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Friday, June 29, 2012

Thoughts on Self Publishing...

Over the last years on this blog I have talked, among much else, about how the industry of "print" is largely going away - changed by technology: groupon, wifi, smartphones, and so on.  Will it ever vanish completely?  No, my mom, who is in her eighties will still get hardcopy statements and bills.  (As a mater of fact I do to - the work better in a tax audit - but that's a separate story).

Recently I wrote here about Synthodeon, LLC and MIDIProbe - my first effort to enter the self-publishing world if iTunes and iPhone apps.  I also wrote about the CD I produced (see the "Fall to Earth" ad at the right of this blog).

But my efforts are just a drop in the bucket in terms of self publishing.

The entire set of "publishing industries" - literary, music, and so on - is going through an interesting process: the elimination of the middle man.

I just recently read about "On the Island" - a successful self-published novel (see this).  But there are many others in literature and music.

So why is this happening?

I think to a large degree technology has changed the economics of taste.

Before self publishing was possible (its been available with demand print for some time) there was a significant cost to produce and market books.  No one wanted to spend a million dollars promoting a book which would only sell a thousand copies - no matter how good it was.

So publishing houses developed that made gambles on what would sell - not what was good, not what people even necessarily would like - but what would sell or could be sold.  The rights were bought, the investment made in production and marketing - and out pops a best seller.

The only problem with this is that while people might buy this best seller it might not be the "best" a "best seller" could be.  Maybe the publisher doesn't think what readers would find really interesting is "not ready" for commercial sale - so they don't buy it.

But today that's different.  I can upload a file to Amazon for free and maybe people will buy it - music, art, literature - not just commercial products.

I can buy Google adwords for a hundred dollars and let people know.  I can pay a professional proof reader to fix up my work or a professional reviewer to review it.  And suddenly I have a product.

Now I have read a good number of $0.99 Amazon Kindle books over the last year.  They have their flaws but I'd say that of thirty or so I have bought I have only abandon maybe two or three.

So that's a ten percent failure rate - at $0.99.  I don't think that the failure rate is much better spending $8.95 USD at Borders Barns & Noble. 

So about $60.00 (some cost $2.99, a few $12.99 and some are free) versus about $400.00 USD.

At Amazon at least reader reviews are the most helpful - Amazon will recommend books but you can't tell much from just that.

Reviewers at Amazon do a good job I think.

And to a large degree in the modern world, at least, they act like a publisher - and all for free.

Quite honestly I don't see how publishing as we know it today will survive.

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