Is signing with a mainstream publisher now a ‘mistake’?
April 25, 2011 | 11:51 pm
I suppose it was inevitable. As self-e-publishing has drawn more and more attention, with relatively major-name authors deciding to forego pro-publishing and go it alone, and over 1/4 of the Amazon Top 100 list being made up of such books, now signs of an anti-pro-publishing “backlash” have popped up. Blogger switch11 at iReaderReview points out the “mistake” one popular self-publishing author made when he decided to sign up with Macmillan.
There’s no other way to put it – Signing a book deal was a huge mistake. John Rector could have been a Top 100 Kindle Store Author. He could have had multiple books in the Top 100.
Instead, his very good books (as is clear from the reviews) are stuck at #12,726 and #26,038. If you’re an artist, people appreciating your art is worth a lot more than Publishers giving you the ‘stamp’ of Publisher-approved author.
Signing with a major publisher, switch11 explains, is “[moving] away from focusing on readers”, and authors who do it “[turn] their backs on the opportunity to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a month as ‘for the people’ indie authors.” This entry also includes the line “Readers are very smart and aware of reality.” (Now some bloggers, on the other hand…)
On a crime fiction blog, “Do Some Damage,” Steve Weddle takes a delightfully sarcastic look at this proposition, pointing out that publishing with a publisher does have its compensations.
As I understand it, when you sign with Macmillan or Penguin or FSG to print your book, one of the things they do, and I’m no expert here, but one of the things they do is that they, under most circumstances, print your book. Which means people sell them in stores. And, again, I’m not an expert in anything but mediocre whiskey and quantum mechanics, this means that those sales do not count in your Kindle sales.
So it seems odd to me to judge an author by Kindle sales when that author’s books are available a thousand other places. Rector’s books are available in print and he’s selling fewer Kindle copies. Seems to me like that is sorta how it’s supposed to happen.
I would also point out the assumption on switch11’s part that self-publishing a book means you will necessarily “earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a month” either. The vast majority of self-e-publishers barely scrape by, if that. And besides, one well-known self-publishing author just signed a seven-figure book deal—so if John Rector made a mistake, he’s in good company.