The new publishing paradigm

If you’re looking for an agent, a publisher, or just trying to make sense of the publishing business, I recommend following Jane Friedman’s blog.

She posted a guest article by the writer John Rember, who recently published with the upstart press Dream of Things. He provides great insights into the publishing model today and why it makes good sense for new writers to consider new publishers.

He writes:

And self-publishing is easier and cheaper than ever. The trouble is, you have to be your own marketing department and quality control. Traditional media won’t normally review self-published books unless you’ve become notorious or you somehow manage to sell a hundred thousand copies. Publishers Weekly does not look favorably upon books that haven’t come from their mainstream clients.

… I went looking for a university press, but then Dream of Things Publishing appeared on the scene, with a business model that is taking advantage of the opportunities left by the ongoing collapse of the old system.

Obviously, I’m biased in favor of us upstart publishers.

And, just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that a writer turn down a six-figure advance with a mainstream publisher in favor of an upstart. I certainly would have taken such a deal if it had been offered to me when my agent was shopping around The Tourist Trail.

But what I am suggesting is that authors who have had difficulty finding an agent or finding a mainstream publisher would be wise to consider submitting to a small press before self-publishing.  Self-publishing isn’t easy, and it can be expensive. You need an editor, designer, and marketer to help you craft and promote a book that would not look out of place in a Barnes & Noble. You also need readers and a way to reach them. If you have a few million Twitter followers, then by all means self-publish. But if you’re like most of us, more focused on writing than building a “platform,” self-publishing may not be the best approach.

A new publishing paradigm is emerging, one in which authors have more opportunities than ever before, which in turn means more decisions to make than ever before. In the old days, you got an agent and you got a publisher and that was pretty much it. Today, it can be more challenging to find an agent and even more challenging to get an offer from a major publisher. But the good news is that there are more options — and these may be better in the long run. If you find a small publisher with a niche focus, you probably won’t get an advance, but you will get a bigger chunk of royalties. Or, if you’ve got money, and/or the ability to write, design, edit, and market your book, you can go straight to Amazon and self-publish the book yourself.

I knew, when I didn’t find a mainstream home for The Tourist Trail, that I wanted to get it out into the world, even if I had to do it myself. And it turned out for the best — in researching the best possible homes for the book, I realized there was a need out there for a press devoted to books about animal protection, wildlife, the environment, and good stories about the people who are out there working hard to save endangered species and the natural world. And so not only did I publish my book but Ashland Creek Press was born.

And we are now taking submissions. If you’ve got a book that fits our mission, we’d love to see it. And if you’re just getting started on your eco-lit novel, memoir, travel guide, keep us in mind when you finish.