Only a handful of years ago, self-published authors fought for legitimacy and respect while readers, retailers, and the traditional publishing industry scoffed at the notion that anyone would buy a book that hadn’t been passed through the infamous “gate.” Even with the names of early multi-million selling authors being thrown around, names like Amanda Hocking and Bella Andre, those cases were dismissed as flukes. Then came the indie-to-traditional deals in which authors were “picked up” for “real” publishing, and those were also considered abnormal. EL James self-published an admittedly sub-par book that went on to become a blockbuster movie…but that wasn’t “normal,” either.
Basically, it seems as though the entire publishing landscape has grown into admitting that self-publishing is a viable option, as long as there’s a caveat that states the success isn’t normal.
But if that’s the case, why are some of the largest publishing events in the world–events like BookExpo America and last week’s London Book Fair–not only welcoming self-published authors and self-publishing professionals, but finding there are lines of people–reader fans and experts alike–waiting for an audience with these members of the industry?
To be sure, events such as these still relegate self-publishing and digital only to segregated areas of the event. BookExpo offers its Author Hub and uPublishU in side portions of the show floor, but last year’s setup was hardly a dimly lit storage room in a forgotten basement; the area was engaging, welcoming, and provided a full schedule of activities and speakers. The London Book Fair likewise moved the self-publishing focus to the second floor of the conference center, but it was easily accessible and not hidden away; beyond that, it was crowded throughout the event with authors, readers, and industry professionals.
One notable feature of the author-centric self-publishing movement is the understanding that indie authors and companies are moving the entire industry forward at a rapid pace, while only a few holdouts in the traditional industry are digging their heels in and refusing to follow the crowd. For the most part, even the big names who’ve controlled publishing for centuries are looking to experiment, and finding new titles from among the ranks of the indie bestseller lists. The current climate cane be summed up in a statement that has been made since the beginning of the digital revolution: there’s never been a better time to be an author or a reader.