Throwback Thursday: The Future of Publishing Revisited

Thursday July 25, 2019 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging

These are from a series of posts I did back in the week of December 10, 2010. This was the week I discovered Dean Smith and Kristine Rusch. Other than updating a few of the links below,  and the price model that is referred to at the bottom is probably out of date. Otherwise, nothing much has changed in nearly ten years.

booksThat amazes me. Back then a lot of people were saying it was going to be the end of traditional publishing.

But Kris was right on the money, although the Big Five haven’t completely figured it out, even now. They are not going anywhere. If anything, it has only made it harder for unknown writers to break in to traditional publishing. This makes me scratch my head. We will see what the next ten years bring.

Part 1

I don’t know where everyone gets the idea that the costs of publishing eBooks are zero. I see that comment all the time.

If you want someone to edit the book or prepare it for the zillion formats that eReaders use it comes with a price tag. That stuff doesn’t happen all by itself. If you expect the author to do that stuff you are going to see a lot fewer books coming out or coming out in limited formats. The biggest complaint most people have about eBooks is the poor quality of editing, so if you think you are going to self-publish without the proper number of rounds of the editing process you are setting yourself up for failure.

Self-publishing is growing dramatically and so is the eBook market. It’s leading to a problem of differentiating the good from the bad. Some new filtering mechanism is likely going to develop to separate the chaff from the wheat, but I haven’t seen it yet. There is still a lot of crap making it out into the online market. There are a lot of well-known authors making an effort to take control of their publishing but it does take a toll.

I think marketing is a huge issue, maybe the biggest. If you can’t reach your audience you aren’t going to sell any books. Having an actual marketing plan and following through on it will likely be the difference of success or failure of your book, and that holds true for eBooks and traditional paper books. Large publishing houses can market your book in a way that you will likely never be able to manage unless your name starts with J.K.

Publishers have their place in the scheme and I don’t think most authors want to do those things that publishers can bring to the table. It takes away time from writing and a lot of it requires a skill set they may not have. It’s all a matter of finding the right pricing structure that will make the publisher a viable entity and still provide the author with the appropriate level of compensation for their efforts. Some of the publishers are figuring it out and moving in the right direction now. Time will tell if the big publishing houses will figure it out.

Part 2

Just after I finished my last post Jane Fancher posted that she had run into Patty Briggs this weekend and mentioned that she was releasing a new book and posted a link to it. In that post Mike Briggs, Patty’s husband who runs her website, linked to another post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch about the very subject I had posted on earlier. Her blog is usually focused on the business end. She knows the publishing industry from the inside and from the writer’s perspective and she is in the middle of a series of articles trying to define where the industry is heading and what it means to writers. I am linking all the posts below that she has already published as of today. They are lengthy and very well researched and very informative.

Here is just one snippet from her outstanding blog:

“Enter electronic publishing—which is, as the bloggers say, a game-changer. But it’s not a game-changer the way that the bloggers believe it is. Electronic publishing will enable Big Publishing to change its business model. In other words, electronic publishing won’t cause the demise of Big Publishing. Electronic publishing will save it.”

Part 3

The publishing landscape has changed dramatically in the last two years and continues to change. Distribution was always tough for a small publishing house and forget it if you were trying to self-publish. But that’s all changed now. Dean Wesley Smith has a section on his website devoted to debunking the myths of writing and publishing a book. Here is one gem I found in the comments section below his post about self-publishing:


Put your novel up on Kindle. Cost: Free

Put your novel up on Smashwords, which gets you to Sony, Nook, iBook, and other places. Cost: Free

Put your novel through CreateSpace in trade paperback form in POD. That gets it to Amazon. Cost: Free (or $39.00 if you want better distribution into all stores.)

Put your novel through LighteningSource in trade paperback form in POD. That gets it to Ingram. Cost: around $100.00

No reason for a self-published author these days to pretend to be a traditional publisher and go into the produce model. And besides, why do it until you’ve tried to sell it to a traditional fiction publisher first?


–Dean Wesley Smith


Here is a link to his “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” website. It’s chock full of great information and advice for someone trying to break in to the writing business:

Dean Wesley Smith

I highly recommend it!

All this reading I’ve been doing has convinced me all the more that I just need to spend more time writing and worry about the other stuff after I finish the manuscripts. I’m back at it….

I would love to hear from you!