Divorce, Publishing Style on Crimespace

Link: Divorce, Publishing Style – crimespace.

Continuing the POD (print-on-demand) theme, Elizabeth Zelvin started a discussion on Crimespace (link above: anyone can comment, but you have to join first– which is free), asking:

Best-selling series, 25 books with the same house, beloved by tens of thousands of fans: none of it counts in the age of computer modeling and the almighty bottom line. It is a lot like a loyal and productive worker being laid off one year shy of the gold watch and the pension. But it occurs to me that it’s also a lot like a late-life divorce. You’ve been doing your job, doing it well, and all of a sudden, not only is it over, but you’re dating again. In the writer’s case, the "dates" are agents and editors rather than divorced and widowed singles. It must be weird in very much the same way. "How do I do this? I haven’t had to market myself for 20 years. The rules have changed. I feel like a teenager, and it sucks."

Here is a response, from P. B. Smith:

This is where digital self-publishing comes in handy. An established writer with a loyal fan base can continue his or her series in cyberspace, and make a ton more money doing it. Say their hardcovers sell for $24.95 and they get a 10 percent royalty or $2.49 for every book that’s sold. After their publisher drops their series, (take care to make sure you own your characters) they can sell the next book in the series online on ebay or their own website for ten or twelve dollars or more and keep most of the sales price. The key to this being a money maker is to have a proven reputation in the print world.
I truly believe this will be the next big trend in publishing, Elizabeth. I’ve just heard too many horror stories from frustrated mid-list writers who’ve been dropped by their publishers. Readers still want them, but if publishers don’t think they can make enough money on them, out they go.
That’s why I’ve spent the last several months learning all about digital publishing, from the most arcane technical info to Internet marketing tips. Smart authors will jump on this bandwagon in a big way because it gives them a viable path to pursue even if they’ve been dumped by their publishers and/or agents.
And we all need to get over this, "Self-published authors are no good," thing. That may have been mostly true in the past, but as more and more established authors adopt digital publishing as a way to extend or even save their careers, it will no longer be true.

Some of the subsequent discussion has got a bit side-tracked onto e-books, which is another aspect and another ballpark. But the POD route for "proven reputation" authors makes sense to me, not least because of the little effort some publishers put into marketing of the category of author described by Elizabeth and P.B.

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