Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: Legacy Publishing

Is Self-Publishing The New Norm?

Yesterday, I posted some predictions for the Publishing World for 2014.

Well, it’s become 2014 and this blog is 3 years old

Back at the beginning of 2011, I was nearly ready to publish my first novel and, because of my desire to make sure it got into print, I chose to self-publish.

In the past three years, I’ve learned more about self-publishing and I’ve learned more about traditional publishing; and, most importantly, I’ve learned why, even if I’d been willing to travel the traditional path, self-publishing would still have been my best bet

I’m going to devote the rest of this “first post of my 3-year-old blog” to a penetrating excerpt from Mark Coker‘s post on Smashwords‘ blog, Year in Review 2013 – Indie Authors the Stewards of Publishing’s Future.

He covers the past years’ milestones at Smashwords (“the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks”) but also gives us some deeply honest and accurate characterizations of traditional publishing:

“Back in 2008, I created Smashwords to give indie authors a seat at the publishing table. Back then, a time I refer to as the Dark Ages, traditional publishers held oligopolistic control over the printing, publishing and distribution of books.

“The control was oppressive. Writers were forced to bow subservient to the whims of big publishers. Publishers decided which writers became published authors. Although they published many great books, over the course of decades they crushed the dreams of thousands of great writers whose talent is now lost to humanity.

“Publishers decided what readers could read. Their decisions were guided by the publisher’s perception of a book’s anticipated commercial merit. Their decisions were guesses. When a book hit the bestseller lists, publishers patted themselves on the back for discovering and supporting the author. When a book failed, the author’s future publishing opportunities often failed with it.

“The dirty little secret of publishing is that in the end, publishers were simply throwing what they thought was their best spaghetti against the wall. Readers were the deciders of commercial success, not publishers.

“It’s not that publishers are bad. Inside the hallowed halls of their Manhattan and London skyscrapers, publishers are made up of thousands of passionate, intelligent and ethical people who love books and have dedicated their lives to discovering, developing and publishing great books by great authors. The problem with publishing was not a problem with the people of publishing, it was a problem with the business of publishing.

“Back before the time of books as digital bits, most legacy publishing practices made sense. They were unable to take a risk on every author.

“With the advent of ebooks, self publishing platforms such as Smashwords, and democratized distribution to major retailers, a new world order is emerging. It’s a new world order where the power of publishing is shifting from the halls of publishers to the hands of writers. It’s a world where the suffocating gatekeeping mentality – which once measured a book’s worth through the myopic lens of perceived commercial merit – can now be cast away.

“Books are worth more than dollars, pounds, euros and yen. Publishers don’t know what readers want to read, and they have no right to control what writers want to imagine, write or publish. Writers deserve the freedom to publish what they want, and readers deserve the freedom to read what they want. The new world order is beautifully democratic and fair.

“This is an exciting time to be a writer, author, publisher and ebook distributor. All of us are smack dab in the middle of turbulent cross-currents of change, innovation and opportunity.

“If this new world ever feels scary or uncertain, that’s because it is. But despite the uncertainty, one fact will remain true forever: Books are magical, writers are the magicians, and as long as great writers continue to write and publish, books have a permanent place in our lives.

“You – the indie author – are the future of publishing. Your publishing, distribution and marketing decisions will determine the course of the publishing industry. You’re in charge now. Lead us well.”
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So, How Clueless Are Traditional Publishers?

I’ve featured Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath here quite a few times—the two most interesting posts being Some Publishing Advice from Two Extremely Successful Authors and More on The Konrath/Eisler Conversation.

Well, Barry gave a talk at the Pike’s Peak Writers Convention and got some surprising responses and Joe carried Barry’s explanation on his blog: Eisler on Digital Denial.

I’ll put just a few excerpts here and encourage you to click the link and read the whole article

“As I’ve noted, an author who wants to reach a mass audience in paper needs a paper distribution partner. But an author who wants to reach a mass audience in digital needs no distribution partner at all. It is simply a fact — a fact — that a lone author can distribute 100% as effectively by herself as she can with the assistance of a multi-billion dollar international conglomerate (again, editing, marketing and all the rest is a separate story; for the moment, we are talking only about distribution).”

“To put it another way: a publisher offering an author digital distribution services is like someone offering me air. I already have it and I don’t need to pay extra for it.”

