Monday, January 25, 2010

POD aka Self-Publishing: A revolution?

image by nlscotland on Flickr


There has been a lot of talk about the future of publishing since, well, the beginning of publishing. 

However, with new technology available to publishers, printing houses and authors, the talk has now become more relevant than ever.

One of the issues that has become apparent, is the need of publishers to categorize their authors and works into neat little boxes which makes it easier for them to study marketing trends and to asses bottom-lines.

This is a rational way to run a business and protect profits, but it is in opposition to the spirit of literature. 

Now, there are many, many successful authors who have discovered their own secret recipes and repeated them over and over to successful ends.  An amazing and applaudable feat for these authors and for the agents and publishers that stood by them.  There is an audience that wants and expects that same thrill over and over again.  Much like riding a rollercoaster, you know what it is going to feel like, but you want to experience all the inertia, terror, and adrenaline over and over just the same.

But sometimes, that's just not how it works for an author.  Sometimes, a story or voice grips you by the throat and holds you prisoner for the ransom of sharing the story with the world.  A story that has to be told.  A story that is unique and unconforming.  A story that passionately refuses to be molded into a neat, easily definable box.

So the question is, what then?  Does an author simply ignore the story from the beginning, highly suspecting that it will not get picked up, or after months of laboring over the work until it is finally compete, does an author have another option besides to stash it away when the numbness of rejection starts to set in?  

In both scenarios, the author dies a little death.  In the past, this was the end.  Many authors died little bits at a time, until there was no life left to give.  

But now, living in this cusp between today and tomorrow, in a world where the future explodes into the present with new technology and even newer philosophies, is there a new option for authors?

Is there a new path to life for stories that do not fit into the box?

Is there in effect, a revolution under way, fighting for the independence of thought, plot and character?

Consider this:  
Top 5 Publishing Companies in the US:

1. Random House: Owned by Bertelsmann AG (also owns Bantam and Doubleday) who have admitted to making profits from slave labour and publishing propaganda for the Nazi party. 

2.  Pearson (Penguin/Putnam/Viking): British-owned

3.  Harper Collins: Owned by News Corporation (US) also holds Fox Broadcasting Company

4.  Simon & Schuster: Division of CBS Corporation (spin-off of Viacom, US)

5.  Hatchette: French Media group (also owns Orion Publishing group)

6.  Scholastic (US)

These top 6 publishers account for, according to different estimates, between 60-80% of the market share of books sold in the U.S.

According to these figures, it's not irrational to consider that stories originating from perspectives and cultures that are not German, French, British or US corporation-based may be, in fact, facing a losing battle in the struggle for publication.

Is it perhaps logical then, to consider the route of self-publishing?  Is self-publication the way back to avant-garde, non-commercial, thought-provoking literature?

I'm going to continue my exploration of this subject on further posts under self-publishing, and I'd like to hear your thoughts on this subject.

How do you feel about self-published works?

Would you consider self-publishing? 

Have you used POD or other forms of self-publishing?  What have your experiences been like?

On Tuesday, Jan 26th I will be hosting Kermit Lopez, an author who choose the self-publishing route.  Stop by and hear his take on the subject and leave your comments and questions for the author. 


  1. Here is a wonderful article in Huffington Post about one author's quest for publication and her journey through self-publishing: by Zetta Elliott

  2. Sorry that full link is:


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