Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

Group Hug

You want to see progress? Take note that the regular attackers of self-publishing as a career choice have altered their aim and are now just going after those who dare to voice their support of self-publishing. Amazon is their number one target, of course, as the top supporter of the self-publishing path. And anyone who defends Amazon—or who argues that self-publishing is just as viable as (if not superior to) traditional publishing—is also a target.

What you don’t see anymore is anyone daring to argue against the substance of pro self-publishing points. Remember the old attacks and stigmas? They used to be:

1) No one sells books by self-publishing. (Often stated as: The average self-published author only sells X books in their lifetime.)

This is rarely trotted out now that dozens of authors have sold millions of titles, hundreds have sold hundreds of thousands of titles, and thousands of authors have sold many thousands of titles. Do all self-published authors have wild success? Of course not. But only 1% of those who submit to agents get published at all. This is finally sinking in, and enough self-published authors have had enough success to put an end to this canard.

2) No one makes money self-publishing.

Difficult to distinguish from attack #1, and going away for the exact same reasons. The truth is that 99% of those who are determined to go the traditional route make zero dollars. And of the 1% who get through the gates, the vast majority of those never make a full-time living with their writing. Where we may have had 300-400 fiction writers earning a living just seven years ago, the number today is likely ten or twenty times that amount, all because of the disintermediation of publishing.

3) It will end your writing career if you self-publish.

Actually, it’s just as likely to start your writing career. A friend of mine just sold his self-published book to a Big 5 publisher for several hundred thousand dollars. It may have been true at one time that publishers only looked at material if it had never been published anywhere else before, but that was laid to rest a long time ago. The stigma is gone within publishing houses. 50 Shades of Grey selling a bazillion copies changed all that. Everyone is looking for the next hit, whether from YouTube stars, Twitter feeds, blogs, or Redditors.

4) Self-published books are inferior in quality.

Hard to keep touting this in light of 1, 2, and 3. Not only are self-published works selling well and earning their authors more on ebook sales than the entirety of the Big 5 combined, but the works are being snatched up and released by major publishers with very little editing.

To compare the entirety of self-published works with only the top 1% of curated manuscripts sent in to agents is a fallacious comparison. In both groups, we have all the works being submitted by hopeful authors along two possible paths. Which group has the higher quality? An even comparison by looking at the bestseller lists on Amazon (ie: letting the reader vote) shows a dead heat.

Also: Snooki.

5) Traditional publishers offer much more to the author.

This one is hard to say with a straight face anymore. Publishers take 82.5% and offer less editing, fewer promotion dollars, fewer book tours, less shelf space, and they take your rights for your lifetime plus another 70 years. Or you can pay freelancers, own your work forever, and keep 70% of the list price.

6) Self-publishing means less distribution.

This one went the way of the dodo when publishers like Simon & Schuster displayed an inability to distribute their works through B&N due to contract disputes. Or the recent dereliction of duty displayed by Hachette, which is destroying the careers of its authors by being unable to come to terms with Amazon.

Borders is gone and B&N is closing hundreds of stores. Independent bookstores are taking up some of that slack with real growth, but 50% of print book sales have moved online to Amazon, and self-published authors have just as much access to that print market as anyone else. And with fiction ebooks set to overtake print, the balance shifts even further. Would you rather have six months spine out in dwindling bookstores, or your entire lifetime to sell your ebooks at a price low enough to actually entice readers?

Price control is part and parcel of distribution. Who in their right mind would give up that power (and the 70% payout) to take their chances on whether or not the publisher they sign with is willing to do business with the #1 bookseller in the land? Plus: have their debut ebook priced at $14.99?


All of the above and more were standard attacks just a year ago. Self-published authors were 3rd rate cattle. Our works were a spewing volcano of shit. Publishing execs blogged about their desire to see two retail channels so we could be placed in a ghetto. Article after article on Salon painted a dim view of self-publishing as a viable option for writers.

But what people like Joe Konrath have been saying for ages is that the economic advantages of self-publishing were too great and that the truth of this would eventually make itself obvious. Now that it has become obvious, the attacks have shifted to the ad hominem variety. People denigrate Jeff Bezos’s character instead of pointing out the options Amazon opens up to the hopeful artist. Salon.com writes a hit piece accusing me of destroying book culture (and does so with misattributed quotes) instead of pointing out anything wrong with what I’ve said about the positives of self-publishing.

I see all of this as progress. Enormous progress. The substance of our points are now unassailable. All that’s left is for those who want to keep the gatekeepers in place to tear us down and attack us personally. Ghandi said:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win.”

