Crossing Paths: Published Author Goes Self-Published, As Self-Published Author Considers Big Publishing Deal

from the which-way-do-you-go? dept

So we just wrote about best-selling author Barry Eisler's decision to turn down a half-a-million dollar book deal, in order to self-publish. In the conversation, some people pointed out that he could do this, since he'd already built up an audience. Of course, just a few weeks ago, we wrote about Amanda Hocking, an entirely self-published author who was making a ton of money, having built up her own audience with incredibly cheap ebooks.

Yet, as many people noted, the very same day that Eisler announced that he was passing on that big contract, lots of folks in publishing were buzzing about the fact that Hocking appears ready to sign a million-dollar-plus publishing contract, heading in the other direction. Some will suggest that this shows that self-publishing doesn't work. After all, if it did work, why would she sign such a deal? I'm not convinced that's actually true. There are plenty of reasons why she might be interested in this kind of deal, though, not all of them may be good reasons.

I think plenty of authors still think they need a big publishing deal to consider themselves to have "made it." Even if they're collecting tons of money elsewhere. On top of that, someone handing you a million dollars (or more) upfront sure must be difficult to ignore -- even if it comes with strings and may be less lucrative in the long run. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Honestly, though, if I were in Hocking's shoes, I'd realize that I have the leverage here, and that means a lot more than just getting the top dollar. She easily could be in a position to negotiate the key things she really wants/needs from a publisher, without giving in to the terms and strings that typically come with a publishing deal. The marketing support (if it works) could obviously help, even with the giant fanbase she's built up. But she could do a deal for just marketing, where she doesn't necessarily have to give up so much on the other side. Either way, this will be an interesting case study to follow over the next few years.

Filed Under: amanda hocking, authors, barry eisler, business models, publishing, self-publishing


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2011 @ 9:43am

    Re:

    I think that in the Techdirt world, it is a little difficult sometimes to admit that the other side has it's advantages. There are reasons to do either option, and much of it depends on the position of the author, their goals, and the product they are pushing.

    Quite simply, Hocking likely seems a new arena to push into. A publishing deal will include wide distribution, visibility, maybe book tours and the like. It could also give easy access to library placements all over the US (and wherever else the contract includes), and raise Hocking's profile outside of her current fan babe. She is expanding into a new marketplace.

    For Eisler, he probably feels that he has already gotten all of the benefit of these things over his last works, and wants to try addressing a different marketplace. The online buyer, the ebook reader, and so on are all different marketplaces, and he is looking to expand into a new one.

    The "dead tree" business is still significant, and the shift to ebooks doesn't take away from much of what the publishers do that is good: Getting access, wide distribution, and markets. As a marketing service (and as a filter for buyers of books) they serve a useful market function.

    The economics of each are different, the risk assumed different, and the rewards are different. Why is it hard to imagine that there is more than one type of market for books?

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