November 18th, 2009

Lego in ultraviolet

Wonder what the SIC code is for "aspring writer"?

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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