Just three years ago, I couldn’t get anyone to write about what was happening with self-published authors, and it was an enormous story even then. A hidden world, ignored.

Next came the cattle put-downs and the spewing shit attacks. The mockery.

We are now clearly at the attack phase.

Which makes me think it’s time to back off a bit on the arguments for self-publishing. Most open-minded authors must now understand that they have options, and what those options are. The only thing about Ghandi’s quote that doesn’t apply to the stigmatization of self-publishing is the idea of “winning.” There’s no need to come out on top here. The whole point is to have equal access and equal respect, and self-publishing platforms have granted the former while readers have granted us the latter.

It’s over. We can coexist now. People can publish however they want, with opportunities for moving back and forth from one path to the other. And publishers are going to have to continue to sweeten their offerings to lure authors over to their side, while self-published authors will have to continue to up their game to sway readers to their works. The former will probably lower prices while the latter raises them. We’ll meet somewhere in the middle. Will a group hug be too much to ask for? I hope not.

57 replies to “Group Hug”

You’re right. I get tired of the ‘us vs. them’ posts and articles. It’s like the discussion here in the UK about the political debates in the run-up to the General Election next year. It matters not one jot what everyone says on whichever side they are supporting. People will make their own mind up, and the more antagonistic the discussion gets, the more interested parties will wander off and become disconnected.
It really is about writing good stories that buyers want to read. How you get your writing into the hands of the readers is neither here nor there. Read the articles, ask on the forums, and then decide.
Then go and write another book.

Exactly! It’s so easy for these things to get ramped up. You respond a little louder than the last response, and it goes on and on. I can’t even tell what some of these hit pieces are going on about anymore. All I know is that people aren’t talking authors out of self-publishing like they used to, and that’s all I care about. I think it’s a better option for the aspiring author, wherever they intend on ending up in their careers. And I think the more authors who go the self-publishing route, the more publishers will have to compete with higher pay for writers and lower prices for readers.

We’re already there. Time to back off a little, I think, and let those who are angry about the transition to wail on us a little longer until their arms get tired. Then we can hold them up for a while until they get their wind back.

There are still so many new authors who believe that trad is the only way to go. I don’t try to persuade them otherwise now. If that’s what they want to do (submit … wait … wait … sob over rejection … submit … wait … wait … wait … prompt … wait … sob over rejection), then that’s fine. If they ask, I tell them I self-publish, and why. But they want the kudos. They want their paper books in the stores, and they think trad is the only way to do that.
I was talking to a children’s author over the weekend at a literary festival I help run. She won a BIG competition, got her first children’s novel published, and then was left high and dry. No marketing, no assistance. Just get on and do it. *sigh*

I think this is part of the learning process-I am a relatively young writer and a few years ago I submitted to agents/publishers w/no success. This motivated me to improve my writing and work hardr. Meanwhile, I came to discover the advantages of self-publishing. Now as an unpublished author (well I did have a stint w/iuniverse, which I also learned from) w/several manuscripts nearing completion, I’m approaching self-publishing w/a maturity and certainty in my goals I know I would’ve lacked had I skipped out on submitting to agents. It offered me insights into the mindsets of the gatekeepers, which set a bar in my mind.

That said, had I been accepted and trad published, I might be stuck with an awful contract. It all depends.

Good points, MrMcG.
There is one thing that worries me about self-publishing – that ‘new’ writers will miss out on the critique stage and go straight to self-pub. Who will give them their honest feedback? Lack of sales will be put down to lack of marketing effort, rather than lack of quality.
When trad-pub was the only game in town, lack of acceptance might encourage new writers to look harder at their writing to see why it wasn’t being accepted. I found that when I was starting out, writing short fiction in writing groups was a great way of learning how to write compelling fiction.

I think the ‘need’ for agents and publishers to give you feedback is a myth that will go away in time. If you had submitted works straight to ebook format, they would not have sold well, wouldn’t that be feedback enough? Why do so many ebook writers have little sales? Because their work isn’t good enough. Now it is up to them to improve it, they don’t need and agent to tell them that, the market will tell them.

I agree with John. The only people who can decide whether a book is worth reading are… readers. I’ve read some clunkers from trade publishers that I’d have critiqued the heck out of… yet they sold millions of copies, or at least sold enough copies to spawn a hundred sequels.

