Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Self-Publishing Apocalypse

No. There’s nothing wrong with self-publishing. It’s not in the dumps. As a matter of fact, it has all the hallmarks of Wal-Mart status, in that it has gained tremendous ground and influence, and could really end up in a major takeover. Sadly, to the detriment of the Big 5, small press, paperback book distributors/sellers, agents, market share has ballooned for the self-published author. They certainly seem to be out-selling small trade published authors like me, hands down. I can randomly click on the Amazon Kindle book page and check out any self-published author—Chances are they’ve slaughtered my sales. And you know what? I’m a hybrid author, too. Good for them. Why has this happened, baring special circumstances via the elite scribblers?

Indie authors can call the shots on any price change, free giveaway events or contests. Trade publishers are in control of that function, limiting themselves to such functions and their wares are typically priced a little higher  than the SPers. Adaptability is the key word here.

The SP authors can change their bios, synopsis and book cover art at will. They are the publisher—they call all the shots. They can adjust to changes instantly, to swing with any present or upcoming trend.  

Their crowd is dynamically huge—the Kindle Boards is just one example of their stunning population growth. These people support each other, buying each other’s works, whether they are collections, novels, novellas or shorts. The market share has made a dramatic shift in their favor. Once having bought trade books in the past, the SPers have opted for their own like. They are as loyal to each other as a tornado is to a trailer park. You can’t blame them. This stems from, I’m certain of, righteous indignation—they are pissed off at the publishing and agent contingent who repeatedly slammed the door in their faces. Not all of them mind you—we have best-selling and celebrity authors who jumped ship completely, and those other writers who dove into self-publishing from the get go.  

The incredible speed by which self-publishing makes it possible to churn out massive content, i.e, lots of books and stories, also keeps their name brand flagged and up front in the literary world.

They show no difference in their book info and stats on Amazon pages. They are not distinguishable from trade publishing pages, except for the publisher identity. But in many cases, they have their own publishing company logos. I know I do!

They are not subject to time constraints with editing. They can edit at will or hire out for services. They can swap editing with their fellows. Three or four of these swaps can clean a book up rather nicely.

They have their own Indie awards. They get news media hits and lots of attention. That means NYT and USA Today ink. Playing field—leveled. 

They hit best seller status on all and any retail outlets just like the big boys.

Man, I could go on and on…but we haven’t enough eye time for that. Am I jealous? You damn betcha. I paid my dues; I got vetted, laughed at, ignored, rejected and trodden upon, for what I thought was the initiation into the big trade world. Funny, after 27 years it’s still happening to me. So maybe the indie people knew something all along.

I just have a few problems with giving self-publishing an A+. Borders took a dive, as did many small independent book stores upon the e-book revolution. Indies who frequented book stores, quit and bought online, added to the number of readers who also discovered reading from the screen. To be honest, and I don’t know how long it will take, I think agents and publishers of the old school will vanish to browner pastures. Who will need ‘em? Hey, you don’t have to edit that well or follow paperback format. Clipart takes the place of painted book covers and photo conversion. You can write a novel in two weeks and post it on Amazon.

Who are you blaming, Chris? Sounds like you want somebody on the chopping block. I BLAME YOU, AMAZON, YOU GREEDY SONS-O-BITCHES. Hey, let’s publish the world and dilute the market stream so nobody can be discovered and make any money. All we’ll have left is printers. Today a parent can print up a book that their dog has left his painted paw prints in. Ad some clipart pictures and, damn! We have a children’s book! 

But underneath it all, I wish that I had got on board with the O-Niners. They hitched a ride on a star. That star didn’t burn out.