Ok so even though I am thoroughly enjoying this book by David Gaughran, it's also extrememly daunting and even a little bit scary. I think the author's intention was to encourage self-publishers and give them hope and freedom, but for people like me and employees of big publishing houses…well, his words are actually quite discouraging.
For what it's worth, I do appreciate some of the things Gaughran talks about in the first couple of chapters because it's safe to say that I've been enlightened. I might have known a little of what's going on here and there, but the extent to which the online world is taking over print publishing is news to me. And bad news at that.
The first chapter outlines some of the problems currently facing the publishing industry, one of them being that they work with just-in-case production. I actually learned a little bit about this in one of my geography classes. It's in contrast to just-in-time production. But if booksellers are having a lot of returns on books because they order too many copies, maybe they should try to get a better system of anticipation down. If the copies start selling, then order more. No need to order a ton before you know how it will sell.
He also mentioned e-books, a lot. Personally, I'm not a fan. I don't own an e-reader or a tablet. I don't read stories electronically, apart from fanfiction which I no longer read either. I much prefer holding a book in my hands. Kindles and Nooks can break, become outdated, etc., but print books will last a really, really long time. They'll collect dust, but that's okay. However, Gaughran really pushes authors interested in self-publishing to do so via online resources and publish their work as an e-book. He said overall they'd earn more money, have control over the process every step of the way, and have the opportunity of fame/success. He also said that some authors publish certain pieces in print, and others as e-book. They don't just have to remain steadfast to one venue, which I thought was interesting.
While I was researching Lauren DeStefano after finishing Sever, I discovered that she too has an e-book version of Wither, under the different title of Seeds of Wither, that comes with perks such as extra or deleted content. The rest of her novels are published in print.
Gaughran says that large publishing houses are afraid of the transition to e-books because they've seen what has happened to the music industry because of the internet. They fear piracy. One technique they've developed of combatting this is later release dates for e-books so that the novels don't get pirated and wrongfully distributed before their release date. This doesn't really make sense to me, because if they were really worried about this, they wouldn't send ARCs (advanced reader copies) out to so many clients. These people could easily scan and upload the books to the internet or share them with their friends before the actual release date.
I'm not the only one that disagrees with publishing houses on this, because authors such as Neil Gaiman have voiced their opinons as well. To him, as Gaughran says, piracy is just "people lending books" and "free advertising." I totally agree with this. What about libraries?? People take home books to read and bring them back without ever paying for them (unless of course they bring it back late and have to pay the fee…). I know for me, if I read a book I really like from the library, I'll want to go out and purchase my own copy of it to have in my collection. This is the same process with e-books.
Some other things he talked about were editors, royalties, and agents, all of which opened up my eyes a little. There is still so much I have to learn! One of his chapters, though, is titled "Print is Doomed." Um, no that is not okay! And now you might understand why I'd find this book to be frightening. I love print. A world without print is like some crazy, alternate version of Fahrenheit 451, and that is not cool at all either.
To be continued…