“One difference I consistently see — and that consistently concerns me — between proponents of choice in publishing on the one hand, and proponents of establishment publishing on the other, is the willingness of the first group to engage critics, and the latter’s refusal. I know behaviors like sniping to your followers on Twitter, or walking out of a keynote in dudgeon, can offer some brief emotional satisfaction, but what do such behaviors do to help writers? I’ve tweeted this post to the people I named in it, and I hope they’ll come by to offer their thoughts. Why not? Wouldn’t writers benefit from such a discussion? And in the end, isn’t that what we all want?”

Do go read the whole article—eye-opening and informative

But, to round things out, here are a few statements that Joe Konrath gave in that same article:

“Self-pubbers can bring their books to market much faster, days or weeks instead of months or years.

“Self-pubbers have control over things that writers deem important, like editing, cover art, and title.

“Self-pubbers get 70% royalties.

“Self-pubbers set the price of their book.

“Self-pubbers can make changes to their books quickly.

“Self-pubbers can reach just as many, if not more, readers with their ebooks than legacy publishers can.

“Self-pubbing has no gatekeepers or barriers to entry. It doesn’t take months/years of querying with fingers crossed to reach potential readers.”

So, go read it :-)
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The End of The World for Writers . . .

We’re still here—Doomsday fizzled—still

Somewhere between 30,000 and 150,000 people will die in our world today

For those lucky enough to be alive, there are still challenges.

What about some of the challenges writers face?

How many writers will give up on their dreams today—how many will put the manuscript away and forget where they put it—how many will drink themselves to death—how many will just cry a bit then suck it up and look for some other way to get published?

I live on a very small military pension and I chose to publish through FastPencil—even though it means saving up for months for each book published.

Still, there are those who should publish and won’t >>> because they’ve run out of traditional publishers to query >>> because for some reason they haven’t quite gotten to a finished draft >>> because they have a good manuscript, don’t want the legacy deal, but refuse to learn how to self-publish

There are even authors who’ve made a steady living through traditional publishing, for a couple decades, yet see a dwindling of profitability due to changes in the legacy model, and refuse to learn how to self-publish—Check-out >>> Can an Old-Fashioned Non-Interactive Author Survive in the Social Age?

So, let’s assume you’re dying to get published, aren’t afraid to learn new tricks, but haven’t been able to find a step-by-step manual.

Try John Picha’s ePub Primer.

Just a few caveats:

John’s primer is about 7 months old.

Self-publishing is evolving rapidly.

If your writing-world isn’t post-apocalyptic, you may want to step up your pace of preparing for publishing.

There is the important consideration of having some method of attracting readers—See >>> 28 posts about Promotion.

You may be nowhere near having your work ready to publish >>> Google Searching on “how to self-publish” will still be available when you are ready :-)

Have you been published traditionally?

Have you been published traditionally but now self-publish?

Have you only been self-published?

Are you considering self-publishing?

Will you share your experiences or feelings (no matter if you’ve published or not) in the Comments? :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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I Need Your Help ~ Let’s Decide Which Is Better: Traditional or Self-Publishing . . .

I try to be a fair and balanced blogger (folks in the U.S.A. may be laughing because I just used two words an infamous, unfair, and egregiously unbalanced media company use).

I’ve been blogging about Reading, Writing, and Publishing for nearly two years now.

My readership has grown in a satisfying way but I’m hoping this particular post can lead to an upsurge in readers—and Commenters.

I’m not looking for reader comments to make this blog show up better on search engines or to help me sell anything (even my short novel is available for free in the side-bar).

What I’m after is sufficient commentary on this post to help me make a personal decision

Naturally, if you and your friends can help enough, this post could end up helping lots of other people, too

I’ve spent considerable effort here finding news articles and blog posts that discuss traditional publishing and compare it with self-publishing.

And, you can use the Top Tags widget in the side-bar to find past articles

Here’s the thing though.

I self-published my most recent book through FastPencil (I’ve also used Lulu).

Still, there are aspects of the operation of traditional publishers that seem to have more potential to make books “acceptable” to readers

On the other hand, there are many authors who’ve experienced traditional publishing and shifted away from the legacy model—one particularly important example is Joe Konrath.

So, how can you help me?

First, watch the videos below and leave a Comment.

Second, tell your friends to watch the videos and make Comments.

