Times are tough for writers. With too many people willing to work for nothing, freelance writers are finding it difficult to survive. I know many talented writers who work hard, both in creating and promoting, with little to show for it. Rejection follows rejection, as publishers are reluctant to take a chance on an unknown writer, when they could sign up a celebrity or a YouTuber with huge existing fan base.
I am not knocking Zoe Suggs, also known as Zoella, but I do understand the frustration of many writers today, who looked at the headlines and sighed wearily. A relatively unknown vlogger who outsells JK Rowling – impossible!
Ever more writers are turning to self-publishing, cutting out the middle-man and selling directly to their readers. Particularly for bloggers, who already have a network, this can be a sensible option.
The huge advantage of self-publishing is simultaneously a huge disadvantage. Anyone can self-publish, and so without editing and quality control, books are uploaded and promoted. Writers need editors, and we all benefit from having another person take a fresh look at the ‘finished’ manuscript. I’ve often read and re-read an article, thought it was perfect, and then had a friend spot a glaring spelling mistake.
One of the things that many writers struggle with is discipline, and as Katharine Edgar wisely points out in her excellent blog, having a support group can be incredibly helpful. Another issue that many face, is promotion and marketing. “You need a blog!”, writers are told, but what do you do when you have that blog, and you need more people to read it?
How do you reach those out with your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances?
When some friends and I started talking about self-publishing books, we decided to work together – a kind of feminist self-publishing collective! Millie Slavidou had written a chapter story for Jump! Mag, and it seemed a shame that after the initial sharing on the blog, it would be lost in amongst old posts.
We decided to edit, expand and publish the story on Amazon Kindle. At this point, I realised that we have a huge amount of excellent content on Jump! Mag that could be adapted and expanded into eBooks, and I asked Sam Gouldson if she’d like to write an eBook about science vocabulary.
These two books are now finished, and available to pre-order on Amazon. A second book in the Lucy Evans, InstaExplorer series will be released in time for Christmas – explaining how Christmas is celebrated in Greece. I am currently working on a book provisionally titled ’12 Women Explorers You’ve Never Heard Of’, which will be released in early 2015.
The books are are being sold under the name ‘Jump! Books’, but they really are a collaborative work. We will stay true to the Jump! Mag ethos – gender neutral books, with strong female characters, fun and informative, with a healthy dose of science and history.
Working together means that we can each use our strengths and talents to create and promote the books, and I am really enjoying working with these fabulous women.
You can find the first books on Amazon, available for download from 9th December.