Every week there seems to be a new article out about how authors are eliminating the middle man and jumping straight into self-publishing. The latest is an article in the Huffington Post by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. The stigma of self publishing is beginning to decline in a big way. Something those of us who are Indie and small press (of the “unrecognized” variety) are glad for. More and more – my books are being bought by folks who just want to read something decent without breaking the bank. And quite frankly I’m happy to give them what they want. I don’t need to sell my novels for $7+ a copy. That would just make me greedy. Here’s the kicker — by charging under $6 for every novel (many times $4.99 or under) I still make just as much IF NOT MORE than I would have made with a traditional publisher. This also means I can sell fewer copies and in many instances, make more than I would have with a traditional press. Yes – I still hire cover artists and editors, but because I sell more in volume and I make more, I can afford to hire a few people to help me out with my books. And yeah – my editors are only human and they sometimes miss typos. Guess what? Every traditional press book (including those put out by the big six!) I’ve read in the past few years are the same. They’re all sporting at least one or two glaring typos. But as a reader who understands publishing – I am quite forgiving. Some readers aren’t, and that’s their choice.
Do I think publishers are going away? I don’t know. I think a lot of them are turning to self-publishing models and perhaps turning themselves into marketing companies. Or at least that’s what I foresee. I could be wrong. And before anyone starts spouting the archaic rhetoric that publishers are the gatekeepers — I disagree. READERS always have been, and always will be the gatekeepers. A crappy book doesn’t go anywhere self-published just like a crappy book traditionally published doesn’t often reward the author with a second contract. In the very least, the self-publishing model does allow the author to try again and again until (s)he does write a book that readers like (and some authors will never write something readers like). The traditional publishing venue isn’t notorious for giving second chances like that.
And before people start crying that we’ll have an influx of crap on the market – umm – the crap is already there, folks! I’ve read some of it. Crap is subjective. There are readers out there who call my work crap. There are readers out there who call Carol Berg and Stephen King crap. There are even readers who hate John Grisham and Nora Roberts. Not all readers are created equal. For every one person who likes your work, three will hate it and three will be indifferent. That’s just how it goes. Not only that, but how many of the writers who have something published really have it in them to write more than a few books? Especially those jackasses who think writing is easy and it’s an easy way to make a quick buck.
Writing – no matter what you’re writing – is a lot of work. Those of us who are writers of the prolific variety know this.
These are just some of my thoughts on the changes happening in the industry today. It’s something to watch. It’s also going to cause writers to find new and innovative ways to attract readers. It could get interesting.