Like most writers, the goal for myself has always been to ‘become published’. Traditionally, this meant the sponsorship of a publisher, or agent and publisher. Sure, the option of self-publishing has long been there, but has been tarnished with the ‘vanity publishing’ brush – and meant investment up front.
The world is changing. Self-publishing via websites such as CreateSpace and Lulu is relatively simple. Publishing to the Kindle bypasses all of that paper nonsense and sends your work directly into the hands of the reader, without the cost of printing.
It’s never been easier to self-publish.
I want to be clear: I didn’t opt for self-publishing as an ideological choice. I’ve nothing against publishers or agents – indeed, I’d be very happy to hook up with either or both, if the partnership was beneficial. I’m very open-minded about it.
I chose to self-publish for several very practical reasons.
- I’m an unknown. Publishers are wary of such and have limited resources to promote new authors.
- Finding a good publisher is probably harder than writing a novel.
- It meant I could get my work out now.
- It gave me complete creative control.
I’m also genuinely worried about the publishing industry, which is starting to go through the same massive changes endured by the music industry in the last few years. The channels to market will shift to the Web and reduce in number; physical products will be eclipsed by digital ones; once-powerful publishers will see revenues and profits dwindle. The change is coming – as Gerald Hornsby says, Amazon is predicting sales of 12 million Kindles in 2011; Apple’s iPad might outsell the Kindle almost 6 times over.
So, while I’m open-minded about having a publisher, I want to work with one that embraces these changes – and doesn’t fumble through, trying to protect the current business model.
The scary point Hornsby makes is that Claire King’s next novel will be published by Bloomsbury in 2013. 2013? Two years?
It would be easy to mock and cite this as an example of a sluggish, Jurassic publishing behemoth that needs to get with the times. But as someone who’s worked in print, I know that there will be a set of solid reasons for these timescales – it’s not in Bloomsbury’s interests to hold off launching something from a proven and best-selling author.
But it’s something that gives me pause for thought – I would most certainly want my work to hit the streets faster. And I’d want to work with a publisher that wanted the same – not just for commercial gain and self-satisfaction, but also because I want to work with a publisher that’s agile enough to not only survive the changes to come to the publishing industry, but smart enough to exploit them.
(And I do think that publishers bring a lot to the equation beyond print and distribution. They have a wealth of writing and market experience.)
Like Hornsby, I have two goals – yes, I want to make money, but I also want people to enjoy my work. This means getting it out there.
Self-publish, or through a publisher, it makes little odds to me – I just want to publish. Right now, I’ve opted for a route which means I can at least do that. I’m open-minded about the future.