These certainly are exciting times in the publishing world. The writer has so much more freedom to be able to get his novel out to the public. An author can now decide to self-publish instead of going the traditional publishing route and having to fight their way through the slush piles and query letters to finally reach a publisher interested in buying your works. With the advent of the Kindle, Nook and other e-readers this means that your potential market for the work is just as large as the market for a traditional publisher.
Of course, there is a trade-off, but there are no free lunches in the world. The traditional route means a fixed advance and royalty amount for each copy of your book sold in the market, but you get to sit back and concentrate of the writing and leave the marketing, set-up, cover design and everything else that comes with the launch of a book to the experts. The new electronic alternative means the author get a larger slice of the pie but the author is then in charge of the editing of the novel, setting up the novel to be purchased in every possible electronic version (as well as the possible print-on-demand option), designing a cover and getting the novel out there and to the people who would be most interested in it. This means the author will now be paying for all the services which the traditional publisher kept in-house.
The ramifications of this can be rather extreme. If you pay for professionals to assist in the marketing, editing and design of the books the author will have sunk money into the project and all of the money which comes from the project in the beginning will be set off against the cost and it’s only once the initial investment has been repaid that the author will earn anything back on the project. Depending on the amount the author pays out, it might mean they will have to sell a lot of copies before they can see anything back on the project. It can be a daunting prospect to have to plan the budget for a novel launch and then trying to get the sales to recoup the initial spend.
Of course, the only way to find out all of the different aspects needed in the launch of a self-published novel is to just say “Screw it, let’s do it” (like Richard Branson) and jump in with both feet. There is no set date for the release yet, but a writers group I am involved in are going to be putting together an anthology of our short stories (although they will most likely be more like novellas) and self-publish it. The objective is to create the best product and launch using the skills we have in the group. I’ll keep you up to date but keep an eye out. This could be the start of something huge.