Friday, December 23, 2005

The More the Publishing Industry Changes . . . The Fewer Changes We See

Does the world need another literary agent? Well, we have one, thanks to the changing face of the publishing industry. Laurence Kirshbaum, the former chairman and chief executive of the Time Warner Book Group, has walked away from his prestigious position at a mainstream publishing house to pitch book projects to . . . well, other mainstream publishing houses. Here's the story.

I'm just wondering why changes in the publishing industry often seem to lead us back to our starting point -- more literary agents, more submissions to mainstream publishing houses, more waiting for advances and hoping for royalty checks, and more trying to entice publishers to promote books they often don't even care about.

Why do so many unpublished authors ask me to create a book promotion plan that they'll use to impress literary agents who might then agree to pitch their books to mainstream publishing houses wo that maybe, someday, their books will see the light of day? (I'll do that for you, if you insist, but it may not be the best idea because presenting an independent book publicist's promotion plan to a mainstream publisher may discourage that publishing company from conducting its own in-house PR campaign for your book.)

Why can't we see that, since the times are a'changing, we can change, too? We don't have to jump through the same old publishing industry hoops as we did a few years ago.

We don't need a literary agent, and we don't need a publisher.

We can want to work with a literary agent. We can want to work with a publisher. But we're not forced to do so.

We have the choice to self-publish.

I'm not talking about vanity publishing or working with one of the nondiscriminating P.O.D publishing companies.

I'm talking about becoming the publisher of your own book: getting your own ISBN and Library of Congress numbers, hiring your own production team, hooking up with a distributor, marketing and promoting your book, and taking on all the financial risk yourself -- and making all the key decisions about your book. What could make more sense than that?

Okay, I know that not every author wants to be a publisher, and for that reason, not every should be a publisher. Also, I rarely turn down the opportunity to promote an interesting book that's published by a prestigious house, so I fully understand why an author would accept an attractive advance from a renowned New York-based publisher.

But for those who are seeing the changes in the publishing industry and still feel forced to do things in the same old way to avoid the stigma of self-publishing, please get over it. Distributors, the media, and potential book buyers really will take your self-published book seriously if it's worthy of their time and attention. You don't have to have a mainstream publishing company's imprint on your book anymore. There are other, and often more lucrative, options for you. Feel free to explore them.

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