There’s a reason that the ‘airport novel’ or ‘airport paperback’ was defined as category of books all by itself. It’s the same reason that there are large bookshops in airports, and why newspapers publish pathetically useless holiday reading lists.
It’s because on holidays, everyone reads more than usual: regular, occasional and infrequent readers alike. And e-Reader users will cram as many books as they dare onto their devices before they set off, be it caravanning in Siberia, skiing in the Sahara, or yachting around Switzerland. It’s the self-publisher’s big chance to make it on to the traditional readers’ list.
However, one set of major holidays is an exception: Christmas.
At Christmas, people give each other books as presents. And as yet, I haven’t yet found a way of giving someone an e-book as a present.
I only know around 3 people who had a self-published book I deliberately chose (or indeed had the opportunity) to buy in paperback form, rather than digital.
I also know very few people with an e-reader of some description, and nobody I know wants to get a gift delivered to an electronic device without any wrapping on it. It’s like one of those gifts you get which is actually a donation to charity. (It takes a certain sort of person to give you that. And we all know who they are.)
So my deduction is that Christmas is no good to the self-publisher at all.
Picture the scene.
Self-Published Author: Why hello, gentle reader! How do you fare, forsooth?
Me: I’m grand, thanks. I very much liked your book, by the way. I thought it was really different.
Self-Published Author: *faints
Me: Ah Jaysus. I’m sorry. I never meant –
Self-Published Author: [sobbing] No, no – it’s just that – that’s the first kind thing anyone has said to me in six months – I was overcome. And you know, it’s only three weeks since they stopped the beatings.
Me: Fair enough. Anyway, I was wondering if you could sell me another 6 copies, I want to give them as presents.
Self-Published Author: *faints again
Me: Er –
Self-Published Author: [opening eyes painfully] It only comes in e-book format, I’m afraid.
Me: Well, this is awkward.
Whilst I’m sure that 92% of self-publishers already know this, I didn’t spot any noticeably intense summer marketing efforts crossing my path in 2014, just around the time I started to think “Now, what am I going to read on my jollidays?”
What I will spot quite soon, I’m sure, is a lot of self-publishers releasing books between now and Christmas. And this is all very well for those who already have a distribution deal for their paperback versions with a major retailer. However, the majority of self-publishers do not get distribution deals until they have already sold a certain amount, which will be difficult – if not impossible – in the 3.2 months between now and December 25th.
Anyway, I hope to be able to post something in January 2015, refuting everything I say here, and telling of how the Christmas season was the driving force behind the arrival of another 15 self-published books in my household. But as of now, that seems unlikely.
For those of you who are self-published authors – has Christmas worked for you? If so, how? And in which medium?
[P.S. I have been final-listed! I am very happy about this!! It has resulted in very many exclamation points!!! But anyway, I’ve made the finals in the Blog Awards Ireland 2014 in 2 whole categories – Best Newcomer, and Best Humour Blog. I am a very delighted person indeedy and will be celebrating the achievement of Finalist status with vigour, whatever the outcome. Results will be announced at a Big Do on October 4th, and I will be there to meet fellow Irish bloggers and toast to our collective success. I LOVE toast.]