Indie Publishing Business Rants Self Publishing

Self Publishers of New Zealand – Indie Authors Doing It For Themselves

I went to Tauranga on the weekend – but I didn’t take these pictures. While my partner gallivanted around the beaches and cafes of the pretty Bay of Plenty town, I sat in a conference room at the Kickstart conference organized by OceanBooks and TheStoryBridge. 

Yeah I know – I’m never at home! Last month Sydney, this month Tauranga – and in both cases I got the prize (which BOTH conference organisers have forgotten to deposit in my bank account), for “attendee from furthest  away”.  It’s a deliberate strategy though. I feel that  I straddle the world of writers and marketers. Although I’ve never really considered myself a writer I’ve probably earned more from my writing than many self-titled authors. Even though in general my grammar  sucks  my spelling is worse, and my proof-reading random. (I installed the AfterTheDeadline plugin, have you grammar-Nazis seen an improvement?). So I’m trying to learn more about this weird author world, particularly the off-line part.

View from the top of Mt Maunganui across the beaches - I didn't take this photo -  I was sat on my butt in one of the buildings!
View from the top of Mt Maunganui across the beaches – I didn’t take this photo – I was sat on my butt in a Self Publishing conference one of the buildings!

Marketers Need To Understand The Value of Good Books

The fatuous nonsense spouted by the pedlars of programs like Fast Kindle Cash don’t just scam the naive, lazy and gullible who join them, they also  devalue the  authenticity of the written narrative (oops the writer thing is rubbing off).  

The marketing crowd is lazy – and scared of writing, and too cheap to pay for good writing 

NEWSFLASH: Books require decent writing – End. Of. Story. Do it or hire the talent. 

Authors Need To Grow Up Too

On the other hand I am quite simply stunned that authors have been happy to turn over all control for not just their career but even their creativity (did you know that traditional publishers control a book’s cover, title and blurb???) to publishers in return for what? Ten percent? Glory? Dunno about you –  I can’t live on glory. All on top of being treated as demanding scum by publishers, just because they  ask a publisher to read their book within a time frame of weeks not months (and while it’s with one publisher you can’t give it to another!). Who has the resources to put their business on hold for 6 months for someone else’s timetable?

 Some authors have a book be accepted, only to have the publisher go bust before publication, and then have no other publisher willing to buy the rights because the book is “tainted” by having been previously contracted to someone else!!! 

Well writer types, there, as they say, some good news and some bad new. 

The good news is – that the gatekeepers are gone – indeed your chances of being published in New Zealand with a traditional publisher is now ZERO (rather than almost zero in 2012) – James George 

The bad news: you need to take control of your work, your career, and your business.  If you “just want to write”, that’s cool – just don’t expect to sell books. 

You’ll need to finish your book, get your book edited, get your book formatted, and get your book in both print and electronic formats. You will then need to introduce your book to your potential buyers (aka marketing).  

New Zealand Writers: The Future Is Here, and It’s Awesome

A few weeks ago I  received the first 2013 edition of the New Zealand Author a paper(!) newsletter of NZSA. On the last page there was a long opinion piece titled: “Less Choice for Authors” by Geoff Walker (if Geoff had a website I’d link to it).  It ended with: 

Less choice for authors, less publisher diversity – for writers this isn’t good news. 

In my opinion he couldn’t be more wrong – indeed this is singularly the BEST time to be a writer since the invention of the printing press.  It is however a terrible time to rely on traditional publishers for a job. I think that New Zealand authors and writers actually have the best opportunity to get their books “out there” to their audience, because the gatekeepers have gone away.  

Geoff posed the questions “my friend is a first-time novelist…[that] is now ready to be submitted to a publisher. So who should she go to?” 

The answer is simple. No one. She should get a cover design for around US$50-US$200, she should  get the book formatted  for print and eBook (under US$200), she should publish via Createspace, Amazon and Smashwords. She should promote her book. If she starts to get traction and is in future approached by a publisher – she should be very careful considering, what, if anything, a publisher can do better than she can do herself. 

Sounds far-fetched and outrageous? It has already happened – Hugh Howey indie self-publisher who already makes 5 figures ((US) a month, has recently signed with Simon & Schuster for the print only rights (Howey’s story here). 

The future is amazing for writers. The future is amazing for books. But the future is different from the past, thank God. 

8 replies on “Self Publishers of New Zealand – Indie Authors Doing It For Themselves”

Oh those are deliberate to see if people are reading properly *ducks*

When I worked as a tech instructor for the military years ago, we called these omissions ‘attention steps”. We never actually made the mistakes, we left things out occasionally to make sure the students were paying attention. (PS, I also have some beach front property in Arizona for sale, cheap).

*Sigh* I always get a little sentimental when I see photos of the lovely Bay of Plenty, though my old hometown is further east (and a good deal less developed).

Hugh’s story is amazing and wonderful, especially since he’s kept his ebook rights. What’s also wonderful is that more and more authors are able to make a living out of self-publishing, not just a small group of outliers with huge numbers. My copies sold are in five figures every month, despite my being very much an unknown – and a Kiwi unknown at that. 🙂

Hi Shayne – I remember coming across you in my early days of publishing on the KindleBoards and thinking – gosh the front cover of Promise of Marriage looked like a NZ Kauri forest – and then realising you were a New Zealand author! I thought of you when there was a big article in NZ Author magazine titled “Less Choice for Authors” – and thought – nah – never been a better time to be an author, and there is no disadvantage to being a NZ one as far as I can see.

Interesting indeed, particularly the New Zealand ‘expert” thinking that because there might be fewer “dead tree” publishers in New Zealand that opportunities were becoming limited for Kiwi authors. How out of touch.

I live in the Philippines (US by birth). Many reading this will, of course, consider the Philippines as a 3rd-world “backwater” type country.

Two American friends of mine operate a booming set of call center and internet marketing related group of businesses here in the Philippines.

While discussing some issues in their “comments” session one day recently, a comment came in from a fellow in New Zealand. The gist of his comment? “Wow, your income and success stories are great. Sadly for me, I live in the backwoods of New Zealand. Poor me”.

OMG did I laugh. I guess the fellow didn’t realize he was talking with people living in the Philippines. Thousands and thousands of Filipinos per year line up and pay huge fees to try to migrate to countries like New Zealand in order to “have a better life”.

If only people would realize that success (and income) now has so, so little to do with where you happen to live.

Very true Dave! That fellow might like to think about the fact that Kiwis have one of the world’s simpliest tax systems for self-employed entrepreneurs, and we regularly top surveys for the “country easiest to set up a company in”. My partner needed a company for a contract he already had: it took about 2 hours online plus about US$120 – try doing that in countries like the US!

OTOH I would love to move my business to the Philippines – I am so not looking forward to winter down under!

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