So, I don't know if anyone else follows JA Konrath's blog,A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
, but I do. Not because I always agree with his views - actually, most of the time, I don't, because he's just a bit too cynical even for me. But he does tend to always have lots of interesting information for writers, so it's worth checking in from time to time. And yesterdayhe posted this announcement
. Basically, after having shopped the latest novel in his Jack Daniels series and finding no publisher wanted it, Konrath and his agent inked a deal with Amazon Encore
. To my knowledge, this is the first time a "big name author" has done this, since Encore thus far has been aimed at "overlooked books and authors" (which I guess means self-published, small press, out-of-print, etc?). Anyway, you can read all the fine details at Konrath's blog.
This is certainly interesting for a number of reasons. It interests me most because everyone is saying this is a publishing revolution, that authors will no longer be dependent on agents and publishers, etc etc... and that basically This Will Show Them All, which is an attitude I find quite sad. There are plenty of flaws with the publishing business, same as with any business. But I hate this theory that there's a massive conspiracy to keep all us talented genius writers out of publishing, or that you have to know someone in the business to get a foot in the door, or whatever. Publishers and agents are not the enemy. It's a symbiotic system. And yes, there are plenty of awesome books that don't find homes with traditional publishers, just as there are plenty of cruddy books that do. That's because the merit of any piece of literature is subjective, and what one person loves, another will hate. You can't change that.
I see a lot of people jumping up and down at the thought of following in Konrath's "trail-blazing" footsteps, and publishing their work via Encore or Kindle and finding an audience that way. I think those people are simplifying the issue, and Jason Pinter sums up my feelings as to why very eloquently and concisely here.
Basically, Konrath is already an established and successful writer, with talent and experience behind him. He has an audience and a fanbase built up over years of work and writing. What will doubtless be a great success for him, financially and career-wise, won't necessarily work the same way for somebody else.
I get there are lots of reasons to self-publish, but I think the pitfalls outweigh the potential rewards. Read Stacia Kane's great article here
if you're interested in a very good look at the subject. I think in terms of what Konrath has done/is doing, this could open the gates for a lot of people who want to be published for the wrong reasons, and send them rushing to put out unedited, badly written books on the Kindle thinking it'll make them a fortune and Show Them All. How this will impact on readers, I don't know. Maybe it won't? Maybe they'll ignore the self-pubbed stuff and stick with what they know.
But I think it could impact on writers. Remember the whole Harlequin Horizons thing a while back
? Harlequin authors worried that a sudden influx of poor-quality romances with the Harlequin logo on would devalue their own fine-tuned, hard-worked-upon products. And I think that's a very valid concern. Genre fiction gets lambasted enough already, without throwing more fuel on the fire. If suddenly everyone who thinks their magnum opus sparkly vampire romance is worthy of publication by any means goes rushing to the Kindle, the sparkly vampire romance market will become saturated, and fans of that genre will grow disenchanted and move on. And of course, it's extra ammunition to those who say genre fiction has no merit.
So, where does this leave us? It's inevitable that new technology will change publishing; I think we all just have to accept that. The Kindle and devices like it will make self-publishing easier (although the quality of self-published products won't necessarily be better). I don't think Konrath's deal is quite the massive game-changer for writers everyone thinks it is, as Amazon have essentially played the same role as any agent or publisher: picking a product they think has appeal and will sell well. I know, as someone who has wanted all my life to be a working writer, I'm going to be watching with interest. And I'm definitely interested in other people's opinions.ETA - nathreee said something that's really made me think (curses!) so I might be posting more on this whole shebang soon, in which case I very much want to know what everyone, readers and writers, thinks. Got views on self-publishing, Amazon Encore, the Kindle, etc? Tell me!