Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Why Self Publish? Who benefits?

Hi Guys,

This time I thought I'd turn my attention to one of the never ending questions that seems to plague the world of self publishing - Why?

This week we've all heard the news about Jasinda Wild, a husband and wife writing team who have sold a million books in a year through self publishing, and somehow written twenty books in six months - to my mind an even more impressive achievement. My hat is off to them for that.

And in terms of the question why well it's easy enough to see that in their case. A year ago they were in desperate financial straights and self publishing gave them a way out for them and their family. That's not to say that they couldn't have achieved similar success through trade publishing - I'm sure they could have. But I'm equally sure that they could not have achieved that success in the same short period of time.

However, in considering this question it occurred to me that when people ask this question - and then end up arguing (often stridently) about the merits of self publishing versus trade publishing - they overlook the reader. Now here we have an example of a writing team who have achieved huge success and provided for their family etc. And that's as it should be. But here we also have an example of a million people sitting down to read self published fiction.

So lets move past what this impressive achievement means for these writers and their family, and the merits in the wider world of publishing, and consider the reader. Consider a million readers. Self publishing has benefitted them since they get to read books that they might not have been able to read at all before, or if it did finally get published through traditional means, not for probably years to come.

That's something that I think gets lost in the arguments. Self publishing benefits the readers as well as the authors.

The reader gets access to a wider range of books, some dross (not mine of course!) some good. They get to read things that would never have seen the light of day through trade publishing, because agents and publishers acted as gatekeepers, and essentially decided for readers what they wanted to read. And they get to do it at a generally far more reasonable price, partly because it's often digital books we're talking about, but partly because all the monies that were going to publishers, editors, agents, marketers etc, now go straight back to the author, who then doesn't have to charge so much.

So hats off to Jasinda Wild. But hats off also to the million readers who purchased their books and hopefully were entertained as they wanted to be.

Cheers, Greg.