Hello there. If you are reading this, you may be doing so on a computer at home but you may also be using your Android, iPhone or iPad, am I right? Handheld devices have been the 'home' for most of our personal media (films, television and video games) for some years now but there has been one omission until recently, and that is the book. You have no doubt heard about the e-book and may even own a Kindle where you can download e-copies of your favourite books but what does this digital revolution in publishing mean for the new writers out there? And what are the benefits for you as a reader? Bear with me, and I will let you know.
Digital publishing means that, for the first time, self-publishing is a viable and low-cost venture. I have been self-publishing for just under a year and, in that short space of time, I have published work that has been critically-acclaimed and I have had short stories accepted for anthologies where I am being published alongside authors who inspired me in the first place. And I have also made some money as well, not a lot, I'm not writing this from the comfort of a Maida Vale apartment, but that will come in due time. The reason it will come is because by self-publishing through platforms such as Amazon and Smashwords, a writer is entitled to royalties of up to 70% whereas before it was 30% or less.
Now, it is my responsibility to promote myself obviously as I do not have the support of a publisher's marketing department, which some would see as a disadvantage and yes, once upon a time it was. But today, we have the ever-growing social networks through which writers can get in touch with readers on a personal basis, I talk to my readers and receive feedback from them every day. I am bypassing the traditional stumbling blocks where a writer's exposure was limited by their not having an agent, not being with a large publisher or not being reviewed by the right critics. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Googleplus and Pinterest amongst others I am slowly and steadily building my presence and making a name for myself online. If you are a writer and you are reading this, you can as well. Yes, it takes time and you'll have to cut down on sleep and up the caffeine intake for some late nights but put the effort in and you will find that you reap rewards in every respect.
So, if you are a reader, what is in this for you? Well, you get to choose from a whole host of writers who would otherwise not have been published and usually at a low price compared to what the big publishers would charge you. Most newcomers to digital publishing start off pricing their work between $0.99 - $2.99 and, with Amazon's KDP Select program, you can pick up great new fiction for FREE. Every writer who signs up for this program is given five promotional days where their book is listed for free - I have signed up, used it, gained reviews and watched my monthly income go up because of it. The writers you follow also have much more freedom as, traditionally, once you were known for writing a particular genre, that was what you wrote and opportunities to break out were few. Now, digital publishing means that a writer can write in the genres they please and thus get in touch with a readership that might have been previously denied to them. Also, dear reader, watch this space as the next place e-books will go from being free is to being sponsored and being available through a range of subscription programs. The literary equivalent of Netflix and Spotify is not so far away and the winners in this revolution will be us, the writers, and you, the readers.
G.R. Yeates is the critically-acclaimed author of the Vetala Cycle trilogy. He has been accepted and published in small press anthologies including Phobophobia from Dark Continents Publishing and Horror for Good from Cutting Block Press. His new novel, Hell's Teeth, is now available: