‘The once-impregnable citadel of elitist publishing’

Already the gates are down, and the masses are streaming into the once-impregnable citadel of elitist publishing. Wielding not pitchforks but wads of much-needed cash, they are more than welcome.

It’s interesting how the tone of these articles has changed in such a short time. In stories about self-publishing that I read as recently as this year, a typical highlight was how few copies each individual title sold—about 100 to 150, according to this New York Times article from August. Meanwhile, this article from today’s Globe and Mail highlights the proliferation of self-published titles and how traditional publishers are trying to get in on the action precisely because that’s where the action is. And, apparently, the money.

Certainly, the stigma surrounding “vanity publishing” seems to be fading. (Who even calls it that anymore, anyway?) Because it’s not really about vanity, in many cases. And it’s going to create a lot of business for more than just writers.

Librarians. The thing that occurs to me is that the explosion of titles published every year is going to make it harder for readers to sift through that haystack to find the books they really want to read. I’d imagine librarians’ jobs are going to get a lot harder as a result, but that means they’ll remain as essential as they’ve always been.

Editors, designers, artists, and marketers. It’s also going to be a challenge for each one of those writers to get their book noticed. The things that help their book stand out in the crowd—professional editing, design, cover art, and marketing/promotion—are costs they will have to shoulder. At the same time, that presents opportunities for editors, designers, artists, and marketers to grow their own business.

I’m by no means an expert, and this is all just off the top of my head. Do you think more and more of the publishing business will gravitate toward the pay-as-you-go model? And, since an acquaintance asked me recently whether I had any experience in self-publishing, I’ll pass along the question. What’s been your experience with self-publishing?

4 thoughts on “‘The once-impregnable citadel of elitist publishing’

  1. Actually, I’m afraid the Internet is going to end up being one big slush-pile, except readers are going to have to slog through it rather than editors. That’s what could happen. Unless there’s some business model whereby literature can be selected and edited, it is going to be a mess that has as much a chance of turning readers away readers and shrinking the market as expanding it.

  2. I disagree with Charles, as I think Librarian’s are already stepping up finding partners and networking opportunities to find the best authors are promising debut ones. I read too much Gay Romance, and I have been asked on numerous occassions from my colleagues about what’s out there. I mostly dismiss poorly edited works even though I know there is potential with that author. I feel positive about the grassroots approach to publishing because we will be offered many more creative choices than in the past and more authors that may have appeal to specific audiences. Hopefully the freelance editor market will bloom in this envionment rather than perish. This is an exciting time for books and publishing.

  3. I’m thinking you’re both pretty right. There will likely be a lot of dreck. (Likely? Heck, there already is.) A lot of dreck gets professionally published, even. (I know, this is not news to anyone. Also, I overuse parentheticals.) I think librarians already are doing the heavy lifting of getting books into the hands of readers, and that will only be more essential. Librarians are your friend, whether you’re a reader or a writer. Enterprising individuals will take advantage of the opportunities the changes in the publishing model present.

  4. In my work at various library association conferences, I hear them speak regularly about transforming themselves even more into knowledge management professionals and interest/information curators. In addition, public libraries seem to be embracing their “community center’ role a bit more than in the past, recognizing they are a hub of community activity and often a haven for those who don’t have access to the Internet or some of the other tools they provide.

Comments are closed.