Publetariat Dispatch: 8 Reasons Self-Publishing Is Entering A Golden Age

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!

In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, The Book Designer Joel Friedlander examines the driving, and growing, forces at work behind the rise of the indie author movement.

Whenever a discussion about self-publishing  gets heated, you can be sure someone will say, “If we let just anybody  publish a book, soon we’ll be buried in bad, unedited books and all the  good ones will be lost in a sea of crap!”

There were over 350,000 books published  in the U.S. last year, more than ever. And that doesn’t include the  hundreds of thousands of books moved to print-on-demand servers and  assigned ISBNs, and therefore “published.”

I don’t feel buried, do you? Where are all those books? Apparently  it’s not that easy to find them. You have to actually make an effort.  You won’t get drowned in some tsunami of badness, you have to go looking  and jump in.

The Real Shame of It All

Writers who are waiting for the gatekeeper to come and open the gate may have a long wait ahead of them, and that’s too bad.

You know why? Because we’re about to enter a real golden age of self-publishing.  There is no denying the fact that a whole lot of people have something  to say and are busy writing their books. They want to publish, put their  thoughts, their history, their research, their story into the arena,  and why not?

It might seem overblown to call it a golden age, but I think it’s really happening, and here’s why:

8 Reasons We’re Entering a Golden Age of Self-Publishing

  1. The playing field is leveling—Net neutrality  ensures the internet stays equally available to all. As far as online  business is concerned, each book competes on its own. In this  environment it’s your passion, persistence and pluck that will sell your book, and that’s within your power.
  2. There’s easy access to tools and professionals—In  order to make top-quality books, you need people with top-quality  skills. Part of the downsizing of the publishing industry has been the  upsizing of the freelance marketplace, where every talent you need to build a superior book is available.
  3. Social media marketing—The person-to-person  communication that typifies social media can be scaled through smart use  of sites where your readers congregate. When you get involved in social  media you can begin to build community based on your own personality  and ability to communicate, not on huge advertising budgets. Social  media, blogging, forums all drive traffic and can make your book a success outside normal promotional channels.
  4. Elimination of production risk—Digital printing and print-on-demand  distribution have eliminated almost all of the production risk of  publishing. Book printing, storage and fulfillment are the dominant  costs in publishing and this new system makes it possible to get into  print for almost nothing. It’s now cheaper to publish a book than to  copy one at Kinko’s.
  5. Prejudices are starting to crack—More authors are  moving to ebooks, and ebooks are even easier to self-publish than print  books. The attraction of 70% royalties is strong, of course, but so is  the ability to control your own publication, something that’s long been  denied to authors. Publishers have given over more responsibility to  authors to build their own platform, to do a lot of their own marketing.  But this has also empowered authors to take the autonomy and exercise  real choices over their own publications.
  6. The softening definition of books—We are in the beginning of a transition to ebooks, although print books look like they have plenty of life left in them. Book traditions  of hundreds of years are still strong, and this may be one of the last  times most people in the world will have learned to read from books  printed on paper. Books are already beginning to stretch and change, and  ebook markets are equally friendly to new forms and formats for textual  content as they are to digital texts that are made to look like  “books.” All kinds of writing and information products will find life in  print that were simply uneconomical to produce before.
  7. The globalizing force of the internet—Ebooks and  apps have opened the world market to books in electronic form without  regard to national boundaries, an unprecedented development in  publishing that will continue to have a greater and greater effect.
  8. Mobile technology—The spread of mobile computing  technology has increased the amount of reading in the world. Now we read  everywhere, and the digitization of books into ebooks and apps  has opened the whole world of smart phones, tablets, MP3 players, and  other devices to books, a phenomenon that has never existed before. The  average smartphone user can now carry in her pocketbook a massive  library that would have dwarfed entire home libraries just a few years  ago. And there are over 50 million smartphones alone in use around the  world.

Well, that’s my list. I think we’ve only seen the beginning of the curve, and it’s heading up.