That’s not to imply that you shouldn’t get a second opinion on your stories before publishing them, but, unless that second opinion comes from the kind of reader who’s looking for your kind of book, it may just make the book worse.

So well said as always, Hugh, and thank you for speaking up for self-published authors over the years. Just in the past year, I’ve noticed a huge shift in attitudes. I’m attending my first Bouchercon Mystery Convention in November and was really surprised when they put me on an author panel. The book vendor who I contacted about selling my books at the convention didn’t even blink twice when he found out I was self-published. It was very refreshing!

I’ve been seeing the same thing. There are holdouts, of course. For some reason, the science fiction cons are really lagging. DragonCon had zero in the way of self-publishing panels, but that’s because of who they have running the literature track. WorldCon wasn’t that great the two years I went, but maybe this year was better. It’ll keep changing. For the better.

No LonCon 3 (World Con) was not self-publishing friendly. The alternative publishing models panel had a trad editor, a small press entrepreneur, an author who self-published briefly and then signed a trad contract, and a member of a science fiction self-publishing co-op that only accepts those who have previously been trad published.

I’d say it’s a long time since SF was the genre of the future. Most trade-published SF I’ve read (or tried to read) for some years has been militaristic claptrap or ‘in the future, there will be Commies!’ love-fests. Both are backward-looking, rather than a real attempt to predict the future.

I probably wouldn’t read SF at all any more, if not for self-publishing allowing the writers who were previously blocked by trade publishers to publish whatever they want. I’m not at all surprised that such an insular genre would be afraid of us.

I’m about to self-publish my first sci-fi novel. For a while I was nervous about things like “No one reads sci-fi with a female protagonist,” “No one reads sci-fi with a POC protagonist,” “Wow this is really female-gazey, maybe I should tone it down a little,” etc. But then I decided: I’m self-publishing. I don’t need millions of people to buy my book. I don’t even need thousands. I just want anyone who might like my book to read it, even if that’s only a few hundred people.

I don’t even want to submit my book for review from sci-fi sites that have categories like “Books for Chicks.” Ugh. I’m not going to bother with the Old Sci-Fi Boy’s Club of stodgy white dudes and the young white dudes that want to be them. They don’t want change, they want freedom from accountability they think they get when they play in sci-fi and fantasy worlds. I’m not shocked at all that they resist self-publishing. They’re losing power, and they know it.

I don’t care if the established sci-fi literati detest my book. I care whether or not my book is good and real and tells the truth.

“Salon.com writes a hit piece accusing me of destroying book culture”

Holy crap! I mean, I know you’re all powerful and that, Beelzebub, but you single-handedly destroyed book culture? Like even among the majority of the world that don’t know who you are? Alrighty then, Salon.com. That’s some mighty strong anti-lit pheramones you’re throwing out there, Hugh, lmao. Honestly, between this shit and the crap with Ellora’s Cave, the WTFery is strong within the publishing community right now.

I think most of this argument has been online and in the media. It’s true I’ve gotten a few dirty looks since I self published, but not from my writer friends. My traditionally published critique partners and other writer friends have been incredibly supportive and a few have even confessed to being jealous. After all, I have audiobooks available within months of publishing Kindle and print additions and I slap my book covers on T-shirts without asking anyone’s permission. And when I found a typo earlier this year, I just fixed it. Took me about 5 minutes and it was done. No agonizing about a change I wish my publisher would make, but they won’t.

I read this blog and some of Konrath’s rants, but honestly, I’m having too much fun making my dream of being an author come true to worry too much about the state of NY publishers. I hope they treat my friends right, but otherwise they can do their thing and I’ll do mine.

Very well stated
I often thought of doing a little story about two writers, one goes through an agent, one through self publishing. After a year the self published guy has three books out there, the other is still waiting for the first one to come out. What people also overlook is that the guy who puts three books out is also learning along the way, finding fans and growing a following.
Best of luck living the dream.

Hugh, once again you’ve shown that your the better person. After reading the hack and slash pieces (of today, there seem to be some every day), it does seem the screeching is reaching the oddly shrill levels I associate with a lost argument. (Hey, volume works!)

And I agree.

But I still like Amazon and I don’t see anything wrong with buying arbequina olives, two books, a utility shut-off tool and standing desk all at the same store. Really, I don’t. :) It is hard not to get irritated now that they’ve descended to making that sound like that’s a bad thing.

Hugh, thanks for this. I really wish my genre – mystery fiction – would catch up with the RWA and other organizations. We self-pubbed mystery writers feel like second-class citizens. Conventions act as if we do not exist: no signing tables, no guest appearances on panels, no topics about self-publishing, no vendor sales, no qualification for prizes/awards. We are faceless and voiceless.

