First Commercial Publishing Company gets into Self-Pub Game

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Art Edwards
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Joined: January 14th, 2010, 4:11 pm

First Commercial Publishing Company gets into Self-Pub Game

Post by Art Edwards » January 14th, 2010, 4:16 pm

Not long ago, the publishing blogosphere was up-in-arms about Harlequin's decision to offer self-publishing services to the authors of manuscripts they reject. This is considered a big deal because Harlequin is a commercial publishing company, and the consensus is that this decision opens the barn door for a lot more commercial companies to get into the self-publishing racket.

Think about it: You have a novel manuscript, and you submit it to, say, Random House. Random House gets back to you with a rejection letter saying "No, thanks. But for a fee we'll publish that novel for you at our sister self-publishing affiliate."

Why would many publishing professionals be so against this practice? There are lots of reasons. One is that it blurs the broad, thick line between what is commercially published and what is self-published. It's a question of quality, they say, and many in the industry prefer a nice, clear delineation between the more "legit" publishing world and the rest.

Other industry folks have weighed in saying that self-publishing in general will ruin publishing by one day making it the terrain only for those who can afford to publish, as opposed to those whose work is good enough to publish.

You need only know that my novels are self-published to know generally where I stand on self-publishing. Left entirely to the hands of the commercial publishing industry, my work wouldn't be in print, so you can guess how I feel about it.

But more specifically, I'm for writers having success, whatever success means to them, i.e., getting their work into print, finding a readership, receiving accolades and good reviews, and if possible making their livings as writers. I support just about anything that makes that success more possible, and I'm against just about anything that makes that less possible.

The commercial publishing industry does a great job of vetting what might sell well enough to help keep a commercial publishing industry profitable, that is, books that might sell in the thousands of copies. Moreover, they don't do a great job of publishing works that might not sell thousands of units. Books for a very specific audience, one either already formed or yet to form, have a place in the market, and just because commercial publishing can't publish these works for a profit doesn't mean these works don't deserve to see the light of day.

So, that's one reason why self-publishing has a place in today's market.

But what about a commercial publishing company, like Harlequin, offering self-publishing services along with their traditional products?

Again, I'm for writers having success, however they define it for themselves. And the more successful the commercial publishing industry, the more successful its writers. If adding a self-publishing arm to its commercial publishing company helps a commercial company stay afloat, then I'm for it. If it means they can help more writers succeed in the future, I'm happy.

Having said that, if you're an author who wants to self-publish, please consider Lightning Source, which is a printing company, or one of the cheaper subsidy presses, like, before you fork over big bucks to Harlequin, or to some other subsidy press. You can self-publish for a lot less than they will charge you, and while it might be tempting to have "Harlequin" printed on the spine of your book, I doubt it will help much.

I mean, come on. How vain is that?

Yours in laying down the law,

Art Edwards, whose award-winning second novel, Ghost Notes, is ready for you in book or audio book form.

Art Edwards

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