I’m hoping there’ll be enough Comments to let me do, at least, two more posts on this important issue—What Is The Best Way To Publish A Book?

Just a few more considerations before the videos:

I realize there may be reasons for writers to pursue both types of publishing—they each have “advantages” and “disadvantages”

I put quotes around those words in the last sentence because one person’s profitableness can be another’s handicap.

Also, you may not have published or have friends who have.

I still encourage you to watch the videos and make a judgement on whether these professionals and authors seem like people you can trust [a fair and balanced evaluation of body language and voice inflection might be appropriate]

Last consideration—you may (or, all your friends may) have no knowledge of different kinds of publishing.

I’d still like your Comments on the following issue—How Do You Feel Reading, Writing, and Publishing “Fit Together” ?

OK, here are the videos—do hope you make a Comment :-)

Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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Publishing Article Round-Up ~ “Must Reads” for Writers

I scan scads of blog and news articles every month looking for resources to share on this blog.

I usually choose one article to feature (adding my comments) or perhaps two that contrast in interesting ways.

Today, I’m sharing four and one of them contains nine more :-)

The first one is from Michael Levin, one of the most established ghostwriters in the USA, New York Times best-selling author, with more than 100 books. His article is called Why Won’t First Time Authors Ever Avoid The Humiliation Of New York Publishing.

Here are a few snippets to entice you to take the link and read the full article:

“The first sign that the publishing industry has little regard for newcomers is the miniscule or even non-existent advances on offer today.  I’ve seen celebrities and CEOs whose names you would recognize offered from zero to $5,000 for their books and I’ve seen them take those deals.”

“The next insult occurs when you don’t get your contract practically until the date your manuscript is due.  Publishers’ attorneys are either the most backed-up or the laziest creatures in that entire miserable profession (I can make as much fun of lawyers as I want because I am one).”

There are more insults in Mr. Levin’s article and it quickly becomes apparent how valuable all the Self-Publishing opportunities are

The next offering is on truthdig, is by Susan Zakin (author of The Afterlife of Victor Kamara, a novel about identity in a globalizing world), and has the title Reports of Publishing’s Death Are Exaggerated (a lengthy but fascinating piece).


“Many people think publishing isn’t a business at all. Book publishing is a clubby, insular world where everyone knows one another and started as an eager 22-year-old fresh out of Vassar.”

“The culture of book publishing is one reason for its current woes….it’s hard to tell whether vulture capitalism will mend publishing’s problems or make them worse.”

“Writers would be better off turning their considerable energy toward sussing out the business of publishing. As recently as 10 years ago, good writers could support themselves from their writing. Now many of them can’t. Until a new ecology of publishing is invented that offers decent wages and opportunity, articles and short stories will not be written, and books that you might have loved will not get published.”

Even more reason to explore the proliferating world of Self-Publishing, since, to me, the changes traditional publishing is facing and that Zakin explores in her article could take a long time to occur[This link will take you to the 69 posts about Self-Publishing on this blog]

The next article I’ll share comes from Minnesota Public Radio’s Site and is called Self-publishing your book: 5 benefits, 3 drawbacks.

I’ll list the benefits and drawbacks but you’ll have to take the link to find out what they say :-):


1. Higher royalty rates

2. You can bypass traditional publishers

3. You can be a control freak

4. Your book gets more time to catch on

5. You can control costs


1. Publishers already have a platform

2. A “tsunami of swill” online

3. Publishers can make your book better

I don’t agree with everything said in this article but it is worth considering

The last article is from Jane Friedman and this link will take you to the 14 other posts here that featured her

Her article is called Best Business Advice for Writers and I’ll list the titles of the articles she links to but, again, you’ll have to go there to take the links and enjoy the articles :-)

* How an Enterprising Author Sold a Million Self-Published Books
* How Readers Discovered a Debut Novel: A Case Study
* Facebook: Best Practices for Profiles, Pages, Groups, and Posts
* Mustering the Courage to Turn Down a Publishing Contract
* Top 5 Goals for Your Book or E-Book Cover
* Publishers Brace for Authors to Reclaim Book Rights in 2013
* A New (Free) Way to Sell Books From Your Sidebar
* Who Pays Writers
* BookBaby Partners with Bound Book Scanning to Convert Print Books into eBooks

If you visit any of the articles featured in this post, it would be Great if you shared your impressions in the Comments :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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