British comedians seem to be turning to electronic book publishing – maybe

I have blogged before about the galloping-blindly-towards-an-unknown-destination changes in book publishing.

In 2003, the late Malcolm Hardee and I put together Sit-Down Comedy for Random House. It was an anthology of original writing (some of it very dark) by comedians Ed Byrne, John Dowie, Jenny Eclair, Stephen Frost, Boothby Graffoe, Ricky Grover, Malcolm Hardee, Hattie Hayridge, John Hegley, Dominic Holland, Jeff Innocent, Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery, Owen O’Neill, Arthur Smith, Linda Smith, Jim Tavare, Dave Thompson and Tim Vine.

Sit-Down Comedy has just been issued in both iBook (for iPads) and Kindle downloadable electronic editions.

Apparently, in the US market, electronic books now account for 20% of total book sales. In the UK, it is still only 5%, but it is expected to double in the next year.

In the last week, two of the contributors to Sit-Down Comedy have mentioned to me that they are thinking of publishing electronic books, probably via lulu.com, the same print-on-demand (not to be confused with self-publishing) company which comedy writer Mark Kelly has used to publish his books Pleased as Punch, This Is Why We Are Going to Die and (free to download) Every Get The Feeling You’ve Been Cheated? Comic Shelley Cooper told me she is also looking into print-on-demand publishing.

A highly relevant factor is that print-on-demand publishers may take 20% of your book’s earnings to arrange print and electronic versions… while conventional print publishers doing the same thing normally give the author royalties of only 7.5% of paperback sales. With print-on-demand  you have to market the book yourself, but you also have to factor in that significant difference between getting 80% or getting the conventional 7.5%.

I have blogged before that am thinking of re-publishing Malcolm Hardee’s autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake (probably revised back to its original version) as an e-book… but that is only if I can actually pull my finger out – always a major factor in the production of any book.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Comedy, Internet

One response to “British comedians seem to be turning to electronic book publishing – maybe

  1. My accountant has just published his first novel via Amazon/Kindle. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Negotiate-ebook/dp/B004YKUOE4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1307379474&sr=8-3

    Coincidentally, I’d just acquired an iPad, so buying it for the Kindle app was a breeze. Self-publishing used to be derided, as only for those desperate enough that they would pay to have a thousand books printed and bound. It was safe to say that most of these were rubbish, mainly because they hadn’t gone through any vetting whatsoever, nevermind constructive editing and even spell-checking. I’ve had various people thrust vanity published novels at me, and they’ve never been any good.

    Technology it seems, has made this process even easier, and you’d think would enable more deluded would-be authors to self-publish. However, take a look at what musicians have been doing for a few years now. A great many artists, who were formerly successful by the traditional record company route, have found that whilst they can’t secure a record deal, they can go straight to their established fans with new material. This is far more efficient, and can generate more than enough to make a living. New bands, looking to avoid the industry beauty parade that is dominated by Simon Cowell and his like, are also finding they can record, sell, and tour their own songs very successfully. My eldest son has now released 2 EP’s via iTunes.

    The biggest problem of course is marketing and promotion. How will the public know about your book in the first place? Richard and Judy, Oprah? No, unless you already have a famous name, getting the word out can be impossible, especially as you’re up against the marketing teams of the established publishers.

    I don’t have the answer, but checkout my accountant’s novel. It’s really quite good.

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