Friday
Aug172012

Self Publishing Success vs. Traditional Obscurity

John Locke, the author of the Donovan Creed novels was wise when he inked a deal with a major publisher last year. He retained the eBook rights to his works and only allowed Simon & Schuster to redesign and distribute the print fare. That, for one thing, shows you how much clout the author had, being a member of the Kindle Million Club, and for another, it shows you how desperate big publishers are these days. A deal like that would have been unheard of ten, even five years ago. Now big pubs are surfing sites like Amazon looking for the next big thing: authors who can sell a fair amount of books on their own before they swoop in and snatch them up with a prized contract. But signee beware! Some of those deals really are too good to be true, unless you're John Locke, that is.

In this current environment, it behooves me why writers are still pining for major deals. If you can meet with any kind of success going independent, why not leverage that with the royalties you've reaped rather than going the traditional route, which is fast on the decline and holds to outmoded business models. Big pubs are just now trying to turn to new trends and embrace the future, but they've yet one foot in the past. Publishers still rely too heavily on big name writers like James Patterson, Jackie Collins, Stephen King, John Grisham, and so on, betting everything on frontlist books from these authors, which in essence keep them afloat. And that has long been the case. Because of this, many up and coming writers are neglected, with too little resources devoted to their releases to make them anything other than midlist authors, or less. I can't tell you how many traditionally published authors still have to hold down day jobs in order to make ends meet, while many self-published authors live solely on royalties.

I myself designed books for one author who was making $4,000 a month on just three books he self-published via KDP and Nook (He granted me access to both accounts for the sake of research, so this is not speculation). Numbers like that crush the majority of royalties reaped by many authors whose names easily roll off our tongues. What I'm seeing is a variation of the lemming syndrome, where writers blindly follow the long-established trend of mailing countless query letters to literary agents and bowing to conventions that will allow them to be published by major publishers with mostly New York addresses. Meanwhile, there's another trend brewing, and authors like John Locke are leading it. But why join the tail end? It's still early enough to get in on the ground floor folks!

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