Guest post: The Electronic Bridge – UK & US Publishing by David Coles

I’m delighted to welcome back thriller, historical, fantasy and SF author David Coles who brings you tonight’s guest blog post…

The Electronic Bridge – UK & US Publishing

The ‘classical’ publisher and agent: time was when either of these was your friend. My first story sold to John Carnell, an agent who put together 21 issues of the ‘New Writings in SF’ anthology. I was very much a newbie, he sent me postcards when number 19 was assembled, when it went to the publishers, when it reached the shops – John was a gentleman and I thought this was how it was. Sadly, not for long.

The older publishers began to buy each other out, shrinking in number and pursuing celebrities whose ghost-written biographies overflowed the book stores and relying on all those well-known authors. The drawbridges were pulled up and the slush piles moved to the literary agents’ offices. Lesser known authors were quickly shown the doors as the established agency too joined the snob publishing movement. Goodness knows what they will do when the stalwarts are all dead.

Welcome to the Indie. Again, this was a movement common to both publishing and literary agents. And the indie – those who knew what they were doing – brought a new breath of life to the literary world, helped on by the advent of digital books, a breath of fresh air could be felt.

There are drawbacks of course – a proliferation of vanity publishers, and publishers happy to put anything out there.

These changes happened on both sides of the Atlantic but, and this is a personal view, the concentration on the corporate bottom line started here in the UK and spread to the US later – unlike the recent problems with the *******, sorry, I meant bankers, which travelled in the opposite direction. In the UK, the photocopied return note: ‘we no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts’ started early in the last decade and agencies preferred not to move with the times in accepting email submissions so they can concentrate on representing ‘celebrities’ with enhanced breasts and experienced ghost writers. Goodness! Am I being cynical? Surely not. However, the trend has crossed that electronic bridge to the US and the phenomenon of not investing time and effort in the new writer is rife.

So Indies are the saving grace of a moribund literary society. And here we come to perhaps the biggest difference between the UK and the US: costs.

In the US, it is possible to go through the preparation to print a book for around $50 / £30 at the Amazon-owned Createspace and £130 / $80 at the UK company, Lightning Source. The cost of printing the book is about 1 penny or 2 cents per page. That’s not the whole story of course, especially in the UK, costs vary on the units sold and higher sales do not always mean lower print costs as you might expect. It’s true to say that trying to make a profit on UK print on demand sales while keeping the retail price at a reasonable level is difficult. Profit on similar sales in the US is far higher.

Finally, of course, there’s the digital Book phenomenon. eBook readers have gradually fallen in price since Amazon produced the first Kindle reader and certainly no UK book seller has approached the sales of digital books achieved by Amazon. You – any of you – can get your own book published as an eBook for free. It’s easiest with the Amazon Kindle system or with the Smashwords eBook system and again – that’s US, not UK.

As at the time of writing – go west young man or woman. It’s cheaper in print, it’s easier in digital. Here or there, though, it’s only an email away.

Thanks for letting me ramble on, Morgen. I do like it here.

You’re so welcome, David, thank you and it’s great to have you back. I’ve gone the eBook route so I’m tad biased but I do see how things are opening up for us authors, and not before time. 🙂

David and his co-author Jack both live in Yorkshire but 25+ miles apart, and have been writing together for too many years to remember but still meet weekly. David lives on the outskirts of a big city whereas Jack’s home is more rural. They still enjoy each other’s presence though – if the truth be known – they probably laugh more at the antics of their grandchildren. Their tastes in music differ, David prefers more instrumental works especially acoustic guitars whereas Jack likes good balladeers. David likes walking and exploring foreign climes. Jack also enjoys travelling but on four wheels in preference to Shanks’ pony. They both enjoy a good meal and glass of wine and still like to curl up with a real book despite having eBook readers. David’s websites are and You can also go to and find…“Everett Coles”. All their current books can be found by clicking the following links… and They run the gamut of thriller through historical to fantasy and SF.


If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with author and coach Rochelle Melander – the two hundred and twenty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.