Friday, February 03, 2012

Mark Young On Changes In Publishing

I'm giving author Mark Young more space to expound on his experience and his views of self-publishing and e-publishing. If you missed his earlier interview, I'd encourage you to go back and read it. For those of you who are eagerly awaiting words of wisdom from me, I'm guest blogging today at the ACFW Blog on some research habits that get under my skin. Check it out.

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.


Unknown said...

Hi, Mark. My husband convinced me to self-publish. He is a Lean Six Sigma evangelist and is all about pull instead of push, efficiency and getting product out faster. He saw how time-consuming and stressed out I was researching, querying and submitting my work to agents and publishers--time I could have used developing more product. I am so glad I took his advice. I have a book out now and have sold more copies than I thought possible--I'm no Konrath or Hocking--but hey, I'm selling. I'm sure I will sell more when I learn how to market better which is yet another skill set for the literary entrepreneur to learn. Blessings and sell more books!

Unknown said...

Congratulations, Charmaine. There are many paths to publishing. I am glad you found a way that works for you. I encourage you to persevere.

I am learning new things about this publishing game every day, and I am still amazed when I hear from a new reader who just read my novel--and like it! God bless.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

A fantastic interview--thank you, Mark and Richard. I'll spread the word. If nothing else, this is a very interesting time to be publishing. :-)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Rosslyn. From my perspective, it is a great time to be an author. It is exciting to watch new opportunities unfold everyday.

Patricia PacJac Carroll said...

Good interview. I just jumped into the Indie ocean. I am learning, and learning I have lots more to learn. But the water is warm and feels good.
I am in the middle of getting my book out by May. And I agree that we need to put our best out there.
Thanks for the encouragement that it can be done!

Unknown said...

Patricia: I wish you well. There are a lot of friends out here who have waded that same ocean. Let them know if you need a life preserver now and then.

Richard: As you can see, I have my computer back. What a relief!

Carol J. Garvin said...

It's good to hear about your experience, Mark. Not every indie author sees the kind of success that Joe Konrath, Bob Mayer, and Barry Eisler enjoy. All of them had established a significant public presence before they changed publishing directions. But it's certainly interesting, and encouraging, to learn how they've benefited by the different options available to writers today.

Richard Mabry said...

Carol, Mark has done the work, and that sets apart lots of self-pubbed authors.

Mark, thanks so much for being my guest. And good luck on your continuing writing journey.

Deb said...

I'm still waiting for some groups to admit that a publisher's e-book is on par with a print book...I think embracing the competent self-published author will not happen tomorrow, nor even the day after tomorrow.

More's the pity. Let's say the biggest names in our market severed ties with their agents and print publishers, and went to the direct-to-reader model. Would their work be any of lower quality? any less acceptable to the Christian fic market? I submit that it would not, and all that anti-direct-bias is then for nothing. And then just wait for the crowd to praise these authors for their market savvy.

As far as Joe Konrath, he makes some good points, but his shrill rhetoric makes me less apt to listen. Were he a bit more reasoned, like Cory Doctorow and Eisler and a few select others, I might pay more attention.