Now, here's Mark.
Because I’ve self-published my books, Richard asks if I’ve encountered prejudice over “short-cutting the traditional process,” I think there will always be a certain amount of prejudice lurking out there in the writing community. I understand where some might think that writers like myself have taken the shortcut to publishing without being ‘vetted’ by the traditional publishing process. However, I believe a lot of writers are finally opening their eyes to publishing possibilities not available just a few years ago. Couple these changes with the reality that the traditional publishing road has drastically changed over the last few years. There are less and less opportunities—particularly for new authors—for writers to carve out their niche in the traditional writing game in a face of a significant economic downturn.
And this is not limited to new writers. Last march, New York Times bestseller Bob Mayer wrote an article titled “I was wrong, Konrath was Right,” referring to indie author Joe Konrath, a self-publishing advocate who has been in the forefront of a movement to confront these prejudices about self-publishing. In the article, Mayer admitted he dug his heels in against Konrath’s assertions that traditional publishing’s view of eBooks continues to be flawed and midlist authors are going to get hammered.
At the time, Mayer had twenty years invested in traditional publishing, with over 40 titles and a major deal with St. Martins for a co-written paperback coming out in a few months. He did not want to change, but he had been through “the midlist wringer several times over” where he got dropped and then picked up again and again. He saw the industry starting to downsize, limiting the number of contracts with midlist authors while choosing to invest their limited capital on proven, big named authors. Konrath’s assertions began to make sense to Mayer. He finally succumbed, creating his own publishing company to begin to take advantage of digital publishing opportunities such as increased royalty rate percentages, plus many marketing, design, and distribution opportunities. Soon, Mayer saw his books posted on Amazon’s coveted Top 100 list on a regular basis. And his books never went out of print.
Mayer is not alone. Another NYT bestseller, Barry Eisler, raised a lot of eyebrows when he turned down a half-million dollar deal with a major publisher to become an indie author. A few months later, Eisler again raised more controversy when he signed with Amazon’s publishing imprint, Thomas & Mercer, once again demonstrating the diversity of opportunities for authors arising in the publishing industry. In the same year, paranormal/romance author Amanda Hockings—a new indie author— drew attention when she began a stellar climb in sales in just a matter of months. She finally signed with a major publisher for a substantial amount of money, stating to some disgruntled readers that she just wanted to concentrate on her writing and let someone else deal with other aspects of publishing.
And the list goes on. There is not just one single road to publishing. The choices range from traditional to self published, and a variety of choices between the two. New services are emerging where authors can team up with others to enter into modified publishing agreements, in a sort of a smorgasbord of options to fit an author’s particular needs.
Yes, I do believe attitudes are changing, among many readers and authors—if not from traditional publishers. However, with this freedom of indie publishing comes a responsibility to make the novel as professional as any of those released by major publishers. Authors need to be prepared to pay the cost for solid editing services, as well as formatting and design expenses, while continuing to push themselves to develop their writing craft.
Thanks, Mark. I think your last sentence is very important for anyone considering self-publishing. Now I'll ask my readers to sound off. What do you think of self-publishing and e-publishing? I'd like to know.