Thursday, September 1, 2011

Is Publishing Changing for Everyone, or Just the Established?

I read this article today by Bob Mayer called The Changing Landscape of Publishing for Writers. If you have time, you should pop over and read it. It's a great overview of how one established author is revamping his idea of good career moves in publishing.

In short, though, Mayer explains how the e-book business is making him rethink his strategies for publishing, the idea being that an author makes much more money selling an e-book himself than through a publisher, and how, although he's hit many best seller lists with his traditionally published books, he has established his own publishing business for his own books (which essentially is self-publishing) and is, in part, eschewing the old route and doing quite well.

Also, he points out that those who most vehemently argue against this progress are those who stand the most to lose: agents, publishers, editors, etc.

I don't doubt that all he says is true. I've heard of several big-name authors - mostly those who write genre fiction - heading out on their own and finding they can make much more money selling the ebooks themselves and then lauding this as the future.

My question is this: as an author who is basically doing most of my own publicity (as the majority of authors do), and who is struggling with that even with a reputable small press behind me, does this new model espoused by already established authors work for everyone? Is the landscape of publishing changing for ALL authors - or just for those who already have a following and therefore can cut out the middlemen who have already put their time and effort and money into building the author a brand?

Certainly being able to publish one's books one's self on Amazon Kindle has opened the field for many authors who otherwise might not get published. It also has muddied the field and made it even more difficult to find quality writing in that arena, although there certainly are quality writers in there.

But with the stigma that comes from self-publishing, and with the swarms of novels now available in Kindle and epub formats, can a no-name author rise to the top of the pack and make a name for her or himself and make the kind of money offered in traditional presses (which, granted, is probably not a lot)?

What do you think? Will the traditional presses still be the best way to published in two, four, or six years, or will they merely be the stepping stone for authors? Or will they, eventually, become just another but equal option for prospective writers?


  1. I say mid-listers (like moi) should stay where they are.

  2. I think only the authors who have a big fan base will succeed with that model. Or like Amanda Hocking those to do an incredible amount of marketing.

  3. Commenting as a reader, I have to say I am less likely to purchase a self-published book unless I have already read the author. Yes, there are quality writers who self-pub but, like the bargain bin, you have to sift through all the low-quality stuff to find the treasure. And that can be too time consuming. So, I'd say traditional press will still be the best for prospective writers unless the author's dream is just to get a book done and published, and isn't worried about the sales. But that's another topic!

  4. I'm not certain about down the road, Heidi. But I tend to agree with your reader, Lynn. I know that whenever I hear about a new book, I always check to see if it's self-published or not. And I tend not to bother reading a self-published work--unless I've heard through word-of-mouth that it's super spectacular.

    So I'm guessing that traditional publishing is still the way to go for new authors, at least for now.

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  6. I agree with everyone but your last commenter who is probably a spammer. I'm more inclined to not read self-published books unless it's a friend's book, and friends are great but can't really form a fan base. And this whole e-book thing...still trying to get used to it. I'm still a big fan of paper and ink.