Goings-on in self-publishing

“The business race is on to have the relationship with the reader.”

This is the comment made by best-selling author, Seth Godin, in response to his recent decision to bypass his publisher and bring his upcoming book to readers directly through self-publishing.

“It’s going to make a lot of other big authors sit up and take notice,” said Mark Coker, chief executive of Smashwords Inc., an e-book publishing and distribution platform based in Los Gatos, Calif. “There are a lot of authors with fan followings.”

Coker went on to say that “midlist” authors who receive minimal marketing support from their publishers may be tempted to follow Mr. Godin’s lead.

This news comes not long after another considerable force in the publishing world, Stephen Covey, brought news of his decision to self-publish his forthcoming book in order to take advantage of significantly shorter publishing timelines. Think Kairos.

The reality is all authors are midlist, at least at one point or another. That an increasing number of self-publishing authors are turning the other side of the coin and getting picked-up by traditional publishers suggests viability of self-publishing across multiple channels. As Godin’s statement implies, an author’s ability or at the very least, willingness, to build relationships with readers is a key point. But then we’ve known that for some time now.

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Self-publishing and finding your market

Self-publishing books to make money may be, as Seth points out, a lot like hanging out at the singles bar looking to get married. It’s true, you can make money publishing your work, but isn’t it better to write because you love to write, and be proud to share it with people who care?

Of course making money isn’t bad. I’m not going to say making money will solve any problems. I’m confident poverty will not. In considering your long term marketing and sales direction, it may be helpful to know that the output of published titles shot up 87% from 2008 to 2009, according to R.R. Bowker. That means nearly ½ million new titles entered the market in the span of a year. The good news is that online communities, forums, and organizations allow you to find niche markets where you can promote your work to people who care. But do understand this type of marketing involves investment in participation.

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