Count this as a catching-up post. Last week as I was literally taking off for Portland from JFK, the biggest news story of the week broke, one that is still generating responses all over the publishing-verse. Drawing on data culled by an unnamed coder, author Hugh Howey (see his best-selling sci-fi Wool trilogy in the Cloud) wrote about the goodly sums of money self-published authors stand to make from selling their genre fiction on Amazon, as opposed to going the quote-unquote legacy route.
The feedback can be summed up mostly as, “WTF? Your data is whack,” from Mike Shatzin at Idea Logical to Michael Cader at Publishers Lunch to Sunita at Dear Author. Although I admire what Howey has done outside of the traditional paradigm, I confess I also found his findings to suspect, for all the statistical reasons Sunita so lucidly explained, plus it’s clear to me that Howey’s report was more about flashing the bird to Big Five, for whatever reason, even though he scored a lucrative print-only deal with Simon & Schuster.
My overall read: Howey’s post reflects an unfortunate widespread belief that you can only become successful one way if you want to write books. You go the old route, or you go the new, which isn’t really new (countless books, pre-Amazon, were self-published).
I’m summarizing this brouhaha for Cloud librarians because they should know that A) there are worthy books to be discovered in self-publishing. Hugh Howey is the best example right now, but there are others (Courtney Milan, another NLA Digital client, plus Barbara Taylor Bradford from RosettaBooks). B) Publishing has changing and is still changing, and so are peoples’ attitudes, if slowly, and this will affect your access to content.
More food for thought can be found in this kinda, sorta heady post about the “pre-book world” from Brian O’Leary.