Friday, April 30, 2010

Talk of the Devil

When it comes to the iPad, I have to say I am 100 percent with John.

Having lived with mine for nearly a month now, it has become almost indispensable - for reading, writing, accessing news, email, surfing the net...

I love it.  The iPad and I are a union made in heaven.


... where I differ from John is the notion that with regard to e-books we need publishers at all.  Why?  What do they do for us?  They spend no money on promotion, they keep back our earnings for a year, or longer, and only pay us every six months (if we’re lucky).

So what do they do?  Well... they provide “an editor’s eye” on our work, get covers made, and print and distribute the books.  In the electronic age is any of that necessary?  After all, we can out-source the editing ourselves to freelance editors.  Same with the book covers.  

And we can sell direct to our readers through the online bookstores with which they have become so familiar - the very retailers that MacMillan would like to dictate to... taking the lion’s share of the profit for doing nothing that we can’t do ourselves.

Why shouldn’t WE take the lion’s share of the profit, and make our books available to readers OURSELVES, at a price that makes them even more attractive to buy?

The publisher is the middle man we don’t need any more!

Okay, so I’m playing devil’s advocate here.  I am published by some great publishers in France, Britain, and America, as well as elsewhere (he added hastily).  But the world is changing and people are making these arguments, with some validity.  It would be interesting to hear what other writers think.

Is it time to go it alone?

(PS: I just posted this from my iPad!)


John Corrigan said...

Great post. You have opened the can of worms, though. And I will start it: who will then decide what is worthy of publication? There are lots of implications that speak both for and against such a proposal.

ajcap said...

As a writer who hasn't had a book published yet, just reading the sentence "is it time to go it alone?" scares the crap out of me.
But I would think the more experienced, industrious writer would welcome the opportunity.
Or would they end up too busy to write?

peter_may said...

I think we have to leave the reader to be the final arbiter of what is worth publishing or not, John. The reviewer will become important in the selection process. Why should we trust publishers to make the selection anyway? Their criteria for publication (or not), are almost always commercial these days, meaning a lot of good writers never get published.

ajcap, I would have thought that as an unpublished writer this is an opportunity you would want to grasp with both hands. Go for it!

Kerrie said...

Would you just "employ" a couple of editors Peter? I'm reminded of when Colleen McCullough got fed up with her editor/publisher and decided to do it herself with disastrous typos littering her book. It seems that Amazon is saying you could make your e-book directly available to them.

I think the format of the e-book is a concern, Amazon or e-pub or whatever. There is no real standard is there? And I guess there are the legals etc to think about that a publishing house probably takes care of for you now.

Mind you- I love my Kindle - I've reviewed 3 of your books recently after reading them on my Kindle while travelling

peter_may said...

I'm not really proposing the go-it-alone e-book publishing route as a solution for everyone, Kerrie, just putting the thought out there that if in the future e-books were to become the norm, then the current model would no longer apply. The rules would change, and everyone's role in the process would come under scrutiny, including that of the publisher. Of course, not every author would be capable of publishing him or herself. I think there will always be a role for the small, independent publisher who publishes with passion.