For an aspiring writer it is one big predicament to consider. It is heaven-like to know that other people are going through the pages of your books... but if it's for free, then the battle between the need of your pocket and your passion will be most likely to emerge. Can an independent writer stay unscathed in spite of this problem?
The answer for that is yes, and I have just recently met a person that can stand before you as a living example. Russ King, a British independent writer, who has just recently published, online and later paperback, his first novel "Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure?"
Russ King and his son. Working From Home's new kindle book cover
"Working from home: Mixing business with pleasure? is different to most romantic comedies as it sets out to be laugh out loud funny rather than just an amusing tale. It is also set in the dynamic world of small businesses and entrepreneurs where people make (and break) friendships and contacts very quickly both online and ‘face-to-face’. My idea was to show the humor behind the desperation to meet people just so you can sell to them and to give people an accurate insight of what it takes to run your business from home. Of course, wherever there are lots of people meeting up there will always be sexual attraction!"
With its interesting and somehow intriguing plot, it can not be left unnoticed. The stir though is that he opened it first to the public online, where mobs of illicit downloaders might feast on his debut masterpiece.
"I wanted to see how well it sold before deciding whether to publish it as a paperback. Also, the book is partly set online on Facebook and other networking sites so it seemed apt to start with an electronic version."
Russ answered on the question about going online first before going the traditional way. He also added that because he published his work through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) it lessened the cost of production, and he only needed to pay for the book's cover design.
"I didn't read ebooks myself at the time. I have even written a blog post saying why I will always be a ‘real book’ person!"
Russ surprised me about his hesitance over trying ebook publishing. He said that though there is a compelling force against ebooks, the business model for ebook publishing was too tempting to ignore.
"Being able to sell books almost worldwide without having to buy any stock yourself is a huge advantage." Russ also added.
The difficulties of online publishing are inevitable. One of its obvious peeves is that some people are still stoic against ebooks.
"The sales statistics tell us that ebook sales are eclipsing ‘hard-copy’ books but I stopped people in the street to ask them if they have an e-reader and only three out of about 75 people admitted to having one. It is hard to find e-reader owners offline without costly marketing and the online market is very competitive."
Another, of course, is the possibility of illicit redistribution of his work.
"I do occasionally check search engines to see how my SEO is doing so this sort of activity should show up there.Hopefully if it does these people will enjoy the book and tell their friends about it!"
However, there are some obvious advantages as well.
"The advantage to the indie writer is that ebooks are cheaper and you can alter the price. However, you are competing against very cheap or free ebooks. I've lost count of the number of countries I've sold Working from home in (I think it’s approaching 10 now) and that’s just from me sitting at home from a laptop. It is also a very quick purchase process. You can order it online and be reading it in seconds. Just amazing!"
Russ also emphasized that a change in the manner of publishing does not necessarily entails a change of the target audience.
"It is shockingly difficult to get people to buy a copy of your book whether it is a hard copy or ebook. There is so much choice, people don’t have much spare time and many only choose books by famous writers."
As I have written earlier, after nine months of ebook selling, Russ published a paperback copy of Working From Home.
"I think you have to do both (online and hard copy publishing) as people have one less excuse not to buy your book! It takes some time to learn the different formatting required but you’ll know how to do it for your next novel. Since I published the paperback version I've had a nice jump in sales from people who were interested in the book but didn't want to couldn't read it as an ebook."
Russ King is also generous enough to share some tips for young writers who wants to try publishing their works online.
"You obviously need to check your rights if your book is already published. If you are self-publishing I would publish it on Amazon KDP and Smashwords. If you sign up to ‘KDP Select’ people can borrow your ebooks from libraries and you get paid for it but this means you can’t publish anywhere else so will miss out on sales for any other e-reader than Kindle."
But of course, since it is still the story itself that will be bought, good quality should still be observed.
"Just because the process of publishing is so easy don’t be tempted to rush the quality of your work. Your finished book should be of the highest quality both in plot and presentation. No-one will take you seriously if there are typos or plot discrepancies and you need to work especially hard on this. Get people who will give proper criticism to read and comment on it."
Apparently, online or traditional, everything boils down on being passionate and working harder.
"A traditionally published writer has a whole team behind them. You just have you and your friends so you have to work much harder."
Know more about Russ King and his novel Working From Home: Mixing business with pleasure?
Follow Russ on twitter: @russwrites
*Photo credits goes to Russ King