One doesn’t like to blow one’s own trumpet too often, but I couldn’t resist this one, so please forgive the indulgence. And in any case, I have you, my readers, to thank for it, so I had to post this in order to say thank you.
I couldn’t help noticing this tweet from Vertebrate Publishing in my Twitter feed earlier this week:
Simon McCartney’s Boardman Tasker-winning book The Bond is currently no.1 in the Amazon Kindle charts! pic.twitter.com/pB6Nls0Ids
— VertebratePublishing (@VertebratePub) November 22, 2016
Vertebrate Publishing are a niche publisher of books about the outdoors who fans of mountaineering literature should be grateful to. I’ve mentioned previously in this blog how they’ve been acquiring the publishing rights to old mountaineering classics and re-publishing them at affordable prices.
Vertebrate also put their faith in new writers and climbers who don’t have an established audience, and help bring their stories to life. They also help to promote their authors, entering their books for awards. They arrange promotional talks for them, and get them slots at the major mountain festivals such as Kendal and Banff. These books are highly-regarded in the climbing community; several are shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Prize and Banff Mountain Book Competition every year, and they’ve had a few winners.
This year another of their books The Bond by previously unknown writer Simon McCartney has been receiving lots of positive publicity in the outdoor press since winning the Boardman Tasker Prize earlier this month.
What struck me about Vertebrate’s tweet wasn’t the book at no.1 though, but the book at no.2. It’s a book that hadn’t even been released when the tweet was sent, by a writer with no publishing company to back him up, who doesn’t give any promotional talks, whose name isn’t even whispered in the streets of Kendal or Banff, who isn’t eligible for many book awards and wouldn’t get a look in if he were, and whose books have never been reviewed by a single outdoor magazine, ever.
Despite these things, his book was neatly sandwiched in the Amazon bestseller list between a Boardman Tasker Prize winner and Jon Krakauer’s infamous Into Thin Air.
However did he manage it?
Because of you. I don’t do promotional tours, or network, but one thing I do a lot more of than most mountaineering writers, is write. Thanks to this, through word-of-mouth, I’ve been able to pick up readers. You share my posts on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, and post positive reviews on Amazon. Between you, you have become an army of advocates as effective as any book publisher, promotional tour or outdoor magazine.
So much so that when I woke up on Thursday morning, a few hours after my book had been released, I was able to post this cheeky little tweet back at Vertebrate.
— Mark Horrell (@markhorrell) November 24, 2016
Yes, that’s right. I’d been able to knock all of them – Simon McCartney, Jon Krakauer, Joe Simpson – off their perch. It’s all done in good spirit, though. Writers and publishers in the same genre don’t compete with one another. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Everybody who enjoys reading The Bond is a potential reader of my books too, and hopefully I also send readers in return.
I was also being kind. I didn’t tell Vertebrate that if they scrolled down a little further they would see another one of my books at no.7 in the chart.
Anyway, I’d like to say a BIG THANK YOU to all of you. I’m a one-man band, who chose the indie path, instead of seeking a traditional publisher to publish my books, for the same reason that people choose to set up their own business instead of getting a job with someone else. It means I have to buy in help from professional editors and cover designers, and plead with volunteers to give feedback about my books before I publish them. But it also gives me greater creative freedom about what I publish. I have no need to work to anyone else’s deadlines, and I hope that one day it will also give me the financial rewards to do it full time.
If you haven’t done so already, and have a few coins in your pocket, then why not download The Everest Politics Show to your Kindle, or buy the paperback of Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest. And if you enjoy them, please consider posting a review on Amazon or the site where you bought it – it beats a write-up in the outdoor press any day.
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