According to Mark Coker, Smashwords' founder, there’s a clear connection between great covers and great sales. “In addition to promising what a book will deliver, the [cover] image also promises (or fails to promise) that the author is a professional, and that the book will honor the reader's time.”
“By self-publishing you beat the odds to get published,” says Steven Axelrod, a prominent literary agent, the first to negotiate a seven-figure deal for an indie author. In Axelrod’s experience, the traditional gatekeepers—agents and editors—frequently miss the mark.
With Kickstarter’s crowd-funding platform, authors and publishers can fund their project without going broke or borrowing money from investors. Artists and entrepreneurs maintain creative, managerial, and financial control of their project, and the financing comes with no strings attached, as both Kickstarter guidelines and current law forbid sharing profits with backers.
Had I known of all the pitfalls and challenges that lay ahead, I’m not sure I would have embarked on the journey. An entire industry has been spawned to profit off of fledgling writers who crave to see their name in bold letters.
Most difficult was enduring the stigma. Traditional publishers wrote the rules; no one—publishing houses, agents or mainstream media—would touch self-published authors, largely denigrated as hacks who couldn’t cut it in the traditional world.
Literary agent Steven Axelrod, who represents self-publishing rock star Amanda Hocking, credits readers for opening new opportunities for independent authors. Readers no longer see a huge difference between self- and traditionally published books, Axelrod says.
He [the critic] makes the work of art live for the spectator; he makes the spectator live for the work of art. Out of the process comes understanding, appreciation, intelligent enjoyment --- and that is precisely what the artist tried to produce. - H.L. Mencken, Criticism of Criticism of Criticism
Gone are the days when books either came from a traditional publishing house or a vanity press. These days there are lots more options.
Rumor has it, one big-name author even resorted to rallying fans, fuming about the deleterious effect eBooks have had on her income. Another traditionally published author went so far as to refer to self-publishing as “literary karaoke.” The lines, it seems, have been drawn.
More than half the top 20 books on Amazon’s current Kindle “Movers and Shakers” list—hot books rising fastest up the Amazon sales ranks—are indie or small press published. Why then, given their popularity, are so few indie books available on bookstore shelves?
Is Amazon’s new KDP Select program a game-changer for authors? Well, yes, no, and maybe.