I’ve just read an article (good magazine, no complaints) telling writers how to break into the expanding Mind, Body & Spirit (MB&S) genre. Jan and I have published MB&S for the last fifteen years, so this news came as a pleasant surprise, considering that a). all we’ve seen is a continual slowdown, and b). the UK’s trade organ, The Bookseller magazine, recently commented that latest surveys showed MB&S to be one of the hardest-hit genres, astrology in particular being the worst off. That fits what we see, so one shouldn’t always believe the first thing one sees in the media.
What is happening, as borne out by experience at the London Book Fair earlier this year, is that self-publishing (or Personal Publishing – a better name) is now a fully accepted component of today’s publishing scene. Some mainstream publishers have started their own self-pub imprints (so have we); some sit on the fringes, watching for the top indie authors’ books to emerge, and then snap them up. (á la Fifty Shades?). Well and good for the lucky few writers, but for all the rest, it really appears that getting a traditional deal is further away than ever; likewise getting an agent – more and more of them are turning away new business. Some of them have also turned to producing self-pub books. Amazon has been in the game for some time, and may well have precipitated the turnaround.
Authors, however, should take care. There are still the current versions of vanity presses out there, charging exorbitant rates and talking up their ability to sell via their websites, “making books available world-wide”; you can do this yourself, via Amazon, it’s no big deal. Before committing to any particular self-pub services, do have a thorough browse on Google for reviews by people who have already dealt with the companies on your short list. That can be an eye opener. I spoke recently to a lovely lady who had a book published by a well-known firm, whose package rates start at about £1,000. That’s just ridiculous for a starting point, so take care.
You should also be able to select specific services that suit you, not have to adopt a rigid package deal. Nothing wrong with package deals, we do them too, but they don’t necessarily suit a more experienced writer.