Is It a New Publishing Model Though? I Guess We'll Watch and See... by Dianne Pearce

It's no secret that I am a publisher.

And, after seven years as an indie publisher, I am changing my business model to be an author services model. So, you can self-publish, anyone can with some minor computer savvy, but you can also do it with my help.

The difference between what I was doing and what I am now doing is that, before, I was an "indie," meaning that I took a book on spec, and did quite a bit of work to create the book in the various formats, and hoped it would sell, and, if it did sell, split the profits with the authors.

The authors tended to give me their book, and then waited for it to sell.

Now, (if I choose to take a book) I ask for a fee for my services, and the author gets the same services from me, but keeps all the profits, should they occur.

This change means two things for the author who wants to work with me:

>They must pay for the services I used to do for free
>They have a lot more incentive to market themselves because, absent the self-marketing, their book is never going to sell anyway.

A good many authors do not seem to realize that their sales are self-dependent, and that made it particularily tough to survive as an indie publisher. Yes, you put blood, sweat, and tears (cliche as it is) into your book, but, as your publisher, so did I. The difference is that as much as I might try to shout from the rooftops about your book, no reader wants to buy a book from a publisher. Readers want to buy from authors.

However, in these last seven years I have learned a good deal about how to make a well-written book into a well-published book. And so there is expertise and experience there that most authors don't have. So, is your book, and your writing career, worth the investment into a partner/author services publisher? It's something to think about.

Then along comes this article which I found extraordinary for many reasons.

~The company has financial sponsors, and is being run by "...the former chief executive of Penguin Random House [ ] the former chief executive of Macmillan [and] the former president of strategic development at Penguin Random House.
~"Their books will be distributed by Simon & Schuster, where Ms. McIntosh serves as a board member and which is one of the country’s major publishers."

So, are they a new "indie" publisher, or are they a subsidiary, even though they don't say they are a subsidiary?
~Its model also won’t work for every author. Most need an upfront payment to live on while they write their books. But Ms. McIntosh said that despite the risks, this model is not only for authors who already have devoted readers."

That last one particularly got me. 

We're talking about typical advances here of under $8,000. Do you know anyone out there who can live for a year, or more, on $8000 while he/she/they finish the second book? I mean, not in Los Angeles, Philly, or even the little town I lived in in southern Delaware.

Now you may say, "Lady, you are charging authors, who are you to talk?"

Well, yes, I hope to keep publishing as I love doing it and I am skilled at it, and, no, I cannot keep doing it all for free and hope for the best because I don't have all their (Authors Equity) money behind me and certainly I don't have Simon and Schuster distributing books I publish.

But what smells a bit about this to me is that they are seeming to indicate that any author could get to them, and get chosen by them, and la-de-dah everything will come up roses. I don't think it is likely that most writers could get chosen, and I think that, if the authors do not sell, and sell well, the whole thing will collapse pretty quickly, and, lastly, I don't think it is in any way a new model. It seems to be just "pretend" indie publishing as they have a huge corporate machine behind them.

But, maybe it will all be as wonderful as they say, and I will be hoping to get hired there in a few years.

Publishing is not what I thought it was when I was only an author and not a publisher.

Publishing is not what I thought it was when I became a publisher.

And, honestly, it took me a few years to realize how different publishing is from the dream I always had as a writer, and from the dream I had as a novice publisher too.

I really thought a good book would "hit," and everyone would make money, and we'd all just quit our day jobs.

That isn't what is happening at all.

The big guys still are waving their large and well-funded arms in front of readers' faces to distract them from the smaller companies, and the unknown authors. The big guys are not in it for the authors; they're in it for the sweet-sweet-Stephen-King-cash, as it were.

And then you have all the self-published authors, folks who DIY, and know they have to learn how to do everything, and they hit social media every single day, working their butts off to sell their books while writing their next books, and working their day jobs, if they hope to make a career of it. And a lot of them do. It's not different, really, from an influencer who needs new content every day to stay relevant. A lot of self-published authors are putting out a book a month, trying to break-in to the reading public WalMart style: flood it.

In between those two forces competing for eyes you have indies (true indies, with no corporate or university backing), hybrids, author services, and vanity.

And so, because these heavy-hitters with deep pockets and star-connections can get the New York Times to profile them and say how they're going to be different, are they truly going to be different?

I love helping authors who write books I believe in. I hope all of my authors become huge successes, and I hope I get to keep publishing.

For authors my advice is that if self-publishing, DIY, is too much for you, try to get a traditional deal, but know, know, know that even if you get an advance, your book is not going to sell, unless you sell it. And if your sales don't earn as much as the advance, no one at your publisher will invite you back with book two. Will this "new" company with the radical no-advance model (that is the same exact model hard-working indies have been using for years, no matter what these guys say) invite you back if your book doesn't sell? 

Do your due diligence (Merriam-Webster says: DUE DILIGENCE research and analysis of a company or organization done in preparation for a business transaction).

Good luck with your book~


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