Self-publishing, or independent publishing, isn’t something new. In fact, if you think about it, it’s really how publishing truly started. Throughout history, some of our most well-known authors were self-publishers. Ben Franklin used a letterpress and was first and foremost a self-publisher. William Blake published his own work. Virginia Woolf had her own press, publishing much of her own work and the work of many other well-known authors, including T.S. Eliot and Freud. However, even with the proliferation of independent, self-published writers, we still think of “publishing” in terms of the mainstream publishing market, but this notion is changing rapidly.
In a recent article in Forbes, “Publishing Is Broken, We’re Drowning In Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing,” the author, David Vinjamuri, discusses the increase of independently published authors, perceptions from traditionally published writers, some of the pros and cons of this explosion, and how the market got to this tipping point; he also compares this indie market to other indie arts movements, making some predictions about the future of independent publishing.
How We Got Here
Vinjamuri argues that there are a couple of reasons why this boom is happening now, including the fallacious pricing models for traditional books used by traditional publishers, and that publishers turned authors into marketers, meaning that after both finding an agent and a publisher, authors who aren’t well known are responsible for promoting their own work.
He says: “By the end of the 2000s, the elements existed for a revolution. A few gatekeepers tended an inefficient pricing model that consumers and authors both hated. A whole set of mid-list authors were increasingly not making enough money to write full time. And beyond that, a generation of new writers was growing up on social media. These writers are temperamentally less able to accept the gatekeeper model of publishing.”
It took three distinct technological advances to blow the model apart, according to Vinjamuri:
- Advance #1: Electronic Books Revolutionize Reading – And Selling
- Advance #2: The Rise of Social Media
- Advance #3: Lower Costs of Self-Publishing
Three Predictions for The Future
Ultimately, Vinjamuri suggests that “this period of chaos will eventually yield significant rewards for both authors and consumers,” and makes three predictions for the future of independent publishing, including:
Independent books getting real reviews – He cites Rotten Tomatoes for movies and Pitchfork for music as examples of the potential for giving consumers good online tools for judging quality. There are some paid-review outlets, including Kirkus.
Mid-list authors move to indie market – He believes that authors who aren’t in the bestseller category will choose the favorable economics of indie publishing.
Mainstream publishers will use indie publishing as a way to find a new profit model – Using a comparison to the minor leagues, Vinjamuri suggests that publishers will need to change their model, potentially choosing to work with authors who have achieved success and built up an audience in the indie market; therefore, using the independent market as a barometer for potential success in the mainstream market.
“The greatest irony of the current frisson over indie publishing is that we’ve seen it all before. Ben Franklin would recognize this era. From the 16th to the 19th century, pamphleteering allowed unpublished hacks like Thomas Paine to espouse their views and argue their points cheaply and individually. Pamphleteers were accused of vanity, incompetence, and even sedition. But the best of them survive in the literature of the Reformation, the English Civil War, and the American Revolution. In generations to come, the same may be said of a few of the indie authors publishing today.”
What great work will you create? If you’re interested in learning more about entering the independent publishing world, contact SDP Publishing Solutions.
SDP Publishing Solutions, LLC offers optimal publishing solutions for authors worldwide. From literary agency representation to worldwide marketing – including international rights – and self-publishing and independent publishing, we provide the best solutions for our authors. Our services include developmental editing and copyediting, book marketing developing pitch proposals, literary agency representation, print and e-book development, and providing overall book exposure.