Category Archives: self publishing

I bought an e-book

Well, I got a free e-book. The Intergalactic Medicine Show is a science fiction and fantasy magazine that publishes short stories. They recently released a compilation of their best short stories. For the first couple of days it was available for free from Amazon and so i got it. The stories are really interesting and very entertaining, so well worth it.

All Good

I don’t have a dedicated reader so I just used my Android with the Kindle app. The screen is a little small, but I got used to it. It is really convenient because my phone is fairly small and I carry it pretty much everywhere. I can pull it out, fire up the book and have a read. With a physical book I need a little more planning and lugging it around everywhere is a bit of a chore. This book was free (I think it is $3 now) so very good value for money. I could definitely see myself buying books like this.

All Bad

As chance would have it, I was also cleaning out the spare room to turn it into another nursery (because one baby is never enough). I had to shift a book-case and all the books out. While I was doing it I was looking at the covers and remembering the good times reading them. It was amazing to see so many books all piled up and to think they could all easily fit on my phone. But you know what? Both my wife and I have read all those books. Many of them came from my mum or she has read while staying. My dad also has read most of them and we’ve lent a number of them out to friends. The e-book I have on my phone isn’t really capable of the same kind of use. I haven’t looked into it, but even if there isn’t any DRM I would have to take a bit of effort to copy and send the book and then whoever got the copy would have to some how organise it in their reader. Oh, and being a good little boy I would have to delete the copy from my phone (bollocks the lot of it). Certainly less convenient than just pointing at my shelf and letting my mum rummage to her heart’s content.

Are They Good or Bad?

It an e-book cost the same as a physical book I’d say go for the physical one unless you specifically need it to take no room (you’re travelling) and you didn’t intend to lend it to anyone (that’s theft remember? It’s called copy right violation letting anyone else enjoy the words you’ve read). I would say the e-book would have to be significantly cheaper than the physical version to worth buying. As it happens, in Australia a paperback will set you back about $20 (yes you lovely people in the US, that’s a lot). But when I buy a book I expect at least three people to read it (me, my wife and my mum) so I think an e-book would need to be at most $6.66 so I could buy three copies. But considering I wouldn’t then have the option of donating to the Salvoes or lending to a friend or just filling my bookshelf for my kids to eventually read I would say the upper limit for an e-book would be about $3 if it was any good, $1 if it was only acceptable and free otherwise. Just think of it. I bought David Eddings’ Belgariad to re-read (I originally read my mum’s copies which have since gone separate ways). I stacked it on my shelf and thought to myself it would be perfect for my little daughter to read in thirteen or so years. She wouldn’t need to re-buy it or have a special reader. She could take it from the shelf and snuggle up in bed and read like I did when I was in highschool. Had I bought the e-book version that would not be possible because in thirteen years the format will probably be out of date and I doubt I’d still have it on a storage medium that worked.

How Many Are Lost?

I have to wonder how many wonderful books and other works of art are lost because we are not allowed to make copies of them. Already there are many e-books that are never released in hard copy format. When you buy one of those it is illegal to print it out because that apparently is theft and you wouldn’t steal a car would you? How many books never see the number of readers they deserve because you can’t loan them to another person? That’s also theft. Heaven forbid the words you paid to see are seen by anyone else! Imagine if you accidentally said one of those words out loud? That would be like stealing all the money from a bank and throwing it up in the air wouldn’t it? I think e-books, when combined with ridiculous copy right laws will result in the loss of untold number of books and all the art, culture and entertainment they contain. Will book collectors in the future hunt down old Kindles with first editions on them or will anything not published on paper be lost forever? This is the same for movies and television shows. Because of the length of copy right we have lost many wonderful things because no one was allowed to make copies to preserve the work. Oh well. I think at some point I’ll have to put my money where my mouth is and freely distribute my work so it has the best chance of living on beyond me.


Self Publishing Calls Again

Ah, the sweet siren song of self publishing. I’ve considered it in the past as a way of reaching people. I decided at the time to pursue traditional publishing. But after reading more articles on the topic I’m swinging back. What is the lure?


One of the biggest reasons people site for going the self publishing route is that they retain complete control over their material and thus over most of the revenue. This is a double edge sword, of course. If I self publish I have complete control over my novel, but what do I know about the market for my novel? I am a highly experienced and skilled technical architect and could tell you many different ways to achieve your IT goals. That isn’t going to help sell a book, unless it is about architecting IT systems. By keeping control over my work, I lose the expertise a publisher and agent would bring. I don’t know who the influential reviewers are, where my fans hang out or even what is “popular” in a fantasy story. So I don’t think control over my work is a strong enough argument to lure me.


When you self publish, and I’m talking about e-books here as paperbacks are not viable to self publish, you get feedback regarding sales immediately. At any time of the day or night you can log on to Amazon or Smashwords and get a sales report. You don’t have to wait for the quarter to end or for the financial year or whatever reporting period the publisher may use. You don’t have to wait for an agent to work out commission and all the rest. Fans have demonstrated, by downloading the e-book, that they are users of the internet and so you’ll get feedback on your web site and on review sites and so forth. After spending a couple of years writing and polishing your work the thought of waiting for the dinosaurs of publishing to turn into oil before you get paid or before you find out if what you have done is any good sounds like torture. This is a big plus for me. I have made a conscious choice to not encourage or support any business model that doesn’t embrace modern technology. I wouldn’t even consider sending my manuscript in hard copy to an agent and I can’t bear to think of the sluggish movement of physical stock. Not to mention all the poor dead trees.


Agents and publishers are often referred to as gatekeepers. That is because they choose what goes to market, or at least they used to. That can leave you feeling like a top ten contestant on Australian Idol (or any number of other talent shows). They are all in the top ten because they are good, but only one person can win and that person may not be the most talented or become the most successful. Due to the gatekeeper nature of the contest some must fail. So too in publishing. I could write the world’s most amazing novel ever but if for whatever reason I’m not picked up by an agent and / or publisher it will never see the light of day. J.K. Rowling was passed over a couple of times before she was accepted. It is quite possible she may never have been picked up and yet she is probably the wealthiest author ever. Amanda Hocking had written eight novels (correct me if I’m wrong) and none of them were accepted. In case you don’t know, she self published, worked bloody hard at it, and has made millions from her books. She has now signed with a publisher, it just took a couple of million dollars in profit to get through the gate. So the big appeal here is that success is more heavily based on your own efforts and less on the vagaries of the gatekeeper system. I think traditional publishers as gatekeepers is a not a bad thing for the reading public. It ensures a certain level of quality that often lacks in the self published scene.

Getting out there

This is related to the point above. The greatest thing I want to achieve with my writing is to be read. I love writing, but ultimately you have to ask yourself: “If an author pens a novel and nobody reads it, does it really count as a novel?” It doesn’t really bother me how much money I make. I have a day job that I’m quite good at and I love. I want people to read my books and get that mystical feeling of being transported to another land. That feeling that somewhere, even if just in their own imagination, things can work out. That’s what I got from the books I read and I want to share the feeling.

So the main things that draw me to self publishing are the immediate feedback of being plugged in to modern communication technology, the knowledge that success is largely determined by my efforts and the desire to see at least some people enjoy my work. Having a run away success is obviously the dream, to see my work made into a multi-billion dollar movie franchise with TV show spin off and graphic novels… But I’d be happy if just one person wrote a fan email.