Yet another self-publishing service has closed its doors, but in the case of Pronoun, it’s not the usual “get rich off authors’ dreams” story that so many other sites have fallen victim to. Originally created as an arm of multimedia publishing platform Vook, Pronoun was purchased by Macmillan (yes, THAT Macmillan, as in one of the Big Five) in the spring of 2016, but has been unable to sustain its no upfront cost model.
It’s no surprise when a Big Five publisher launches a self-publishing division; after all, that’s what keeps poor indie authors coming back for more and paying the outrageous price for a publishing package, all for the quasi-credibility that comes from being even remotely associated with a real publisher. Others have offered authors their own sad versions of hopes and dreams, and been unscrupulous in the process (looking at you, Author Solutions, once owned by Penguin Random House).
Instead, Macmillan sought to do something honorable–albeit apparently unsustainable–with Pronoun by not charging upfront fees for packages. Sadly, Pronoun has announced that its story “ends here,” leaving a number of authors to wonder what happens to their files. Never fear, Pronoun thought of that and has information for those of you in question.
Does this ring the death knell for other companies that offer this kind of support to authors? That remains to be seen. While a number of authors have embraced the technology side of self-publishing, there will always be authors who just want to write the book and have someone else handle the upload and sales. However, today’s indie authors not only have choice in a vast sea of author services, but they also know that the companies need them more than they need the companies. The shift from traditional publisher to indie has taken hold some time ago, and now the shift from author support to stand-alone is poised to dictate the terms to the industry as well.