Why I Left My Publisher in Order to Publish a Book

I'm publishing a lot of essays this week, but enjoy the conversations here more than out on the regular net. So I'll link to them when I think they're appropriate for the Boing Boing community as well.

This one, for Arthurmag, explains why – for my own current book, anyway – independent publishing may be a much better path than going through the traditional corporate route. Unlike Seth Godin, I'm not in a position to say "I've decided not to publish any more books in the traditional way. 12 for 12 and I'm done." There are reasons to go the long route, including getting an advance, getting distribution, and getting the weight of an imprint when soliciting reviews and coverage. But being able to make such definitive statements is part of what makes Seth Godin, Seth Godin.

For me, it had a whole lot to do with my impatience waiting for a book to move through the traditional, 1 1/2-year release cycle, as well as wanting to sell a book for less money. It seemed to me that if people are willing to click somewhere other than Amazon or BN for a book, then we'd be able use the web in something much closer to a p2p fashion.

There's even some good news in the failure of so much of traditional publishing: the discarded talent is still here to help us write better books, and is developing some new models for getting them out:

Meanwhile, the better editors and publicists–the ones who understand their jobs differently than the corporate publishing model now dictates–are the first to be let go when budgets are cut. Working with an author on a book takes valuable time away from the acquisition of more titles. Working a whole afternoon to get a young novelist on NPR for an hour means a lot less to the executives and their balance sheets than getting a defamed movie star two minutes with Katie Couric.

Luckily for writers, however, the editors, marketers, and publicists booted from the corporate publishing industry are starting up little companies of their own. The corporate book industry can't grow at the rate required by publicly held companies, anyway. This is why it is failing. Publishing is a sustainable business, not a growth industry. So it needs to be run by people looking for sustainable projects and careers–not runaway profits.