Going global and the joys of digital DIY
WORD FOR WORD:I am Irish. I love books. We all do. But this year I moved into a new era by embracing the delights of the digital revolution and by publishing six ebooks.
Why did I self-publish? Because, after publishing three books (Troubadours and Troublemakers; Boyzone: Our Story and Other Voices, A Personal History of Folk Music, the latter coauthored with the singer Nanci Griffiths) with major Irish, British and American publishers, I tried the self-publishing route for the first time in 2011 and found it hugely inspiring.
My first self-published book was David Norris: Trial By Media, which I didn’t even offer to publishers because I knew that they can take up to four months to respond to a submission and I wanted the book published within that period, before the presidential election.
So I wrote it, sourced the photos, helped design the cover and layout, had the book professionally edited and professionally printed, did a distribution deal and got it into shops within a month.
I opted for print because the book was aimed at Irish readers, who have yet to embrace ereaders fully.
Sadly, I soon discovered that Irish book reviewers have a backward-looking, condescending attitude to self-published books. My Norris book was similar in form to my early books, but didn’t get one review. This struck me as being nearly as ludicrous as the fact that distributors took 55 per cent of the cover price.
The next time around, I published The Louis Walsh Factor: Rolling Back the Years from Boyzone to Jedward as a Kindle ebook on Amazon, from which a writer can receive a 65 per cent royalty as opposed to the 7 to 15 per cent given by traditional publishers.
Since then I also have published on Smashwords, a website that makes my ebooks available for all electronic formats, such as the iPad in Apple bookstores. These titles include Gabriel Byrne: The Joe Jackson Interviews Plus and similar volumes on The Chieftains and on Bob Geldof.
My latest book, published today, is Tori Amos: Soul Searching and Uncensored. The Norris book is also available as an ebook.
So, is this financially viable? It’s too soon to say.
More important to me, however, is the fact that self- publishing ebooks – I will do print editions in 2013 – has given me more freedom than I have ever known as a creative writer and enabled me to reach a global audience. And I love it.
Twitter: @JoeJacksonJnr Facebook: Joe Jackson Journalist