Self-publishing was once considered the bottom of the barrel for authors not too long ago. Bookstores and distributors didn’t sell your books. Getting them out to readers was a challenge. The internet changed that to a large extent. It was a perfect avenue for promotion. Print-on-demand meant authors didn’t have to stockpile their books in their attic. Then something else changed. One small thing.
The simple ability to have books instantly was enough of a perception shift to change an industry. Think about it. I can click a button and buy a book or download an e-book. Not a real big difference on that end. On the consumer’s end, anyone with a device capable of reading ebooks (which is anyone with a computer or e-reader), had the convenience factor of reading jump considerably. Economically, prices for ebooks are usually much less than print counterparts. Instant, affordable access to books for readers. Instant, direct access to those readers by authors. No middlemen or gatekeepers. In an industry where financial success is more fleeting than often perceived by outsiders, more than a few authors are now paying their bills being indie writers.
And this is why publishing is changing.
Tired of being given little chance to find their audience and small returns for their work, going independent has now become a viable publishing path. Not that publishers don’t have a place in this new world. When Hugh Howey’s ebooks took off, he passed up lucrative deals with traditional publishers until one came along where he could keep the ebook rights. Why should authors be expected to give up so much control to their works? Now they don’t have to. Technology is forcing traditional publishers to change up the rules. There are benefits and downsides to any publishing model. In the past, however, traditional was the only way to go.
Does indie/self-publishing guarantee success? No. Does it mean lower quality works like critics claim? No. Traditional publishing doesn’t guarantee great returns or quality either. The indie route does guarantee two things: A direct route to readers and the chance for the author to retain greater control over his works.
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here on the changes in publishing. I’ll leave the details to these articles, kindly gathered by
Robert Bidinotto on his site: “Self-Publishing Is the Future — and Great for Writers“, “Hugh Howey’s Advice for Aspiring Writers” and Robert’s own “Tales of Woe from Traditionally Published Authors.”
Will these changes peak or permanently change publishing? Time will tell, but it is certain that both authors and readers are winners in this changing landscape.