I started out Indie publishing because I wanted to publish a couple of books on country walking. At that time I had no thoughts of publishing my novels as Indie books.
Walking in the countryside is the UK’s most popular recreational activity, so I always thought I’d sell a few copies.
I’ve spent much of my life as a freelance journalist writing about walking and the great outdoors. There’s definitely a market there. Nevertheless, I published my first two books”Rambling – the Beginner’s Bible” and the slightly subversive “The Compleat Trespasser” as a kind of experiment.
From my point of view, they were a useful way of learning all about Indie Publishing, formatting, selling online and so on.
I was pleasantly surprised when the two books came out. They’ve sold moderately well and have garnered some kindly reviews. Since then we’ve put out a couple more works of non-fiction “Easy British Bakes and Cakes”, and “Wayfarer’s Dole”, an autobiographical account of some of my early days walking in the British countryside.
But they sell a limited number of copies compared to the fiction. Nevertheless, I doubt we would have decided to Indie publish the novels unless there had been some positive reactions to these non-fiction works.
Also, being shorter than most of the fiction, they gave me an opportunity to experiment with layout and the other technicalities of Indie Publishing. The cover designs are my own and that was an experiment in itself. Only one cover has been changed. I didn’t think the original cover of “Rambling…” worked, so I put on a better picture.
Most of the non-fiction was put out in paperback on CreateSpace, with the exception of the baking book and “Footloose with George Borrow” which are quite short, and out there as eBooks.
The paperbacks do sell, though most of our sales are on Kindle.
I think, unless you can write about a niche non-fiction subject that happens to be incredibly popular at the moment, that will always be the way of things. You’ll probably get some sales – and to me every single sale is welcome – but you’ll never be a bestseller in non-fiction.
To me it doesn’t matter. I’m pleased that my walking adventures have been put on a permanent record. “The Compleat Trespasser” got a wonderful review in a leading national walking magazine.
The non-fiction has generated a lot of friendly comments and brought a lot of new readers to my various blogs, which are sales platforms for the novels and the other non-fiction. I know that some of my non-fiction readers have bought the novels as well, and the other way round. We always put ads for our books in the back and this generates some sales traffic.
I haven’t experimented with publishing straight non-fiction articles on Kindle, though I’m aware that some writers do well with them. I suspect that online journalism will be the future. In my own fields of walking and the outdoors a lot of mainstream magazines are already publishing online editions alongside their printed copies.
Times have certainly changed. A few years ago, I would have approached mainstream publishers to see if they were interested in my walking books. Some writers still do very well publishing that way, but they’re the lucky ones.
So, if you have a hobby or interest that you believe others might share, why not try writing and Indie Publishing a book about it?
Apart from this blog which deals mostly with writing and the historical fiction, we have two others. Do take a look:
http://www.gaslightcrime.wordpress.co.uk (looks at mystery fiction and thrillers)
http://www.thefreedomtoroam.com (walks and the countryside)