Why Publishers Aren’t Obsolete – Day 179

[Please Note: this is Saturday’s post — I’m posting it today though because yesterday got away on me before I could finish it…]

Had another productive morning. Got in a short little scene between the two characters that sort of blows things up a bit. Also spent some time updating my outline.

It’s actually working out fairly well (for me…), outlining this way. I’m finding that when I write the outline and put into literal words what I’m trying to accomplish in a scene, it is making me review whether or not I’ve actually done it. More than once it has triggered a  way to improve the scene, so off I’ve went to make the tweaks.

Still coming in hot on the overall word count though — this “short” scene was about the length I’d originally planned for every scene. Hey, this is all a game of discovery, right? More things to worry about in the third draft stage — right now I’m just crafting the story.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had a thought about the publishing biz. Actually, it comes from that reluctant phenom, Amanda Hocking. She is the first of the self-publishing success stories that I’ve seen that comes out in defense of publishers. “Traditional publishing and indie publishing aren’t all that different, and I don’t think people realize that,” she said.

Some books and authors are best sellers, but most aren’t. It may be easier to self-publish than it is to traditionally publish, but in all honesty, it’s harder to be a best seller self-publishing than it is with a house.

I don’t think people really grasp how much work I do. I think there is this very big misconception that I was like, “Hey, paranormal is pretty hot right now,” and then I spent a weekend smashing out some words, threw it up online, and woke up the next day with a million dollars in my bank account.

This is literally years of work you’re seeing.

She also goes on to say that publishers are not the “big, bad, evil entity” that some people are making them out to be. They are not trying to “kill literature” but simply trying to sell books like they always have in an increasingly-changing market.

She also resents other people who are making her out to be a hero of sorts in some “good vs. evil” fight.

I just don’t understand writers animosity against publishers. So much of what I’ve been reading lately has made me out to be Dorothy taking down the Wicked Witch.

I’m glad to see ideas like this coming back. It is an exciting time in publishing, that’s for sure. Amanda herself acknowledges that she enjoys her self-publishing lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean that traditional publishing — or rather, traditional publishers — is coming to an end.

It’s easy to set up publishing companies as the bad guy. First of all, they are the gatekeepers, and by sheer numbers, they have to reject the vast, vast majority of writers. Even if every one of those manuscripts was written by another Shakespeare, they simply can’t publish 3,000 titles every year. So rejection is going to breed animosity, that’s for sure.

For those who do get published, the process can still be frustrating. Waiting for publication day, following up on numerous edits, struggling against the economic realities of publishing… But what those in self-publishing don’t mention is that those problems still exist when you decide to go it alone — only you alone are doing them. So if there is a problem at the printers or your ebook isn’t selling well or you are trying to figure out what’s not quite going right near the end of Chapter 4, the buck (and the book) stops with you.

That might not be a bad thing for some. My point is that most don’t realize that publishers are there to alleviate problems, not create them. For the most part, they do this successfully. Will traditional publishers be forced to change their business model as books shift to ebooks? Absolutely. I’m confident that although there will be casualties along the way, many of them will.

You can read more on Amanda Hocking’s thoughts here:



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4 Responses to Why Publishers Aren’t Obsolete – Day 179

  1. Publishers are drawing more than their share of rotting fruit these days, but then, they’ve also made some huge missteps, and have earned a fair amount of enmity.

    The 75/25 ebook split many are trying to sneak into ebook contracts is pretty clearly rapacious, and moves like that are guaranteed to make someone unhappy.

    Overall, it seems they’ve been very slow to react, and not all of their reactions have been positive.

    The next couple years should prove hugely interesting as the barriers to self publishing come down (and the money earned per copy by writers seemingly goes up).
    TC/Writer Underground’s most recent blog post: Are All Mini Drivers Frustrated Novelists

    • Graham Strong says:

      Hi Tom,

      I agree, there are some less-than-fair publishers out there — there always have been. But the majority of them, I believe, are making honest attempts to come up with a new way of doing business that is fair for everyone. Many are probably unsure if they have to do anything at all (though I suspect by the end of the year, most publishers will at least realize that ebooks are the new reality).

      Yes, the barriers to self-publishing are coming down. And there are many examples of great self-publishing success stories out there. But all things being equal, would you have a better chance at success going with someone who has contacts, marketing experience, editing experience, etc., or going it alone?

      Think of it this way too: given two books, and limited time and money, would you take a risk on the self-published book or the one from Random House? That sort of credibility will still be sought after by readers.

      There will be more self-publishing success stories. But I think “publishers”, whatever that term will come to mean, will be around for a while yet.


      • I’m not arguing that publishers will disappear – just that they’ve earned some of the raspberries blown their way.

        Think of it this way too: given two books, and limited time and money, would you take a risk on the self-published book or the one from Random House?

        It’s fairly likely that people will buy the book recommended to them by their friends (either the real or the online kind) or other “trusted” information source.

        I’ve never even considered a publisher’s name in a book/music purchase.

        Publishing houses are now being forced to change the way they do business, and they’re not always doing so with grace.

        Let’s hope they do better in the future.
        TC/The Writer Underground’s most recent blog post: The Unbearable Lightness of Blogging

        • Graham Strong says:

          Hi Tom,

          Yes, I agree, friends’ recommendations will still dominate. I guess I was saying, all things being equal, I would be more likely to take a chance on the book put out by the publisher than by somebody who has gone to the printers themselves. Granted, the differences are becoming murkier, especially now that many self-published authors are hiring professional editors, etc. But having someone else stand up and declare that “This book should be read!” (to the point where they put their own name on it…) lends a certain credibility to it.


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