The Golden Age of Publishing
Though 2020 was a time of strife for many, the publishing industry did see some growth. Because of the pandemic, many brick and mortar bookstores have suffered, but the online industry is booming (Barron). Publishing sales have generally increased in the past year, and with this, e-books have become increasingly popular (Albanese). While “85% of printers in the country are now facing [a] financial crisis,” self-publishing through electronic methods has become a more popular alternative to jumping through the various hoops within traditional publishing (Sapru).
Though self-publishing is taboo for many reasons, including a lack of “quality control,” lack of “editing,” and unappealing design techniques, many authors have opted for this method of publishing even before the pandemic hit (Notaras). Self-publishing, though, provides authors with the unique opportunity to put their work into the world exactly the way they want it, and as a bonus, they can receive “up to 70%” of the profit from it (Charles). As well as this, many authors of color have not been able to find as much success within traditional publishing as they have within self-publishing, and this avenue allows for more marginalized voices to be heard and stories to be told (Charles). The rise in self-publishing symbolizes the accessibility of writing for all - even if the writing is not as heavily edited or proofread, it is still beneficial for young and marginalized authors to share their thoughts, feelings, and stories in the way they see fit.
A common argument against self publishing is not about the quality of the book itself. Rather, authors who are published traditionally and are against self-publication base their arguments on how it makes them feel as polished and experienced writers who fought tooth and nail to achieve the level of success that they have. Common arguments include that self-publishing is too accessible, that it diminishes the hard work of authors who chose the traditional route, and/or that it makes the act of writing a book more of a “side hustle” than a dedicated process. However, many traditionally published authors are actually switching to publishing independently (Noblit). Especially with the breaking news that Penguin Random House is acquiring Simon & Schuster, self publishing is rapidly becoming a more appealing choice for those who have already worked within traditional publishing (Noblit). This acquisition would diminish the “Big 5” publishing corporations to the “Big 4,” which would decrease competition. Both popular and obscure authors may interpret this as a bigger threat to their financial security, as there are less opportunities to be published traditionally than before. Big authors already have eager and loyal audiences that drive their book sales, so with their decision to publish their books independently, the stigma behind self-publishing may at least decrease, but at most disappear.
Arguably the largest benefit to self-publishing is the ability for an author to retain the rights to their work. While authors who self-published are unable to receive outside help for things like marketing, design, and editing, they will have the comfort of knowing that their work will be truly theirs (Anderson). Self-publishing means that the author owns all of the rights to their work, therefore meaning that their work is tailored to their liking, not to what another editor thinks will look best or sell the most copies. Perhaps the phrase “The Golden Age of Publishing” is a nod to the newfound respect for self-published authors and the rise in authors owning the rights to their creations rather than the idea that the industry is becoming more lucrative.
Albanese, Andrew. “New Report Offers Post-Pandemic Outlook for Book Business.” PublishersWeekly.com, 7 Jan. 2021
Anderson, Joseph. “Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing in 2021.” Joseph Writer Anderson, Joseph Writer Anderson, 23 Apr. 2021
Barron, Kaelyn. “The Effects of COVID-19 on the Publishing Industry: The Start of a New Era?” TCK Publishing, 15 Jan. 2021
Charles, Johania. “Black Authors Edge into Self-Publishing Industry.” The Miami Times, 10 Mar. 2021
Noblit, Clayton. “The Top Ten Publishing Trends Every Author Needs to Know In 2021.” Written Word Media, 15 Jan. 2021
Notaras, Kelly. “Why Self-Publishing Has a Bad Rap: Three Pitfalls and Their Antidotes.” Kn Literary Arts, 20 Jan. 2021