Sunday, January 05, 2014

What Goes Around Comes Around

When I self-published Taxed to Death nearly twenty years ago, few people were self-publishing. My choice prompted cautionary tales by traditionally published authors, yet for many reasons, it was something I needed to do. While the venture was expensive, I learned a lot about producing a book and the challenges of distribution, being reviewed, marketing and promotion, and collecting money from bookstores. Despite but the stigma of self-publishing, the experience was terrific.

Thirteen years later, I was finally ready to bring out the sequel, Fatal Encryption. This time, self-publishing had gained acceptance in many areas, although newspaper reviews were still out of reach. In one area, self-publishing had taken a step back as the Chapters bookstore chain would no longer stock books by self-published authors. It hadn’t been a problem with Taxed to Death, but clearly times had changed. More authors were self-publishing and Chapters didn’t want to deal with all these single titles by micro-publishers. In fact, they drastically reduced the number distributors they would work with. A handful of stores did allow brief consignment sales, particularly if you did a meet ‘n greet there.

About this time, I jumped on the social media bandwagon and met a great group of self-publishers (now known as indie authors). They were friendly, supportive, and told me about other places like Goodreads. By 2010 and 2011, self-publishing was really exploding. It seemed that nearly everyone was putting out their own book and thumbing their noses at traditional publishers (which was around the time I signed with a traditional publisher), while celebrating the phenomenal success of people like Amanda Hocking. The stigma of self-publishing was dying big time.

But then another backlash started, particularly on Amazon forums. Readers were tired of indie authors promoting their books on threads designed for other purposes. Verbal wars, one-star reviews, and general author bashing began. Blogs and magazine articles criticized indie authors’ lack of talent and professionalism—and let’s face it—with some authors it was true. Readers were warned to beware of any book that sold for $.99 as it was likely self-published and probably lousy.

Well, here we are in 2014 and I just finished reading a blog by the highly successful and insightful Hugh Howey who notes that self-publishers are not only gaining stature, but will likely be copied by traditional publishers. It seems that a growing numbers of readers fully support indie books. In fact, they look for indie titles. As indies take a growing percentage book sales, Howey predicts that traditional publishers will implement steps to make their books appear to come from self-published authors. What, you say? Really?

He says that we’ll see lower prices (this has already started forsome publishers) perma-free, faster turn-around, more print-on-demand, and traditional authors who are doing all the things that self-publishers have been doing for ages. Interesting, huh?

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