Karen Angel’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek article is thought-provoking. Is this an accurate depiction of the situation facing writers? (Also: How do you become a midlist author in the first place?)
For Greg White, the last straw came when his publisher forgot to ship copies of his book to the launch party last October. It was just one in a series of lost marketing opportunities, says White, co-host of the Food Network show Unique Sweets. So he decided to take his book back. After getting his contract canceled, he turned to the editorial marketplace Reedsy to redesign The Pink Marine, his memoir about life as a gay serviceman. The author, who lives in Santa Monica, Calif., formed his own imprint, AboutFace Books, and cut a distribution deal with Ingram Content Group. “Five years ago, self-publishing was a scar,” White says. “Now it’s a tattoo.”
A new generation of online editorial services and self-publishing platforms is fueling that change in perception. The upstarts offer skills and services that used to be available only through traditional publishing, plus favorable royalty splits. They also allow authors to retain the copyright to their work. The array of offerings is spurring some writers to leave their publishing houses—particularly midlist authors whose books receive scant marketing support. Some are also using the new services to put out e-book versions of their out-of-print titles.
Janice Graham used Amazon.com’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform to release digital versions of her five novels, including 1998’s Firebird, a New York Times best-seller. For a novel in progress, she hired an editor through Reedsy and plans to self-publish unless a publisher offers her a good deal. “I’m not so interested in the prestige of being published by a traditional publisher at this point,” says Graham, who lives in Florence, Italy. “What I’m interested in is maximizing sales.”
Reedsy is a community of about 450 handpicked publishing professionals available for hire. The two-year-old London-based company offers software that allows authors to collaborate with editors without having to e-mail manuscripts back and forth. Reedsy co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Nataf says he had an epiphany when he got his first Amazon Kindle e-reader: “The barriers to publishing had been removed.”