There’s been tremendous talk lately about the traditional publishing model giving way to a digital one. Many authors either can’t sell their work or are being dropped by their publisher. A lot of these authors are considering self-publishing their work as eBooks and some are even stating they don’t want to go with a traditional publisher or agent ever again because they’re doing better on their own. Adding to the mix is the new writer who is looking at their publishing options and are thinking of bypassing the traditional process altogether in the hopes they’ll have a digital hit on their hands and go laughing all the way to the bank.
Sure, this could happen. In the weird world of entertainment, almost anything is possible. I’ve seen both.
I’ve also been around publishing long enough to know it’s just a giant gamble–a hard lesson to have learned but a true one–and some titles sell crazy amounts whereas equally as good books don’t. Just how it is. Depends what readers respond to, what’s being hyped, what, sadly, everyone else is reading as people like to go with the flow.
Yes, it’s true, the traditional publishing model is changing. I won’t argue that and I’ve previously reported here on this blog about those changes. But it also seems to me–based on the “writer talk” I’ve seen–that their abandonment of the traditional system is premature.
There is still opportunity in traditional publishing for reaching readers that the typical self-publisher can’t do on their own and/or don’t have the know-how to do on their own.
Most writers are just that: writers. They aren’t business people despite being told repeatedly they need to be. Further, if they just write most of them time, they won’t garner what is important to reading a wide audience: connections.
Networking with other writers is one thing, but networking with audio rights people, foreign rights people, film rights people, etc. is another.
Usually a writer just waits until one of the above comes knocking on their door. It happens, but if this was a common occurrence, every Tom, Dick and Harry that had a book out would also have a film deal.
Traditional publishers and agents have these connections. They know who to talk to and how to put a package together to pitch to these people.
Also, certain traditional publishers have a niche or brand identity in the marketplace. They have a cult following and will buy whatever that publisher puts out no questions asked. Depending on the size of their built-in market, you have to ask if you’re going to reach that kind of readership on your own.
Look, I’m an independent author/publisher and am very much pro-do-it-yourself, but at the same time, if your traditional publisher or agent has connections you don’t, don’t cut ties with them just because your most recent book didn’t do as well as your last and you’re wanting to try the next one on your own to see if you can do better.
I’m speaking from experience as my company (Coscom Entertainment) has recently acquired ties with New York (resulting in three mass market sales for excellent sums so far) plus something as crucially important in Los Angeles, which you should be seeing a press release about in a few short days.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say again: real self-publishing is hard work, and it’s not just “upload and go” like most recent self-publishing success stories have you believe. Fluke successes do happen, but they’re not the norm.
My prediction for the publishing industry in the coming year, maybe three, is this:
- there will be numerous independent authors and publishers out there
- the big six in New York will downsize and either become the big two or three, or even join forces and become the “big one”
- publishing will act more like Hollywood in that there will be loads of independent projects and houses out there and some titles will get picked up by major players in the industry for wider distribution
- independent houses (like Coscom Entertainment) will remain and become more like a hub of books and products and will have agents and film producers in their corners to translate those books and products into foreign market titles or other mediums
You know the saying: there’s always someone stronger.
It’s true in publishing, even now. Consider this before going it alone and expecting a windfall. In other words: look at all your options and see if the traditional house you’re considering would be a good fit for you, likewise with the agent. See what they have to offer, what their track record is, what’s on the horizon. Can you match that? If so, great. If not, consider sticking with them for the time being.
These days, they’re still important.
In other words, weigh your decisions carefully, don’t get carried away by hype, and do what’s best for your career and ultimate writing/publishing goal.