So what makes an expat lit book successful?
In an ideal world, Jo Parfitt from Summertime says she would only publish ‘how to’ or ‘expert’ books, because they sell best. She’s noticed a surge in ’emotional resilience’ publications and says this is a growing corner of the market, but that food or gift books are also perennially successful. Jo says memoirs, like mine, can be hard to sell if you move from the place you are writing about:‘Be strategic, be an entrepreneur. Write books about a place, and if you are there, you will make more money selling the book yourself…The book will have to fulfil a specific need to sell globally online, but locally you will be able to get a lot of press, so if you are going to be leaving a place, think very carefully before writing a book about it.’
I asked her how she felt the market had changed since the rise of self-publishing and online networking. ‘I haven’t got any statistics, but what I will say for sure is that awareness that there is a need, and awareness that there are issues is growing because of social media…[People] read their first book, or they hear their first talk, and they become hungry, and want to know more about it.’
So what’s my conclusion? Self-publishing will give me control over marketing and higher royalties, but it might limit me to a networked audience, instead of finding a more general travel writing audience online and in stores. But from everyone I’ve spoken to, I realise it’s my responsibility to define my audience, and make the book available to them, whether I choose to self-publish or go a more traditional route. And for expat lit in particular, it seems making the most of networking opportunities both online and in person are key to success.