(Featured Image Credit: Publishing Solutions)
Amidst the cold winter rain in Taipei these days, the 22nd Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) is underway, attracting hundred thousands of bookworms into the venue, who are there to meet their favorite authors and shop for their favourite books as if it’s Black Friday.
TIBE, an annual exhibition held at the Taipei World Trade Center, is an event anticipated by many. The exhibition’s contents would cover comic books, animation and literature from countries around the globe. Many international guest authors are also invited to meet readers face to face, adding to the huge pull factor for the event.
This year, one of the guest author who attracted the most attention may just be Hugh Howey, an American who authored the popular sci-fi series “Wool”, “Shift” and “Dust”. What differentiates his bestsellers from the rest is, Hugh Howey first introduced this series through Amazon’s program, ”Kindle Direct Publishing” in 2011, where he published his stories in electronic versions.
Video: Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Video
Initially Hugh Howey charged USD 1 for each story entry he wrote, and as the stories gained popularity, he continued to release more. He would then collate the first 5 entries into an entire book “Wool”, which he charged USD5.99 on Amazon Kindle.
He also signed a print-only deal to distribute “Wool” to the U.S. and Canada in 2012, but kept the full rights to distribute “Wool” online to himself. To date, the trilogy sold over 2 million copies in both print and ebooks.
In the interview from TIBE this year, Hugh Howey explained why he first published his novels online before they went to print.
It is fast, cheap, and it gains more exposure easily.
Other than the lower publishing cost for authors, what’s more important is, through online content sharing, authors can engage in a direct communication with their readers. With a price starting from USD0.99, readers are more inclined to purchase ebooks and share feedbacks on Amazon after reading. This way, authors can adjust or improve their writing according to the comments and opinions received.
A win-win for the readers and authors.
Back in 2007, the rise of Amazon ushers in the era of e-books and self publishing. Amazon started to encourage authors to publish their own books, which requires no agents or press. Authors no longer have to send their work to publishers and wait before they see their efforts in print at bookstores.
Internet changed all of that.
Now, before publishing a book, authors can post stories by chapters on blogs or an open platform like what Amazon provides, to attract viewerships, get instant feedbacks from a wide range of readers and decide what to do next. If authors reach an early success, it means that they attracted the attention of their prospective readers, and therefore, it is more likely that the book will be a success in print as well.
Some, or probably most of us have a doubt on whether ebooks can fully replace print books some day. The November 2013 issue of Scientific American magazine showed that human brains prefer reading on paper instead of on digital interfaces, and that reading paper books generates better comprehension of contents.
However, statistics tells a different story. E-books are grabbing a larger market share; PwC even estimated that ebook sales are projected to surpass print by 2017. On top of that, everyone knows that we are increasing our dependency on the Internet as well as our portable devices.
Humans are more prone to share and has a desire to be heard, so we witness the rise of blogs and various social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
What matters most for authors is probably not how they are paid, but how their stories can be heard. The story of Hugh Howey sheds some light on the future of electronic self-publishing. Amazon recently also announced that the 25% of top 100 kindle books are self-published in 2012. While it may still be years before self publishing become mainstream, but we are definitely hopeful that it is bound to be the norm in the near future.
We’re all familiar with the motto “Do-It-Yourself”, so why not start to publish by yourself?