Self-Publishing – It’s About Breaking The Rules

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Breaking The Rules in self-publishing

Are you breaking self-publishing the rules?

The rulebook governing the publishing of books has been thrown out of the window, been burnt on a sacrificial fire and converted into a Kindle ebook that no one will ever bother to read.

Self-publishing is a new form of anarchy, which will change the face of publishing, reading and consumption of text for some considerable years to come.

It will, and I could probably say, already has changed the way books are written, bought, read, marketed and sold by breaking the rules of publishing.

Why does a novel need to be 110,000 words? Who made that rule? Well, it was fine when books needed to look nice and uniform on a bookstore shelf, but who cares on the Kindle Store.

Why do short stories need to be published in a collection? Why can’t they be sold one at a time? Does it really matter now if a writer uses single or double quotation marks? Are these ideas breaking the rules?

As for style and substance, well all I can say is that erotic writing has found a new life with self-publishing and judging by the volume of sales, and the number of shades of kinky available, it is really in right now.

Badly written or not. Even adding adverbs to reported speech has become so common that Stephen King might just have to re-write his writer’s bible, ‘On Writing’, and updated it to add a chapter about breaking the rules.

Forget all the rules and long-held assumptions. Publishing via large publishing houses, or via Joe or Julie the self-publishers, bashing out their books at the kitchen table is about content. And lots of it, to fill a zillion electronic devices.

This quote from Victoria Barnsley says it all.

“We can’t think of ourselves as book publishers any longer. We have to see ourselves as, you know,” Barnsley hesitates to use the cliché, “multimedia content producers.”  Victoria Barnsley, UK and international chief executive of the book publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, HarperCollins. (Source)


As for how books are marketed and promoted, the gloves are off. Social media, blogging, blog tours, Internet radio, paid reviews, swapping reviews, spamming and begging are now the currency of marketing books.

Yes, a nice review in a newspaper will help, but who reads a newspaper anymore?

The king of book marketing now is, of course, Amazon. But with its clever algorithms that need a degree in rocket science to comprehend, bestseller lists that are driven by paid reviews and a new penchant for making free ebooks the currency of choice, who knows how to sell books anymore except those who are breaking the rules to find the new rules of publishing.

The only answer is breaking the rules.

Well, as there are no rules anymore, I suppose I should just say that it’s time to make your own rules and see what works for you.

So if you’re self-publishing, forget all the sage advice and formulaic ways things were done in the past.

Find what works for you. That’s the new rule.


More reading: Common Self-Publishing Blunders And How You Can Avoid Them


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

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