Kindle books from Amazon: super-slick jet assisted up-ramp for sales of my sci-fi & dark fantasy work.
I first “got published” back in 2007 when I took all my manuscripts away from the table that I’d been using to pitch to literary agents and publishers, and went and did it on my own.
I used a service called Print on Demand, this one provided by LULU.com, to connect myself directly to a new and rather exciting market. This market wasn’t the people drifting between the snug shelves of Waterstones or Borders bookstores, browsing the dense clusters of spines all cunningly crafted to snag the attention and entice a pull-down, flick through and purchase. This was the burgeoning online market. But I wasn’t selling a digital product. I was selling paperbacks – just using the Internet as a place to pitch up my stall and shout “new fiction here, come get it!”
It’s 2007 – so it’s before iPads and Playbooks. But it’s around the time that iTunes and the whole concept of downloading music rather than buying in physical format exploded into the on-demand, vast choice, global phenomenon it is today. I mean, when was the last time you walked into a store and bought a CD? And if it was recently, how often do you actually do that? The physical format still exists and will never go away (look at the tenacity of vinyl LPs) and with books, a vast majority still cherish (thankfully) the notion of a paperback.
So when I first started using LULU, and Print on Demand, a whole ton of people got what I was doing because buying stuff on the web was now common-place; Amazon and eBay being the retail and distribution hubs for physical products purchased in a digital space.
I built up a fan base through SEO and link-building strategies, I generated interest and I started selling books. Paperbacks. Punters clicked on a link, went to LULU’s shopping portal, handed over a credit card or PayPal payment and a few days later, LULU sent them a bookstore quality, professionally printed, glossy bound paperback novel through the post.
For me it was win-win. I don’t have to buy stock. I don’t have to carry and store stock. I don’t have to go through the hassle of shipping items to customers. It is a seamless, direct route to market where everybody wins. LULU take their cut for printing and shipping and I get a royalty payment every month – and you get a lovely book to read.
But back in 2007 what I also got was quite a bit of sneering from people when I told them how I was selling my books. Print on Demand? Isn’t that just vanity publishing? They would state, smirking at me where I stood with clenched jaw and gritted teeth.
It irritated me because they were missing the whole point. I was selling books. My books. A dream I’ve chased passionately for two decades, with much personal sacrifice, to make it as a writer.
And here I am, making it… in my own little way, and getting these cheap half-cocked face-slaps from people who only saw “quality” in the mass-produced offerings of major publishing houses and chain bookstores. Where choice is defined by a handful of individuals across a vast industry – editorial choice versus the opinion of the marketeer and the ability of the publisher’s sales rep to get the books on the shelves.
That irritation was short-lived when I bought a car in 2009 from what I’d made through my writing, a nice little convertible with shark gills either side of the engine cowling:
It might sound stupid or vain but I grin most days driving around in that car when I think, I earned this. I made this my reality through writing fiction. Okay, it’s not a Bugatti Veyron but it makes me happy. It reminds me, working in an industry where self-doubt can cripple the imagination, that I’m good enough. And makes me think: what can I achieve next?
Which brings me to the point of this article. Last month I took part in an unfolding zombie apocalypse – in Bristol – called 2.8 hours later. Amazing exciting fun (pics and vids here). I met a lot of very interesting people in one night and I was stunned by a) how many knew who LULU were and what they did, without negative comment and b) how many of those same people asked if they could buy my work on Amazon Kindle.
The transformation of attitude since 2007 is significant. People are now readily willing to accept that they have the choice to find new and exciting fiction through Print on Demand portals, like LULU, and have paperbacks shipped to their door. But the same notion behind downloading music is surging into the book industry via devices such as the Amazon Kindle or the iPad.
Just look at articles like this one from the BBC, “The rise of the indie author” by By Liam Allen – highlighting the one-million-Kindle-sales success of American author John Locke and talking to British authors Louise Voss and Mark Edwards about their entrance into the Kindle marketplace.
I want to be a part of this surge. I want to see more people reading my work because I’m passionate about it.
So last week I went through the minor pain of converting my original novel manuscripts into filtered HTML, adding meta data and getting the product ready for market. A day or so later, my books are there on the Amazon Kindle shop front. I write a wee article to celebrate and promote the fact, and to highlight fact that you can buy any of my novels for just £2.90 (that’s about $3,99 US dollars or 3.50 euros).
They started to sell immediately. Not vast quantities but enough to grab my interest. Reasons could be many: fresh content picked up by Kindle-aficionados; good SEO for my work where people are searching the Internet for science fiction and dark fantasy or cyberpunk horror; or the fact the price is right… £2.90 for a recently launched novel that cost’s £13.99 in paperback…lovely, thank you very much!
So I guess it’s now about “watch this space”. Could I ever sell a million on Kindle? I don’t see why not. And that’s the beauty of this business model. When you’re presenting your work direct to market, the only obstacle to your success, is you.
- Showcase of my sci-fi & dark fantasy novels available on Kindle (this website) – click
- Amazon store front for my novels in Kindle format – for UK – or – for US
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David J. Rodger (born 1970 in Newcastle Upon Tyne) is a British science fiction & fantasy author and game designer best known for his novels set in a near-future world of corporate and political intrigue. So far he has published five novels; four that are set in the same world: God Seed; Dante’s Fool; Iron Man Project and Edge, and one, Dog Eat Dog, set within the post-apocalyptic world of Yellow Dawn.