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“But for the self-published authors, they’re the whole ball of wax. And when it is argued that self-publishing is the better course for authors, two assumptions seem to become tacit: 1) that the print-in-store sale doesn’t matter and 2) that if the marketing to be done is mainly in social networks, the publisher can’t or doesn’t add much value.” -Shatzkin Files

One reads about success among self-published authors through social media: blogs, Facebook author pages, Twitter, Pinterest, all with a dash of entrepreneurial fervor. We then read that almost half of all books published are ebooks or self-published books, and even those among us who may be entrepreneurial-challenged (I could not sell the proverbial ice to an eskimo!) become excited by controlling our own publishing destiny, without the influence of the gatekeepers. We read of big-box bookstores that are closing and that readers are looking for story, not Barnes and Noble. This is supported by changes in other programming. Major media companies are evolving. People are searching for content not by going to a traditional channel, but searching other venues for content. Everything is in a state of flux!

The question becomes when does the social media route require skill and scale not possible for most individuals? In other words, can the challenge of maintaining the ever-changing online social media presence become a full-time job to the exclusion of writing!

The whole debate can be reduced to two articles, one by Ewan Morrison http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/30/tweet-about-cats-just-write, the other a response by Popular Soda, an ebook newsletter, http://popularsoda.com/2012/07/31/what-the-guardian-and-ewan-morrison-got-wrong-about-ebooks/

While many of the responses to Morrison are factually accurate, the dissecting of the 80/20 rule is particularly relevant, the irrefutable point that social marketing remains a specialized skill remains true. The acquisition of skill and time to maintain these contacts will also be considerable. Furthermore, there is evidence from Shatzkin Files that publishers are moving into this area with software on a scale that can perform this kind of work more efficiently. The software is only available to publishing houses at this point.

Bottom line: self-publishing has not replaced the traditional model, and in some cases may produce a higher percentage of profit. Unfortunately, traditional publishing houses and their use of media and specialized audiences will likely produce the largest aggregate profit – if your objective in publishing is profit.

If your objective is simply to be read and heard, the only obstacle to that goal in the self-publishing world is the sheer volume of material out there and the likelihood that volume will only increase. In this regard, Bob Mayer’s comment is particularly relevant.

“The product is the story.  Not the book, not the eBook, not the audio book.  The Story. The consumer is the reader.  Not the bookstores, the platform, the distributor, the sales force.  The Reader. Authors produce story.  Readers consume story.  If anyone is in the path between Author and Reader they must add value to that connection.” -Bob Mayer

Who adds value to your story? Shall that story languish in a drawer because the gatekeepers choose, for whatever valid reasons the model presents, not to publish your work? Or, shall it be read by a small select readership who may appreciate the the storytelling enough to seek other titles? Breaking through a world-wide readership may be no less daunting than breaking through the gatekeepers. Publishing whether traditional or self is daunting and not for the feint of heart… Rejection has many names!