As a writer with a young child at home it’s nearly impossible to attend conferences right now, but what you say K.B. about mystery/thriller writers not being recognized is troubling not the least because I am one myself.

As with everything else in life, if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed…

What an interesting article. Well done.

I don’t tend to read the propaganda against Indie authors (or Amazon) as I’m too busy working to write more, sell more, and stay on top of the ever changing world of books.

It seems to me that the Big 5 won’t survive unless the somehow learn to embrace the new world of publishing. It starts by ending the attacks, because as you made clear, the arguments have proven to be false. Second they could close up their expensive offices and move to Des Moines (I only partly jest, as they really could and would pay much lower rates), and third they need to offer compensation that makes the new generation of authors want to consider partnering with them.

I doubt they want to hear my thoughts, though, so I guess I’ll get back to work.

Thanks for fighting (and writing) on our behalf.

A very classy response. A large part of the negative spin is to portray self-publishers as angry, so they will say anything to provoke anger. It’s nice to see you able to spin that attack around like an Aikido master.

I read this article, and I’ve seen several before that make basically the same points. And I think, “Damn right Hugh!”. But when it comes right down to it, I really and truly don’t care about what any anti-self-publishing pundit has to say about the subject. It’s completely irrelevant at this point. Nobody can stop me from publishing my crappy books, and nobody really has the power to prevent me from selling my crappy books.

Let’s talk about something fun for a while. This is getting boring.

The us vs. them argument doesn’t hold water with the state of the economy. If we had more of a middle class, I might agree with publishers. But we don’t.

The median income is somewhere between 30-40k depending on the state you live in. Minimum wage is ~15-22k. Publishers are saying, “Oh well, you don’t earn 100k a year self publishing,” while handing out 6k advances to new comers (Newsflash, most big 6 authors aren’t earning a 100k either).

People are arguing this backwards — The truth is that the big 5 cannot compete with me.

They are hardpressed to turn a profit on a book that sells 5-10k copies a year. For me, selling 5k a year (not just one book, but in total) means I don’t have to flip burgers. Means I don’t have to take a minimum wage job to make ends meet. Instead, I get to write.

How can anyone argue that is not a good thing?

As for professional looking covers — I don’t know. Cheap plug here — but check out my latest book DAMAGED GOOD on Amazon. (You can click my name above) Tell me that isn’t a great cover.

I’m in the Joe Konrath camp. The big publishers are not just waiting for extinction, they’re building the asteroid and hurling it into a collision course with Earth. The more we, as authors, have to figure out on our own, the less we need help to be successful.

Exactly.

When I was doing the tally of what I earned versus what it took to get to market, I was really surprised at not just how inexpensively I *could* do it, but how easy it was to change things (at increased cost) to improve the experience for the reader and myself. And the profit margin meant I could get the books to market (based on cost) for much less.

How do organizations with that many levels of salary and benefits compete with that? The answer is that they can’t.

My first book (thank you, Hugh!) was $120 to market. I invested another $500 over time in improving it, but I didn’t have to and I did it from earnings.

After that the books increased in cost because of my expectations and requirements…Strikers was a front load cost of $3000 to get to market. BUT, it had an editor and a proofer and the cover is pretty much so full of awesome I want to lick it. (TMI?) Formatters…etc.

Even at their most streamlined, there’s no way to compete with that in a corporate environment. Even my most expensive product is cheaper than their cheapest in both creation costs and final price to consumer.

Embracing the change, shifting to print acquisitions and moving locations are all good ideas. But the negativity has to stop before they can embrace that and move forward in a positive frame of mind.

Hence, I’m all for a huge group hug so they can reach the acceptance level of the grief spectrum and move forward into a more prosperous future right alongside us. Of course, I’ve been accused of being too polly-anna in my outlook…so there’s that.

No matter what we do, or what we like, books will compete on price and the attractiveness of their content to consumers. At the same level of content attractiveness, low priced books will win.

For fiction, without barriers to entry, prices will not meet at the middle. New independents will compete with old independents the same way the old independents competed with the traditionally published. The new independents will not price in the middle, because they will compete against the middle. In a situation like this, the publishing model can’t compete, and new entrants will be a constant downward pressure on prices.

And the biggest winner? Consumers. Sounds great to me. Abundant, attractive, and available books at low prices. Let the games begin.

