Write It Sideways

Self-Publishing: What Happens Next…

Today’s post is written by Florence Fois, a finalist in The First Ever Write It Sideways Blogging Contest. Pleasure to have you, Florence!

You want to self-publish your book in either e-format or standard print. First you might consider the possibilities of both the traditional and the most modern methods to publish your novel.

Self-publishing is a very old concept, used as far back as the days of Dickens, and into early 1900 American Literature, where bards and novelist gathered in small exclusive groups and published each other.

Its latest incarnation began a few years ago with three or four major companies like iUniverse, Xlibris and Publish America, to name three. Author House has become the parent company of iUniverse and Xlibris.  There are dozens of other new publishers and the rules of self-publishing have changed so fast, it can be difficult to form a logical game plan.

In traditional publishing, as early as two years ago, the skinny was you had better give the agent and/or the editor a 99% polished ready to wear novel. On the heels of this news, we then learned … you had better be prepared to do your own publicity and market your own work.

This doesn’t sound much different from self-publishing, does it?

To Self-Publish or Not

The controversy and the arguments on both sides have raged during this past year, but do not bode well for the inexperienced newcomer. The latest surge in self-publishing, in particular e-publishing has been fanned, not by the novice, but by major authors and well-known agents, adding a new wrinkle to the old page.

Once again, aspiring writers are in direct competition with writers who have everything they do not: an established career and readership, name recognition, and big bucks.

One major best selling author has done so already with her print publications, and I think her next move will be into direct e-publishing. Janet Evanovich has been her own publisher and agent for several years. She no longer hands over any percent to anyone. She represents, publishes and markets her own books with the help of her husband and two children, a cottage industry of her own and a mighty successful one at that.

Add to this, Ms. Evanovich has recently put out the word that she is looking for co-writers. Soon, she will be in direct juxtaposition with James Patterson in creating not only their own cottage industry, but also a mega-million dollar operation, par to none.

Will big names like James Patterson and Nora Roberts be the next to make the jump to e-publications? Patterson and Roberts have already gone over the one million e-sales mark, with sales continuing to climb. How long, if ever, will it be before Ms. Roberts abandons Putnam?

How many other top best selling authors will make this move in the next year or two? The predictions are from astronomical to ridiculous. Why not?

With the advantages far outweighing the disadvantages, many authors will find this a better route. More of the profit and none of the risks that ate up a huge percentage of their royalties. There will no longer be stock piles of books, massive returns, and the heavy costs of printing. The paper, personnel and problems of print publications will vanish. When downsizing and budgets cuts began, the major publishing houses reduced or eliminated their editing departments, leaving many editors jobless. By the dozens, these self-same editors became literary agents.

Read this article on Outer Banks. I quote:

In an unprecedented move, the Wiley Literary Agency struck a deal with Amazon to publish 20 classic titles as ebooks on the Kindle. According to reports, this is the first time a literary agency moved into the publishing business.

Wiley Literary Agency has concentrated his efforts on his backlist of classic titles. However, it is not difficult to project that one of the major agents we all follow will announce within the next year they are forming their own indie publisher to make greater opportunities available to aspiring writers.

The first of these might be agents or former agents like Nathan Bransford, well positioned to make this move, with over a million followers and one of the top ten writer blogs in the country. Jane Friedman’s blog on Writer’s Digest, Publisher’s Weekly and dozens of others will run the story and it will become viral.

How many inexperienced writers still believe they can succeed in the traditional scenario of send a query, find an agent, get a publisher and establish a writing career?

Where do you see yourself and your writing career three years from now, ten years from now and is what you thought you would be doing the same today as it was last month, three years ago, ten years ago?

Please weigh in on this important subject. I look forward to reading your comments.

Florence Fois has been writing in different ways all her life. She currently writes novels about NYC women on the edge of discovery, danger and fun, and her blog Ramblings From The Left is about the characters in her life. Follow her on Twitter, or check out some of her guest blogs and interviews here and here.