I am a reader that usually shies away, okay more like runs away, from a book that everyone is raving about (especially an Oprah pick!), so I don’t think I will ever be reading that mommy porn book that everyone seems to be reading, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t applaud the book and it’s author, E.L. James, for doing something incredible, making us all much more aware of self-published fiction.
It’s truly astounded how James’ trilogy racked up so many sales in such a short period of time. I read somewhere that it sold 25 million copies in four months, compared to Stieg Larsson’s equally infamous publishing sensation, which sold 20 million copies in 4 years! That’s a lot of books!
Even though I’ve heard that these particular novels are not the most well written books of all time, they have certainly struck a chord with readers around the world and brought to everyone’s attention how the internet and self-publishing have increased the amount of available material for us, the lovers of the written word. Readers win, I like that!
What’s great is that somehow readers are ferreting out these stories, giving them a wider readership which in turn gets a publishers attention. It’s a kind of backwards process but it seems to be working!
I honestly wasn’t even aware, until this past year, how many self-published e-books there are for sale on Amazon, and for a very small price too! I’ve read maybe a half a dozen of them and I have to say they were all pretty darn good. There are probably more punctuation and grammatical errors than from a book that’s been looked over by an editor, but if you can ignore that and just enjoy the story I think you will be in for a treat.
The newest self-publishing phenomenon is, “Wool” by Hugh Howey, an american author, who spent his lunch hours at his day job writing fiction. He self published these stories on Amazon and in the fall of 2011 found himself at the top of the Amazon science fiction best-selling list with, “Wool”, a 50 page novella. With his readers demanding more, he continued to add installments to the “Wool” series, and it is now selling as a 5 part omnibus on the site. The phenomenon continues to grow with the series being optioned by Ridley Scott for a potential movie, and the publication of a hardback version by Random House coming out in England in January 2013 and an American publication sometime later in the year.
I’ve read part one and really enjoyed it, and it did leave me wanting to read more, so I’ve downloaded the omnibus as well! I’ve just recently listened to a podcast featuring Howey, and he is of course pleased and amazed with his recent success, and has been able to quit his day job!
He also said that his other self-published stories are now selling like hotcakes, and that if he had gone the traditional publishing route his own success story would be much different. Howey said he never spent his time and energy sending out manuscripts to publishers and networking, he instead put all of his efforts into creating, and as a result he already has a lot of material on the internet for readers to buy without going through the usual slow process of conventional publishing.
So with publishers being cautious about spending money these days on an unknown name, the internet seems to be helping them find the next sensation without having to do much of the work. And for those of us, like myself, who are just learning to embrace the e-reader I guess we have to give credit where credit is due and thank them for giving us some new voices that might otherwise have been lost!
Here is the link to the Guardian Books Podcast if your interesting in listening.