The New York Times just posted a piece about how self-publishers are doing well in the current economy, while traditional book publishers are struggling. I work for a couple of book publishers that are considered a hybrid of independent publishing and self-publishing, and this article lines up with my recent experience: one of my clients seems to have as many projects for me as I have time to complete, though the pay is lower than with bigger publishers.
What do you think about this trend? Obviously many self-published or co-published books have little to no audience, either because of poor quality or just because they appeal to such a niche audience, but we keep hearing stories of people who had to self-publish, only to be discovered after self-publishing by a traditional house and ending up on best-seller lists. Case in point: The Shack, a self-published book that sold over 4 million copies based largely on innovative word-of-mouth marketing.
Has book publishing become so saturated with content and so log-jammed by its traditional methods that even the agents and publishers can’t find the good content anymore? That certainly puts a new perspective on self-publishing, which used to be regarded as loser-ville for writers. This trend seems to parallel the move toward self-published videos on YouTube, self-published podcasts, and using Twitter to market a project or service, or even the difficulties that large companies in other industries (ahem, automotive) have with innovation when they pass critical mass and become too large to stay nimble. Where do you think this is going? If you publish a book in the future, what services would you like to have provided to you, and which would you be willing or able to do yourself?