Industry Coverage of Self-Publishing

Well, here we are. Just a few years after lamenting the lack of coverage of the growing self-publishing market, readers have pushed that growth high enough that it can no longer be ignored. The Bookseller has a write-up about the size of this market, and FutureBook is doing their Friday Twitter chat on the same question.

With KDP now the largest ebook publisher in the UK, and self-published ebooks taking a larger share of the market than any publisher in the US, the sense that something is afoot is now spreading beyond the trenches. This is exciting stuff. It will mean a further erosion of stigmas, more authors free to make choices, and more pressure on publishers to pay higher royalties and offer fairer contracts.

It’s startling to me that so much has changed in the last six or seven years. Absolutely amazing. And incredible to think that it was just 18 months ago that Data Guy wrote his little spider that creeped up the waterspout. The findings at Author Earnings keep getting validated, and it all points to greater freedoms and higher pay for artists, and more choices and fairer prices for readers. Good times, people. Good times.

17 responses to “Industry Coverage of Self-Publishing”

  1. When I self-published my first novel in 2002 I joined the New England Horror writers and began doing group signings. Most of the members I met were polite, but informed me in no uncertain terms that self publishing was a vanity pursuit and that if I was ever going to be taken seriously I needed to go the traditional route. Now, twenty books later and still self published, I outsell many of those traditionally published writers. My how the times have changed.

    1. That is so awesome.

      In their face!!!! LOL ;)

      1. More importantly, Mark’s work is in the face of his readers. And not in a drawer or slush pile. That’s what I love most about these options. There are more seats on the bus, and since the prices are lower, and more of the revenue goes to artists and not middlemen, there’s more earnings for all those seats.

        Of course, for many, myself included, it wasn’t the hope of making money but the freedom of expressing ourselves. There’s just so much to like about the digital age.

        1. My experience began long before e-readers came on the scene. Like you, Hugh, for me, it wasn’t about the money. It was about expressing myself. I looked at all the options and even then, I knew that the traditional route wasn’t for me. Later, after I’d had a little success, I did allow myself to be talked into a three book deal with a publisher, something I’ve always regretted. The rights to one of those books has been returned. The other two revert this year. I’ll never go back. Going it alone is a lot of work but well worth the rewards.

          1. I know of some very big authors who experimented with trad deals who say they’ll never do it again. And they were cherry deals. So you aren’t alone there.

          2. This is in reply to both Mark’s comment and Hugh’s comment below, but what do you guys see as the main reason for authors giving up on traditional publishing after trying it out? Are there any common threads for saying never again?

          3. Whoops. Got myself tripped up in guessing where my comment would show up. I should have said above.

  2. We’re sure to keep hearing more of the “tsunami of swill” arguments over the next months and years, and to that I say…

    So, what?

    If more people are trying their hand at writing because of the growing attention self-publishing is getting, that only means there will be more people reading! Because, not only as articles about self-publishing become more mainstream will people think, “Huh, maybe I should have a look at some of these,” but all those people writing will read more as a matter of course.

    I was an avid reader through my school years, but slackened as I got older. When I became serious about novel writing around 2009, my reading pace picked up once again. We learn by doing, but we also learn by watching others.

    Discoverability is the bane of our existence and it will continue to be, but the more people who become interested in books and writing the better.

    1. This. The pie can only grow with literature opening up and becoming more popular as a creative pursuit.

      1. All this talk of growing the pie and the swill had me thinking of other metaphors for growth.

        I’m disturbed my imagination came up with… Adding another human to the centipede.


  3. The other big problem faced by main stream media efforts to diminish self-publishing is that self-publishing… is a better story.

    I mean, seriously, how can you compete with grandma writing a novel about her WWII experiences and publishing it with the help of her teenage grandson? Or a single mother cranking out romance novels in a trailer home to pull herself out of poverty? Or a soldier with PTSD retiring to a cabin to write about his life experiences? Or even just a very savvy writer who builds a small business for themselves writing Zombie serials?

    You’re going to compete with all that by talking about how proofreaders in New York offices need to be paid? That it’s hard to get self-published books into airport racks? Or that people reading genre is like eating too many french fries? How much traction can any of that get?

    It’s amusing to watch as these industry pundits, who serve two masters, one traditional publishing and one the larger public, start to realize they better start serving the public or they will lose even the hint of relevance. They need clicks on their websites, they need speaking engagements at book conferences, they want to sell their own (ironically self-published) books and the only thing the public is interested in is self-publishing. And no, they don’t want to hear that it’s not important or a bad way to go.

    Even if the self-publishing market was much smaller, say 10% of total sales rather than 30%, even if it wasn’t growing quickly, it’s just a heck of a lot more interesting that anything going on in traditional publishing. It’s a stronger narrative.

  4. I recently watched the movie “Begin Again,” where Keira Knightly meets with a record label to discuss distribution and promotion of her recently finished indie CD. Someone from the label says, “We’ll sell it for, say, ten bucks, and you’ll get one dollar each. Same as publishing: a buck a book.” Keira (and anyone I’ve watched the movie with) can’t seem to figure out why anyone would agree to such a split.

    The core message is as simple as it was in the movie, and as more people (especially writers) are exposed to it in mainstream, easy to understand ways, erosion of the stigma will accelerate.

    1. That stigma exists only in the minds of insecure writers.

      Real readers don’t give a shit. And never did.

  5. I recently met a guy at a party who had written a book. I asked the usual questions, but when I asked him how he was going to publish it, I thought he might throw his back out from his contortions trying to explain (or excuse) that he was self-publishing. Insecure writer? Sure. But I look forward to the day when even that guy can explain his choice as an afterthought.

  6. […] the author Hugh Howey has pointed out, this certainly can be seen as a sign of the sector’s rising […]

  7. Just wanted to pop on and say thanks Hugh for continuing to reach out to those of us slogging up the hill behind you. You’ve been a great encouragement from day one.

  8. Logan Mc Donagh Avatar
    Logan Mc Donagh

    Hi I am Logan Mc Donagh. I am a first time writer, having completed my first manuscript.

    I am happy to see the success of authors such as yourself Hugh. I wonder if you have any advice when it comes to promoting ones first book.

    If the book is properly edited and very good, the jacket and cover of a good standard is this what manly counts for success? Because I fail to see any ways to market other than place the book on sale in as many places as possible.

    I am very much alone and do not trust the publising houses. As you say they offer very little. I’m hoping for any advice you or any other authors might have.

    I believe the self publishing market is growing, but the problem is the lack of quality control. I am concerned also when it comes to finding a good editor. It is not easy, the industry seems to have alot of charlatans bating above their bases. Only to happy to make grand promises and very quick to take the writers cash. I myself am hoping to avoid all the pitfalls and would be very grateful for advice on these matters.

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