I recently read a very good post by blogger Mike Shatzkin about the future of the agent's job in an era where e-publishing is more common and big agent paychecks become much less common. We also had the recent fiasco where Harlequin announced a self-publishing venture tied to their brand and immediately got hammered from all directions. Clearly the publishing industry is going through an evolution and the rules are changing, but where will it go?
I certainly don't pretend to have the answers, but I've spent the past two and one-half years as an aspiring writer with a completed first novel and have looked at a number of different possibilities for getting that novel published. I'm also past the midpoint in writing the first draft for my second novel. So I've got some skin in the game and am very interested in seeing how publishing business models will change and how to get my books published in a way that will reach lots of readers.
I'd prefer to go the traditional route of getting signed by an agent and published by a mainstream publisher, but there are other routes out there. Just within the confines of my writer's group, the diverse and eclectic Writin' Wombats, we've got several writers who been published using the traditional approach of working through an agent, several who have self-published and built a readership that way, a few who have affiliated with small indy publishers that use POD (Publishing On Demand) techniques and one writer who has turned his self-publishing venture into a publishing company and is signing up other writers.
The alternatives to the traditional publishers are numerous, but there are issues. In either the self-pubbed or indy publisher route, the writer must be prepared to do a substantial amount of self promotion to establish their personal brand and build a network of potential future readers. Readers will want to have assurances that the quality of the indy or self-pubbed books is up to snuff, so there needs to be various new types of filters, such as reviewers who offer online book reviews and in essence, act as the first reader.
What are your thoughts? If you are a writer, have you gotten your books published? Would you consider a non-traditional publishing path?
If you are a reader, have you read self-pubbed books or content published by indy presses? If you have, how did you find out about them? Which ways do you think that books will be published in the next few years and will they be successful?
These topics are fertile ground for discussion and I expect to write several related posts going forward.