How many times in the past week have we heard “Traditional NY publishing is dead. Barry Eisler has proved it.” Or “NY publishing isn’t dead. Amanda Hocking has proved it.”
So which is it? Or does it not matter?
If you haven’t heard about the debate, the gist of it is that Barry Eisler turned down a half-million dollar contract with a NY publisher to pursue self-publishing (his reasoning here) while Amanda Hocking turned her self-publishing success into a two-million dollar contract (her announcement here). One chose to leave NY and one chose to join it.
Interestingly, they’ve both been simultaneously supported and attacked for their choices. Some think Barry is an idiot and some think Amanda sold out.
But I think it all comes down to the reader. We all want to get our stories into the hands of the reader, so the smart thing to do is to choose whichever method we think will best accomplish that goal.
Traditional NY publishers aren’t soul-sucking bad guys and self-publishing isn’t a religion. They are both just vehicles authors use to get their story out.
So there’s no right or wrong answer. The method that works best for one story might not work for another. The approach one author has won’t work for all authors. Circumstances are always in flux and our answer might change.
Right now, NY publishers have the edge in print availability, as Nathan Bransford pointed out. So authors who are more concerned about availability than money might choose that route. Or authors who think most of their sales will be through print might go with the NY publishers.
But soon, as Mike Shatzkin mentioned, some bookseller or wholesaler will likely step into that opportunity and find a way to offer print books for wide distribution. The pros and cons of this decision will change day-by-day, book-by-book, and author-by-author.
I read a self-published book by Susan Bischoff last week that could stand toe-to-toe with traditionally published books (and if you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m a nitpicky perfectionist, so that’s saying something about how professional her book is). The vehicle she used to get that ebook into my hands wasn’t important. Only the story and characters were important. And I think most readers would say the same thing.
The one thing we should not do is attack each other for our choices. Everyone must decide what makes the most sense for them. Let’s celebrate that valid choices now exist and not deify or demonize people for whatever they decide.
As a reader, do you pay attention to the publisher before buying a book? Or do you go off the cover, reviews, blurb, and recommendations? How much do you think the vehicle for getting a book into a reader’s hands matters?Pin It