“Authors Turn to a New Publisher They Trust: Themselves” — this headline in a recent New York Times story really caught my attention. In the latest dispatch from publishing land, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author David Mamet has decided to self-publish several upcoming works using a new service offered by his literary agency, ICM Partners. Why the change? Mainly because he sees it as a way to gain greater control over marketing.
Stephen King, David Mamet: It’s fascinating to see that even literary heavyweights, are pursuing alternatives to traditional publishing houses. While self-managed marketing is one incentive, the other is of course, the big M: money.
Here’s another trend worth watching: Like ICM, more and more literary agencies are offering their authors self-publishing support as part of their portfolio of services. Trident Media, for instance, represents 800 authors and has negotiated online publishing deals through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To date, some 200 of its authors have tapped its new service, mainly as a way of breathing new life into their backlist titles.
As publishing options morph and expand, literary agencies are likely to play a more important role than ever in guiding their clients through the self-publishing maze.Agencies bring experience in book design and marketing, as well as relationships with digital media that can be critical in jump-starting new titles.
Since more than 235,000 books are self-published annually according to Bowker, a book research firm, making a big splash isn’t easy. Even so, self-published titles made up 25% of Amazon’s top-selling books.
While self-publishing remains a risky business, the fact that more and more players: authors, literary agencies, and even traditional publishing companies like Penguin and Harlequin, are pursuing this route can only be good news for us as writers. The more options we have for getting our work out, the better. Whatever route we take, marketing is still going to be critical for success — and the responsibility for it is still going to fall mainly to us. Write on.