Indeed, we have arrived. I know we are considered legit now because I’ve been invited to give a course on self-publishing at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford. As a self-publisher, Mark Twain was a fairly major success.

It’s an exciting time to be a writer for all of the reasons you mention above. And I agree that there’s no need to sling insults or be defensive any longer. Just keep your head down and keep writing–all the way to the bank.

Great article, as always. I completely agree.

If you don’t mind my asking, could you direct me to some more info on the 82.5% number you quoted for what publishers pocket now? I’ve been trying to research what sort of margins the Big 5 run, but I’ve found it next to impossible to find any stats.

Thanks much! :)

As a ‘successful’ indie author I sit here and sigh when I read articles like this. Not because they don’t need to be written, or that they’re poorly written, but that they still NEED to be written.

Get over it, world. Writers now have multiple avenues to reach the readers, and you aren’t the gatekeepers for literary entertainment anymore.

I self pub’d in 2013, and this year I’ve released a backlog of novels I’ve had written for years, and last month I quit my day job, I’m saving for a house, I’ve paid off my car, and my quality of life has never been better. Previously, editors who were unwilling to take a chance on my work were preventing me from living my dream, and now, nothing is. The barrier has been removed, and the readers spoke -with their wallets-

I’m grateful that I’ve got this opportunity, and I’m hopeful one day that people will take me and my nearly 50,000 copies sold seriously one day. And this is only my beginning.

Regarding number 4, I always wondered to which extent previously published and successful works get changed/edited by the publishing houses.

When you sold Wool to S&S they couldn’t really make any changes to the actual creative content for the print version, since you were selling your own “unchanged” digital version at the same time, right?

There’s one thing that we forget quite quickly, and that Porter Anderson is very good at reminding us from time to time. This is a fast-moving industry, and we’re only at the beginning of the biggest disruption in the industry’s history. We’re still adapting, whether we are publishers, trad. pub. authors, self-pub. authors, agents, editors, etc.
What Hugh, Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler et al have been doing is accelerate the moment we’ll reach a “balance” by raising awareness around self-publishing. But we’re still very far from the group hug. The first attacks mentioned in the article might not be voiced directly anymore, but they are still in many traditional people’s minds. Heck, I hear them everyday.
I don’t think there is time nor place for a big hug, while that is certainly an idea that everyone would welcome. The different worlds are still too far apart (and again, this is normal) and not necessarily moving towards one another.

What’s really telling about Spillman’s piece is what he doesn’t say. In an argument for moral superiority in which the publishers are the gaurdians of culture and Amazon is commanded by Darth Vader, he never once mentioned that Hachette was found guilty of colluding to fix prices. Doesn’t that mean anything anymore? Instead, he obsesses about the crimes he predicts Amazon will unleash on the world if we don’t stop it. Granted, the issue of poor working conditions in Amazon warehouses is valid–and gets mentioned at every opportunity, which it should be. But the moral contrast between how Amazon *might* treat authors and readers and how Hachette already does (including breaking the law) only shows Spillman’s moral relativism, not his grasp on logic. In 20 years, he will be regarded as 1930s isolationist are or those who complained that music videos would destroy radio and even music itself (“Video Killed the Radio Star,” anyone?). Give him enough rope.

But that’s what is so ingenious and simultaneously idiotic about their argument that they (Big 5) are protecting and cultivating literature and culture. Anything they do that might seem wrong or downright shitty to an outside observer can be explained away with this excuse.

Price collusion? We were protecting literature from the looming monopoly of Amazon. If we didn’t do it, they would overtake and destroy all bookstores and you wouldn’t be able to get print books anymore.

Predatory contract terms? We are the only ones who have the experience and history of cultivating real literature and to be able to continue to provide this benevolent service to the world, we have to lock you into unreasonable terms for your life + 70 years. You can’t possibly put a price tag on that kind of experience can you?

Too high e-book prices? When we choose to publish a book with our wealth of literary cultivating experience, it is more than a simple product. We have to price it high to show this distinction. Otherwise, readers who don’t know what good literature is, might confuse one of our books with one of those stinky self-published books.

Those of us who haven’t published yet face a shorter gauntlet – thanks to all those who went before.

We still have to ‘write a good book,’ and ‘write more good books,’ and learn to market, but those steps are all learnable. If the traditional way won’t work for us, we have alternatives.

I am profoundly grateful for the hard work and sharing attitude of the SP community – from which I will benefit.

I will try to follow your advice – and that of others – and also to, when I have the chance, pay it forward.

