It is an undeniable fact that the advent of the Kindle has ‘kindled’ an explosive growth of self-publishing and it is further an undeniable fact that without the traditional gatekeepers of publication the quality of these leave a lot to be desired. I am also convinced there is a lot of ‘scraping’ behind many of these eBooks, that is non-original material regurgitated by non-experts purely for the purpose of profit. In the world of Kindle self-publish the hopeful reader has to kiss a lot of frogs.
The growth of self-publication has also been accompanied by a growing catalogue of self-publish guides on how to self-publish! The book under review falls within that category. The first part of the book elucidates how the publishing world is following a similar trajectory to that of the music industry and argues that FREE is now a fact of life for authors and musicians alike and that it should be embraced and used to leverage sales of their other material and to get established by building a fan base. There is also the argument that FREE attracts the sort of reader who wouldn’t pay for this material in any case. The author makes a strong case in my view that the KDP select program can engender further sales by making your book visible and a good part of the second half of the book is given over as to how go about this with several links to websites which can be used to promote your books.
So is piracy a complete negative for writers and music producers? Strangely, I don’t think so.
The Raison d’être for FREE in the first instance is to accrue reviews and secondly to build a following who will subsequently buy into you as author and be prepared to pay for that. But the fly in the ointment of this is the contention that the type of readers who go for FREE are more likely than not more inclined to give negative reviews anyway, and so stymying the whole process. Be that as it may, the author rightly points out that without bringing your book to the fore somehow you may as well not bother, as it will otherwise undoubtedly languish in the exponentially growing e-cemetry that is the fate of so many other kindle self-publish authors, and particularly those who have not yet embraced FREE.
As an example of how fully the author has embraced FREE he relates how on one occasion during one DJ gig (he is also a DJ) he did in a poor South American country, a fan told him that he had pirated the authors music. At which point no doubt many a lesser being would have responded rather differently than that of the author which was to appreciate that it was fans like him and his co-conspirators who helped build the critical mass to justify bringing him to the country in the first place.
In the authors experience it takes around 300 free downloads to accrue just a single review and some others even give it as a thousand to one. This strikes me as seriously fighting the odds to get noticed, especially as you only get a five day window every ninety days on the KDP select program. Because of this I can understand the necessity of a well thought out and planned campaign to get into the top of the ‘free charts’ on Amazon to benefit from the follow on sales and indeed it can only get harder as more and more self-publish and the Long Tail gets even longer. The latter point also leads to the inevitable conclusion that it is a game of diminishing returns.
I for one am not inclined to give a low rating just because I downloaded a book when it was free and on the contrary would have awarded it the full five-star insignia of a General, for its intended purpose of a publicising campaign except that I do feel the first part of the book was a bit repetitious especially as I ‘got’ it after the first few pages. But the author recovers after this and goes on to give some very good advice on how to promote your book. I would have liked to have seen more of how social media could be leveraged to achieve this since the author notes that personally he has not had much success with this channel, but I can’t help feeling that perhaps is not the definitive answer.