Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Is Anyone Else Scared? Self-Publishing
I don't know how many of you heard about this, but on Monday, NYT Bestseller Barry Eisler turned down a $500K offer from his publisher and announced he is going to self-publish. I read this article which has a link and summary to a conversation that Eisler had with JA Konrath about self-publishing and why they recommend it. Konrath posted on his blog about why all the rumors out there about self-publishing aren't true.
Here is another post by author Roxane Gay on reasons that self-publishing might not be the right route for a lot of people. While I don't agree with the assumption that all self-published authors tried traditional publishing and just couldn't cut it... I do agree that some of it is simply abysmal--then again, I can say the same thing of the occasional traditionally published book.
All the arguments are sound and after reading all of this I have a bit of a sick feeling in my stomach. It's confusing and there really is no definite, right answer. Everything they say makes sense, but as an aspiring author who has spent the last few years honing my craft and learning the ins and outs of the publishing industry by heart--it's more than a little terrifying to consider what may happen to this industry in the next couple of years.
Don't get me wrong. I think change is good and it's clear that the publishing industry follows an older, established regimen. Just like the MP3 changed the music industry, the ebook and digital media are changing publishing--whether we like it or not. I think it's a good thing and while I know that publishers are going to have to continue to adapt, I don't know if anyone knows how that will work out.
Does this mean that everything I've learned about the way the industry works is useless? No. I don't think so. No matter what happens, knowing the way marketing, cover-art, editing, product placement, etc. affect the sales of a book is going to help me. Understanding how to be professional and how to adapt to a virtual marketplace are key to success no matter what happens.
Still, these kinds of sweeping changes are intimidating. With many talented writers now choosing the self-publishing route. One thing is for certain--we, as an industry, can't afford the stigma that has been placed on authors who choose to bypass the traditional route and publish on their own. The industry is changing, and we must change with it. Are there terrible ones, yes. Should we assume they all are? No.
Does this mean that I'm going to go that route? I'm not sure. Not right now. I'm watching and waiting--learning about this new avenue just as I did the old one. But, if I do... I will still use everything I learned from the traditional publishing model. I'll hire a professional cover-artist and editor. I will do everything I can to make sure that my finished product has every chance of being successful--just as publishers have done for us in the past.
What do you think of the changes and different options that digital media brings? Does it make you nervous or excited?