Since I self-published my first eBook in March this year there has been around 200,000 books added to Amazon’s Kindle eBook store; that’s over 65,000 new titles per month. If my guess is correct, then this may only be the start and the floodgates have yet to open.
It was a recent email from a writer friend of mine that started me thinking:
The translation: to “pull a McHugh” refers to self-publishing your novel—the stunt recently (and successfully) pulled by a mutual friend of ours. This is the million-dollar question on so many writer’s lips: “Do I continue to submit my manuscripts to agents and the traditional publishers despite many rejections, or do I end the waiting and self-publish?” I’ve been party to several exchanges like this in the past year, and if they are happening in my little corner of the internet you can bet they are happening in almost every corner.
The impact could be huge. Many writers have been trying to break into the world of traditional publishing for years with little or no success but, being writers, they’ve never stopped writing. Some refusals are because the stuff churned out is guff, but there is plenty of high quality work that has yet to see daylight because it was deemed a likely commercial flop by increasingly cautious agents and traditional publishers. As these disenchanted writers watch their peers taking the self-publishing plunge I wonder how many will be able to resist the temptation—and let readers decide what they like.
Some writers are already concerned that their work will be swept away in the flood of new titles, and from what I can see the situation is only going to get worse. Publishing houses are releasing their back catalogues—decades of A-list authors’ past titles. There will soon be no such thing as ‘out-of-print’. Between the indies and the establishment the battle of the back catalogues has already started.
The numbers of new authors is also set to increase. The blessing, and the curse, of self-publishing is that it is so easy. The internet, blogging and social networking have opened the doors wider to individual self-expression than at any time in history. Finding a voice via the written word is now commonly accepted as normal, and the leap from scribbling to publication has never been smaller. For many, simply the idea of becoming an author will be enough to make them dive in. For others it may take more of a push. The current socio-economic climate has seen hundreds of thousands of articulate individuals becoming unemployed. Most have an adequate to excellent command of language and access to the internet and a computer—the minimum requirements for self-publication—and with the high profile stories in the media of writers who have made millions self-publishing, ‘having a go’ at writing your own book will be irresistible to some.
For readers, this means a bonanza of choice—writing is now as open as all other art forms, and the variation in quality, creativity and price will only grow. For writers, it will make it increasingly more difficult to get their work noticed, but the only other alternative may be to leave their manuscripts languishing on their computer’s hard-drive. The dam burst is getting closer and there is nothing that readers, writers, publishers, or agents can do except ride the wave, or sink.
So, what do you think? How do you go about finding the gems you want to read amongst the over one million titles that are already available? Do you welcome the opening of the floodgates and rejoice in the choice, or do you bemoan the pummelling all the flotsam, jetsam and dross will give quality writing? If you are a writer, are you going to continue pursuing the traditional routes or are you going to take the plunge? How are you going to make sure you stand out? Please feel free to scribble a comment below…