Join The Bookseller's FutureBook digital community Fridays for #FutureChat at 4 p.m. London (GMT), 5 p.m. Rome (CET), noon New York (ET), 11 a.m. Chicago (CT), 10 a.m. Denver (MT), 9 a.m. Los Angeles (PT). On 29 March, much of Europe goes to Daylight Saving Time, and the Eastern zone will again be five hours behind London.
Is self-publishing a matter of choice? Or of necessity? Or of do-it-yourself pride?
In interviewing the Indian author of the Shiva Trilogy, Amish Tripathi, on Wednesday for the London Book Fair's Publishing for Digital Minds Conference virtual stream, an interesting line came over the ether from Mumbai.
I'd asked Tripathi about the tactic he and his agent used in self-publishing 5,000 copies of his first book in the trilogy, The Immortals of Meluha, in order to attract publisher attention. The trilogy has gone on to sell more than 2.2 million copies and Tripathi's new Ram Chandra series is to start publishing later this year. But at that point, Tripathi was an unknown author of fiction based in mythology and the first book had been rejected by more than 20 publishers. So self-publishing was the logical choice, right? Here's what he said:
I didn't choose self-pub. Just made a virtue out of necessity! :) But now I have a proper publisher.
That reaction from the candid, friendly Tripathi may be more telling than some in our self-publishing camp would like to concede.
As frequently as some independent authors cite the relative artistic freedom of self-publishing and the control of its many options, other authors may see that freedom as free-fall, and the "control" as an utter do-it-yourself grind.
Even when "DIY," do-it-yourself, means working with a hand-picked team of editorial, design, formatting, and publicity help, the truly independent author is...truly independent. The buck stops, and keeps stopping, with that author. Clearly, Tripathi is glad to have his publisher, Westland.
And in early returns on the still-open "Do You Love Your Publisher?" survey of traditioanally published authors -- #authorsay on Twitter -- we're seeing, as The Bookseller's Philip Jones has put it, a majority of respondents indicate that they are "either neutral or horrified at the thought of taking control."
That survey, produced by UK-based author Harry Bingham and US-based publishing analyst Jane Friedman, stays open for traditionally publishing authors until 31st March. After that, the survey will be closed and The Bookseller will produce exclusive coverage of the results on 10th April, in time for London Author Fair (#LBF15, 14-16 April).
When we asked The FutureBook's digital publishing community in #FutureChat what could make self-publishing more approachable for some traditionally publishing authors, one of the more interesting lines of debate was about an illusion of a "permanent job" that traditional publishing may provide to authors. Even contract-to-contract, the presence of a corporate structure and backing may -- so the opinion of some went -- cause an author to feel more secure than he or she is.
Our lively discussion was kicked off, as many of our conversations are, by James Scott Bell. He's a hybrid author whose self-publishing activity has outstripped his traditional work, and happily so. No looking back there.
#FutureChat Most interesting bit to me was that just 25% would consider self-pub - corroborates what I hear anecdotally.— Carla Douglas (@CarlaJDouglas) March 13, 2015
Concerns on self-pub: Cost. You have to do everything yourself. Time in the day #futurechat— Robin Stevens Payes (@dcoffbeatartist) March 13, 2015
#futurechat Good to see respondents making the point that authors should be treated more as partners, and with long-term view— Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) March 13, 2015
Also what happens if looking for validation from credible source, i.e., agents/editors/pubs? Getting reviewers to take notice? #futurechat— Robin Stevens Payes (@dcoffbeatartist) March 13, 2015
#futurechat Authors who selfpublish are not alone. Can tap into a bigger, better informed support network than trad published authors can— Roz Morris (@Roz_Morris) March 13, 2015
I wonder if asking "Do you love your publisher?" pulls in people happy w/ tradpub. Question wording makes big difference. #futurechat— Abby Quillen (@abbyquillen) March 13, 2015
Are we stall talking about the survey? :-) #futurechat— jlshear (@Jeff_Shear) March 13, 2015
Trad publishers aren't "threatened" by self-pub. Instead, it gives them a larger pool of authors/projects to pull from #futurechat— Jacqueline Simonds (@jcsimonds) March 13, 2015
After three months, "published" author and Indie share the same marketing boat. #futurechat— jlshear (@Jeff_Shear) March 13, 2015
I think biggest challenge for tradpub looking to go indie is there's so much to learn & do, and it all happens at once. #futurechat— William Hertling (@hertling) March 13, 2015
For a lot of authors, Self-pub is the only smart move (owning content). For others, it's the only way to get published.#futurechat— Jacqueline Simonds (@jcsimonds) March 13, 2015
Join The Bookseller's FutureBook digital community Fridays for #FutureChat at 4 p.m. London (GMT), 5 p.m. Rome (CET), noon New York (ET), 11 a.m. Chicago (CT), 10 a.m. Denver (MT), 9 a.m. Los Angeles (PT). On 29 March, much of Europe goes to Daylight Saving Time, and the Eastern zone will again be five hours behind London. Main image - Shutterstock: Slavoljub Pantelic