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Self-Publishing: A Different Game in the UK Market

I received the following note from Jeremy Thompson from Troubador in response to my post about the 3 Self-Publishing Paths You Should Understand. For my UK readers, I felt it important to share.

I encourage comments from UK writers on the issue.

Dear Jane,

I read your WD piece on the three choices
for self-publishing with interest. I agree with you that there are
options ranging from zero cost up to many thousands, but that covers
merely the creation of a book, it doesn't cover anything to do with
selling it. And that is the key part of the process ... which most
authors don't want to do. Most authors want to be authors, not
salespeople.

This is where I believe that the online, on-demand
services do give a false sense of what can be achieved with
self-publishing, partly because such services advertise that an
author's book can be "made available through 35 million retailers", i.e.,
listed on a bibliographic database!

Getting
books into retailers is still the key to selling books in any volumes,
and to do that you have to actually have copies of your book to place
on shelves. Which is why no POD companies actually offer any sort of
real sales support into the retail trade.

Yes, POD books can be bought
through retailers on special firm sale order, but that isn't you and I
browsing in a bookshop for something to read (and people don't browse
online bookshops).

In the UK we have the usual
POD suspects from the U.S., and several strong UK-based companies doing
similar things. Among them is the Matador imprint of Troubador
Publishing. It selectively publishes books for authors, about 250 a
year, and actively markets and distributes to the retail trade. Books
are distributed by a trade distributor, Orca Books, and repped into
retailers by Star Books Services. Both of these companies work on a
commission-only basis, so will only handle publishers whose books they
can sell. We sell hundreds of thousands of pounds of books each year
for our self-publishing authors, 90% through bricks and mortar
bookshops like Waterstones and Blackwells.

In
your WD piece you say that authors cannot ever get this service for
their self-published books, but this isn't true in our case. We may be
the exception here, but we are an important exception. Not only do we
produce quality books, we also work hard to sell them, and we do. So
much so that we are recommended by the Writers & Artists Yearbook [the UK equivalent to Writer's Market], plus many many writers' services in the UK. 

We
smaller companies, particularly UK based ones, rarely get mentioned by
the writing media—AuthorHouse have the largest marketing budget and
they shout the loudest—but generally we offer better value for
money, a better product and a real crack at sales. (And having said we
are a smaller company, we do turn over £1 million + a year.)

Perhaps you could bear all this in mind when next you cover the subject? Have a look at our website and see what we do... 


Jeremy Thompson

Publisher, Matador

Troubador Publishing Ltd

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