Blogs by Flo Fitzpatrick
Self- E and POD versus Trad
3/23/2011 6:14:25 AM
Are self-pubbed E and POD books perceived as written by "real" authors?
There’s been a lot of buzz online the last few days about author Barry Eisler turning down a contract from a traditional print publisher for a goodly chunk of change while Amanda Hocking, who’s been knockin’ ‘em dead going self-pubbed through electronic formats, is purportedly signing on with a trad publisher.
As somone who has been involved in both worlds (and watching with great interest as those worlds inch closer to one another) what I’ve been musing about is not the monetary benefits or risks but the perception of what constitutes a “real” author.
Even five years ago, most authors who’ve been published through any of the print houses (which I’ve heard called legacy publishers as well as traditional) would never have crossed that line into self publishing because the perception of a writer self-pubbing their work was “Well, they can’t get that book published any other way so this is either ego or desperation talking.” E-books in general were looked down upon by most traditionally pubbed authors unless the book had originally come out in print and the E version was considered a perk. Plus it appeared the only digitally formatted books that were really selling were erotica so authors not writing that genre were ignoring the possibilities of electronic self-publishing.
That’s changed. In the last few years authors who have backlists which were languishing in storage are getting those rights reverted and taking charge and reformatting and designing their own covers and getting those suckers up on every available digital platform. But- and here’s the kicker - those same traditionally pubbed authors are also putting new books up on Kindle and Nook without passing go and stopping to collect an advance from a print publisher. Some authors are going this route because they want complete control and don’t want to go through an agent, then an editor to get a contract, then wait for eighteen months or so before the book appears in print and deal with the possibility that they’ll hate a cover that might have nothing to do with their story. What? That happens - shock. :)
Other authors are heading right to “E” because they’ve had a book that’s been rejected by editors at traditional publishing houses who’ve rejected their darling. “It doesn’t fit in any of the markets and we don’t know how to sell it.” This is what some of us call that “ain’t gonna get pubbed no-how, no-way-even-though-it’s awesome” book.
And some authors, including major “names,” are turning to electronic versions (or print on demand) because they believe they can make a lot more money by eliminating the ‘middleman’ i.e. the publisher. Not to mention that once a book is out there in digital form, it’s OUT THERE. No shelf life. Which is a godsend to authors who’ve watched their books disappear from bookstore shelves two months after they were first placed there.
Having been involved in all three of these publishing venues - traditional print, backlist turned to “E” and print on demand, plus that “ain’t gonna get pubbed etc.etc.” awesome book (!) I’ve been musing as to whether it makes any difference to readers which venue an author chooses. Will a reader hesitate to purchase a book which hasn’t first been released in print? Are they more likely to try out an author they haven’t read before when they can download right onto their e-reader for a much lower price than they’d be shelling out for the hardcover (or even mass market pb) version? Will they reject a print on demand hard copy because the price seems too much for ‘self-pubbed.”
Do readers care whether an author self publishes a book the publishing houses have rejected because it doesn’t quite fit the current trend toward vampires who own tanning salons or chick lit werewolves on crack or steampunk virgins who shape-shift or whatever that trend happens to be that year?
I don’t think anyone has the answer yet to those questions. Publishing has entered a very brave new world. I don’t know where we’re headed although it appears that electronic and self publishing will continue to gain ground over traditional publishing. I do know it’s neat to have the freedom to go with print on demand or “e” books while still feeling the ‘love’ from a traditional publisher who will be with my “baby” guiding her through each step of her journey out onto the shelves.
Yes, there will doubtless be a lot of junk published because of the options writers have now. Then again, there’s a lot of junk already being published by traditional houses. (I defy anyone reading this not to confess to struggling through the first three chapters of a best seller, then screaming “this stinks!” and taking the book to the nearest used bookstore. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t finish a book - no more - life is too short to wade through garbage. )
There are choices now for authors we didn’t have ten years ago and more opportunities for readers to audition new authors. I don’t know where we’re headed but I have to admit, I’m excited to be taking that ride.
Post a Comment new!
More Blogs by Flo Fitzpatrick
Writers Who Care - Tuesday, December 20, 2011
A WRiters Work - Monday, December 05, 2011
Tell Me a Story! - Tuesday, October 25, 2011
A Gentle Ghost Story - Sunday, October 09, 2011
I Got a Name - Part Two - Saturday, April 16, 2011
Self- E and POD versus Trad - Wednesday, March 23, 2011
More Dialogue Tips for Writers - Friday, March 18, 2011
How I Spent Spring Break (A Cautionary Tale) - Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I got a Name - Friday, March 11, 2011
Want to help name a book? - Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Spring Break - Break! - Saturday, March 05, 2011
Dialogue Tips for Writers - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Writing Tip - Singing -Keep it OFF the Page - Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Respect - A Writing Nudge - Friday, February 11, 2011
To Stupid to Live? Ouch - Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Writer's Tip - Know Thyself - Tuesday, February 08, 2011
"Risky" Business - Sunday, February 06, 2011