It's finally arrived. The exciting day when I publish for the very first time. It's been a tough journey to get to this stage, but it's also been thoroughly rewarding. The Writing's on the Wall is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo and some other smaller sites. Now seemed like the right time to reflect on how I've managed to get here.

I recently read a piece which covered how the remarkable changes in the publishing industry had made things better for writers. It's affected both traditionally published and self-published writers alike.

This made me reflect on just how significant these changes have been and how heavily they've been influenced by the new breed of indie authors taking risks and experimenting in the new digital marketplace. This is nothing new. The digital revolution is hitting different industries at different paces. It's the speed of the impact on writing and publishing which keeps astonishing me.

It's staggering to think about how wide the gap in the experience is for guys like me starting out now. You compare that to the current established authors (now providing advice in self-publishing,) back when they started out... and you wonder how they ever managed to do it.

These pioneers of the new digital market who have shared their knowledge and experiences, have not only seen the landscape alter, but they have also provided a roadmap for anyone new. Something which they never had.

The formation of the Alliance of Independent Authors could be considered a watershed moment for publishing. As I've been working through the two potential paths to publication, my research has given me a huge amount of food for thought. One thing which immediately occurs to me: learning and educating myself on publishing is significantly easier today than it was just three years ago. That gives an idea of just how fast this market has moved. Amazon only released the first Kindle in November 2007. Just seven years ago the Kindle Direct Publishing scheme was launched. After just a couple of years, tips were being openly exchanged as both traditionally published and indie published writers explored this new opportunity. By the four year mark Amanda Hocking became the first author who used the KDP route with staggering success, selling over a million ebooks between 2010 and 2011.

People like Joanna Penn and David Gaughran were documenting their journey through self-publication. Things which went right, and the things which went wrong. These pioneers and many others not only climbed the mountain the hard way, but they kindly put up some signposts for the rest of us. More impressive was that they simply didn't want others to repeat their mistakes and waste money. David's campaign against Author Solutions is a very strong example of this. He doesn't benefit in any way. I think he just doesn't want to see fellow writers wasting money and puts time and effort into accomplishing this without expecting anything in return.

The freedom with which writers share tips, knowledge and experience always leaves me feeling great about knowing these people exist. The altruistic and friendly nature of writers is probably one of the key reasons that the industry has been moving so quickly. After all, an industry can't move forward until a majority of people begin adopting new approaches. If there's one thing we have seen from this change, it's that authors tend to naturally experiment when given control over something new. Over the past five years, some authors have switched from traditional publishing to self-publishing and vice versa. During this time the frequency of these switches has increased.

I would posit that this is as a direct result of the writers who have so painstakingly charted the path for independent publication. Now it's never been easier to gather all the information you need to produce a professional quality ebook and print-on-demand book. The list of authors who have now sold hundreds of thousands of ebooks (on their own, with no help from a traditional publisher) is growing at an exponential rate. This naturally creates some fear because the level of competition seems high. The problem is that this is an emotional response. It's much more likely that more ebooks are being sold because more and more people are buying an ereader. The customer base is continuing to expand as the world economy recovers and people gain more disposable income. Maybe people are reading more because "there's nothing on the telly!" Or maybe the improved choice has brought people back to the book market who have been previously disillusioned.

Just looking at this staggering change over the past three years makes me wonder whether I'll be successful. Not only are there an infinite number of ways my writing career could go, but there's also an uncertainty about where the industry and online market will go. Knowing these two things leaves me in the dark when I look to my future. There are plenty of predictions from different people. Ultimately, whatever happens, I know I'm just going to get on with writing the sequel and any other short stories which pop into my mind in the meantime. As an incredibly slow writer, I know that most of my time will go on writing and polishing any story I come up with. My editor, John, deserves a special mention since he has made a significant contribution in tightening my prose and correcting my atrocious grammar. I also think that credit should go to the entire writing community because I've picked up so many tips on storytelling, composition and communication. So many different people have helped me to find the optimal way to convey my thoughts and the stories constantly playing through my head.

My story of publication is remarkably simple when you compare it to the exploits of these hardened veterans. Absorb the information in books from the experts. Read the blogs in spare time to gain more knowledge on any changes. Decide how to tailor and use this knowledge. Then enact the lengthy and gruelling plan. This is a world away from the amount of research that used to be needed. Don't get me wrong, it's a huge amount of work, but it's far less work than it used to be thanks to more sophisticated tools and well written tutorials on how to perform each task. The technical side will be easier for some than others, but now I can add myself to scores of people who are living proof that it can be done! (Even by a total numpty like me!)

In a way, writers have never had it so good when you're starting from nothing. We have options and an opportunity to experiment. With the industry in flux like this, there has never been a better time to try new things. Of course, my success will depend heavily upon the quality of my writing, but also on the visibility of the book. I don't have delusions about selling a million ebooks. I'd just like to be able to reach (and try to entertain) as many potential readers as possible. If you'd be willing to support me in these first steps, then grab a copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Kobo. There's a short story available for free here if you'd like to sample my work before checking out the novel. Any support is appreciated. Happy reading!

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