Most aspiring authors would much rather have their books published by a traditional publisher. For one thing, being published by a house means you’ll get an advance; and won’t have to pay the printing, distribution, and marketing costs to get your book out there. Then there are the relationships the publishers have.
Self-published authors have to go to bookstores one by one to seek placement on their shelves, manage invoicing, etc. It’s no joke. In the process of managing such a big project, editing/packaging can suffer. Many self-published titles are poorly edited, and in some instances, subject matter can get too gory or racy without the filter of rounds of editing. I wrote an article last year about the “street-lit” debate in particular which many traditionally published black authors cringe at.
Getting published by a traditional house also offers a sense of validation. If X publishing imprint can only publish an average of 10 to 20 titles a year and they choose you, it must mean you’re good, right? We writers, like most artists, crave that pat on the head, particularly from the hand that wears the signet ring. But in the last year specifically, self-published authors and self-publishing in general has gained enormous ground.
E.L. James self-published the earliest version of her whoppingly successful Fifty Shades of Grey. Abbi Glines, Nicole Williams, and Steph Campbell just sold their originally self-published “New Adult” books to Simon & Schuster UK. A post on The Globe and Mail today reports “The latest star to emerge from the slush is romance author Bella Andre, who reportedly made millions self-publishing e-books and recently signed a seven-figure contract with Toronto-based Harlequin Enterprises to publish the same titles in print form.”
Traditional publishers are getting into the self-publishing business themselves. Penguin acquired self-publishing start-up Author Solutions for $116 Million, and soon after signed a first-look deal with Thruline Entertainment. Most recently, Simon & Schuster partnered with Author Solutions to form self-publishing imprint Archway Publishing.
In the abovementioned Globe and Mail piece, self-publishing entrepreneur Kevin Weiss is quoted as saying, “Vanity is no longer vanity… Last year over 250,000 self-published titles came to market. It’s the fastest growing segment of the industry. There’s a lot of profit, a lot of revenue growth, a lot of book sales taking place in that space.” He added, ” “As the self-publishing world expands, the world of traditional publishing is going to morph as well.”