Some of my books are offered for sale on Smashwords, an ebook distributor that specializes in independent books. In other words, the books offered directly on the Smashwords website are considered “self-published.” And for many readers, that label translates to “not-worth-it.”
But the industry has changed so drastically that fewer of the self-published books are truly self-published these days. Authors are recovering rights to their older, out-of-print titles and re-releasing them on their own through platforms such as Kindle Direct and Smashwords. These are books that major publishers invested time in editing for content as well as grammar and the other fine points. These are not amateur productions, although when the authors create their own covers, it may look that way. (I’m pointing the finger at myself here!)
Again, because of changes in the industry, authors who have published numerous titles with publishing houses are now deciding that they would prefer to release some projects on their own. Knowing the value of good editing, these authors usually hire or trade professional editing services to bring their manuscripts up to professional standards. These new books, too, would not be amateur productions in my opinion. A professional writer and professional editor can put out a professional product even without a professional publisher.
This change took about ten years longer than I thought it would and that was good for me because it gave me the chance to work with some fabulous editors at different publishing houses. Now those publishers are all either out of business or have cut the series that I wrote for, and I’m on my own with a stack of previously-published works to put back out however I see fit.
I’m not going to suggest that they’re fabulous. But the content in them is no less than it was when they had a publisher’s name imprinted on the cover. In fact, often self-published older titles are often better than the original because authors frequently undertake revisions before re-releasing their older books. And every day, more and more of these previously-published titles hit the metaphorical shelves of independent publishing platforms.
So if you’re looking for something to read, don’t cringe if you see that a book is “self-published.” That label carries less meaning with every passing day.
Smashwords has designated the week of March 5-12 as “Read an Ebook Week.” Since they sell ebooks, this would seem to be somewhat self-serving. However, they encourage authors to deeply discount their books. I’m offering my first mystery for free during the week. Of course, this is not an altruistic move on the part of Smashwords or myself. We both hope that when people read the first book for free, they will want to come back and buy the other two. Since the other two in the series are priced at $1.99 and $3.99, even if readers gobble up all three, no one is getting rich.
For myself, I’m hoping a few people enjoy reading my work. I hate the idea of spending much money on a bunch of computer coded words (an ebook) so I’ve never wanted my ebooks to cost more than a few dollars. Even $3.99 seems a bit high to me, but I do hope to recoup the costs I’ve invested in editing and promotion, if nothing else.
Anyway, the bottom line is that this is a good week to try out some new authors on Smashwords. It won’t cost you anything but time.
George Washington Stepped Here will be available for free from March 5-12 here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1
You can learn more about this cozy mystery and my other books at http://katedolan.com/george-washington-stepped-here-by-k-d-hays. The drawing above shows artwork from the publisher while the book was in production. The new cover at the bottom was created for me by a professional artist, Henry thor Straten. My comment about amateur covers refers to some other titles, some of which will be making their re-debut soon.