Kindle-ing an online publishing revolution?

“Hermione Hermione” it was Draco calling her from behind. She turned around and saw him standing there in from of him. She suddenly felt a shiver down her spine and went bright red; her knees felt wobbly and before she knew it she has collapsed onto her knees. She quickly got back up again.

Reading the majority of online fiction, it is perhaps not surprising that it isn’t held in the highest esteem.  But in amongst the Snape/Lily erotica, 9/11 conspiro-dramas and emo poetry, there are hints that the publishing world might be approaching something of a revolution.

Any aspiring novelist will know that it is astoundingly hard to get a foot on the publishing ladder.  Top publishing houses will only take writers who have secured representation from an agent, and top agents reject almost 99% of the approaches they receive.  It’s no wonder that writers are seeking to get published online.

Traditionally, ‘vanity presses’ required the author to pay the full costs of publishing, leaving them the preserve of the rich and the vain.  However the internet has changed everything, with online services ranging from massive fan-fiction platforms to webshops that print and deliver hard copies of books as and when they are ordered.

With all these possibilities, it’s unsurprising that this new market caters for a large range of different writers.  Local historians whose work only appeals to a very small market; precocious teens with sprawling fantasy epics; middle-aged English graduates desperate to restart their creative flow: all are embracing the online publishing revolution.

And with the intervention of Kindle Direct Publishing, it’s now becoming possible to use the internet to turn a profit.  American John Locke has caused a stir by publishing his CIA Thrillers via Kindle, and soaring up the charts. At one point last year he simultaneously held four of the top 10 spots on the Amazon/Kindle chart, and has sold over a million e-books in total.  His unique selling point is price: he sells his books for just $0.99 allowing him to compete with chart-toppers such as One Day and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Picking up only 35 cents per copy, his earnings are now well into six figures.

Of course, for every success story there are literally hundreds of failures.  One online author told us her experiences of the industry.  “Online publishing is a bit of a lottery – while there are occasional diamonds, you have to sift through thousands of books which range from a travesty to simply horrendous.”  She added she was keen to make the leap across to a more conventional publishing route.

Clearly big publishing houses have a prestige, and there is certainly still a sense that self-publishing is a second-best option for those who would otherwise be in a reject pile.  Nonetheless in a literary marketplace that is often criticised for becoming increasingly generic, maybe breaking the traditional publishing mould might not be such a bad thing.  Who knows, maybe somewhere amongst the Draco/Ginny shippers is the next J.K. Rowling.

[Photo: skarpiagirl]