until . . .
the advent of desktop publishing. In just a few short years, not only his job but his industry had become obsolete. Dad was forced into a retirement he wasn't ready for, because companies large and small had in-house designers who could do the job more quickly and economically, especially with the help of businesses like Staples. His business went the way of the buggy whip, as my husband likes to say.
While traditional book publishing (hopefully) will never become obsolete, the publishing world is in the throes of massive change as we speak. Bookstore chains of the brick and mortar variety that were the big draw of shopping malls have gone bankrupt, and countless jobs have been lost within the industry. That puts writers on shaky ground. Even writers who've had no trouble in the past securing multi-book contracts are feeling the tsunami effect of the sweeping changes taking place. Authors you'd never expect to hear this from are seriously talking about self-publishing. While that once delegitimized an author -- with a few notable exceptions -- it's an idea that's catching on.
There are pros and cons to be sure, and I for one am testing the waters. In 2004, I self-published a Christmas novella through WinePress, and was extremely pleased with the product, but even as recently as 2004, self-publication required that I purchase a certain number of books, many of which are still in boxes in my garage. I chose to self-publish then, with that particular book, because of the "specialty" nature of a Christmas novella. I'm not sorry I did, though I would love to find myself woefully short of product. This time around, with the ease and quality of print-on-demand books and e-books, I'm hoping for a happier ending to my self-publishing story. So let's talk pros and cons, shall we?
I'm looking at self-publishing very seriously. With ebooks becoming more and more popular -- some estimate that 50% of book sales will be digital by 2015 -- self-publishing means no longer having to fill your garage with books. The scary part is taking on the risk that conventional publishers took on before, like editing and book cover design. I'm determined to turn out a superior product to what I've done with my publishers, as amazingly supportive and talented as they were. That means cash. Up front. Risk. I may have to sell off some assets. Anyone need a porcelain pig or one million writing books? I do love the idea of increased creative freedom and a broader market. What say you?
I don't have much to say about self-publishing. I've never done it, and I'm not in a place right now where I'm looking to self-publish. For my contribution to this roundtable, I'd like to point to the uber self-publisher Amanda Hocking whose self published YA books have sold over one million copies. Is that the end of her success story? Nope. She just signed a publishing deal with St. Martin Press. She's a smart, interesting young woman and you might enjoy her blog post about why she signed with a publisher AFTER her massive self-publishing success. Read Amanda's story in her own words.
Patti mentioned my main reservations about self-publishing. A book that runs the gauntlet of traditional publishing has so many gate-keepers who know -- are trained to know -- what they're doing when it comes to editing, book covers, titles, you name it, and have marketing contacts and money to put in place for all the above. I can only imagine how disappointing it would be to write a terrific story but package or edit it poorly, or have it flounder because I can't afford to market the book like I feel it deserves. Worse still would be for reviewers to point out these shortcomings and say that it was poorly done. So, I'm currently wading on the edge of the pool and waiting for someone to signal that the water is fine so I can dive in with confidence. Sounds chicken? Yes! But right now it seems like the prudent thing to do.
We know from previous comments that some of you have self-published. We'd so appreciate hearing from you regarding your experience with self-publication. Would you consider your efforts successful? Would you do it again? What were some of the benefits, and what were some of the drawbacks? If you would not self-publish, we'd love for you to share your reasons why. Thank you in advance for what we know will be a good discussion.