Article about the economics of self-publishing
Posted by
  • Thanks, I think. I don't see a clear route through all this yet but I'm sure there is one! And the more we can educate ourselves, the better. Glad to have company in this endeavor.
  • You’re right Caroline, that my use of the term monolithic corporations does lend itself to a comic book interpretation of the Evil Empire. Currently I am immersed in researching that genre and writing about it and the characters seem intent on taking over my life these days. Holy tights, Batman, I’m seeing bad guys and Superheroes everywhere! Obviously there are large publishing companies who put out great books, lousy books, commercial books et al and are, as you say, just doing business. Many good friends and colleagues are happily employed by these companies and no one I know would turn down a book deal from any of these companies including me. However, wearing the hat of a small publisher, I do have concerns about the mergers and acquisitions in these difficult economic times of someone such as Rupert Murdoch who owns Direct TV, newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, Fox and Harper Collins among other media. That’s not a good thing whether it’s the evil empire or not and it does mean that what gets published, distributed, reviewed, etc. is controlled simply by the nature of the beast. For instance, Audible, the only game in town for audio downloads pays publishers such a small percentage that the smaller audio publishers not only don't make any money but it costs us to pay author royalties and thus drives us out of the market limiting what will be available. That's just one small example so all the more reason for encouraging those who are doing the challenging work of self-publishing. As an interesting note from comic book land, 2 years ago the Eisner winner (the Academy Award for comics) for best new comic book was won by 5 guys and a girl who self-published! Thanks again for such a lively topic, now back to fighting the bad guys, oops, I mean back to work.
  • Nicky, you hit several important points square on the head. Nicely said! Everyone publishes for different reasons, with different goals. We are fortunate to have so many venues to choose from! Each option has its pluses and minuses, and the key is to know what you want to achieve, and understand what kind of work you are offering to whom, and the pros and cons of which avenue you choose. I would like to challenge one phrase you used: "the monolithic corporations who do their best to control everything we read, see and hear." Sounds too much like an Evil Empire! While there are, indeed, certain circles whose concern is controlling the Everyman, for the most part the big corporations we all hiss at are just businesses trying to make money. This is the only reason any business exists; else, it's a nonprofit organization (or a group of people who don't bother organizing at all). As a writer, if you desire to make money with your work, then you are a miniature business. If you want big dollars, then you must make the same choice a big business does: sell a big number of things to big numbers of people -- in other words, offer a product with mass appeal. If we can't do that, then it's a waste of breath to complain about it. Instead, we can choose from all those alternative venues mentioned above. True self-publishing offers the best prospect for highest return, in exchange for doing all the labor. Vanity or assisted publishing offers the easiest path for what's likely to be the lowest return. E-publishing offers both possibilities. So each writer must decide how important commercial success is, and choose path accordingly.
  • One of the problems with all the accessible technical tools for publishing, movies and music, is that there is a general sense that anyone can do it. Doing something for fun and pursuing work in your field as a professional are two entirely different paths. The importance of available venues for an artist to freely create and produce in opposition to the monolithic corporations who do their best to control everything we read, see and hear cannot be overstated. At the same time, as many people have pointed out, it becomes a problem when anybody with a computer feels they should get their novel published. Indeed there is a glut of material out there that makes it much more difficult to wade through to find those works that are genuinely well-crafted and worthy of attention. I have colleagues and good friends who have published with major houses and have also done their own thing through places like Lulu. This is where being a professional comes into play--no matter which road you choose to follow, if you are a working professional you are well aware of the requirements needed to produce a finished product--whether it is handed over to a large or small press or whether you produce it yourself. Great post Carolyn! It definitely got me going. Thanks, Nicky
  • Interesting discussion and counter. Have you read any of Michael N. Marcus's books? I saw he had several on "real" self publishing posted on his blog. Thanks for bringing these links to light.
  • I thought it sounded too good to be true. I kind of feel this is very dangerous to new writers who are desperate for publication. CJ xx