There’s been so much talk in the news these days regarding Dorchester going epub and Amazon upping their payouts to self-pubbed authors who publish their books in Kindle. In the last few days alone, I must have visited a dozen websites with everyone spouting pieces of advice and their predictions for the future.
The only thing I’m certain of is all eyes are on Dorchester right now to see if they’ll sink or swim. From what I understand, they’ve been sinking for a while anyway. Many think this new model of theirs won’t matter. But I see it like a new pair of shoes. You need some time to break them in, but eventually you’ll decide whether they’re worth the pain of squashed tootsies or not. If you loves those shoes enough, you’ll stick with them. Otherwise, they go. If Dorchester cares enough to ride out the blisters and whelps they’ve accrued, they might actually succeed. Only time will tell. And just as a side note, I have no problem with Dorchester or their new model. It’s been working well with places like Samhain and Elloras Cave for a while now. The only difference is Samhain–I don’t write for Elloras Cave, so I don’t know–will actually keep their people abreast of their business affairs. Dorchester might want to make note of that, assuming they have any authors left. Bridges have been burned so bad, that the fires are eating up the hillside.
Publishing has been wavering for a while now. Ever since the economy bellied up, everyone has been hurting. Advances are getting smaller and it’s harder to sell to New York. My friend Edie Ramer shared an article about Steve Coker, the founder of Smashwords that has had me thinking about my own writing career and what I want to do with it. Reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog hasn’t helped either. I can’t help but wonder about the place I’m at in my career right now and what it means with regards to the future of publishing.
Let me be blunt. I’ve been seriously rethinking my NY goal long before the Dorchester upheaval. I’m talking since the beginning of the year while I was on maternity leave. While it’s great to be with the publishing giants, will they be there when I arrive? I bet that has crossed the mines of anyone who just recently received a Dorchester contract in the past month. Don’t get me wrong. I want NY. That’s where the money is and that’s where I’ll be in a better place to live out my dreams of writing full-time. But I’m worried if that dream will come to a horrible end at some point because NY will either be too late to adapt or won’t adapt at all to the ever-changing market.
Now let me be blunt about something else. I like being with my small publishers, too. Not because I’m making millions of dollars or anything. 😆 Yeah. Right. But at least I know what to expect from them. There isn’t the pressure to make NYT or USA Today’s bestseller lists out of fear that my midlist-self will die a horrible career death. I’m not saying it’s impossible to make those lists. I’m just being realistic.
If Dorchester succeeds, you’ll see more ebooks and POD trade paperbacks by more NY pubs in the coming years. Indie publishing will continue to grow, too. Advances will probably go down while royalties go up. As for agents, I have to wonder if their jobs will become obsolete. After all, you don’t need an agent to submit to an epub, which are on the brink of becoming a major force in their own right. Small presses who have nothing to lose, might win because many of them have been embracing more ebooks, having small print runs that do less damage to their bottom line, and POD for when that print run runs out.
Oh, and as a side note, I wouldn’t mind indie-publishing a book or two, but I my hangup is I don’t want to go at it alone. I’d prefer to do it with a group of authors forming our own publishing “group” where we critique each other’s manuscripts before agreeing to publish them. Also, we agree to put up a certain amount of our own “starter” cash toward promotional expenses for said company until we can afford to peel some money from a reserve. I’m talking ad space in popular places, along with hiring an artist to do all of our book covers and ad designs. We’d have to make sure everyone is getting properly paid for their book(s), but I don’t mind pocketing $7.50 from each of my $10 books while $2.50 goes back to our company.
Okay, so as you can see, I’ve thought about indie-publishing a lot. 😆 But look at the bright side. We get the editing our books need, we hire a good cover artist to handle all of the artwork for less of the upfront fees that usually kills us all anyway, and we might be able to hire a promo company to handle a chunk of the word-of-mouth. 🙂
My last thought: all writer’s should know something about the business side of publishing. You’ll need it now more than ever whether you have an agent or not. The face of publishing is changing and you can either ride the wave or it’ll plant your face in the sand.
Anyway, those are my thoughts. Care to share yours?