Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Latest Buzz - "Author Solutions"

Bowker reports that in 2008, there were more titles by self-published authors than by traditional publishers. It's obvious, one way or another, many authors are deciding to self-publish. And so, powered by Author Solutions, a leader in self-publishing, Harlequin now wants a piece of the self-publishing pie. Therefore, they've announced the launch of Harlequin Horizons (BTW - I'm reading today the name will change shortly due to certain resource eligibility conflicts, so stay tuned), a division of Harlequin that allows emerging authors to have their professionally published books available to readers, for a price.

With a greater number of publishers reporting losses and issuing layoffs, there are more author submission rejections than when I first started writing in 1999. I'd self-published in 2000, and by 2001 I was offered a deal with HarperCollins. Suddenly, self-published African American authors were being picked up by major houses left and right because of so many hard working AA self-pub authors who were able to sell more books on the streets than the publisher's own authors.

Today, in most genres, partly because of the recession and party because of the reality that a lot of authors just plain old ended up with very low numbers (for reasons ranging from lack of promotion to poor distribution and more), the very same authors who had book deals have found deals hard to come by. Either they're not being offered subsequent deals by their publishers, or they don't like the advances being offered. And so, they decided to submit elsewhere. Most find that the other major houses reject their work because of previous low sales, or the work itself is not accepted. They then seek out small, independent publishers who offer very small advances, if any. A lot of authors have given up on writing all together.

Non-traditional ways of publishing are the norm now. It's had to be that way just to stay published, or for new writers to get that first deal. Some independent publishing companies that are owned by self-published authors are doing so well, they wouldn't think of sharing the wealth with a major. And so, also thinking in a non-traditional way, Harlequin, and also Thomas Nelson, now offer imprints designed as another option for the self-published author to consider. The author pays a fee and gets sales, marketing, publication, and distribution services fulfilled by Author Solutions - published by Harlequin Horizons.

Is this really a viable option for writers who wish to self-pub? Wouldn't it be a benefit? After all, the Harlequin press release states that if the book performs well, there's a possibility they might pick up the title themselves, so it's a good way to get noticed, right? But what about the author making money? Is this a way for the author to get paid for their work? Or is this simply an easy way for commercial publishers to make money? Some say this is nothing more than vanity publishing with a fancy bow on it? What do you say?


Chicki said...

Have you read this?

Marissa Monteilh said...

Ah, yes, I did check that out, thanks. So much skepticism - probably won't even happen, thx!

KeVin K. said...

I gotta admit, I'm not a big fan of the vanity press route. So we're going to have to agree to disagree here.

One reason is economic: I don't have the disposable income to pay somebody to print manuscripts I can't sell (or can't be bothered to sell) to a publisher or packager.

And yes, I have heard the stories of the one-in-fifty-thousands writer who didn't know how to market her product properly going the vanity route only to have a real publisher buy the rights afterwards. All these stories indicate to me is how much the writer would have saved and how much more money she would have earned if she'd made the effort and taken the time -- which, yes, may have been years -- to sell her book the first time.

My take on the topic: In professional publishing, money flows to the author. Anything that costs the writer money is not being published professionally.
Your mileage may – and clearly does – vary.

Marissa Monteilh said...

Hi KeVin,

I totally agree with you, actually. If you write a book and it's selling, you should make money, not simply make the publisher a profit to put a book out w/your name on it. Yes, mileage does vary, truly. :-)

Liane Spicer said...

I agree with Kevin on this. The 'publishers' make the money here; the average self-pubbed author doesn't. The success stories touted by these companies are the exceptions to the rule, according to the stats I've read.