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Digital Writers: The Ways in which eBooks are Helping Writers Self-Publish

Self-publishing conjures up images of Amazon, ebooks, and Kindle galore, but there's actually a history that goes back further than that. According to the Alliance of Independent Authors, self-publishing can be traced back to the introduction of desktops in 1979, where Print on Demand (POD) and Desktop (DTP) services became available. 

DTP is a software that enables writers to use to format their novels on computers. POD services are used to print books once an order has been received from an online purchase. This leaves very minimal waste. 


These were massive digital advancements at the time, enabling writers to produce their own novels with little input from traditional publishing houses for the first time.

Teresa Cheichi/ The Balance 

By the 1990s, Alliance of Independent Authors describes the ways in which electronic copies of novels slowly rose in popularity. This was only encouraged all the more by 1998, when a payment mechanism was developed and novels could officially be mass-marketed online to the entire world.  


Despite this, it took until 2007 for Amazon to launch the Kindle for digital readers. However, they quote it as a success after they were completely sold out within 5.5 hours after releaseIt's also important to note that during Kindle's debut, only 90,000 ebooks were available for downloadwhich increased to 48.5 million by 2021.  

Now we reach the modern-day, and Amazon has writers from the biggest publishing houses such as Penguin to small independent authors, using their platform to sell digital literature. For the self-published, this means no need for an agent, pitches, or cover letters. The writer uploads their work, and they're an author.  


Resultantly, writers are given a vital opportunity to jump straight into the hands of the online market, on their own terms. Whether this removes stress from the writer's life depends on them and what they feel they are capable of doing in terms of production and marketing.  


In the same breath, formulating pitches and hunting for agents can be soul-destroying. Every writer has had rejections. For example, J. K. Rowling was turned down by different publishing firms, but with self-publishing, all this will be removed.  

J K Rowling/ Twitter

Amazon can occasionally reject books for their online store if the automated system feels community guidelines have been broken by the content. This can include breeches, such as links to pornography. There have also been cases, such as this one as reported by Insider, where authors have had books rejected for sillier reasons, e.g. they used too many hyphens.  


Despite this, there is still fierce competition to get signed to a publishing house, with editors and publishers agreeing they usually only accept 1-2% of submissions. This just shows you how difficult it can be for a writer to even go down the route of traditional publishing. Rejection is something that self-publishing can avoid, but it doesn't shield the writer from online criticism from readers, such as these scathing reviews about self-published novel called Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls (Victoria Foyt) on Amazon: 

Unfortunately, you can still receive criticism when you are published traditionally, and with a growing digital community, people are finding it easier than ever to share their opinions about novels. See this review from Google Play Books aboutThe Quiet at the End of the World (Lauren James): 

Self-published author, T. N. Jones, notes that “trolls, in general, are envious of other people doing things that they want to do when they have held themselves back, so they lash out,” and that these behaviours can be a product of, “jealousy”.


There's a long way to go for many authors before they hit the ebook store, and it's imperative that writers don't rush their work to get it on the digital shelf. Writing a manuscript in itself is a full-time job, but without a publishing house, it's also the writer's sole responsibility to take care of the production and marketing. This will be easier for some writers to do than others, depending on how much they want to spend (their budget), their experience, and their skill set. Self-publishing via ebooks calls upon more from the writer than just a story: it calls for an entire team of publicists and editors.


The digital market is easier to reach in some respects and harder in others. To ensure you will capture their interest online amongst the billions of other available ebooks, production becomes even more important. Without a publishing house to help, writers will need to find a professional editor (as well as cover designers or illustrators) and negotiate a price with them for going through their manuscript. 


It’s also important to note here that Amazon is a quicker and more efficient way to publish, as uploading takes a few seconds, and the novel is available within days.  


Amazon does not gain any rights to the novel, they belong completely with the writer, whereas publishing houses may expect a stake within the work. Writer’s Digest estimated that publication can take nine months to two years through traditional firms, but this can include time taken in the production process. 

Self-published author R. W. Harrison shared what it was like dealing with this stigma, “it’s out there, but it’s fading. [He] thinks, in the end, readers just want a well-crafted story with characters they care about. They don’t care how the book ends up in their hands.” 


Still, writers such as Margaret Atwood have made successful starts in self-publishing and produce well-praised works of fiction. Moreover, to try and tackle any poor literary works, Amazon has started to warn readers that the content is not at a high standard, e.g. contains many spelling errors. This also helps to avoid any scams. 

Self-Publishing.com Infographics

So what's the payoff? Well, writers that self-publish attain greater royalties than those who are traditionally published. There are plenty of royalty options so you can maximise your profit. Some people may like having full control and rights over their books, and some may not 


So how does a self-published author market their novels? What's the online marketing sector like for a small business? Ironically, there are dozens of ebooks that offer the answer to this for a small fee. It’s also important to remember that Kindle has a 62% share in the digital market, making it one of the most prolific sellers in this day and age and the perfect digital store to stock with your book. 

In terms of marketing, writers are classified as a business and their novels are their products-- so keep this in mind. To market a book, they may have to financially invest in their own work, pay for promotions and advertisements, for example. It depends on a lot of factors, but Wordstream recorded that the cost per click (CPC) averaged at $1.72 on Facebook ads. In the same breath, sixads admitted that marketing on Facebook could cost as little as a dollar a day depending on the writer’s strategy. 


This can be entirely free if the writer decides to make their promotions and shares them with local writing groups, for example. There are also free options in the production process, such as Wix, which helps you build a site of your own, or places like WordPress that enable users to share stories freely within writing communities. Instagram has even been utilised as a marketing device for writers, who have shared how online platforms have helped develop their identities as authors. 


Wattpad Ambassador, Alex Yakovlev, shared his experience on the writing platform“I would recommend Wattpad to any budding writer. It’s a community that has helped many grow a following, improving their writing and rise to success. Over the nine years, I’ve been on the storytelling platform, I have seen writers start from zero, and through hard work and persistence reach millions of readers, which has led to countless publication opportunities and film adaptions for their work.”  

As with any online purchases, some users are worried about issues such as cyber security when they’re paying, or getting scammed by fake publishing firms promising to publish their work. For this reason, it’s important to note that there is an online community readily available to independent writers, called Alliance of Independent Authors. They can offer support to writers who intend to self-publish.  

Writers considering self-publishing need to figure out what the appropriate route is for them, and how they can get their work as polished as possible for the ebook store. Self-publishing takes a lot of research, work, blood, sweat, and tears, so writers may prefer the guidance provided by publishing firms if they are not confident in their marketing abilities. Either way, ebooks are available no matter how a writer publishes, and are helping authors establish themselves one virtual page at a time.

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The World's Largest Book Club - How Social Media Is Changing The Way We Read

Becky Robinson - Writer/Editor

A Creative Writing graduate with a love of modern classical literature. Currently sharpening her editorial skills and working to help others improving their writing abilities.

LinkedIn: Rebecca Robinson

Website: Rebecca's Fiction

Email: rebeccarobinsonwriter@gmail.com

Digital Writers: The Ways in which eBooks are Helping Writers Self-Publish Reviewed by Rebecca Robinson on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 Rating: 5
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