Yesterday we spoke of hearing the wind sing, a metaphoric expression for my creative instinct. The song it sings is decidedly one of change, reinvention, a song I am personally singing. A child of the sixties, I am familiar with the enthusiasm, wonder, and excitement of such movements. There is now, as there was then, an undercurrent of uncertainty. Why? We’re never really certain of the result.
The Brave New World
As a very young man, my family attended the New York World’s Fair. I remember most vividly the speculative exhibits about our future world. It seemed entirely likely that by the time the 21st Century arrived we would live in a George Jetson world. The world has certainly changed but not in a Jetson way!
The changes in the publishing world are also remarkable; although, I don’t believe these changes were anticipated. The traditional publishing house model has evolved due to advanced technology. POD technology has produced instant publishing. The advent of iPad, Kindle and other devices, led to paperless publishing. The changes are dizzying. Further advances in technology reduces the price of technology and the growth of publishing companies is also off the charts. For less than twenty-five thousand dollars you can be the proud owner of a POD printer, one that prints, cuts and binds your paper-back publication in minutes. World-wide distribution with the likes of Amazon is entirely possible.
For the writer, the demand for content has increased exponentially. Navigating these new waters is a challenge. The old model of a writer nurtured by an agent and publisher is long gone. Today, the novelist must spring forth in full bloom, publication ready. Another by-product of the technological revolution is that more people are writing. There is a flood of material ranging from the woeful to the brilliant, as always. The difference is there is more of each!
What’s a Writer To Do?
The obvious answer to that question is we all want to be offered a generous advance by one of the big six, enabling us to polish the work and start on the next novel. Rare, if at all! For the bazillions of unpublished writers seeking the Holy Grail, our work in tangible ink and paper, lovingly embraced by a hardback cover of impeccable design, publication is fraught with endless rejection with an occasional nibble that only serves to intensify the frustration- close maybe more frustrating than not at all!
Our market system will provide an answer, and has done so. Where there is profit potential there is the potential for business. Consequently, we have seen an exponential growth in self-publishing, vanity press, and co-publishing. Some of the opportunities seem reasonable, others are more bottom-line oriented toward a quick buck than a real publishing process. It is possible to be in print by the end of next week; the caveat, of course, buyer beware.
I have researched a plethora of self-publishing companies, and there are an equal plethora of companies yet to explore. The results are fairly similar. You can publish your book from about $999 to $12,000 or more depending upon the additional fee-based services for design, marketing, and reviews. I have found a couple of companies that offer free review of product to determine if your novel meets their standards. I’m not sure that is an authentic filter or simply a clever way of capturing you- “Really good, if we just do some fine tuning. We have a staff…”
The biggest self publishing houses (iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, Trafford and a few others) are actually now owned by one company, Author Solutions. There are others, of course. Loredo, Llumina, and Vantage offer free reviews of your work to determine best method for you. Again, I’m not sure this isn’t a marketing ploy. In fairness, it may not be. Abbot Publishing is an arm of Writer’s Digest. They also offer an analysis of the work, but after you have signed a contract. They do, however, offer a complete refund should the work be deemed not ready for the marketplace.
Another wrinkle to the process is Co-edition publishing, of which the above Loredo is an example. They are a little more selective with the books, and the cost is less because they are bearing some risk. They take 50% of net profit.
Createspace is an arm of Amazon and has the marketing availability of Amazon.com.
Opportunity and Buyer Beware
The winds are changing in the self-publishing world, just as the winds are changing in film and television. People do not watch a channel they select content. For the writer/entrepreneur/ marketing guru there is considerable opportunity in retaining complete control of your material and carving out a path of your own to publication. The caveat cannot be stressed too much: Buyer beware. Profit is a strong incentive for less than honorable schemes. The world is saturated with get-rich schemes and business models – self-publishing can be yet another version of the online scheme for wealth. Were this not true, you and I would not be so enamored of the traditional publishing model with its substantial advance and book tour.
The winds are changing, but they can be negotiated. I am exploring the self-publishing world in more detail and will write more about my findings.