What gets self published
Self Publishing is a fairly frequent occurrence in Ireland. Large numbers of locally relevant titles are published every year to varying standards of design, print and manufacture. The range is huge, local history (Full Disclosure: I work for a Local History Publisher), poetry, fiction and masses of non-fiction and memoir.
In general they do well so long as they stay focussed on local matters (As Nonsuch/Tempus have shown a nicely produced local book, while low in volume of sales has immediate and sustained local appeal). Of all of these Fiction does least well. It’s understandable. Local stories and histories will appeal locally but a book about a detective in Los Angeles might have little appeal to locals in Ballyjamesduff even if it is well written.
The added problem is that self published fiction has no network outside of the locality to help spur sales. Where a national or international publisher can push their fiction titles through newspaper, radio and television ads no local self publisher can really hope to do so and must rely nowadays on such services as Trafford.com or Lulu.com (or any one to host and push their titles for them> relying thus on word of mouth and a worldwide audience which you don’t have the capacity to reach makes these a much less likely seller.
Are There Solutions?
Are there solutions to this dilemma? It is similar to the problems that pervade on the web for content publishers (by publishing this blog I am a self publisher) with the exception that there are ways to build exposure for a blogger that do not exist in the same way for a writer. Whereas blog search engines automatically crawl and index my posted content and serve it up to punters who search under my keywords and tags, there is no such luck for the self published author.
Maybe there is hope though if Google Book Search lives up to its promise. Self Publishing Authors can sign up if their books have ISBNs. Of course many self published titles do not and therein lies the rub!