The new tradition of publishing

I feel in good company as a writer, again. This morning I heard that thriller writer Barry Eisler “turned his back on traditional publishing,” as a story on NPR’s Morning Edition put it.

He did with his new book “The Detachment” what I did with “Dance of Souls” — released it as an e-book on Amazon, followed with a print version. Okay, it was a little different for him. He’s an established author and Amazon approached him with the idea of skipping the traditional publishing route.

It’s not that I wanted to give up on traditional publishing. Why would I want to forgo months — nay, years — of shopping my manuscript around to agents in the hope of getting someone, someday, to take it on… so they could then shop it around to publishing companies and take a 15 percent cut for their troubles? Why on earth would I not want to wait months and months as my book wound its way through the production process? Why would I not want, as a first-time author, to be granted a print run in the low thousands and relegated to the greenest of marketing teams, thus pretty much guaranteeing that my book would never go anywhere?

Okay, venting over. I know that there are advantages to traditional publishing, not the least of which is that the filtering process that makes it so difficult to get published in the first place can actually help you get noticed. That green marketing person, it turns out, has way more connections to reviewers, for example, than an most individual authors have. It’s a heck of a lot of work to market yourself, and sometimes it’s more effective to pay someone else to do it. And pay you must; I recently learned that my local independent bookstore is happy to carry local author’s books on consignment… for a fee. (I am currently figuring out how this figures into my marketing plan.)

But for me and for thousands of other writers, the non-traditional way of publishing offers what may be the only chance of ever having our work read. And on this, I’m with Eisler, who said, “What I care about is readers.”

It remains to be seen whether new publishing venues like Amazon and its on-demand arm, CreateSpace, eventually be come the new establishment. In the meantime, I’m happy to be out there, getting read, one book order at a time.

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