Thanks, Hugh, as always for your solid analysis. I wonder how long it will take the review/critic world to catch up to what the traditional publishers have realized?

Great comments, Hugh! I am particularly aware of the long term nature of online shelf life. Soon, I will have four books out with Amazon, plus a co-write with one of the best known and most successful authors of the digital revolution. The urge to throw my books online five minutes after I type “The End” is strong, But–they’ll be online…forever…so they might as well be as polished as possible, not to mention ready for cross-selling, should readers want more of my books.

The point is that I get to make those decisions. With a traditional publisher, everything I am doing would be out of my hands. I actually enjoy the various tasks that come with taking a book to market. If the result is a crop of bestsellers, I keep 70 percent of all that dough and say goodbye to the day job. But even if all I make is beer money, I’m still having fun writing and I get to publish my work for free with a sweeter royalty deal than Stephen King ever got.

I met Chris at a convention not long ago, and let me tell you folks, this guy is going to be a huge succcess, and all on his own means. I keep a sharp lookout for those who are doing it right, and one glance told me this guy was professional. He had a line at his booth the entire con, engaging readers, making new fans, selling books to those who will come back for more. I bought a book of his, and will likely purchase more, despite a hideously-long TBR pile, both in print and ebook.
Chris needs no one to tell him how to sell, or to take his money for doing things he does himself. I saw what he was doing and instantly said “Winner.” He’s not waiting to win a house in a lottery, he’s building it himself, brick by brick. Nobody in Manhattan is making a living off him, and that’s what scares those people into promoting hit pieces like the one mentioning Hugh.

Thanks Dale. I really appreciate the Manhattan comment, because it’s true.

Sounds stupid but I saw a picture online a couple years back that said; “If you don’t build your dream someone else will hire you to build theirs.”

Quite literally a life changing moment for me. I decided I was sick of letting other people decide whether or not I was a success at anything, and took the reins. There’s no substitute for hard work. Period.

And doing it this way means there’s no one stopping me from doing the work that is proving to be successful.

Thanks again Dale.

A few months ago I went to go listen to Anne Lamott at a symposium held for writers at Book Passage and the first thing she said to the couple hundred writers was this: “If I was writing today, I would definitely self publish. Seriously folks, self publish your stuff.”

Thanks for the group hug. My two cents… If I had gone the traditional route, I’d probably still be shopping publishers like so many authors still sold on that dream. Instead, I’m launching my third book this December. Managing the process and keeping it going is a ton of work, but it’s a labor of love and I learn something new every day — while making money. Why do I need a middle man and a big publishing house to get my work into the world? It’s a simple equation: Write books + Publish books + Find readers.

Exactly. But soon will come the final part, where “they” finally get it, and start coming in and start claiming how now that they’re doing it it’s the most amazing thing in the world and how the rest of us early adopters “were just playing around” and how they have made it legit. Mark it down because it will happen. And the press will eat it up and give none of us credit and pretend the big boys made it all happen.

But that won’t matter either, because when that happens the war is over.

I take slight issue with Edward M. Grant’s comment that the readers will decide on the quality of the work by not buying. Yes, that may be true, but their lack of purchase won’t provide the type of feedback necessary to help the author improve his or her work. I’m new to this, having just self-published on Kindle Direct Publishing. I did have an agent, but he was unable to place my book with a publisher (who knows why?, but partially, I’m sure, due to quality issues). As a result, I had dozens of readers read and give me comments. Luckily, I had friends who edit the local city magazine (I live in Dallas) read and give me comments. Lastly, I had the good fortune to have the services of a paid editor really put the manuscript through the wringer (both through line editing and structural suggestions). I don’t know if it’s proper or not to give a plug (and Mr. Howey can edit this out if it’s not), but I would highly recommend the services of Tiffany Yates Martin, who vastly improved my work. As a result, I think the book is pretty decent and holds up well against traditionally published works. It’s not my place to say what others should do, but I know that multiple re-writes and the sincere suggestions of people who write and edit for a living can make any piece much better and increase the odds that the readers will agree.

Hi Hugh. I have sp my debut book with createspace and smashwords this year and have already found that createspace are upping their prices (for price on selling books) I love the freedom and creative control of sp, plus it sticks it to the elitist boys club of trad publishing but I hope we don’t end up going backwards with createspace etc going that way themselves, introducing mandatory fees that suddenly become “necessary” thus pricing some writers out of having their work published. What do you actually envisage for the future of publishing, self and trad?

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