The Self-Publishing Revolution

Would the so-called E-book revolution would be such a success without the Indie author?

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says:

“I am emphasizing the self-service nature of these platforms because it’s important for a reason I think is somewhat non-obvious: even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation. When a platform is self-service, even the improbable ideas can get tried, because there’s no expert gatekeeper ready to say “that will never work!” And guess what – many of those improbable ideas do work, and society is the beneficiary of that diversity.”

Who are the expert gatekeepers? Until now, readers have relied on Big Publisher to tell them what they should read, and they sure have slowed innovation.  Look at some of the rubbish they churn out just because it is (ghost) written by a celebrity. I shall refrain from naming those books, but I’m sure everyone has their favorite “what is this trash?” example.

“Kindle Direct Publishing has quickly taken on astonishing scale – more than a thousand KDP authors now each sell more than a thousand copies a month, some have already reached hundreds of thousands of sales, and two have already joined the Kindle Million Club. KDP is a big win for authors. Authors who use KDP get to keep their copyrights, keep their derivative rights, get to publish on their schedule – a typical delay in traditional publishing can be a year or more from the time the book is finished . . . .“

More than a thousand authors on Amazon’s KDP, and thousands on Barnes and Noble and other E-tailers. Do you think they have an effect on the E-book Revolution? I do. Not all are new writers taking advantage of the ease of self-publishing. Traditionally published authors are self-pubbing their backlists and works rejected by Big Publishing. And although some new authors may self-publish because they have been rejected by trad publishers, they are becoming the minority. Writers are deciding to forego the pleasure of submitting dozens of queries, receiving rejection letters, and if they do get a deal, waiting years for their books to appear in print and giving up 15% to their agent and considerably more to their publisher. They are publishing now, finding their audience now, and making money now. And as most self-published authors will tell you, the financial benefits are far outweighed by knowing someone out there enjoys their work.

“Kindle Direct Publishing is good for readers because they get lower prices, but perhaps just as important, readers also get access to more diversity since authors that might have been rejected by establishment publishing channels now get their chance in the marketplace. You can get a pretty good window into this. Take a look at the Kindle best-seller list, and compare it to the New York Times best-seller list – which is more diverse? The Kindle list is chock-full of books from small presses and self-published authors, while the New York Times list is dominated by successful and established authors.”

Yes, readers benefit from self-publishing platforms such as Amazon.  They can preview a book and see reviews from other readers. And if they download an e-book and decide they don’t like it, returning it is as easy as pressing a button. They are snapping up self-published works. One man’s meat is another man’s poison is never truer than when applied to individual taste, and while I may hate a particular book, a thousand other readers will love it. Although there are the few who vilify everything Indie because it is Indie, the discerning reader makes up his own mind, and discovers gems.

Would the E-book revolution be as successful without the self-published author? You may disagree with me, but I don’t think so.

“Mouse” photo by Rob Bouwman l





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