Some of you may have read or heard that my Presentation Lesson Hacks ebook co-won the 2015 BESIG David Riley award for BE/ESP innovation. The other winner was the inspirational Julie Kacmaz.
This is a win for many people. It isn’t a loss for publishers. It represents recognition of the vision and hard work of people who have decided to give writing ago in the hope of pushing the limits and to provide teachers with new resources to use.
Here I’d like to quickly address a few things that have come up over the years.
1.Why didn’t you publish with a publisher?
Because they turned my ideas down, the same for most other people. There are new ebook writers and there are famous coursebook writers who now do their own ebooks. I guess the latter have the option in some cases. The former don’t. Also, you’d be surprised by how even if you say “I’ve written a full ebook and it’s been edited and proofed”, you still might not get published.
Is this bad?
No, it’s actually VERY good. It shows their strategy and the gaps in it for more flexible ebook writers. Selfpub is not about competition but creativity.
2. Why don’t you take longer to write books, use ‘professional editors’ and ‘professional cover designers’ to ensure ‘publisher quality’?
Personally, I don’t know what ‘publisher quality’ is. This just shows how people view new work. They see it through their lense which has been created through years of seeing published materials. If all you’ve known are GE coursebooks, you’ll automatically compare everything to them.
Selfpub can be better in quality if we think of writing and design as it does not have any limits placed on it but if you are expecting mass market style BBC world writing styles, you might be surprised.
3. What are your downloads and how much money do you make?
I’m not sure how polite these questions are but people do ask them. Quite a lot. This shows, again, the perspective of some people and how there are writers in it for the money and writers who just like to write and publish. Yes, it’s good to make some money but there are limits for first payments and after charges then local taxes, you might not actually get anything.
4. Why do you do it?
This is the biggie. Every single time I have announced a new ebook idea, some has asked this. Then someone else has said “….. already did that.” Even when I made free images on FB to promote my presentations book and to share tips with teachers, I got “what’s the point” and “I don’t get it.” You have to accept that not everyone will ‘get it’. They nee dto make a leap into the world of epub and of downloading epub/PDFs, reading them and using them. Not everyone will. It is also worth bearing in mind that not everyone is neutral. For instance, someone with 3 books on your subject might not be the best to give unbiased comments.
5. What do you get from giving away free ebooks? You should charge. It devalues our work.
I may have missed something but I’m quite sure in our democracy anyone can write and publish ebooks. If they want to make them free then great. They do it to share. If they decide to charge 2 or 3 dollars then it is upto them. If other people feel challenged by it then maybe they should just make better books that are worth their price.
This and the other comments, as several people have pointed out, represent resistance to change. They also highlight that the epub selfpub industry isn’t being controlled and is completely open. Anyone can write, publish and sell something. Are they taking away market share from the ‘big’ companies? Maybe. Or are they building a new market? I’m not sure that customers would compare a printed 100 page coursebook with a 30 page ebook. almost 90% of ebooks I’ve seen have been for teachers to use. My own 10 minute intro to BE series is an example. It filled a gap in the market for new writing for BE teachers about modern BE teaching. It was free .
6. Why? Why? Why?
Because writing is fun! Having an idea is fun. Developing it is fun. Doing market research and using focus groups is fun. Writing a rough working copy and getting initial feedback is fun. Creating the first draft and waiting for proofing is fun. Perfecting your baby and then working on the cover is fun. Finding out about formatting, epubing and the system is fun. Making and advertising campaign that works on AIDA and building a brand is fun. Asking nice people to review your book and giving away free copies is fun. Running campaigns to help charities is fun too. And it’s really fun to get to know new writers who are in the same boat as you so you can work together on your dreams and love of writing.
For now 🙂
A BIG thanks to BESIG for taking a risk and recognising the many many hours spent on my book and on Julie’s.