What a year 2017 was for self-publishing authors! For a quick retrospective, click here.
And 2018 promises to be equally exciting. A revolution that began in 2008 (when more books were published independently than traditionally) shows no signs of slowing down. In 2009, approximately 75% of all published books were self-published and by 2015, combined sales of self-published books actually exceeded combined sales of all books published by the five major “traditional” publishing houses. With e-books, audio books, and “anywhere” availability in the “cloud”, the sky is literally the limit.
What must occur next is the final removal of any “stigma” associated with self-publishing. And that can only occur if self-published books rise to the quality level of the traditional publishers of yesterday, with professional editing, custom designed covers, genre-specific interior book design, and compelling sales & marketing copy on the back cover and online sales pages. And that can only occur if self-publishing companies take responsibility for leading the charge in the proper direction. Technology companies who use computers to publish one thousand “free” books a day are not doing anybody any favors (except their stock holders). Human beings still read books; human beings need to be involved in creating them. When your publisher is more concerned about giving your hard-earned writing away for free in order to sell more streaming TV memberships, you have to ask yourself just how much they value you as an author. If writers don’t respect books, who will?
The publishing industry changed with the new millennium when digital print-on-demand technology lowered the barrier to publication for all writers and offered advantages heretofore unseen (like zero inventory, higher royalties, retaining rights, etc.). Now, nearly 20 years later, it needs a slight course correction to ensure it remains an art form, and not a loss-leader to sell more credit cards.
What has been happening, and will continue to happen into 2018 and beyond, is a hierarchy similar to what originally existed in the publishing industry when you had writers who were published and writers who were not. Once self-publishing exploded in the early aughts, that distinction became murkier. As the waters clear, a new hierarchy is forming, one that differentiates books based upon their quality and production values instead of whether or not they are published.
Right now it is still too early to recognize the long term ramifications on a writer’s career (or morale) by publishing a low quality book instantly rather than a high-quality book worthy of the countless days & nights it took to create the manuscript. Issac Asimov, along with countless other sci-fi writers, have made it clear that what separates human from machine is art, imagination, having a soul. If you write from your soul, you owe it to yourself to publish something worthy of that source material. 2018 is the year to publish properly.