Renowrites blog!

Author of YA novel "Enlightenment" available March 2019!

Self-publishing: Changing Model, Getting Respect?

There was a recent article at Publisher’s Weekly written by Ann Byle about the current status of self-publishing in the industry.

Self-publishing: Changing Model, Getting Respect.

What does everyone out there think? Is self-publishing really starting to get respect? I’m not quite so sure. I brought up self-publishing to a published author recently and she gave me a look and said, “That’s a route you can go if you choose to.”

The look she gave me was the most telling on how she felt. She’s found success going the traditional route, so I guess she may be biased, but I believe she’s not alone. I believe that many authors still hold a negative bias towards self-publishing. I can’t really blame them – many of the self-published books I’ve read (or tried to read) have major editing issues. I can’t remember a recent self-published book that I’ve read from beginning to end.

But the opportunity that self-publishing provides can’t be ignored. Authors have to champion their books more than ever, even through a traditional publisher. I believe the lines between self-published and traditional are more blurred than at anytime in the history of the publishing industry. Book stores continue to downsize and large publishers are looking for money-making titles; it’s a longshot that any debut author will be an instant success.

Publishers would rather sign celebrities to book deals because it mitigates the risk of losing money since a celebrity already has a following. I cringed when I heard pop star Justin Bieber got a book deal to publish his memoirs. The dude’s only sixteen years old! And he’s publishing a memoir! From a publishers perpective, it’s pure genius. This kid has millions of fans who would probably line up to buy his book. Cha-ching for Harper Collins!

I did smile at the announcement of Betty White’s two book deal with G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of the Penguin Group. She’s paid her dues at 88 years-old, and let’s be frank…how can you not love Betty White?  But Justin Bieber? Shouldn’t he wait until he’s at least twenty-one years old to publish a memoir?

It’ll be interesting to see where the self-publishing debate stands a year from now. Will the lines be more blurred? Will there be a self-published book on the NY Times best-sellers list? Will there be another J.A. Konrath to talk about?

For now, I’ll continue to write in the cave hoping for the best.

Filed under: Writing, , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    Interesting. As someone with experience in both areas, do you see parallels between publishing and the music industry? Is the issue of self-publishing similar to music artists who release their material through their own label (independent from corporate recoding studios)?

    • reno1107 says:

      Hey Brian!

      Although the medium is different (music vs. books), I definitely see parallels between the music industry and book publishing. I remember back in 2000 when people laughed when it was suggested that mp3 stores would close down Tower Records and Camelot music stores and eventually lead to the obsolescence of the CD. Today, CD sales are way down and the leading music store in the world is iTunes!

      Book publishing took a few years to get to the stage where music was, but it is my opinion that ebooks will be the main book buying medium by 2020 (if not sooner). I’ve spoken to many book readers who are tired of their books piling up in their rooms. eBook devices like the Kindle, the Nook and the iPad are slowly building marketshare. Publishers are not printing as many books and are actively pursuing ebook rights. And like I said in my post, they look for celebrity deals to mitigate their financial risk.

      I’ve read a couple books on the iPad and it was a pleasant experience. A part of me still yearns for the printed book, but I’m afraid what I want (printed books to survive) and what will happen (ebooks domination) are two completely different things.

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August 2010

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