The War Is Over | Eoin Purcell: Why Traditional Publishers Should Surrender To Self Publishing

I’ve pretty much kept my head and opinions out of the roaring debate on Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings reports published on his website over the past couple of weeks, and the ensuing, spewing and almost never-ending posts from all sides. I like debate, even when it gets heated, but much of what I have read is nothing more than a means to an end. There are far more experts knocking around the block than solutions when it comes to discussing self and traditional publishing.

One recent post that does deserve attention is Eoin Purcell’s “Why Traditional Publishers Should Surrender To Self Publishing”—less a surrender, perhaps more an acceptance of how the publishing landscape is now, rather than how we might like it to be.
Here’s my tuppence worth:
The arguments on the validity of how you see the latest Howey data is something of a means to an end if you only look at it from your side of the fence. Kind of trench warfare! Just as Hugh published his data for authors, DBW published their data for the publishing industry. This isn’t about adopting sides, but accepting that the Future of Publishing will be decided by the two most important characters in the story – author and reader. Everyone needs to step back from the expert address box and let them get on with it, wherever it takes us!

The problem has been presented as an oppositional one, almost a battle between self publishing and traditional publishing. I think looking at it that way is useful in many ways but also obscures other issues too.


Well the truth is, if there was a war between self publishing and publishing, it’s over and authors (who are the major self publishers and hence the foot-soldiers, commanders and field marshals of self publishing’s forces) have won it.


Yet, despite their sense of achievement, authors will find that victory is not as sweet, as complete nor even as satisfying as it might appear. The main reason for this is that the very forces that are driving change and have swept them into a position of victory are opening up the doors for everyone else.


Right now the biggest publishers are making the most of their remaining power to grab great margin from the ebook revolution. I don’t expect that to last forever. They will be forced by reality to cede a greater share of that margin with their big name authors which will probably force them to cede greater share of the bounty with smaller name authors.


What self publishing has done is show publishers that the rules that they have worked by for a while now, are broken or are breaking. They should know when to throw in the towel and accept that and accelerate the process of change that many have already begun.


About the biggest problem readers will have is deciding what to read next, not because they won’t be able to find something they will like, but rather because they will have too many things they like to read at one time.


Unless we want to dial the industry and society back 20 or 30 years and forgo the benefits of the technologies that are facilitating these forces then we have to accept that someone was going to take advantage of the inefficiencies unleashed by the internet and authors were going to take advantage of new distribution options. That is just how it goes.

Full article here.

Mick Rooney – Publishing Consultant

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