Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year, New Publishing Possibilities

From the wandering mind of Tamela Buhrke

Happy New Year! As 2012 gets underway, I've been thinking back on all the new opportunities for authors that 2011 made possible. There used to be just one path to publishing. Now there are a plethora (my favorite word) of options.

Let's take a look at how this wonderful new world of publishing sprang to life.

The Era of One Path

For as long as there has been a publishing industry, the fate of an author has been at the mercy of that machine. That process. It cultivated a mindset of having no control over your own career. Authors felt like employees of chaotic companies. Their futures, their incomes at the whim of an editor or a marketing person. Having their books stranded when their editors were fired or transferred. Sometimes having no input over simple things like the cover of their own books.

But then something happened that changed everything...

Amazon: The Dawn of Two Paths

With the advent of the self publishing revolution, aspiring authors ran to Amazon. This was the answer to an aspiring author's dreams. They could snub their noses at the agents and big publishing houses (and often used social networks to do it publicly). Authors could take back their power. They could forge their own destiny.

At the same time, traditionalists argued against self publishing. It lacked the quality of the big houses. It lacked the distribution channels. Don't do it! You'll ruin your career.

For almost a year there were blog wars waged over which path was best. Camp Traditional vs. Camp Indie. Who would win? Then the Indie camp won a few large battles with successes like Amanda Hocking and J. A. Konrath. The tides seemingly turned back toward Traditional when Ms Hocking accepted a traditional publishing contract. But in a surprise move, traditionally published authors like Barry Eisler started turning down contracts and moving into camp Indie.

Then J.K. Rowling snubbed them all to start her own ebook publishing & retail site—Pottermore.

Self publishing and self distribution?!

What will these authors want next? Full control of their entire project?

Yes, please.

Multiple Paths

Though not all of us have the resources of a J.K. Rowling, we do have much greater control over our author path. Unfortunately, the options available can be overwhelming. To combat this overwhelm, a cottage industry of publishing services are springing up like t-shirt vendors at a Justin Bieber concert.

Now you have multiple paths to publishing and multiple options within those paths:
  • Traditional: Large houses, medium houses, small press, imprints
  • Self publishing: epub, traditional print, POD, Amazon, Smashwords, iPad, Nook etc.
  • Independent publishing (yes, that's different from self publishing)
  • ePublishing houses
  • Book packagers
  • Vanity press (still evil)
  • Combinations of above

Each has their benefits and drawbacks. However, now you can choose different options for each of your books. This gives you the flexibility of using a publishing option that fits a particular books needs, instead of trying to fit all your books into one system.

So for the next few weeks, I plan to explore all the various publishing options. We'll delve into the possibilities and help you make decisions about what path is right for you.

1 comment:

Karen Duvall said...

Great blog post, Tamela! There are so many changes going on in the publishing industry and just as many choices. I love that published authors are now able to self-publish their backlist of out-of-print titles. Woot!