Increasingly, it’s clear that self-publishing is going to be highly disruptive to almost every sector of publishing, in a healthy way. A large but unknown portion of traditional publishing will shift to self-publishing (some say all – I doubt this for reasons I’ll get to in future posts). In the process publishers will be forced to reexamine their value proposition, and become leaner, more focused and more competitive.
One of the observations of a great article in Publishing Perspectives is that it’s not all about money:
Listen to what Geuppert found when he asked his authors about their motivations for self-publishing. They may not be what Blofeld assumes is the goal for most writers.
All of them across the groups said their reasons for self-publishing are first, creative freedom and control over their rights and content; second, it’s the ease of the process; third, it’s basically fun…and the desire to self-publish is even higher among professional writers.
Not money. While Blofeld is searching Online Reputation Management , as he writes, for ways of making money for my authors—and this is correct for an agent, this is his job—the authors looking at self-publishing may not be driven by the same impetus.
This is an interesting message to publishers. Adding value in a world of self-publishing isn’t just about money. Give authors more creative freedom and control. Make the process easier, pleasant, and, dare we say, fun. This can be challenging but for publishers that want to thrive, this is part of the answer.
(This is one problem with large advances. The larger the advance, the more the publisher feels pressure to avoid risks and make sure that the book is successful at any costs, even if that means overruling the author’s opinions. Large advances can be the enemy of both creative freedom and partnership.)