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In a recent blog post, my friend, Brian Kell (aka [info]briankell), wondered if the vast number of books published, self-published and/or e-published these days will hurt the industry.

I’ve seen a lot of (mostly negative) speculation about this. Personally, I don’t think it will make much difference. After all, there are already way too many books available for folks to read in a lifetime. The vast majority of readers buy their books from Wal-Mart, Target, their local grocery store, Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com. They don’t know (and frankly, don’t care) about the hundreds of thousands of other titles available elsewhere, and why should they?

There’s an argument that poor writing/editing quality found in many self-pubbed works will ruin things for those of us lucky enough to have a traditional publisher, as if the experience will somehow put people off reading all together. I don't see why. It would be like sitting through a dreadful movie and deciding you'll never go to the cinema again.

Besides, it’s not like the folks who buy those books are going to buy one less elsewhere as a result. I imagine most people who buy a self-pubbed novel only do so because they know the author in some way (the same probably goes for many traditionally published authors whose work doesn't grace the shelves at the likes of Barnes & Noble).

When I look at the industry as a whole, I really can’t see all these extra publishing options changing things much. Sure, lots of folks now have e-readers, but like their audio counterparts, e-Books are still books. I suspect the sad truth of it is that, regardless of format, most people haven’t even noticed the upsurge in the number of titles available to them.

When I’m browsing the shelves or scanning a website, I’m not thinking about where else I could go to buy a book. I want it find it ‘here’ - whatever the ‘it’ and wherever that ‘here’ may be (even when I don’t know what I’m looking for).

The extra titles available these days make advertising and positive word of mouth more important now than ever before, but they’ve always played a major role in a book’s success or failure, especially to an unknown – and by ‘unknown’ I mean ‘unknown to the potential reader’.

Personally, while getting a traditional print contract is probably harder today than it ever was, I don’t see the publishing industry collapsing any time soon.

How about you?

How do you think the increasing number of published books will affect the industry?

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Jul. 23rd, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Quite frankly, I'll review almost anything. The few books that I've reviewed whose authors were unfortunate enough to utilize PublishAmerica were actually good enough, that I'd wished they had found another publisher. One series of books that I've had an ongoing thing with (Rust Sword, Ivory Sword, etcetera) do have their faults, but I think most of those are due to the publisher. In the first book, the authors made the elves a bit too human, but they actually improved upon that, farther on, not only by adding subtle nuances, but also having the non-human races act quite a bit less human. I rather like the series. The whole thing is based on their rpg, which may go some ways to explain their choice of publisher.

I do like a lot of the smaller presses. Some of them are quite promising, in terms of accepted quality of writing, and diversity of genre.

I do feel, however, that a lot of people who go on to self-publish would do well to run their works through writer's workshops and beta readers first. When you're putting yourself forth, you don't want to put anything less than your best, into a portfolio of work. The same is as true of writing, as it is of graphic design.
Jul. 23rd, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC)
How do you think all these self-published books will affect the industry as a whole?
Jul. 23rd, 2011 05:01 pm (UTC)
I don't feel they will have a major impact, without proper marketing. Blog tours work well, as does word of mouth, but without a constant and consistent presence (thinking of you, jimhines, and marthawells here), I think the old adage of "out of sight, out of mind" may apply. Te exceptions would be authors whose works gained a following independent of the authors themselves, like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, H. G. Wells, War of the Worlds and The Time Machine..... With luck, though, they may encourage reading among people who are otherwise too intimidated to go into a bookstore or stop by the rack in the drug store or supermarket to peruse the books.

In one small bookstore, local to the Hamptons, a local poet published his or her own small, monthly literary magazine on a consistent basis. Not a wide circulation, but an interesting endeavor nonetheless. I've also seen small-and self published, presses represented in health food stores as well.
Jul. 23rd, 2011 05:05 pm (UTC)
Word of mouth can make a huge difference. Sadly, it requires a lot of words from a lot of mouths before it starts :)
Jul. 23rd, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
This is true.

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



Books by my writer friends - compressed

NJ Writing groups - compressed

NJ writing conference - compressed

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