Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Unease in the Publishing World

"Nothing endures but change." - Heraclitus
Many authors are moving away from traditional publishing and going to self-publishing. This last month there was outrage in the publishing industry because Harlequin and another publisher now have a branch of their companies dealing in self-publishing.

Kevin Weiss is CEO of Author Solutions, the company who owns the self-publishing companies such as Exlibris, Author House, and iUniverse (who I have published several books with in 2000 and 2002, in addition to putting 12 of my late husband, Don Pendleton’s books back in print with their program in association with the Authors Guild, Inc.).

I’m not necessarily recommending an author choose to go the self publishing route without doing some research of the idea, but as I have written I have been upset by the attitude of publishers and many agents who believe a self-published author is not worthy of regular, traditional publishing and is not a professional. And I am also perturbed by the same attitude of author organizations, such as the Mystery Writers of America, who will not allow membership in the organization unless an author has been published by a company they consider to be a traditional publisher. I consider those attitudes to be elitist and unreasonable.

I must say I agree with what Kevin Weiss states in his video, and in my last blog I talked about Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and the Kindle Reader.

Change is happening in the industry and there is resistance. I doubt we’re going to go backwards so everybody might as well surrender to it instead of fighting it. It is time for change. And readers who are not spending $30 on a hardcover book should be giving publishers a hint. And millions spent on advances, especially celebrity advances, are not being recovered.

Seems there is a message there.

Let's see what 2010 brings....



Michael said...

Xlibris, AuthorHouse and iUniverse are NOT self-publishing companies -- they are vanity publishers.

Writers who use them are NOT self-published authors. They are customers (or victims) of a vanity publisher.

There is a fundamental difference between the two paths to publication. A real self-publisher tries to make money by selling books to readers. Vanity publishers make most of their money by selling services to naive writers, not by selling books to readers. The books are often ugly, error-filled and overpriced -- and very few copies are sold.

Just as no one can eat lunch for you, no other person or company can self-publish for you. The words just don't make sense.

OTOH, a "real" self-publisher establishes a business, hires editors and designers, purchases photography, owns ISBNS, obtains LCCNs and copyrights, chooses a printer, and promotes the books.

That's very different from paying for the services of a vanity press.

Michael N. Marcus

author of "Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don’t be a Victim of a Vanity Press,"

author of "Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults)," coming 4/1/10.…

Linda Pendleton said...

I appreciate your thoughts but having published for years through iUniverse and the Authors Guild/iUniverse back-in-print program and for a very few dollars for setup, designing my own covers, formatting the book as I want it, doing my own publicity and signings, collecting excellent royalties, having quality Print on Demand books as good as any book put out by a NY publisher, and having full distribution, I highly disagree with your point of view. I have recently used Amazon's Createspace and the books are of a fine quality also.

Although I could have bought my own ISBN number, I chose not to, even with recently publishing two books through Createspace, (and ten through Kindle). I am in the business and have been for more than 20 years. Other than having published one book mainstream, co-written with my husband, the renowned Don Pendleton, (creator of the action/adventure genre) all of my books (and a few of Don’s) are self-published, and I have e-books and e-courses published under contract with a publisher.

My books are my copyright. I receive royalties on all my sales. I can purchase author copies in the same way I could with mainstream publishers at a discount. The one thing I did not have was an advance against royalties on each book but the royalty rates are far above what a mainstream publisher gives authors, and I receive my royalties in a timely manner.

The distortion of what used to be called “vanity publishing,” where you went to a print shop and had 5,000 or 20,000 copies of a book published for thousands of dollars, and then had to store the books in the garage, qualifies as vanity publishing. Publishing a quality, well-written book, and paying a nominal set up fee for print on demand or electronic format should not be considered vanity publishing. But in recent years, both main-stream publishing and some agents frown on POD and self-publishing because they will be out of a job if they do not have books to sell when authors chose to sell their own books and control them in whatever way they choose.

Paying a nominal fee of $39 or free (Createspace), or less than $100, as I did (with iUniverse in 2000-2002) does not make my books any less valuable than yours or anyone else’s.

So your self-published book is the same thing as others who have used POD publishers. I assume you receive all the profit on your book but you do have to deal with wholesale discounts just like I do, through bookstores.

If a new writer decides to have a book edited, a cover made, and pay for distribution and other services given by some of these companies that you refer to, it does not mean the book is of bad quality, or is not a good book. There are many good writers that are not published. And there are many good writers who are choosing to put their own books out there.

My husband was a best-selling author for many years, and yes, he was ripped off by his publishers, time and again, and often over the years had to fight to collect royalties. And for a professional writer, that takes time away from what one loves to do, and that is write.