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20% of ebooks self-published

17 June 2013

Recent data from Bowker confirms that self-published books now make up 20% of all ebook sales in the UK and it's more than that in the most successful ebook categories - crime, science fiction and fantasy, romance and humour. The research was unveiled at The Literary Consultancy conference by Steve Bohme, UK research director at Bowker, who said: ‘It's one of the first times we have looked at self-publishing in this depth to find out what part it plays. It's interesting to have this data, as it allows self-published writers to understand more about the market they are operating in.'

Heavy readers are more likely to buy self-published ebooks, which makes sense because they consume books more rapidly and in greater numbers than other readers. Perhaps it will surprise some people who think older people do not move with the times that 36% of ebook buyers are females over 45, an important group which makes up 24% of all book buyers.

Any author considering publishing in ebook form should be clear about the amount of work they will have to do to get attention for their book. The financial risk is certainly less, but it does involve putting all your eggs in one basket and depending on the web and social networking as a way of reaching your audience. If you are self-publishing in print format then you can explore local outlets such as bookshops and having a physical object such as a book to sell is clearly more effective if you are selling it in person.

If you opt for ebook form you will have to concentrate your efforts on the web. You will need to think about writing a blog, unless you have some other way of attracting attention to your book. You will miss out on the large number of readers who still prefer print books and will have to opt for a low price if you really want to draw attention to your writing on the web.

You should also think about the genre you write in, as crime, romance and fantasy are the categories which are riding high in ebook form. Unless your book is narrative fiction or non-fiction, you may well find it an uphill struggle to find an audience for your ebook. Writers of children's books and cookery books, for instance, might be well-advised to pause and consider further.
But the figures do show a good and growing audience for genre fiction in ebook form, so if that's what you're writing it's worth having a go.