David Gaughran is the author of two very popular books on self-publishing, Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible. He is also runs a very popular blog in the space. This week I sit down with himto talk about what has changed in self-publishing in the last few years. David has recently updated his popular book, Let’s Get Digital so that it is up to date with the market. It’s a great read, packed with essential information.
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Let’s Get Visible – Aimed at those who are more experienced and are looking to move their sales to the next level.
Mercenary – David’s latest historical fiction piece.
Write. Publish. Repeat. – Another great book for those starting out.
The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing – Another great book for those starting out.
The Martian – The first self-published book that I read.
David started his blog in April 2011, and it was there to document his journey into self-publishing. He started self-publishing when he heard about authors turning down huge advances in order to self-publish.
He started the blog as a challenge to some traditionally minded authors who didn’t think an author could be successful from a standing start. At the time most of the authors had a background in traditional publishing which gave them an advantage.
The blog took off very quickly, as a lot of people were in the same position as David, and wanted to follow along. Eventually one of his blog readers got in touch to ask David to write a book outlining the steps to self-publishing. That is the book that became Let’s Get Digital.
Moving to Self-Publishing
David spent 18 months look for an agent and amassed 300 rejection letters. This was for his first historical novel A Storm Hits Valparaiso. During Christmas of 2010 he got the “dream email” from an agent saying that they loved his book, but a few weeks later David phoned and was told he would be got back to. David never heard from them again. This was a knock to his confidence, but he still says that it was “the best thing that ever happened to me.” WIthout that rejection he would never have self-published, and be where he is today.
David decided not to self-publish the novel, but instead go for a few short stories as an experiment. These were “quasi-literary fiction” – short weird fiction basically. These went out and then he did some sci-fi, it was very fast, mostly because he was unemployed! On a serious note though, he had a technical background, and was ready for the disruption the internet was going to bring.
David is known for his marketing knowledge, but he doesn’t necessarily select the most popular genres. Literary and historical ficiton are not known for their commercial viability. David comments that a lot of ideas exist in the book world that stuff just doesn’t work, but self-publishers have proved this wrong time and time again.
Genres are gradually becoming more and more digital. It is taking a longer time for some other genres to move across to ebooks.
Let’s Get Digital – The Second Edition
The original version came out in 2011 and a great deal has changed in the last three years. However David thought that this would be a quick update, but that was not right, so much had changed that the book took twice as long to update as the original book to to write.
The second edition of the book is written for an author starting today. He aims to dispell the idea that the gold rush is over and it’s too late to be successful as an indie author. Yes, there is more competition, but there are also plenty more tools for authors to use.
When putting together the first edition, he emailed 35 authors, asking them to contribute. He fully expected just a few to get back to him, but 33 did, and these came into the book. My experience with the indie community has been equally positive, people are so willing to give you some of their time, which is fantastic.
The book starts with an overview of the industry and looks at when you should publish. It lets new self-publishers know about what they should worry about, and what they shouldn’t. The cover, the blurb and the price are highlighted in the book as being super important. This sort of information
David decided to upload the second edition directly over the first edition. This means that everyone who owned the first edition cannot buy the first edition. Many authors told him that this was not a good idea, and that he would make plenty of money from people buying an update of the book.
However, he looked at his platform, and realised that most of the people who owned the first edition are not going to need the book. David’s mission was to give the book to the people who already have it, so that they will recommend the book to people asking them “what’s the best book for starting out in self-publishing.”
Even if a book store sells 75% of your books, they are going to order less next time. There are then less books on the shelves and the percentage drops and less books are order. Repeat until no more books are ordered. This can be a career ender, hence the name.
“The first time Amazon auto filled my name it was amazing!”
“If you want to make money in this its much easier if you write in the popular genres, and its much easier if you write a series.”
“If someone gave me the option to give away a million copies to my target audience tomorrow, I would jump at it.”
“You don’t want to have some arty-photograph if you are doing steamy NA. You want to have the man-titty.”
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