A traditional publisher has seen the rise of self-publishing (or the threat of it) and decided to jump in, sort of. Simon & Schuster has begun a self-publishing arm called Archway Publishing.
The difference is that it’s asking a lot of money of potential authors to “self-publish” their books, with the typical traditional-publishing reasoning that by doing this, it will be able to ensure the quality of the authors it’s allowing to publish in this way. But really, charging authors between $1,600 to $25,000 for this is just another form of vanity publishing. Even if Simon & Schuster claims that the money paid to publish the book will also grant authors access to the company’s speaker’s bureau and a video production department for creating and distributing book trailers, wouldn’t it be cheaper to hire these services on one’s own?
The publisher added, too, that it would monitor sales of its Archway books to see if they are worthy of being signed to a traditional contract. But isn’t that what publishers do anyway with other self-published books? Ones that cost virtually nothing to upload, and that promise much higher royalties to authors than do traditional publishers (Amazon, for instance, pays royalties of as high as 70%, versus the 10%-15% traditional publishers offer authors).
Many savvy writers who’ve decided to self-publish, through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords, among others, often farm out copy-editing and editing, as well as design, to freelancers (many of whom had once worked at traditional publishers).
For authors who are creating and building their own platforms in order to attract an audience of loyal readers (and potential consumers), it would be better to wait upon the offer of a traditional book contract, if that’s what you’re really working toward, or to self-publish. By working assiduously on your platform, in cultivating your audience, you’re already doing what Simon & Schuster claims it will do for you, after you pour out a substantial amount of money.
In the end, you still have to do the work to write, reach out and engage with your audience, and build your brand. You might as well do it yourself from the get-go.