Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Wild West of self-publishing

I have no doubt that self-publishing is the future of book publishing. If you look at the breakdown of the price of a hardcover book, as I have, you see that perhaps $8 is devoted to boxing and shipping and warehousing copies.

That $8 can go elsewhere. To the writer, for instance.

Rick Archbold, a writer in Toronto, points out the incentives for a writer: getting to market more quickly, more control of the process, and a larger share of the earnings.

He also points out that publishers aren't doing as much heavy lifting on behalf of writers as they once did -- marketing is pretty much up to the writer. There is still the prestige of being selected by a major house, but that to may yield to online vetters like Goodreads.

Archbold writes:
Before the rise of literary self-publishing, the makers of literary taste lived in the editorial departments of mainstream publishing houses, among the contributors to the review pages of mainstream publications and on the juries of literary prizes. These tastemakers have yet to fully emerge in the Wild West of self-publishing. But there are already several well-established book awards for self-published or “independently published” books, the latter a grey category that includes self-published books. And publishing services companies are beginning to promise quality control. According to Trafford’s website, its “flagship Gold Seal Packages are externally critiqued by the highly respected book reviewers in the industry such as Kirkus, ForeWord Clarion and the US Review of Books. Trafford books with positive reviews are rewarded with that much-coveted stamp of excellence—the Trafford Gold Seal.”
And I found this interesting:
Self-publishing is at a stage analogous to the early days of Wikipedia, when users were reluctant to trust information contained in a communally written encyclopedia. It turns out that online democracy performs quite an effective self-regulating function. The more individuals who contributed to Wikipedia the more reliable it became. Now it is the first place most people turn to for information. Whether the increasingly virtual world of self-publishing will eventually learn to regulate itself is an open question. The appearance of various award programs for self-published books hints at the possibility.
 Already agents and others in the traditional business are trying to figure out where the fit in the Wild West.

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