Why Big-Time Authors Jump Ship

jumping shipAccording to a report yesterday in the New York Times, big-name authors are being lured by the seductive song of self-publishing, away from their steady, if not stodgy, relationships with their long-term big-publisher mates. Literary agencies are the enablers, offering the authors self-publishing services and consultation if they want it.
Given the great disparity in royalties paid to authors through self-publishing versus through working with a big publisher, why would any author choose to stay with a publisher? According to the article, trepidation and a strong relationship with a good editor is the reason why – but that’s flat out wrong.
For the vast majority of authors who are thinking holistically about their careers, one of the biggest lures of a big publisher is distribution. In the Digital Book World/Writer’s Digest report on what authors want, wide distribution and distribution into bookstores were the top two factors authors considered when making publishing decisions. Not money, not editorial.
A huge number of books today are still sold in print, in stores, and a smart author who wants to maximize her distribution knows that the path into bookstores is generally through an established publisher – for now. Star author Tim Ferris taught us that lesson when his latest title failed to take off when it wasn’t distributed widely in bookstores.

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The rest of the day’s top news:

Meet the Latest Self-Publishing Sensation (Forbes)
Rachel Van Dyken, the published author over some 20 books with another half-dozen on the way,  tells the story of how her publisher rejected The Bet and how she went on to self-publish it and sell 85,000 copies in under two weeks. Sounds familiar, eh?
Publishers Speaking Out Against Amazon (Pub Perspectives)
Publishers at the London Book Fair took to the press to complain about Amazon, vocalizing in print what we’ve been hearing privately for some time. Problem is, none of them would go on the record so it’s still just whispers in the shadows for now.
Making the Old New (Guardian)
One view of the future was on display this week at the London Book Fair and it was a look back into the past. UK publisher Faber has created an interactive version of turn-of-the-century classic thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps. With silent film music and stop-motion animation, it still feels pretty old-timey, but in a 21st century sort of way.
Publishers Plan on Building Communities Online (DBW)
According to a new survey, publishers are aggressively trying to build online communities to sell and market their books. The number of publishers actively doing so is set to double in the near term.
Amazon Gets Goodreads, Sony Gets iDreambooks (Good E Reader)
Now that Amazon owns Goodreads, other ebook retailers may feel uncomfortable using Goodreads reviews on their platforms. For Sony, iDreambooks will solve this problem, powering the Reader Store with its reviews.
Marketing Gets Editorial (DBW)
Open Road and The Atavist are both creating and disseminating free content as a way to build their audiences and market their paid content.
F+W Media Strikes Again With Sewing Vertical Acquisition (DBW)
F+W Media (DBW’s parent company) has been on the warpath lately, making deal after deal. Last week it was a deal to bring Burda Media’s style brand to the U.S. This week it’s the acquisition of The Sewing Studio and LoveSewing.com, a vertical sewing business that includes online education and physical retail locations.
Berenstain Bears Get up Close and Personal With Sourcebooks (DBW)
The children’s digital platform wars rage on, the most recent shot fired by Sourcebooks and its Put Me in the Story personalization platform. It signed a deal to bring the beloved Berenstain Bears on board.
Scholastic Dives Into Digital Education (DBW)
As promised on its latest earnings call in March, Scholastic has launched a suite of products aimed at the promising K-12 digital learning market.
Peek-a-Boo, It’s Speakaboos! (DBW)
Another children’s ebook platform has launched: Speakaboos. Big publishers DK, Abrams and others are already on board.

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