Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Who Needs Publishers?…Anyone?

Filed under: Digital publishing,publishing,Ray Connolly,self-publishing — gator1965 @ 4:15 pm

“For as long as anyone has been writing books, authors’ careers have rested on the judgments or whims of publishers. Would the novel that took so many months, or even years, to write be read, let alone chosen, by editors? Who could tell? Who knew what publishers were looking for?” … Excerpt from Who Needs Publishers?

Ray Connolly, English author, journalist, script-writer, editor-in-chief and marketing chief extraordinaire, wrote this fine article (from which the above excerpt came) in that backs up what I’ve been preaching on this blog for some time:

You won’t hear it said in many publishing houses these days, where those editors and managements who have survived the 10% cull in their numbers following the credit crunch now appear frozen in the headlights of the onrushing digital revolution. But from the point of view of authors, these are potentially exciting times.

Because, although advances have been slashed, and literary agents are wringing their hands at the difficulties in finding publishers for all but the most guaranteed fiction, change is on the way. With Apple’s iPad recently joining Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader as devices for reading downloaded books, power in publishing might just be shifting in the authors’ favour.

For as long as anyone has been writing books, authors’ careers have rested on the judgments or whims of publishers. Would the novel that took so many months, or even years, to write be read, let alone chosen, by editors? Who could tell? Who knew what publishers were looking for?

This was bad enough when editorial departments had the authority to buy manuscripts themselves. But then came the endless rise of marketing departments, and soon novels were increasingly being selected according to which genre they fitted.

That situation largely continues, but with the news that Amazon now sells almost twice as many digital books as hardbacks in the US, it’s clear that publishing is changing. And if publishers can sell their books online, why can’t writers?

Actually, they can. It isn’t difficult. Anyone who is computer savvy can become a publisher these days. I know, because I’ve just become one.

I’m now Ray Connolly, writer, editor-in-chief and head of marketing of Plumray Books, and any one of the 2 billion computer-owning people in the world who wants to read my new novel, The Sandman, can do so at the click of a mouse. It’s being serialised chapter by chapter on my website where, over the next 10 weeks, it will build like a part-work. In the words of a friend, I’m “doing a Dickens”.

What’s more, it’s free – although should any readers want to find out how the The Sandman ends before October, and hopefully quite a few will, they can download the entire book for less than the cost of a paperback. After that it will go on to Amazon.

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  1. Turn about is fair play!

    Comment by Frances Jeanne — 08/13/2010 @ 7:05 pm | Reply

  2. Yes indeed! The power shift is in play…

    Comment by John Austin — 08/13/2010 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

  3. I'm wondering about the chaos part of the equation.Without bothering to look this up, I'm guessing there are a billion blogs on the Internet. Most people haven't heard of 99.99% of them.Without publishers, I wonder if novels will be this way. Even though publishers are in trouble and lots of people are doing their own thing via CreateSpace (etc) 99.99% of my friends have only heard of books published by actual publishers. When they do hear of a self-published book, they don't read it.Why not? Most people read books that people have heard about and are talking about. When HarperCollins spends $50,000 to promote a book, people usually hear about it, and then, if it's any good, they talk about it.99.99% of the writers I know don't have $50,000 for promotion, so they go to a few of the one billion blogs nobody has heard of and do a blog tour.Many of those who self-publish (or form private label publishing companies) cannot afford to print via offset. So, they use POD which makes the retail price abnormally high. And then sends them into the world of e-books where there year-long effort is simply one of the one billion novel files out there on Amazon that nobody's heard of and never will.I love the power shift, but when anyone can publish, how does anyone find the cream when they'll never know it's out there?MalcolmP.S. I could add more chaos talking points, including the fact that most writers cannot edit their own stuff and cannot afford several thousand dollars for a profession to do it for them. Ditto cover art work. Ditto book design.

    Comment by Sun Singer — 08/13/2010 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  4. Well, I'll soon see how it works out for me. I never started out writing this memoir to make any money. So I only hope to break even. I'm sticking to (warts and all!). The book will soon be in the hands of CreateSpace (we're currently designing the back cover). The book will be a 6×9 trade paperback. Amazon takes approximately $5 per book We've decided to ask $13.95. So the remaining $8.95 comes to me (with the IRS cut understood from the getgo.)

    Comment by Frances Jeanne — 08/13/2010 @ 10:04 pm | Reply

  5. Hi SunSinger,Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. Fundamentally, this publishing thing has been reshaped, resized and rethought…I don't feel you can judge the current and evolving state of publishing using traditional publishing parameters.I see the "equation" as having more choices & opportunities versus chaos…I think the old legacy publishing business model had MORE than it's own share of chaos…Especially when they started to chase the fast buck (publish & push only celebrities & established authors) and abandon core missions such as decently marketing ALL authors they publish. Traditional publishing lost it's soul and sold out…Writers had to learn to do their own marketing (some were more successful than others) and, believe me they can and will learn to be better editors, designers, etc…Ray Connolly is a good example.Many books I've read were professionally edited and published by big houses and they were absolutely horrid reads. I'm sure you have read some of these books that got a big marketing budget but absolutely stank…As far as money for marketing, what used to cost $5000 you can get the same exposure today for free on the net through the various social media & book sites plus others…If you do spend money you will probably go viral…which you will anyway if your book is well received…I think "traditional publishing" will survive, at least I'm pulling for them, but they have a lot of adapting to do…They are no longer the only kid on the block.

    Comment by John Austin — 08/14/2010 @ 10:52 am | Reply

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