What do you see in the future of self-publishing?


This is a reprint from Joel Friedlander‘s The Book Designer.

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8 Responses to Publetariat Dispatch: 8 Reasons Self-Publishing Is Entering A Golden Age

  1. Victoria December 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    You don’t take or mention the costs put on the authors to ensure that the book gets edited right, polished, and seen in the best light. While I love the revolution there are both good and bad that need to be said. And this seemed an advertisement instead of a report.

  2. Lowenna Harty December 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    I didn’t consider doing anything other than self publish my books. I completed my first novel in May of this year and the sequel at the end of October. Both are now on Amazon as e-books. I also had George Grove and the Dragon printed in paperback and have sold over 110 copies already and raised nearly £500 for charity. If I had gone down the traditional publishing route I could still be sitting with a manuscript and having my confidence knocked by rejection letters or no feedback at all. So far nobody has asked for their money back and my books are giving people pleasure. That has to be a good thing! All proceeds from George Grove and the Dragon are being donated to the beneficiaries of The George Grove Project to support young people in Cornwall.

  3. Kelli Jae Baeli December 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    As I point out in one of my blog entries, “Writing Words of Wisdom” :

    “Often, then, self-publishing is the only option if a writer wants to get her work out there. There’s little point in spending your entire life hoping, while your words stay in a drawer. I believe as writers we are meant to honor that talent, and share it, otherwise, what’s the point of having it?”


    “You have to ask yourself what’s more important: The prestige of major-house publication, or honoring the talent and sharing it? I take a more humanistic view of all this, as you might guess by now. I think it’s more important to get the work out there, than cling to it against overwhelming odds. Writers usually are good at living inside their own fiction. This is fine on the page, but doesn’t work so well in the real world.”

  4. John Decker December 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Last August when I e-published two books within a week of each other, I was quite set in my determination to read everything I could get my hands on about how an e-author goes about promoting his creations. But then, my regular profession – technical translations – went from steady business to business on steroids. Here was ready money, with clients constantly clamoring at the door! Every translation job I took was matched by one I had to turn down because of lack of time to complete it by the requested deadline. Ready money will almost always drive out theoretical money and now I just wait until e-royalty checks come, and hope to be pleasantly surprised. What the heck: my current customary income at least is from writing and not from, say, waiting on tables in an eatery.

  5. Ashok Malhotra December 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    The self publishing revolution is wonderful because it eliminates the middle men between the author and the consumer. However, there is as yet insufficient mechanisms to help discover the good book from amongst the crap if you would pardon the language. There are authors out there who love to write and are publishing great books but they are very poor at promotion on their own. As a result their book is lost in the milions out there and readers never discover them. New effective methods are bound to emerge in future to reduce this shortcoming. Inspite of that I am all for independent publishing and that is the route I have been following for several years to publish my books. Websites like Amazon and Amazon Kindle are helping to carry these to readers worldwide and a new novel that I self published in summer this year with create space has already found a thousand readers.

  6. Jo Atherton December 24, 2011 at 2:17 am #

    Like everything, self-publishing takes time and determination. There’s a misconception about what any job entails, and the role of the author has always included a meadure of self-promotion. Those authors we see at festivals, on review shows, doing book signing tours etc are working as marketers in that moment. Their real life, of writing, is put on hold. The self-discipline of self publishing is by far the most important aspect of going from a dreamer to a doer. This is a golden age of publishing, but those who are looking for immediate gratification will be left disillusioned. That just means the rest of us will see our efforts pay off.

  7. Mark Abrams December 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    I completely agree with the 8 reasons – and there are more! I am anxiously awaiting presenting my debut novel in 6/2012. It will be self-published and I wouldn’t have it any other way!


  1. Self-publishing: why (not) and how « Monographer's Blog - November 10, 2012

    […] There are many reasons why self-publishing is burgeoning. Some of them are summarised in this post on Kindle Nation Daily (15 Dec 2011): ‘8 reasons self-publishing is entering a golden age‘. […]

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