The Automobile And The Horse

Mr. G II

I was intrigued by Penny Sansevieri’s latest bulletin post in which she suggests that The Emperor (read New York Publishers) Has No Clothes (still don’t realize that their existence is in jeopardy).

And as she goes on to surmise; perhaps they won’t go away altogether. To draw an analogy, when the automobile arrived, the horse didn’t go away, but it became a whole lot less necessary. I’m big on niche finding, and I believe the big publishers will always have a role, but will no longer own the industry.

It’s all about the math. An author today can self-publish and expect up to 70% of the profit from book sales, versus 10% to 15% if going the publisher route. Sure, publishers have the experience and know-how and connections, but in the end, self-publishers will gain that too. And self-publishers will always have to market their work, regardless. Look for marketing consortiums created by author groups to crop up – no one has time both to write and to market, but working as a group, the load can be lightened.

Penny mentions the cache of big house publishers; to many writers’ minds, being published by an established publisher means your work has met a certain standard. But guess what? Your work must meet that same standard to self-publish successfully. Nor does being published in the traditional way necessarily mean success. I continue to be a believer in “build it, and they will come”; in other words, write a damn good book, and people will want to read it.

One big advantage to the self-publisher? Keep writing and publishing good books, and with each book your profits grow incrementally. Only the lucky few can manage to do that through traditional publishing.

It will take a while for the role of the traditional publishing house to evolve. Because no one wants to settle for less – except, maybe, that horse!

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