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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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