can be certain it’s going to be readable, if not enjoyable. I’ve discovered a few great self-published authors through the Amazon charts (and only rarely been tricked into buying something dismal), so it’s a system that works. It rewards good writing and savvy marketing, but doesn’t penalise an author for not writing mainstream or not being a celebrity.
And the traditional publisher? What do they offer a new author? An editor? Previously unobtainable marketing? Well, yes and no. You’ll get an editor, but whether you get a good one . . . that’s up to the Gods. Traditionally published books aren’t error-free, and they certainly aren’t copy-edited to perfection, either. Pick a new author’s work up and it’ll likely be plump with adverbs, purple prose, head hopping etc, all the things a good editor would fix. And, by the way, a good editor costs a few hundred pounds at most, so big deal.
But the marketing, right? A big publisher will shell out a fair wedge to see your book on the sides of buses, on billboards, perched at the front of the bookshop, right? Nope. It’ll be somewhere at the back of the bookshop, spine out, lost. The books you see in the entrance are the big-hitters, the ones that either a) already proved themselves, or b) are written by someone people already know. As a new author, marketing is your own chore, so suck it up and get promoting.
Basically, what a traditional publisher offers over Amazon is an upfront payment, an advance. This advance is paid back via the author’s book sale royalties, which means they won’t see a penny from royalties until it’s paid off. And the royalties are lower than a Barry White chorus, so don’t expect to see anything beyond the advance. Most new authors never pay the advance back, and often their books net the publisher a loss, so the publisher drops them. Doesn’t matter if the book was good or bad — it dies because no one knew it existed.
With all that said and done, would I accept an offer from a traditional publisher? It would be hard not to. But I’d be going into it with my eyes open at the very least. It’s an accolade in itself, being traditionally published, an affirmation of your abilities, and that’s something all authors worry about. Am I good enough or am I deceived in my thinking? Is my book great, or is it fit only for the roughage in pig swill? Basically, do I have literary dysmorphia?
Traditional publisher or no, I suppose I’ll find out whether or not Vessel is any good as of August the 1st. I’m prepared for a lukewarm response, and I’m not going to let that stop me enjoying writing; it would, however, be nice if people (yourselves included) genuinely enjoyed it. If I’m truly honest, traditional publishing would be great, but it comes in at a way-distant second to the idea of creating a world full of characters and events that people can’t wait to immerse themselves in. Ultimately, that’s what I really want.