Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"How I Became a Best-Selling Author": Self-publishing is upending the book industry. One woman's unlikely road to a hit novel.


(Originally published in the Wall Street Journal by Alexandra Alter, Dec 9, 2011)

This summer, Darcie Chan's debut novel became an unexpected hit. It has sold more than 400,000 copies and landed on the best-seller lists alongside brand-name authors like Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Kathryn Stockett.
It's been a success by any measure, save one. Ms. Chan still hasn't found a publisher.
Five years ago, Ms. Chan's novel, "The Mill River Recluse," which tells the story of a wealthy Vermont widow who bestows her fortune on town residents who barely knew her, would have languished in a drawer. A dozen publishers and more than 100 literary agents rejected it.
"Nobody was willing to take a chance," says Ms. Chan, a 37-year-old lawyer who drafts environmental legislation. "It was too much of a publishing risk."
This past May, Ms. Chan decided to digitally publish it herself, hoping to gain a few readers and some feedback. She bought some ads on Web sites targeting e-book readers, paid for a review from Kirkus Reviews, and strategically priced her book at 99 cents to encourage readers to try it. She's now attracting bids from foreign imprints, movie studios and audio-book publishers, without selling a single copy in print.
The story of how Ms. Chan joined the ranks of best sellers is as much a tale of digital marketing savvy and strategic pricing as one of artistic triumph. Her breakout signals a monumental shift in the way books are packaged, priced and sold in the digital era. Just as music executives have been sidestepped by YouTube sensations and indie iTunes hits, book publishers are losing ground to independent authors and watching their powerful status as literary gatekeepers wither.
Self-publishing has long been derided as a last resort for authors who lack the talent or savvy to hack it in the publishing business. But it has gained a patina of legitimacy as a growing number of self-published authors land on best-seller lists. Last year, 133,036 self-published titles were released, up from 51,237 in 2006, according to Bowker, a company that tracks publishing trends.
A handful of self-published authors have achieved blockbuster status, selling more than a million copies of their books on the Kindle. While they represent a tiny minority of independent authors, the ranks of the successful are growing. Thirty authors have sold more than 100,000 copies of their books through Amazon's Kindle self-publishing program, and a dozen have sold more than 200,000 copies, according to Amazon. The program, which Amazon launched in 2007, allows authors to upload their books directly to Amazon's Kindle store, set their own prices and publish in multiple languages. Barnes & Noble followed suit in 2010 with a similar program for its Nook e-reader.
Self-published titles have been buoyed by an explosion in digital book sales. E-book sales totaled $878 million in 2010, compared to $287 million in 2009, according to the Association of American Publishers. Some analysts project that e-book sales will pass $2 billion in 2013.

Read the rest of this story HERE.

1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Mobile Share

iPhone 6 Outline