It’s been quite a month for the publishing industry. We could actually argue that 2014 has already been quite a year for publishing, but truth be told, we’d have to be really honest and say that the 21st century has really had some fun with publishing. We’ve seen mergers between major publishing houses, intense growth at the world’s largest ebook retailer, daily rumors threatening the demise of another ebook retailer, and finally, a great coup among authors who are tired of the cloak-and-dagger mentality to the business side of books.
And while the household names of self-publishing continue to make headlines and progress, there are a number of authors who just like to do what they do best: write and publish books that thrill their fans. Dubbed by his fellow authors as one of the hardest working writers in publishing (with no less than ten books written, edited, and published per year), Russell Blake spoke to Good e-Reader about what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s going on in publishing.
“The traditional publishing system, for all of its flaws, is a lottery. For every thousand people that submit, maybe two will get picked up by an agent. Then add another thousand agented authors to it, there’s only a few slots every year in each genre for a new author. The odds are pretty terrible as an author of making anything.If you do get your advance, it’s going to be in the five to ten grand range, spread out over three years. How is that a good deal?
“The vast majority of authors are working day jobs…but if you look at the implications [of self-publishing], a lot more authors are able to earn a living wage, if you will, than five or ten years ago.”
Even though the book industry’s seemingly archaic ways are often compared unfavorably to that of the music industry when it comes to the selling of digital content, Blake likened the system of selecting the “next big thing” to the way that record companies often chose the next artist.
“You would find a hundred artists, give them each $100 grand worth of studio time and one music video, then you would throw all one hundred acts kind of out there and see which one or two began breaking big. And that one or two got all hype and media attention, and the other ninety-eight failed, and went nowhere. The large publishing business is like the record business: they’re great once something is breaking, but they’re kind of terrible at knowing what’s gonna break next. That’s the shotgun approach that traditional publishing has taken.”
Blake is one of the growing crowd of authors who’s come to realize that this broken model stands in the way of creating dynamic content for readers, earning a livelihood, and the basic principle of enjoying the writing process. His personal formula for writing and publishing through platforms like CreateSpace for his print editions and online platforms for ebooks has resulted in twenty-five books on the bestseller list, featured articles in the Wall Street Journal and other major newspapers, and a book co-written with Clive Cussler, to be published later this year.
“You can make a living, and for some authors a very good living, just writing what you want in your voice. That’s amazing, that’s never happened before.”