Does Brazilian writers need to start self-publishing e-books?


Brazil has shown some indications that the market for e-books still has a lot of room to grow, with an estimate market share of 2,63% until the end of 2013 according to Publish News Brazil and the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo. On the other hand, the United States recent studies indicates the american revenues growth is slowing down, although, so far in 2013, 25% of the publishers profit comes from e-book sales.These numbers were taken from a study conducted by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and published by the website Digital Book World.

Taking a closer look at the numbers, one might wonder if it isn’t time for Brazilian writers to start self-publishing e-books. A few factors weight in: Brazil only has 25.000 e-book titles available, was recently launched and, gradually, companies start presenting self-publishing as an option, taking for example the recently launched website Publique-se from Livraria Saraiva, a major Brazilian bookseller. A small research online shows that costs of publication, writers royalties and rights vary from one company to the other.

Darcie Chan, american writer and New York Times bestseller, saved her first book for 7 years after her literary agent contacted editors and none were willing to take a chance on it. The Mill River Recluse would have its chance with the raising of e-books, reports Chan. “I started reading articles about writers who were so successful with their e-book sales and that they established readerships and attracted attention of trade publishers. (…) I wondered whether, by releasing it as an e-book, I might be able to get some valuable feedback from readers and gradually (…) sell enough copies that I would no longer be a complete unknown when I had a second novel ready for submission.”

The writer described the experience as “nothing like she expected”. “During the first month my novel was for sale, I sold about 100 copies. I was thrilled with that – to think, 100 people had my book.” Three months after uploading the novel, she was already featuring on NYT bestsellers list, after having 100,000 copies sold. The latest numbers shows that close to 700,000 copies of The River MIll Recluse was sold and seven foreign countries bought translations rights (Germany, Italy, UK, France, Spain, Denmark and Czech Republic). Her second book, by the way, will be launched in 2014 by Ballantine, a publisher part of Random House Group. 

Darcie Chan’s story is just one successful example of how writers can get readers recognition when choosing to self-publish, even after having their books rejected by Publishing Houses. In the United States, she is only one example of a self-published author featuring in a bestseller list. Maybe an author more familiar to Brazilians would be William P. Young, and his The Shack. 

If the numbers itself doesn’t make a good enough case for Brazilian writers to start self-publishing, maybe stories like Chan’s can provide them a more solid, convincing argument.


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