Last weekend, I attended the monthly meeting of the local branch of the California Writer’s Club. The meetings feature introductions, socializing over a buffet lunch, and a speaker. This month we tried something new. Members were invited to throw out a question or concern. The rest of the group had five minutes to offer suggestions.
A man at my table had finished writing a fantasy novel and was wrestling with whether to try to get it traditionally published or go the self-publishing route in ebook format. Quite a few members weighed in, including unpublished, traditionally published, and self-published writers. Several others present provide marketing and design services for writers. What struck me was that everyone who spoke, without exception, urged the questioner to go the ebook route.
Several people pointed out that nowadays, successful ebook sales are an alternate route to acceptance by traditional publishers, a message we heard at an agent’s workshop last winter, and one that is underscored by the deal Amanda Hocking made with St. Martin’s Press. Others mentioned the amount of time it takes to see one’s work in print even after winning acceptance by one of the big six publishers. This underscored the author’s comment that, “At my age, I don’t have unlimited time.” One of those who provide marketing services for writers emphasized the need for a plan to publicize one’s work regardless of how your book gets published.
Even ten years ago, “self-publishing” was synonymous with “vanity press.” No longer. Not one person in the room raised the issue of “legitimacy,” one of the draws of traditional publishing before the recent spate of ebook success stories. Now, to paraphrase The Godfather, everyone who spoke felt the decision was, “just business.”