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Finding a publisher through self-publishing

2 December 2013

Pan MacmillanOne of largest fiction and non-fiction book publishers in UK; includes imprints of Pan, Picador and Macmillan Children’s Books in the UK has just acquired Mary Wood, a self-published author of five historical sagas, taking on all five as well as two new books. Pan Macmillan will publish the novels in paperback and e-book throughout 2014 and 2015.

The author's blog has played a major part in making her well-known and the ebook versions of all her titles have been in the Amazon Top Ten.
The low prices on the Kindle editions of 97p for An Unbreakable Bond, the new one, and £1.53 or thereabouts for the others suggest a calculated approach to pricing, intended to build her audience. And that is exactly what she has succeeded in doing.

What is perhaps more surprising is that the books are all historical sagas, not perhaps the raciest of genres, and yet they have done well on Kindle, showing the way in which readers of this quite traditional category have turned to ebooks.

Wood, who began writing in 1989 but only found success in 2011 when she started to self-publish her novels, said she was ‘thrilled to be taking the next step and entering the world of traditional publishing'. Her agent Louise Buckley commented: ‘I knew I'd found a gem when I first discovered Mary's books. She writes with an honesty and warmth of heart that is unrivalled.' Murdoch has described Wood's writing as being ‘in the grand tradition of Catherine Cookson and Meg Hutchinson'.

For Macmillan this represents a fairly safe investment, in spite of the fact that it involves seven books, five of which have already been published. But what Wood has done through her blog, ebooks and online activity is to build an audience and it is this ready-made market which is so attractive to a publisher because it removes the risk associated with taking on a new author and it means that people are waiting for the next book. Macmillan can benefit from selling the books into the bookshops and supermarkets (important for historical sagas), which the author would have struggled to reach as a self-publisher.

So if your endgame is to get published by a publisher it is well worth self-publishing first, particularly if you are confident about your ability to build your own audience through your blog, the web and ebooks.

The publisher has previously signed self-published success stories Amanda Hocking, Kerry Wilkinson and Novelicious founder Kirsty Greenwood. Amanda Hocking is unusual in that, as this WritersServices story, Self-publishing v signing up with a publisher, showed, she took on a publisher not because she would make more money but because she wanted someone else to do the hard work of publishing so she could devote herself to writing. She also set a high store on getting proper editing.