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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why Big publishing companies should be HAPPY about ebooks and self publishing

All over the place I see articles predicting doom and gloom for the traditional publishing companies.
  • The publishing revolution will bring about the end of the big seven publishers. 
  • Soon, nobody will be using publishers -they'll just do it themselves.  
  • Indie publishing will take over the publishing market.

I don't think so.  Things are changing, of that I am sure but often times changes such as these are good for larger corporations if they're able to roll with the technology.

Think about it.  Anyone can publish an ebook. ANYONE. It could be the biggest, most uninteresting, spelling error riddled piece of crap on the planet and they could self-publish.

Is this a bad thing for the big name publishers?

No way!


Because the market (the reader) will do the vetting for them. This saves the publishing company time and money.  If they're smart, they will hire people to scour the internet for candidates.  Authors who
  • 1. are selling (pick an arbitrary number) 
  • 2. know how to market themselves and 
  • 3. have a following.
Yes, I said hire.  So how will they make money?  Easy, who needs a literary agent when you can work out an agreement with the author directly.  Win for the author, win for the publisher, loss for the agent (sorry agents).

If you're an agent and want to stay in business, it is you who should be scouring cyberspace looking for the same three points.

Some authors self publish because they just want their work out there and don't want to go through the rigors of whoring it to an agent. Some authors self publish because they're control freaks and don't want to lose the rights to their works. Some, because they've tried the traditional method and have been unsuccessful.  Does this mean their product sucks?  Perhaps BUT, the beauty of self publishing is that it doesn't matter!

Why?  Because the market will decide it is a piece of crap and not buy it OR they'll love it and buy it and tell their friends to buy it and it will sell!

Self publishing is THE BEST thing to happen to this industry since the printing press.  Rather than letting one bitter person whose hold up in a windowless office staring at queries and manuscripts until their eyes cross, now the entire world will decide.  Every time you buy their book you're casting a vote in their favor.  It's like each citizen of the US casting a vote for the president and it actually counting.  Brilliant!

Only 10% of books ever sell over 1000 copies -that means 90% of the books published are flops. So the publishers make poor decisions 90% of the time.  Why rely on them to decide what is and isn't published when they're so frequently picking poor material?

So do we even need the big seven publishers?



Despite what some may want you to believe,  most people are still reading books. You know, those paper things with pages and words inside. Books need to be printed. Before they can be printed, they need to be formatted, they need covers. They need printed -and publishers have access to the best printers (there are plenty of terrible printers out there).  They need to be distributed and publishers have access to the distribution chains that get books into the big market stores -B&N, Amazon, and the like.   And then there is marketing.  Most people who self-publish don't have the money to properly market their book.

So the cream will rise among the self-publishers simply based on sales, the publishing companies (if they're smart) will skim the top and give it the boost it needs to become a national bestseller with their big wallet marketing campaigns.  Or the smart agent will be on the lookout for these authors and scoop them up before the publisher can get their claws into him. OR the industry savvy author will tell both of them to pound sand and reap the rewards of his own work without having to give up 80%.

The power has shifted.

Successful self-published authors are like gifted high school football players.  The publishers and agents are the scouts.  The power is in the hands of the player -the author. 

To those who say self publishing is a terrible thing (most times the argument is simply that anyone can publish regardless of quality)  I wholeheartedly disagree.  It is a great thing for the same reason.  Nobody will buy a bad product. The market will decide, as it should.

So, we are in mid-shift.  Everyone is confused -nobody clear how it will all pan out in the end.  If I'm an entrepreneur, I would create my own publishing company.  I wouldn't accept any submissions whatsoever.  I would find my clients from the ever growing pool of self published authors based upon certain criteria. The market does the vetting and I get the spoils.  hmm  anyone have some VC money they want to throw together and start a company?

This is the future.  Jump on!

As always, find interviews, writing samples, videos, contests and more on my re-vamped website.



  1. Wow! You've just made me a very happy author!
    Whilst I know you're talking fiction here (I am getting ready to publish my first enovel after my agent failed to sell it) I have 2 non-fiction books published and one is climbing towards 2000 copies sold, the 2nd approaching the 1000 mark. You mean to tell me I am a success? Fantastic news - thanks! My publisher keeps moaning about low sales...

  2. Deborah, congratulations! You've done what only 10% of authors EVER do -sold over 1000 copies of a book. You should take pride in that. Keep it up!

  3. Thanks! I am particularly proud of my first: it sold 800 in its first year, and now sells steadily a couple hundred a year, with no sign of a slow down.
    I'm interested: where do you find your stats?

  4. I think getting an agent is hard enough, and then waiting on a publisher a long, drawn out process, and to be told that the book will be out some 12-18 months later...
    just because someone chooses to self publish doesn't mean the book has to be riddled with mistakes...hiring a professional to edit or at least critique the work should be non-negotialble. This would help the general opinion of self-published books.

    There has to be some give and take (and growth) on both sides. If I could, I'd help with that company!

  5. @ Deborah, my book doesn't release until June so I'll keep you posted -pre-orders are looking pretty good but for some reason, I can't get exact #'s (I have to extrapolate based on rankings, which isn't an exact science by any stretch) AE, I totally agree with you on the professional edit. I went through my manuscript at least six times before it went through copyedit and was AMAZED at how many simple mistakes were found by my copyedit team. I suppose that's why they do it for a living.

    I'll let you know on my company! ...still waiting on my 'money man' to cover the first years expenses (they're not exactly breaking down my door) :)

    Best of luck to both of you!