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 @ 8:50am

    Re: Its not always about the money

    Instead she can outsource the hassle to someone else

    Agreed - but the problem with traditional publishing deals is that they aren't really about "outsourcing" but about trading your rights for the services. That's what I think Mike was referring to when he wrote "she could do a deal for just marketing, where she doesn't necessarily have to give up so much on the other side."

    Publishers, like record labels, have traditionally been modeled in such a way that they are essentially hiring the artists. Now that the artists themselves are wielding more power, I think we will start seeing more deals where the artists are setting the terms and hiring the publishers/labels to provide marketing services.

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