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There are sure a boatload of people writing books these days. Literary Nathan Bransford wants to know why. I think there are several factors, a lot of them technological and some sociological. But there's no denying that those of use who write and are not yet published have become something of an industry in ourselves. In addition to the many books on "how to get published" (that phrase yielded 1935 results on Amazon) there are countless self-publishing outlets already (Lulu, CreateSpace, Smashwords, etc.), and I was interested to learn that Random House owns a substantial share of self-publishing outlet Xlibris.

What does that tell you, when a major house like Random Houses invests in a company that will publish any book, especially when other publishers follow suit? Harlequin's self-publishing service is called "Harlequin Horizons," which makes some Harlequin authors worry that their own credentials will be tarnished. Addendum: RWA has stepped into the fray and "excommunicated" Harlequin! Whoa!

What all this tells me that people who sell books think there is money to be made from writers. The question is, do they think they will make money selling these writers' books or selling services to the writers themselves. Are they trying to capture those elusive best sellers that might slip past too vigilant editors and agents, or are they merely milking the desperate? Heck, it might well be both. They might see it as a win-win situation.

But the real sticking point in all of the self-publishing flap is this: Does the author make money or does the author pay money. I guess it's up to us to watch out for ourselves.

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 18th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC)
'...Does the author make money or does the author pay money. I guess it's up to us to watch out for ourselves...'

I think that encapsulates the self-publishing debate in a nutshell :)
Nov. 18th, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
I think so, too. I added some info, BTW. Someone pointed me to another blog post.
Nov. 19th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting development. Still, Harlequin are big, I'm sure they'll come to some compromise.
Nov. 18th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC)
Your title provokes a quandry because writing can be either art or commercial, or both at once. To be in business, according to the IRS (one of the users of SIC codes), one must have a profit motive. That said, there is an SIC for the artist, which is generally where I place literary writers who wouldn't mind making a profit, but are able to sell work, regardless, and it's considered art by most critics or reviewers. Starving artists seem to be a category grudgingly accepted by the IRS.

Not that you asked, no. You just used it as your header. Total nonsequitor to your post.
Nov. 18th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
Hey, I am starting to feel like an industry! Can a nonsequitor come first?
Nov. 18th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
Though there are examples of self-published books going on to become 'real' sales, self-publishing presses are in the business to make money; and the people paying them are writers. I'm certain there is SOMEONE actually making $ on a book they published with Lulu, but I think both scenarios are akin to hitting the Lottery.

That said, I'm glad there are venues like Lulu. It actually costs me less $ to print up a bound copy through them than it does for me to do it on my own computer. And a lot less of a hassle. AND it's in a manageable size to actually read someplace other than a tabletop. Mom, sis, bro want copies, I have Lulu do them for me.
Nov. 18th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
That's true! I do that to proof, too, because I find I see the typos faster in a printed book than in a double-spaced m.s. Go figure!
Nov. 19th, 2009 12:48 pm (UTC)
When I've finished a first draft, I get it printed (letter-size, double-spaced, double-sided) in book form at Staples.

As you say, it makes it so much easier to manage.

Unfortunately, there's a downside to doing it this way. They have some kind of problem with their computer, which for some reason inserts spelling mistakes, extra commas and random plot holes in the printed ms :(
Nov. 19th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
you are a hoot!
Nov. 19th, 2009 01:52 pm (UTC)
They have some kind of problem with their computer, which for some reason inserts spelling mistakes, extra commas and random plot holes in the printed ms

I heard it's a computer-gremlin who used to be a writer but got so disgruntled by rejection that every letter warped his brain and body a bit until he was small enough to fit into a computer where he caused all sorts of mischief. THEN he learned how to use internet connections to travel between computers all over the world. I know this is true, because I have the SAME PROBLEM with my computer! Isn't that wierd? That little gremlin gets around.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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