My last blog talked about book sales with respect to Joe Konrath’s assertion that authors no longer need publishers and that most authors would be better off self-publishing. So the question of the day is “Do you really need a publisher?” The short answer is “no”. The more complete answer is “it depends”.
I’m glad I was able to clear that up for you.
I won’t make the usual arguments against self-publishing. I won’t comment on the relative quality of books published by “legacy publishers” versus books that are self-published. One needs look no further than Snooki’s recent book or the fact that Tinkerbell Hilton has a book (yes, Tinkerbell is the dog) to realize that the quality of books from “legacy publishers” can be pretty bad. I won’t comment on how poorly self-published books sell, because in my last blog I pointed out that the average book published by a “traditional publisher” only sells 500 copies. In fact, Joe Konrath and others have shown that a well-written self-published book can do extremely well. Instead, I want to quote Joe Konrath from another one of his blogs:
In order to reach the point where I understood the opportunities that ebooks presented, and was able to capitalize on that opportunity, I’d put in another 10,000 hours learning how the publishing industry worked.
That’s right. As much as I’m sure he would prefer to think of himself as an independent author, Mr. Konrath has become an independent publisher. He has taken the time to learn how publishing currently works, and to his credit has taken that information to come up with a strategy for how he feels publishing should work.
Publishing is a business, and if you self-publish then you should be prepared to treat it like a business – including learning all that you can about the business. So the answer to “Should I self-publish my manuscript” really is “it depends”. If you believe (as I do) that the way things are currently done in the publishing world are a throw back to the days of the typewriter and you have fresh ideas on how things should be done, then by all means you’re better off self-publishing. If you already know a lot about the publishing industry and wish to learn more, then you should take the plunge and self-publish. If you find the thought of one day being an independent publisher exciting, then go for it. There is no better time to get into publishing (unless you’re one of the large publishers), and there are plenty of people out there (including myself) who would be more than happy to assist you in getting started.
And for those of you who don’t one day wish to have the title “independent publisher”, the good news is that there are plenty of independent publishers already out there that would be happy to work with you.