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. icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), 22 Mar 2011 @ 8:19am

    I hope she will read about Eisler and, at the very least, demand to retain all or most of the ebook rights to her work.

    Luckily, regardless of what happens, I think this will still increase the push towards self-publishing. For those authors who do still believe they need a big-house deal to "make it", this will show them that self publishing some work doesn't actually close that door, and in fact may be the best way to get a foot in it. I think there are a lot of authors out there sitting on manuscripts that they want to sell and worried about self-publishing lest it destroy their value in the traditional ecosystem - and this might be the nudge they need. Whether or not they too will leverage self-pubbing into a deal, or decide that they can make it better on their own, remains to be seen (I suspect quite a few will discover the latter)

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