Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Changes, Changes

Hello, your local epublishing adherent here. Have you heard all the buz from the publishing world this week? About Amanda Hocking and Barry Eisler? Everyone is talking about them, all over the place like here, here, here and here . I give them credit, it’s big news. But they are just the latest buzzwords, and the best examples of why anyone should publish whichever way is right for them.

All the talk about these guys has refreshed the equation wars between self epublishing and traditional publishing. Specifically everyone starts putting up long strings of equations about the money an author actually makes selling books in each method. Something I am really really tired of seeing repeatedly over the last couple of years now. All the ebook enthusiasts point to the same argument-defending pieces, all the traditionalists point to the “everything else” about why self epublishing is not the best thing to do. And it hasn’t changed over the last couple of years. Alright the only thing that changes is the examples when popular pricing models change, but they essentially say the same thing… That is, IF YOU CAN SELL A LOT OF BOOKS YOU WILL MAKE A LOT OF MONEY.

Hocking, a young self-made author has a huge fan base and has worked her fingers to the bone self publishing. Why was signing a contract with St. Martin’s the “right” choice for her? Because instead of her hiring the staff she needed to stay on top of her game, they paid her a 2 million dollar advance to do all the ground work for her, in her own words, “so she can be a writer.”

I’m happy to see that a young writer in this position has chosen to go with traditional publishing--to go with having a professional edit her work, and help her become the best writer she can be. I’m saying this not knowing how much she has invested in independent copy editors with her previous books. But I’m also saying this knowing that authors like Ann Rice thought they could do without editing and now publically expose some really shoddy prose.

Eisler has come a long way as a professional author, polishing his writing through years of working with editors and also has a huge fan base from previous success with publishing houses. He’s already doing the marketing and just wants to sell books for himself, and continue to have his publishers publish his other books. Wouldn’t I love to be in his position, without the huge mountain of marketing work I have waiting for me.

In the end, these two represent the polar opposite ends of the current publishing atmosphere. And show the best parts of it all. Looking at them you do not hear the story of the low sellers or even the midlisters, like Kiana Davenport, who may be the next biggest success story.

If you are lucky enough to land a good publishing contract, you will likely reach a larger audience than with self publishing. If you choose to go with self publication, you will make more per cover and maybe even push more copies but it will only spread as far as one person can push. In the short of it all, in order to become a successful writer, you need to market, market, market and network, network, network. Regardless of who has the rights, regardless of which side of the equation you are on, it will catch up with you eventually. Be smart, be aware of your options and don’t be afraid of change!