Before starting, I should make it clear this isn’t about getting drunk. Though some days getting drunk would be infinitely more enjoyable than being locked away with a computer and an annoying cursor that constantly winks.
This is about taking a leap into the unknown.
As a writer, you write. Right?
Of course, you say. What else would you do as a writer?
So, you’ve written and edited – and rewritten and edited again – then what?
You cross all your fingers and submit to competitions, agents, publishers so that readers can enjoy your work. If you don’t, all you have is a bunch of electronic files cluttering up your hard drive.
Bear in mind that Australian writing competitions attract 300 to 400 entries, all of whom are good writers like yourself. Also remember there are usually between three and five winners.
That’s a one percent chance of success.
Better than Gold Lotto, admittedly. But for the 99% of entrants who miss out, that’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears down the proverbial drain.
Getting an agent, I’m told, is even harder. Getting published in traditional hard copy format is becoming an ever-diminishing prospect.
So much for the good news.
As a member of the Queensland Writers Centre, I recently went to a seminar about indie publishing through Smashwords. It was very capably run by Simon Groth, who introduced us to the founder of Smashwords, Mark Coker.
According to Mark, 30-35% of book sales in the US are ebooks. In the Australian market that’s closer to 50%. And the ebook market is growing, while the traditional book market is shrinking.
In a way it makes me sad. I’m an old-fashioned kind of girl. There’s nothing more scintillating than the aroma of a freshly-cracked book.
But it also makes me think opportunity.
With a shortlist of reject emails from various sources in my ‘saved’ box, there wasn’t much to lose. So last week I downloaded Mark’s do-it-yourself manual called The Smashwords Style Guide. It’s free.
Be warned, it’s long and a bit torturous. But it’s very detailed in a step-by-step way. He could have just as easily called it Smashwords for Dummies. It tells you exactly what to do and even gives screenshots of where to find elusive format settings in Word. If you follow his instructions to the letter, I don’t think you could go wrong.
Uploading the file onto the website was a cinch. All you need is a cover image (if you’re not a designer, get one done professionally) and a short synopsis or teaser.
I followed Mark’s instructions. And a few days later there was my little book in its cute yellow cover on electronic bookshelves right across the world.
So, what are you waiting for?
P.S. If you’d like to download my book (it’s an adventure short story), visit your favourite ebook retailer and search Mowbray Brothers. If you like it, please leave me a review and some nice gold stars. As I’ve discovered in the ebook world, reviews are your bread and butter.