Much has been written about, discussed, dissected and scrutinized about self-publishing phenomenon Amanda Hocking and her reported $2 million deal with St. Martins. Before that there was the news that bestselling author Barry Eisler turned down a six-figure deal and opted to self publish. Both authors are receiving significant press and publicity. It’s hard to say if Eisler would be such a household name right now if he hadn’t chosen to self-publish or if Hocking’s books would be downloaded at such an intense rate if she hadn’t just translated her self-publishing success into a multi-book deal.
We have witnessed success in self-publishing from many different angles and seen the success an author can acquire by building their platform through self-publishing and attracting mainstream attention. In some ways, self-publishing can be a great way to get your foot in the door, show publishers what you are capable of, and build a strong and supportive readership. With the multiple outlets for social networking and exposure that we have at our fingertips, it does change the rate at which authors can get the word out about their work and build a strong buzz.
Here’s what I like about Amanda Hocking, she writes! She’s written more than 15 books. She blogs regularly, constantly recording her side of the story, her views on publishing, her life as a writer. She actively and enthusiastically self-promotes.
Self-publishing offers writers the opportunity to jump right into the thick of things, to get their feet wet and get their words published. It is a risky and dangerous jump but it can have great rewards. Amanda Hocking offers her readers good stories at a cheap price and available at the click of mouse. These are all opportunities that were not available to writers a few years ago.
The changes we are witnessing in the publishing industry are complex and constantly shifting but they are showing us one thing, writers are being given more and more opportunities to do what they love, write and have their words read. Self-publishing is not going to harm or take business away from traditional publishers. Most writers, even those who have chosen self-publishing, still have the ultimate goal of being picked up by a traditional publisher. Traditional publishers can offer greater opportunities to authors immediately, the support and reception that comes from being with a recognizable publishing house can give an author a leg up. While self-published authors can steadily build significant careers (see JA Konrath) it can feel more like an uphill battle. There are many book review websites, magazines, and newspapers who will not review a self-published title.
There tends to be a stigma attached to self-published work that it is poorly edited, was rejected by publishers and is an authors “last resort.” However, with stories like Eisler’s and Hocking, as well as our clients Brunonia Barry and Lisa Genova, self-publishing can prove extremely fruitful and part of an authors journey towards a successful and fulfilling career. For many, self-publishing is a step towards a specific destination, the goal of being traditionally published. For others, it is a way to fulfill a simple dream, to see their words in print. Whether self-publishing is part of your journey or the culmination of a dream, it is up to the author to build their name and get exposure for their work. Traditionally published authors have the same goal, bring their work to the attention of readers.
What I love about Hocking and Eisler and Konrath and Barry and Genova is that they make people talk about publishing, about books about an industry that has been around for hundreds of years and continues to grow and change, thrive and inspire.