If you’re somewhat interested in self-publishing, odds are that you’ve read John Locke’s How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! Of course, odds are that you’ve also read about the real “secret” behind his success as a self-publisher.
But what really upset me was his genuine belief that he’s dealt some kind of deadly blow to traditional publishing, or that people are tools who should be used for marketing purposes. You know, talking monkeys with credit cards glued to their backs.
He also used this condescending tone when he referenced William Shakespeare at one point (he called him Billie.) He even implied that he was selling more than Shakespeare. Sadly, he’s not. Not even by a long margin. And he’s not nearly as famous as Shakespeare is.
I get it though. Sometimes people throw words without thinking too much. It happens. But, well, he said Shakespeare wrote plays, not books. He meant novels instead of books, I suppose, but that’s not the problem.
Well, first of all, Shakespeare is the third best known word in the world. Not author, not play writer, no, WORD. There are people in this world who haven’t heard about McDonald’s, but have heard about Shakespeare. Interesting. Then there are over 600 adaptations from his works, but that’s another thing.
So, yeah, John Locke is a brand now; he’s selling a lot of books(or at least used to), but he’s only marginally famous. Here in Romania no one has heard of him. Actually, there are some friends who don’t know what Amazon is. But they all heard about Shakespeare.
Ok, I get that he’s trying to make a point. He’s got something against traditional publishing. And it’s his right to do whatever he wants and be at war with whoever he wants, but let’s not make ridiculous assumptions. Publishing houses still make a lot of money, still manage to sell a lot of books, and there’s still a demand for printed books.
Fifty Shades of Grey would never sell so many books if it weren’t traditionally published. In fact, even though it’s constantly being referenced as being a self-publishing success, Fifty Shades of Grey started selling after it was traditionally published.
And then, if we think about the fact that in Europe people are just now discovering the idea behind Kindle, so it will take another few years before the market will resemble the one in the US. But there’s one more thing. There are people who like to read printed books, and people who will publish traditionally, and there will always be publishers. Small or big, it doesn’t matter, but there will be a certain editorial etiquette attached to the books said publishers will choose to sell.
This is not a war.
I like self-publishing. A lot. It’s the sole reason I can do what I do from a shabby neighborhood in Constanta, Romania. It’s also a great option for those who have the time, skill, and resources to market the books themselves. I’ve said it more than once: “self-publishing isn’t for everyone.”
Truth be told, I’d like for both of these options to co-exist. And there’s no reason why this can’t happen. In fact, I’m pretty sure that one does not exclude the other. Writers should be able to choose the path they pursue.
It’s really as simple as that.
Publishing houses are going to change their policies. Agents are going to change the way they treat writers. Either that or they’ll face a very slow death.
Self-publishing is already a viable alternative to traditional publishing. So right now, as more and more writers are choosing this route, they are doing so not because they secretly wish to attract enough attention from publishers (of course, I’m not saying that there aren’t some who do wish that), but because they want to be treated fairly — they want to be viewed as partners, to have a say in the way their books are marketed and presented to readers.
If there’s something that self-publishing is going to change in the near future is the fact that it’s going to force publishers to change their policies towards writers.