Literary agent Andrew Lownie in THIS article recently stated that he believes that nearly 75% of published books within then next 5-10 years will be self-published. This announcement has certainly turned the writing blog-o-sphere on its nose with both excitement and scorn. Of course, this is mere conjuncture, but even the pronouncement has some broad and interesting ramifications. First off, this is from a literary agent who understands the workings of the traditional publishing field, and, clearly, he sees it as in decline. Even if the claims are vastly overstated, it serves as an illustration that more and more traditional publishers are going to stick to tried and true formats with tried and true authors. It will be even more difficult for unknown authors to be discovered.
However, will being discovered even matter anymore? Self-published authors will need to build themselves up, establishing their own author brand and inching into the readers’ consciousness. There won’t be discoveries any more but rather breakthroughs, like what we see currently when an indie author finally finds a large audience. It’s happening more and more, and the squeeze on the traditional publishers must be troubling to those who still have large conference rooms with mahogany tables.
Recently, I was reading about an indie author has has broken-through and sold several hundred thousand books up to this point. He went on to say that, before he had a large following, he wasn’t interested in spending years trying to find a literary agent and then finally getting a poor advance on a publishing deal. In his mind, the hours and rewards of a traditional publishing deal just aren’t worth it anymore. He kept writing, went indie, and made it.
I can identify with that – except the ‘made it’ part – not yet! But there more and more compelling reasons not to put in a tremendous amount of time trying to find an agent and trying to break into traditional publishing. Perhaps serious self-published authors will find it to be more to their benefit to concentrate on their writing, write great books, meet readers on-line, network, write more great books, be available, build your platform, and strive forward in the work you love to do.
The market is moving in our favor, but nothing will ever be handed to us. And that’s a message I take personally. I am devoted to being the best writer I can, and to tell the very best stories that I have within me. I hope there are readers out there who enjoy coming along for the ride because this indie author is ready for the future of publishing.