Here we are, nearing the end of the fourth month of 2011…
I can’t believe the year is already a third over. Time flies when one is buried in both work and writing.
For those of you who occasionally check my blog, I apologize for my long absence and appreciate your loyalty.
The last several months have been a wake-up call for me. It all started at the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, where the predominate message on how to get published was nearly 180-degrees from that of last year’s conference.
In 2010, the traditional route to becoming a published writer (i.e. via agent, publisher, etc.) was still being promoted at the conference as the smart and secure way to go. Those who were venturing into self-publishing were viewed with shaking heads and whispers of doom. But at the same time, some folks were watching the risk takers–and taking notes.
Several major events in 2010 and early 2011 indicated the wind was beginning to shift in the other direction.
The number of e-book purchases sailed past hard copy numbers in several categories, firing a warning shot across the publishing bow that the whole world felt. The bankruptcy of Borders was a direct hit, the first of many salvos that are continuing to rock the publishing industry.
The February 2011 Conference was aflame with the recent Borders news, yet highly optimistic about the changing publishing climate. And sessions on self-publishing, or indie publishing as it’s now being called, had an equal presence with those following the traditional, or legacy model.
In March, a new storm hit the publishing world as established author Barry Eisler walked away from signing a two-book, $500,000 contract with St. Martins Press to publish the books himself. And a week later, self-publishing darling Amanda Hocking signed a four-book $2,000,000 contract with the same St. Martins Press.
Needless to say, these two events left many folks scratching their heads.
But when it comes down to the dollars, both decisions make perfect sense. Barry retains control over his story and his release schedule (it can take up to two years for a book to hit the stores after signing with a publisher). What’s more important, and the deciding factor in his decision, is that he can earn more in the long term by publishing the books himself than he could using the traditional model.
For a little insight into Barry Eisler’s choice, check out this conversation between Barry and Joe Konrath. A follow-up to that post can be found here in Part 2.
Amanda Hocking, on the other hand, gained a legitimacy and recognition that is difficult for self-published writers to attain. She also now has a team behind her to take care of much of the publishing details, freeing her up to do more of what she loves–writing. To read about her decision, I encourage you to visit Amanda’s blog.
As for Amanda’s accounting, some would argue she could have made more by publishing those four books herself. But I don’t think she’s going to be hurting for money, because she still has her self-published titles that are selling well. And as print readers discover her books and visit her website, her self-pubbed works will keep selling.
Ultimately, these two authors did what they felt was in their best interests, and no one should question their decisions.
But we can watch the results of those decisions unfold, and learn from them.
I know I am, and I know which direction I’m heading.
I realize the self-pub route is difficult and requires a lot of work. But so does the traditional, and if I go that route, I have an uphill battle (see December’s ~biases in publishing).
My posts will be infrequent over the next several months as I re-position myself to publish on my own. I have a number of changes to make, both to blog and website, and a lot of preparation to get Watcher ready to hit the market by my target date.
So continue to check back once in awhile for news about the paradigm shift that is shaking up the publishing world. It’s a revolution that’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited to be a part of it.