Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Change - Fear it, embrace it, or wait it out?

There is a lot of movement with publishing giants this week.  It's kind of like the earthquake on the west coast and the hurricane on the east combined forces to rattle the very foundations of the industry.  The seismic activity over here dropped Canadian publisher D&M so low they had to file for bankruptcy, while Sandy blew and blew and blew Penguin and Random House down...or, at least, into each other.  (Now to be called Penguin Random House -- for a company that ships creativity, that has to be the least creative name I've ever heard.)

Meanwhile, more and more people seem to be entering the authorly scene, competing for fewer and fewer published spots.  For this reason (as well as, I'm sure, many others), vast numbers of writers are skipping the middle man (well, middlemen) of traditional publishing and plunging into the bookselling waters solo.  With the ever increasing popularity of the e-reader, publishing your book yourself, in electronic form, is easier than ever.  Then, if things really get moving, there is always a possibility to expand into print.

For a long time, this was a little-talked-about issue.  Whispered in corner chat rooms and wholly separate from the "real" publishing talk on Twitter.  Those people, who obviously couldn't make it in the traditional scene weren't real authors and weren't to be taken seriously.

But that is changing.  Perhaps it's because of the scary-looking shifts in traditional publishing, but perhaps they just needed time to get accustomed to it, people are openly discussing self-publishing values.  There are even breakout workshops at major conferences all about how, when, and why to self publish.

And, people are learning a few things about it:

  1. It's not easy.  While being traditionally pubbed doesn't mean you get to sit on your laurels while a whole team does your marketing for you, when you publish yourself, you are seriously On Your Own.  You do everything, from the editing to the publicity and marketing to the artwork to the formatting.  It's a full-time job.  Oh, yeah, and you still have to write the book.
  2. Not everyone who self-pubs is a horrid author.  Some really great success stories are coming out of the self-publishing world!
  3. Not everyone who publishes traditionally is an excellent author. (ahem, 50 Shades of Gray?)
A great and honest blog post about self-pubbing, written by someone who has worked in almost all areas of the industry can be found here.  Find out why, even after working for an agent and operating her own editing company for years, she decided to self-publish rather than wading into the rapids of traditional publishing.

I'm still not sure what my plan is.  I've sent out a trickle of queries (when I say trickle, I really mean it: 5 over 3 years) but have not wholly discounted the whole self-pubbing route.  

Where do you guys weigh in on the issue?  Does it make sense to embrace the change and jump into self pubbing head first?  Or does it make more sense to stick with the traditional publishing, ignoring (or maybe fearing?) the changes.  Or, is it better to wait out the storm and see where things lie the next morning...how ever many years in the future that will be?  Let me know your thoughts.

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