My motto at Write It Forward is appropriated from the Infantry: Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way. Authors produce the books. Readers consume the books. Everyone else is in the middle. And therefore, very, very nervous. Because, in essence, the only two parts of publishing that are absolutely necessary are writers and readers. Yes, books need to be edited, marketing needs to be done, etc. etc. But much of that work can be contracted out.
It used to be publishers controlled distribution. That was their lock. If an aspiring author asked me if a publisher was legitimate or not, I told them to go to their local bookstores and ask the manager if that publisher had distribution to the store. But today, everyone has access to distribution with eBooks.
I use to tell aspiring authors to never self-publish fiction. The reality is 99.5% of self-published fiction will fail. But when I began Who Dares Wins Publishing, I had to re-evaluate. The reality is 99.5% of queries to agents fail. So the odds of succeeding at self-publishing at little cost via eBooks and print-on-demand, are pretty much the same. There are going to be success stories coming out of the ranks of new authors among the self-published. So why not double your chances of success by continuing querying while at the same time self-publishing and self-promoting? Some will say that agents won’t look at material that’s been self-published. That’s called an ignorant agent. The game has changed and either change with it or get the hell out of the way. BTW, the self-promoting is something traditional publishers and agents are saying authors have to do anyway. In fact, it gets to the point reading all these blogs and tweets from agents/editors, that I ask. If I, as the author, have to do all this stuff, what the heck are you doing?
The self-published who do succeed. But there is an inherent flaw in that. A self-published book that sells 5 or 6 thousand books will get interest from the Big 6 and literary agents. Except when that author crunches the numbers, the publisher will have to guarantee 4 times as many readers in order to break even with what that author is making on their own. It’s a Catch-22.
All in all, I think it’s an exciting time to be an author with lots of opportunities. But only if you educate yourself and stay on top of the latest developments and trends. This is one of the major goals of Write It Forward. Authors, you must assimilate faster than publishers, bookstores, and agents are, if you want to survive. Embrace the technology and use it to your advantage.