More mainstream media analysis of the self-publishing phenomenon from io9 here.
While the headline is the big sellers’ numbers, though vaguely interesting they’re not really relevant. They aren’t what any new author could practically aim for – except maybe “B.V. Larson, who writes both sci-fi and fantasy, has sold some 250,000 copies of his 25 titles“. The key element there being twenty-five titles – if you stick at it, and write that many novels which are that good, you’ll sell a lot of books.
I also take issue with a couple of things in the article.
The first is: “Proponents of self-publishing like to point to these numbers as an encouraging sign that the market is strong, readers will gladly ignore copy-editing errors, and that big publishing is bad for authors.”
To which I reply: ‘yes it is’, ‘no, not all readers will ignore them’, and ‘maybe at the moment, yes, but no-one’s suggesting big publishing should die, just evolve’.
The second is: “readers face an increasingly difficult time trying to figure out what to read. Self-publishing has very few sign posts for readers; if you pick up a traditionally published book you know an editor not only liked a book, but managed to convince several layers of editors, publishers and marketing people to like it too.”
Bluff. How realistic is this scenario?
- Reader skims through the Amazon popularity list looking for their next sci-fi read
- Spots a cover that grabs their attention
- Reads the blurb and finds it snappy and intriguing
- Looks at the Publisher line in the ‘Product Details’ section and says ‘oh, I don’t recognise that publisher, so I’m not going to buy it’?
Given that on a randomly-chosen day at the end of February this year, 61% of the top 99 sci-fi bestsellers were self-published, it doesn’t seem that realistic!