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What would Gutenberg do?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by BL1Y, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. BL1Y

    BL1Y
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    Print on Demand services (such as Lulu) allow writers to bypass large publishing houses and get their books into print on their own, for very minimal costs. Unlike vanity publishing, where the author paid to have a number of books printed, with print on demand books are stored on a computer and printed only when ordered (typically through Amazon), eliminating the need for most upfront costs. The quality is close enough to that of traditional printing methods that only some seriously anal book nerds will notice a difference.

    Typical contracts with publishing houses pay the author 5-10% of revenues (and then your agent takes a cut). With print on demand, depending on the size of the book, binding, and how you price it, the author can take home 40-60% of revenues, and you probably won't have an agent.

    With blogs and social media so popular, authors can grow a fan base on their own, so when they publish, there's a pool of very likely customers to sell the book to.

    And, this coming behind the music industry, where if you have the equipment to record and edit, you can go straight to iTunes, without a record label or the expense of burning CDs.

    I'm close to finishing a short LSAT prep book (a deductive reasoning primer, meant as a supplement to other LSAT prep programs), and I like the idea of being able to put the book on Amazon a month from now, rather than spending months trying to find an agent, more months looking for a publisher, and then even more time waiting for it to be printed and hit the shelves.

    Focus: Have experience in the world of self-publishing, either books or music? Any tips or tricks when it comes to marketing?

    Alt-Focus: Are large publishing houses and record labels going to go the way of the dodo? Will a Do-it-Yourself youth culture decide to bypass established media gatekeepers and put them out of business? Or, will mindless consumers continue to require big names to tell them who to read and what to listen to?
     
  2. DrFrylock

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  3. Rush-O-Matic

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    Well, now, I don't know about that. Any minute now, somebody could post something here that totally gets this thread off track, and makes it suddenly interesting. I mean, sure, the entire Focus could've been posted in the "Can Somebody Help Me With This" thread, but that's just nitpicking.
     
  4. tempest

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    I'm glad that I'm not the only person who's thoughts turned to this the second they read the title either.
     
  5. lust4life

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    Focus: No.

    Alt. Focus: No. No. Yes.
     
  6. BL1Y

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    Barry Eisley passed up a $500,000 deal to self-publish. If he manages to bank significantly more than he would have otherwise gotten with a traditional publisher, other writers might follow suit. If they lose their whales, it'll be hard for these companies to stay in business and the industry might be forced into self publication as the norm.

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.geekosystem.com/barry-eisler-self-publishing/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.geekosystem.com/barry-eisler ... ublishing/</a>
     
  7. MoreCowbell

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    There's one thing that people are constantly forgetting about Big Media in all forms, because they're always intent to cast them as bullies keeping content from the adoring public.


    There's a lot of shit.

    No, really, a lot. It boggles the mind how much shit there is. The world is FULL of shitty stuff. Forget 100 shitty novel for every good one. There's probably 100,000 shitty novels for every good one! And it's even worse for bands!

    If you had to perform the actions of the "gatekeepers," do you know how much time you'd spend listening to/reading/watching shit? Or reading/watching/hearing things that would have been good, but since they lacked the "gatekeeper budget," have been hopelessly reduced to shit due to poor execution?

    Do away with the editors if you wish, DIY advocates. But realize that this means that someone else, probably you or someone like you, will spend their time weeding through the junk.




    Also, realize that the odds of good works being ignored because no one notices them might be significantly higher without these institutions. Why? Because who exactly is going to take the time to read unheralded works, and then yell from the rooftops once them found a gem? And who exactly is going to listen to them?
     
  8. Kubla Kahn

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    Your underlying point is that DIY publishing, as I understand it from the thread focus, also comes with the DIY marketing of your book. Not only do publishing companies wade through the shit, they also take the stuff they do publish and market the shit out of them. Not to get into the entire debate again but look how Tucker's self distribution worked out. He had a solid hardcore fan base as well as a lot of average fans. Shit even Kevin Smith with a much bigger fan base couldn't turn out good numbers (box office mojo has his movie at 851K) trying to self promote and distribute*. It just seems like huge self publishing/distributing hits are outliers.

    * edit: Thought that it was already released, seems it won't come out fully until this October.
     
  9. MoreCowbell

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    And Tucker was only able to successfully (well, use of that term is odd...) distribute the movie because of the fame he had obtained through the book publishing industry. His movie would have done much worse than it did if he didn't have the publishing team behind him. To be blunt, it probably wouldn't have ever been made to start with. I mean no disrespect to him, but Tucker as a whole is not exactly a shining example of DIY.
     
  10. Misanthropic

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    Focus: I've taken a novel marketing approach by suspending copies of my last three novels from my perineum whilst standing on the corner of Main Street and Vine.

    Alt focus: Alternative methods of media distribution and marketing will allow even agoraphobes living in mommy's basement to sell their pathetic tripe:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Kubla Kahn

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    Your basically following the logic Im trying to use. Without normal mainstream help being very successful at publishing work is very very hard to come by. But hey, if you can live off the proceeds of selling 500* books, more power too you.

    * I maybe heard it here or on Adam Carollas podcast when they were promoting his and Teressa's book, but it is insanely rare for new authors (unpublished and unknown) to sell more than 5,000 books, and that's with the help pf a major publisher.
     
  12. BL1Y

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    For a new author without a giant marketing budget, selling 2000-3000 would be very respectable.

    For DIY, you're trading volume of sales for profits per sale. I think a normal publishing contract gives the author 10% of revenues, and that's before taking off 15% for the author's agent, so really you only get 8.5%. With DIY, you may take home 50%, so you only need to sell about 20% as many copies to get the same take home pay.

    Neither method is likely to produce a livable income, but an extra $5k in the bank isn't too bad for a side gig.

    I think where the decision becomes more important is when the audience you've already built represents a substantial number of your total target audience. If you're writing a book on how to get published in a law journal, then having your book featured on the Law Prof's Blog might be as good of marketing as a traditional publisher could deliver, so you're better off with DIY. If you're Tucker Max, your book is going to appeal to a lot of people who have never heard of your website.