The Self-Publishing Opportunity (Roundtable: 7/1/10)
The Roundtable is a live, interactive webcast gathering some of the most outspoken industry professionals to debate the hottest publishing issues of the week, as being discussed in traditional media, the blogiverse and on Twitter. From celebrity book deals to eBook rights and pricing to [insert YOUR pet topic here] — if it’s related to books, it’s on the agenda.
Topic: The Self-Publishing Opportunity
This episode of The Roundtable was webcast live at 1pm EDT on Thursday, July 1, 2010.
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Dir. of Programming & Business Development, Digital Book World
In the wake of widespread criticism over its self-publishing imprint, Harlequin has changed the imprint’s name from Harlequin Horizons to DellArte Press. As Harlequin publisher and CEO Donna Hayes said it would, the company renamed the imprint to a designation “that [does] not refer to Harlequin in any way.” There is no mention of Harlequin on DellArte’s Web site.
Late last week, Romance Writers of America and other writers’ associations spoke out against the November 17 announcement that Author Solutions had teamed with Harlequin to form Harlequin Horizons, an imprint for self-published romance authors. RWA deemed Harlequin no longer eligible for RWA-provided conference resources–meaning the publisher would not be entitled to enter any award competitions. Harlequin publisher and CEO Donna Hayes said the company was “surprised and dismayed” at RWA’s actions and said it would change the imprint’s name.
In 2001, the Wild Writing Women, a San Francisco Bay Area travel writing group of which I was a member, decided to self-publish a book of stories. Why? Because none of us could find a traditional publisher for what we thought was our best writing.
We had skilled publishing professionals among us, so we never considered using a vanity press. Instead, each of the twelve of us tossed in $500 and formed a small business. One of us went to San Francisco City Hall to process our business name, Wild Writing Women Press. Another bought the ISBN and bar code; others hired a book designer, edited, proofread, created a website, and chose a printer. Promotion was easy because we had 12 professional adventure travel writers talking up the book in the course of marketing our other books and projects.
Wild Writing Women: Stories of World Travel was an instant hit. We sold all 1,000 copies in the first week of publication and made back more than double our investment. Eighteen traditional publishers were suddenly interested in purchasing the book. The group decided — by a skinny 7 to 5 vote — to sell it to Globe-Pequot. Self-publishing success? Well, it’s 2010 and we’ve yet to see any royalties.
What’s an author to do when there are fewer vehicles for gaining that rubber stamp of approval and credibility, getting published, and getting noticed in a world of enormous supply, but diminishing demand?
As many have argued, it’s time to focus on the reader (or the community).
Kickstarter holds within it a model of authorship that empowers you to build a future based on your fans and supporters and colleagues, without the need for “traditional” approval of a publisher or an agent.
But Kickstarter isn’t necessarily a breakthrough model as much as a re-discovering of an ancient support system for artists and creative ventures: patrons!
Why Robin Sloan is the Future of Publishing (and Science Fiction)
“To me,” says Sloan, “the point isn’t always to get a story out into the world by any means necessary. Just as often, it’s to try out new technologies and new platforms; sometimes it’s to experiment, play and learn.”
To this end, Sloan has experimented with various strategies of releasing his stories, none of which involve sending them out to publishing “gate-keepers.” He made a story available for sale on the Kindle with the caveat that after 100 sales he would put it on his website for free. He wrote a story in exchange for a pair of pants. He wrote a story from start-to-finish on an airplane ride. He wrote a story and then offered the rough draft to his Twitter followers for editing. He asks his readers to remix and rewrite his stories. He has made a game of making canny use of the Internet and social media without ever doing anything that remotely resembles the traditional publishing model.
I work with a lot of writers on their digital strategy, and I very often hear that they don’t feel their hard work and engagement online is making a difference. @garyvee would say HAVE PATIENCE. And he’s right. If you’re a writer (and I would encourage you to do ANYTHING else if you can, because it’s really really hard to be successful as a writer), you are building a long-term relationship. It’s not just about THIS book; it’s about your career.
The take-away from the post that I’m always left with, is: ”If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years.” One fan per day just seems so doable, right?
Twitter (as RTd by @DigiBookWorld):
RT @tstcpublishing: #dbw so is lack of support for authors by big pubs due to outsourcing/freelancing of many editorial/marketing functions?
RT @pablod: …and scale. most legacy pubs are operating at 30k feet, when some authors may need support at 15k-feet #dbw
RT @MatthewDiener: Getting a manuscript into print and/or eBook = easy part. Marketing, promotion, sales, discoverability = hard part. #dbw
RT @babetteross: #dbw Being published by one of big 6 is not a magic potion for sales. For Self or Trad, the author needs to help market it.
RT @eBookNoir: #dbw – self-pub seems to fit into those areas where a traditional pub isn’t willing to take the risk
RT @MissAdventuring: #dbw So if the publishers can’t handle it then why all the shouting when the tech industry takes up the slack?
RT @StrachanLit: The self-published authors who are successful have found ways to connect with their readers. #dbw
RT @bakersmark: ” Author took the time to cultivate an audience” I love it… #dbw
RT @eBookNoir: #dbw – so a lot of this comes back to previous conversations of pubs needing to engage readers and authors
RT @MatthewDiener: Much easier for pubs to scale up existing platform/community/following than build one for author. #dbw
RT @MissAdventuring: #dbw self-publishing is necessary for writers who want to break through – advantage to extroverts who know social media
RT @MissAdventuring: #dbw writers thinking about self-pub to get noticed, still so much work! EaSY to produce but not to mktg (killer app)