I’m back! Or perhaps I should say: my back! It’s still giving me problems, sitting for any length of time to write being just one of them. But I couldn’t ignore this post for it marks my website’s fifth birthday. Yes! Now we are five! My enforced inactivity has given me plenty of time to read however (and I have read some particularly good thrillers of late and discovered some truly wonderful authors). It also gave me time to think about the current state of publishing. It’s never been easier to publish your novel yourself and see your own words in print. Nor harder to find anyone who is prepared to read it, let alone shell out good money for the privilege. Why? Over the next few months I’ll be reflecting on this and other matters to do with publishing in an extended series of posts.
When Amazon launched its digital publishing arm, Kindle Direct Publishing, a little over a decade ago—followed swiftly by its indie-friendly competitor Smashwords—it signalled the start of a publishing gold rush. A shaky start, admittedly. In the first seven months Smashwords had published a meagre 140 titles. But within four and a half years E. L. James’s self-published Fifty Shades of Grey became the first ebook to sell one million copies on Amazon. Suddenly anyone who could put finger to keyboard imagined they might do the same!
But now it’s six years on and we’re no longer at the start, but mired somewhere in the middle—with the market not just flooded but drowning. Up-to-date figures are hard to come by, but a reasonable estimate is that approximately 2 to 2.5 million new titles (both traditional and self-published) are released worldwide each year. New titles! Each year! The majority hail from China (440,000 in 2013, or approximately one-fifth of all new releases) and presumably appeal to a market specifically limited by language—but even so! It’s a frightening prospect, but with self-publishing and distribution made so easy these days there may now be as many authors as there are regular readers (or, rather worryingly, even more authors than there are regular readers!).
With these odds, how is the reading public to judge the worth of any given title? How can they know that someone’s lovingly-crafted title even exists? It used to be they could rely on the good reputation of the legacy publishers. So-and-so published it, so it must be good…or at least of a certain quality. Join me next time to judge whether that is still the case.
This month’s giveaway is a free download of Big Bona Ogles, Boy!: Octavius Guy & The Case of the Mendacious Medium (#3). There’s a new woman in town, recently arrived from Boston, who claims to be able to contact the dead. Need it be said that our Victorian boy detective remains unconvinced? Use coupon code MR99Y. Offer ends on April 30th 2018 and, no, there are no strings attached. Why shell out good money if you don’t have to?
“My favorite Victorian boy investigator sets off to solve a new mystery…Words cannot describe just how much I enjoy Octavius.”—Bethany Swafford (The Quiet Reader) Goodreads Reviewer (5 stars)
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Michael Gallagher is the author of two series of novels set in Victorian times. Send for Octavius Guy chronicles the attempts of fourteen-year-old Gooseberry—reformed master pickpocket—to become a detective, aided and abetted by his ragtag bunch of friends. The Involuntary Medium follows the fortunes of young Lizzie Blaylock, a girl who can materialize the spirits of the dead, as she strives to come to terms with her unique gift. For twenty-five years Michael taught adults with learning disabilities at Bede, a London-based charity that works with the local community. He now writes full time.
You can always message me using the Contact Me form or send me an email. Both Malane, who designs this website for me, and I really look forward to hearing from you, and I will always try to respond personally if I can. Why not include a photo we can use if we publish?