I was reading an article last week in the Huff Post that stated that Self-Publishers were the new generation of cool kids. (Click here to read it) This interested me because firstly it’s nice to be cool and secondly it’s nice to be called a kid. I read on and the article actually raises a few observations about the way that the industry has changed, even since I started writing this blog six months ago.
A year ago when I started to believe it was possible to self-publish, the industry was very much in a state of change already. I wrote this post on why I trusted the self-publishing route. Momentum was with the indie author and traditional publishers were looking particularly peaky. It seemed to me at the time that self-publishing was the way to go, and I still have no reason to change my mind.
The Slush Pile
A year ago I was at a literature festival and a traditional publisher was asked, ‘if you found an author that had previously been self-published, would you still sign them up?’ The answer was no. This played on my mind for quite a while afterwards. I was uncertain whether I was shooting myself in the foot by going down this road.
However, in the past year things have moved on again. Not only are traditional publishers willing to sign up self-published authors now, but they actually use the self-published charts as the new ‘Slush Pile’. What better way of signing up an author than to see how commercially popular they are before taking a risk on them? There has already been a number of high-profile self-published authors that have moved over to the dark side for six/seven figure deals.
So, by self-publishing you are actually increasing your chances to be recognised by the traditional industry. But this then leads to another interesting development…
To sign or not to sign?
The power is now with the author. If you are commercially successful on your own with eBooks and paperbacks online, earning a 70% royalty, then what’s attractive about a publishing deal worth about 10% in royalties?
Unless it’s a really big deal that you’ve signed, I’m not too sure how tempting that is. The kudos and status of having a publisher does little for the bank balance. The trend is now moving to a different kind of deal being offered. The author can now expect to maintain the eBook rights on their own and only sell the print copy rights to the publisher. This is the best of both worlds then. You get your book in physical shops and you still make 70% online. Authors win.
Are Indies cool?
Well, to be a successful indie writer you must have discipline, be an entrepreneur, be dynamic, be able to sell yourself and your work, have the confidence to put it out there. It’s quick, but you have to maintain quality and be aware of design. It’s not a walk in the park, it’s a job, but all of these things are pretty cool. Especially when you compare it to the equivalent, a traditionally published author that can expect a book to come out a year after they’ve written it.
At the end of the day it’s not about cool, it’s about what’s happening. The simple fact is that it’s easier to be recognised if you are a new author by self-publishing rather than querying agents and publishers. This is all you need to know.