02 September 2009

It’s Hard Out There

This is an Espresso Book Machine—the future of literature?

I enjoyed reading an anonymous book sales professional’s advice on publishing one’s own book at Pimp My Novel, particularly the bad reasons for self-publishing:

I consider the following reasons for self-publishing to be very bad:
  • Your book has been rejected by every agent and his/her mom, so now you're going to show them/the world/your own mom/&c that you really are a published writer. . . .
  • You say you have no interest in selling your work and merely want to disseminate it widely on the Internet, but secretly believe as soon as it's out there you'll start getting phone calls from all those silly agents and editors, offering seven figure advances and instant literary stardom. Later, Brad Pitt will call to politely ask if he might be considered for the role of your protagonist once the details of the movie deal(s) are all hammered out.
  • You believe your book is too literary for 99.9999% of agents/publishers and won't sell within the traditional publishing framework because you and your book are just too darn smart. . . .
You might argue that most traditionally published books are crap, too, and if that's the case, you could very well be that guy who believes he and his book are too smart for the entire world. Whether or not this is true, it is a sad and inescapable fact that the market for your book is a subset of all the people in the entire world, so you're S.O.L. even if you and your book really are that smart, which is unlikely.
P.M.N. also provides a link to How Publishing Really Works’s analysis of self-publishing sales numbers.

I disagree, however, with P.M.N.’s statement that self-publishing makes sense only if an author is targeting “an extraordinarily small ‘market,’ i.e. your family.” I think that the technology can also make sense if an author is writing for an easily-targeted niche market, such as people devoted to a particular hobby. The problem is that novels rarely fit that publishing model.

No comments: