Self-publishing continues to shake up the book industry. And publishers want a piece of that self-published action.
According to an item on the industry site GalleyCat, “Tor UK has decided to accept direct submissions from writers, including writers outside the UK and authors who have previously self-published their work.” Didn’t it used to be that way? Before agents became the putative “gatekeepers” of the industry, and it was harder to get an agent than to get a publisher?
Now, given that genre fiction is among the most in-demand among self-published titles, is it any wonder that Tor UK would open its editorial doors to the potential authors whose work it might have been missing otherwise? Many publishers nowadays scan lists of bestselling self-published books and then approach the self-published author with a contract. Now, they might want to nip even that entrepreneurial independence in the bud.
You can’t blame them. For writers of horror, fantasy and science fiction, Tor is one of the biggest publishers – and although self-publishing can be lucrative, many authors would still rather be taken on by a traditional publisher. And since so many self-published authors have already bypassed literary agents (or been rejected by them), it makes sense that Tor editors would do what editors used to do long ago: read unsolicited manuscripts.
What agents did over the course of decades of controlling the literary marketplace was create a Catch-22: you had to be somebody to get noticed, and you wouldn’t get noticed unless you were already somebody. (Publishers have often thought along these lines, too, of course). Self-publishing upends that.
Many self-published works fail to find an audience, But so do the bulk of traditionally published work. It doesn’t hurt Tor to cast a wider net. (It means, perhaps, that its editors will be doing a lot more reading of manuscripts.)
Self-publishing, and e-books, will continue to expand. Consider that Amazon, in an announcement tied to its quarterly results, said that sales of e-books soared 70%, compared to a 5% increase in sales of traditional books Here’s another encouraging fact from the Amazon release: “23 KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing] authors each sold over 250,000 copies of their books in 2012, and that over 500 KDP Select books have reached the top 100 Kindle best seller lists around the world.”
No wonder Tor wants to see more of what people are putting out there on their own.