Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reinventing the Publishing House

It’s the 17th. Oh wait, that was a couple of days ago. I will hit my scheduled slot one day!

My first collection of short stories is still ticking up the odd kindle sale here and there. I’ll get the full breakdown when I get my quarterly statement next month. I anticipate I won’t suddenly be catapulted into the echelon of writers making a killing from ebooks. These things take time, patience and a hefty dollop of luck.

And backlists. I’m certainly not sitting still there. I have a second collection of stories coming out next month and I signed a contract for a third collection last weekend. That’ll arrive to shock and arouse at the appropriate time of Halloween. Hopefully they’ll all bump each other.

Contract? Publishing date some way off in the future? That doesn’t sound like the typical self-pubbed story.

That would be because I’m with eXcessica. Selena Kitt started it out as a co-operative venture for her and other writers to get their ebooks up on fictionwise. Since then it’s morphed into something resembling an indie publishing house. Recently, Joe Konrath talked to Ridan Publishing, who’ve done something similar in the fantasy genre. In future, I think we’re going to see a lot more ventures like this.

A frequent gripe levelled at big publishing is that the relationship between house and writer has become purely parasitical. The talent-scouting has shifted to the agents and the marketing and promotion has been shunted onto the writer. Now that the ebook explosion has blown all the gates down, the big beasts have effectively outsourced themselves to eventual extinction. Whether they adapt or collapse to a whinging death is up to them.

That’s not to say publishers are completely superfluous. Yes, a writer can do everything themself, should they so desire, but it’s a damn sight easier to borrow someone else’s expertise for some of the tasks, especially when taking the first baby steps.

I didn’t do the cover for my first book. I didn’t do any of the fiddling to get the ISBN or bash it into any one of the multiple file formats ebooks sell in. I didn’t put it up on all the other bookselling websites that exist alongside Amazon (many of which I hadn’t even heard of before). I didn’t send the book off to a list of cultivated review sites (hopefully, some will recover enough from the trauma to write nice things about it). I have Selena and the good folks at eXcessica to thank for that.

I think we’ll be seeing a few more ventures starting out this way. Someone will know someone who’s good at creating book covers. Someone else will have researched the markets. Someone will know the techy stuff. Then, bang, they’ll all be pumping out books like crazy and laughing all the way to bank.

Some of them may eventually become the new behemoths of the future...

M.E. Hydra


  1. Yep. *nods* I started my own little pub. company just for my own work last fall, and now a couple of my author buddies (a cover artist and an editor) are both considering publishing under my "house name" as a collaborative effort between the three of us. I really don't see any downside, since we can all contribute our strengths and support each other (plus there are benefits in the review and credibility arena that I already see just using my business name). I know of another group of authors who are setting up similarly too - it just makes good business sense, really.

  2. People will pay for good stories if there is a place for them to do that. There's this argument about people's attention spans, that people won't buy walls of text. Then there's "Harry Potter." Talk about a wall of text.

    Give people a good story and there's interest. Same as always.