Going Global in the Digital Age. The Irish Times 2013.

The Delights of Embracing the Digital Era in Publishing.                 Joe Jackson.

 I am Irish. I love books. We all do. But this year I moved into a new era by embracing the delights of the digital revolution and by publishing six e-books.

Why did I self-publish? Because, after publishing with major Irish, British, and American publishers, three books, Troubadours and Troublemakers, Boyzone: Our Story, and Other Voices, A Personal History of Folk Music, the latter co-authored with singer Nanci Griffiths, I tried the self-publishing route for the first time in 2011 and found it hugely inspiring.

That book was David Norris: Trial By Media, which I didn’t even offer to publishers because I knew they can take up to four months to respond to even a submission and I wanted the book published within that period, before the Presidential Election. So, I wrote it, sourced the photos, helped design the cover and lay out, had the book professionally edited and professionally printed, did a distribution deal, and got the book into shops within a month. I opted for print because the book was aimed at Irish readers and we have yet to widely embrace ereaders.

Sadly, I soon discovered that Irish book reviewers have a backward-looking, condescending, attitude to self-published books. My Norris book was similar in form to my early books but didn’t get one review. This struck me as nearly as ludicrous as the fact that distributors such as Easons took 55% of the cover price. So, next time round, I published, The Louis Walsh Factor: Rolling Back The Years from Boyzone to Jedward as a Kindle e-book on Amazon, where you can receive a 65% royalty rate as opposed to the 7%-15% given by traditional publishers.

Since then I also have published on Smashwords – a website that makes my e-books available for all electronic formats, such as the Ipad in Apple bookstores – Gabriel Byrne: The Joe Jackson Interviews Plus, and similar volumes on The Chieftains and on Bob Geldof. My latest book, published today, is, Tori Amos: Soul Searching and Uncensored. The Norris book also is available as an e-book.

So, is this financially viable? It’s too soon to say. But more important to me is the fact that self-publishing e-books – I will do print editions in 2013 – has given me more freedom than I have ever known as a creative writer and enabled me to reach a global audience. And I love it.

Joe Jackson’s e-books are available on Amazon and at  Smashwords. He can be contacted on Twitter at JoeJacksonJnr  and on Facebook at Joe Jackson Journalist.

   

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