These days, author AFN Clarke says he just mainly writes fiction (The Jonas Trust Deception is his latest), but he made his mark with a bestselling non-fiction book, Contact, where he “vividly recounts his experiences of two tours in Northern Ireland (in Belfast and Crossmaglen) as a Platoon Commander with Britain’s elite Parachute Regiment during the blood soaked 1970s.” Serialized in a British national newspaper, BBC TV also made it an award-winning film.
Suffice it to say, it’s probably a very safe bet that being an author is probably one of the easier tasks the man has taken on. I’m not even guessing — look what he’s packed into a single bio paragraph:
“I’ve lived all over the world, served in the British army, had a near death experience, lost half my insides and recovered from the physical and emotional traumas of war. A proud father of four daughters, screenwriter, pilot, race car driver, I love to sail, listen to opera, cook gourmet meals, drink wine, read good books, have heated discussions and travel off the beaten path.”
I wonder what AFN’s weekends are like.
How AFN Got Started Self-Publishing
Contact was published by Martin Secker and Warburg (now Random House) in the UK back in 1983, and that bestseller launched AFN’s writing career. He then proceeded to write fiction, publishing five novels traditionally.
But everything wasn’t all happily ever after. “Publishers were starting to do less and less marketing and publicity and expecting authors to take up the slack,” says AFN, “yet the royalties never changed to reflect that extra effort.” And, of course, he couldn’t help but notice and observe that digital market opportunities for indie authors were starting to heat up and get pretty exciting. But what forced AFN’s hand was Random House’s refusal to renew Contact‘s contract, calling the book “tool old.”
“That was it — I’d had enough! I got back ALL the rights to ALL my books and in 2012 self-published them all, releasing them as ebooks on the Amazon Kindle store.”
AFN points out that Random House made a “huge mistake,” as “Contact continues to be my best seller, and continues to resonate with readers today… The Orange Moon Affair went straight to ebook and is also doing well.” Although, quite frankly, I really don’t think Random House made a mistake — I suspect none of AFN’s books would have done anywhere near as well in Random House’s lackadaisical hands.
If anything, if you think about it, maybe Random House just did AFN a favor.
Self-Publishing Observations and Tips
- “Self-publishing allows me greater control over my work – over my content, covers, marketing – and social media allows a more direct relationship with my readers which is great fun and highly beneficial to me in my development as a writer. And I’ve sold more of my recently released books in the last year than the publisher did in the previous five.”
- “I do think traditional publishers still have an important role to play and would not be averse to a publishing deal again, but I think the nature of the relationship between an author and publishing house has to change and become a more equal and collaborative one, as the landscape of this industry has changed dramatically and publishing needs to reflect that.“