Up the Workers

Another interesting piece in The Guardian about self publishing (this is the term they’re applying to independent ebook publication) by Alison Flood.

This caught my eye:

“Publishing has always been a quasi-monopoly built on the lock publishers had on paper distribution. Digital distribution has broken that lock, but legacy publishers are still behaving as though they have monopoly power,” believes Eisler. “They’re running their business with two general imperatives in mind: (i) maintain the primacy of paper (in significant part, by delaying the release of digital books and pricing them too high); and (ii) offer punitive financial, creative, and other terms to authors. Or, to put it another way, publishers are currently running their business in a way that punishes both their end-user customers (readers) and their providers (authors). This was sustainable when publishers faced no meaningful competition. They do now, and will have to adapt or die, because yes, more and more authors are eschewing the legacy model in favour of self-publishing and in favour of the emerging Amazon hybrid model.”

I, and many others, have commented on the article. Brace yourself for the somewhat arrogant mode, but I’m responding to some counter-independent comments. It runs:

Interesting article. I like the data (indeed, I’ve blogged on Scott Pack’s blog ‘Me and My Big Mouth’ a couple of times about my own ebook publishing experiences, where I’ve tried to be transparent about my sales).

Whether ebooks will be good for the publishing industry is a moot point. It is certainly good for me. In my case, my first book was published by a small press and went nowhere because, back then (in 2005!), you had to get your book into a highstreet bookseller or otherwise die on your arse. Over the years since then, I’ve had countless agents and publishers rave about my work and then mutter something about marketing/categorisation/effort and not publish it. Clearly they thought it was not the bother. I disagree, and I’ve now sold more than three thousand copies since March.

Again, it’s a moot point whether this is good for publishing. I will be forever indebted to Amazon, who manufactured and pushed the Kindle when everyone (including me, at first) was pouring scorn on it. They’ve given me the chance to have people read my work. That was never going to happen with UK publishers.

Are my self published books crap? Quite possibly, but I don’t think so. Both were professionally edited and both have good covers (the first my own, the second produced by a professional). Both books have mean ratings greater than 4 on Amazon. But, more than this, dozens of people a day are downloading my books; a large percentage of them will be reading them.

That’s the revolution: being able, as an artist, to reach the end point of the creative process.

Up the workers.

Published by Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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