That established, there is no better way to start off than by discussing David Gaughran’s “Let’s Get Digital”, the book without which I would not be here today (sitting in my living room blogging to an audience of dozens). It's a well-written and thoughtful self-published guide to self-publishing. Mr Gaughran is an advocate for online self-publishing who avoids the zealotry of the convert and pays due respect to other opinions, all the time being clear in his own belief that the world has changed and for the better. You don’t have to agree with every point made to believe that we are only at the beginning of the transformation of the publishing industry.
“Let’s Get Digital” is at its most persuasive when the virtues of the new world for unpublished writers are extolled. The argument that exciting opportunities now exist for aspiring writers to get their work into the public space is made forcefully, and I am sure I am not the only person to have taken the plunge after reading this book. If you are currently umming and ahhing about self-publishing, “Let’s Get Digital” is strongly recommended.
Where I am less persuaded is the argument that a “death spiral” has begun for the printed book. The logic goes that as e-books increase in popularity they cannibalise print sales, forcing booksellers out of business, making print books harder to find and therefore less popular, increasing the popularity of e-books and so on. This convenience effect is compounded by a cost effect - print runs are reduced, forcing up costs and thus prices while e-books get cheaper because their fixed costs can be spread across greater volumes. It seems to me that this doesn’t separate the impact of the digital revolution on publishing from its impact on retailing. Bookstores may well be in trouble, but this doesn’t mean print books won’t sell - they could sell mainly through online retailers. And modern printing methods and the small share of final price printing accounts for should prevent current price differentials from widening further. E-books no doubt are here to stay and will grow further, but I’d bet print will retain a large share of sales even in a digital world.
This point aside, “Let’s Get Digital” is an excellent book and David Gaughran an interesting, intelligent commentator on the changes now underway. His prose is also of sufficient quality that this book makes you want to try his fiction, and I have now purchased his South American historical novel “A Storm Hits Valparaiso”. His blog is worth a read too if you are interested in self-publishing. David Gaughran's central message is positive and inspiring:
“The most satisfying aspect [of self-publishing]? The freedom to write whatever you like and publish it when it’s ready. It’s a great time to be a writer.”