There is no point in debating anymore the merits of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing and which option you might chose. I think the direction we are headed is that most authors will attempt to do both. And if there is a going to be a choice of one over the other, I think unfortunately traditional publishing will lose this battle among newer authors. Totally my opinion and this comes just from my conversations with other authors, professional loops etc, but I think I’m right.The currently successful authors only doing traditional publishing, I imagine will continue to do so. I don’t think Nora Roberts is worried about getting her name out there by releasing self-published novellas. But she probably should be prepared for a pay cut if Wal-Mart decides to stop selling books altogether and her publisher doesn’t start to reconsider her digital price point.
Regardless I think any new author who wants to reach that level of success is going to feel the pressure to self-publish as a means of marketing/advertising at the very least.And this is starting to have an impact on the community. We found out that authors were purchasing reviews. Recently I heard Goodreads was having an issue with authors participating in review swaps. We will give books away for free. Hours and hours of hard work and investment into a project only to give it away in the hope readers will find you and eventually decide to buy you.
As self-publishers we can no longer rely on the Traditional Publishing marketing department, but I think we’re learning even traditionally published, we can’t count on them. What we all thought was this massive department doing all the “right” things was just an overtaxed department, not doing much and instead they put the burden on the author.By forcing the author to become her own advocate, they created a skill set that serves the self-published. My experience with savvy authors today is that they think they can do it better. They care more about their project. They get to spend their advertising dollars where they think it has the most impact. They can control social media and as I mentioned above they can set the price point and control when it goes on “sale.”
None of this is news, but I do think we’re starting to feel the impact. A skilled, talented and amazing storyteller who could give her story over to an editor and simply let her publisher handle the rest, that person will not survive in this new world. A shy person who wants to avoid all social media and only wants to tell stories, will have the GREATEST challenge.On the flip side, a less skilled, less talented storyteller who figured out that if she rigged the review system she could sell more books, has a greater chance of getting ahead. I’m not going to lie. That’s a little sad.
I read yesterday on Dear Author that there is speculation that Tammar Webber’s breakout new adult novel Easy was plagiarized. But how difficult does this all become in this new world when the biggest breakout book of 2012 was a fan fiction of Twilight. I’m sure some will debate that character stealing isn’t the same as scene stealing, but again we’re all acting on our own. There is no gate. There is no filter. Everyone into the pool and may the smartest writer win.Buying reviews, review collusion, stealing characters, stealing scenes, stealing dialogue. All extreme measures to catch a wave of success. I’m sad for that book that I’m probably never going to read, because the author couldn’t survive in the new world. I’m worried I won’t survive either. I don’t think in terms of marketing my book. I only think in terms of writing it and that puts me behind in the race.
If traditional publishing is going to compete, they are going to have to find a way to give something to those authors who chose to remain with them otherwise in a decade, maybe two I really do see a world in which we all will self-publish.
Survival of the fittest, not survival of the most talented will succeed. And those willing to rig the system will reflect poorly on all of us.
Enough doom and gloom... it's summer. We should be optimistic.