As many writers already know, it takes a lot of effort, and more luck, to find a literary agent. Much of that effort, and time (and luck), are better spent not only on your own writing, but in marketing what you’ve written, as well as building your brand through the platform that you’re creating to attract an audience to your work. Increasingly, writers are deciding to do it themselves. In fact, since 2006, the number of self-publishing has tripled each year – growing by 286%, according to a survey by industry research group Bowker. That means that more than 235,000 self-published books a year (and that figure might be conservative), with a growing number of these titles published digitally.
I don’t think the number of writers (or aspiring authors) has exploded. I think that people are finding that to self-publish is to retain control of one’s work, to be free of traditional publishing constraints (such as lower royalties and a lengthy publication process) and to attract readers by doing the same kind of promotion you’d have to do even if your book were published and distributed in a traditional manner.
Self-publishing is, in fact, relatively easy to do, now that Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others have such efficient processes to allow writers to take their work from manuscript to book. But there’s a new twist, thanks to another growing phenomenon: crowd-sourcing and crowd-funding, those two Internet-enabled ways of attracting funds and workers to a project.
An article posted on the industry site GalleyCat talks about a new crowd-funded tool for self-publishing: “Hol Art Books has raised more than $22,000 on Kickstarter for their project, The People’s E-Book. These developers will use the funds to build a tool that allows writers to create their own eBooks.” A video embedded in the article describes the project, which is geared toward art books, that is, books containing images, which are a little more complicated to produce than simple text books.
The GalleyCat site also has a weekly look at a Kickstarter publishing project. As more writers look to this crowd-funding site to help finance their writing, this is a phenomenon bound to change publishing. I’ll explore this in a future post.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts on self-publishing? Do you feel that your book, on whatever subject, will benefit from your taking matters into your own hands? Or would you still prefer that a traditional publisher take you on?