Self-publishing is a trend worth looking deeper into. In this two-part article, Colin Schwager takes a look at the current state of self-publishing economics. Then, Susannah Martin takes the reader to the future to ask if self-publishing will be taking over all forms of entertainment, or if it will stay confined to the world of books.
Self-Publishing of the Future
By Susannah Martin
Self-publishing is taking over the world of novel writing, but the trend could soon spread to other sectors of the entertainment industry. It is a hard road to travel, however, as the barriers to entry are far more numerous and the gatekeepers far more powerful than the novelist could ever encounter.
Dr. Carey Martin is a professor of transmedia writing at Liberty University. He has written award-winning screenplays and does his best to keep his finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry. He says that, for authors and novelists, the primary advantage of self-publishing is not having to split the money they make with anyone else, other than the small amount the distribution company claims.
“Once you get that kind of publishing deal going on, whatever you make is profit, and obviously, that’s good in the short run,” says Martin.
It seems to be working out well in the long run, as well, as more and more self-publishing authors are finding themselves making more than their traditionally published peers. Martin thinks that the Big Five publishing houses are in danger of collapsing if they refuse to adapt, a threat major music publishers have been facing for several years.
Given the state of the music and book industries, the question then becomes, what about Hollywood? The film and television industries, Martin says, will probably be safe, at least for a while.
The reason is that, while music and novels can be created by a very small group or even just one person with fairly inexpensive equipment, film and television are much more collaborative mediums that are much more expensive. The barriers to entry in this case are not only high production cost, but also extremely high audience expectations.
“What the audience expects in terms of professionalism, of performance, of production is far beyond the range of even wealthy amateurs,” says Martin.
He highly doubts that an individual could produce something that could compete with big blockbusters the way that self-published authors can compete with bestsellers. However, that does not mean that there is not a place for independent productions in the film world.
Films without major studios behind them like The Blair Witch Project and The Passion of the Christ show that independent films can be successful, but marketing ingenuity and sheer novelty will need to play a large part if they want to make any money. Martin believes that, while it will continue to be nearly impossible for indies to compete with major studios in terms of blockbusters, they may still be able to “make a splash” on the industry with cheaper equipment in the future.
“Will this open up a niche for more independent films?” Martin says. “Very likely.”
Self-Publishing of the Present: The Economics Side
by: Colin Schwager
Self-publishing is an ever-evolving market involving many facets and moving parts but it is also a market that is quickly becoming oversaturated. E-books, the primary form of self-published material are in the decline, replaced by its print brethren, so where is the market going now but forward.
The rise of tablets and e-readers were once the savior of self-publishing authors. Easy access to the newest books allowed writers to get books out and into the hands of potential readers faster than ever before but now it is the rise of electronics that is the downfall of self-published material.
“When you are self-publishing, you lose the experience and expertise of publishers and their editors who help you formulate your ideas into complete thoughts,” said Josh Smith, an account staff member. “It is much easier to maintain a career as a writer once under the wing of a publisher, but it is much harder to get their than to just put a book on Amazon yourself.”
Readers are leaving their e-books in favor of streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, or picking up physical books. (more on this here: )
The market is oversaturated and readers are looking for more for their money, and writers are faced with a dilemma. Should they continue publishing themselves, or work harder to get under the wing of a corporation that would guarantee them a viable and lucrative spot in the market?
The self-publishing world may be facing a crisis, but it is still the fastest way for writers to get their work in the hands of readers, despite its many challenges. The positives may outweigh the positives now, but the negatives of self-publishing have crept inward and are sapping up the market much too quickly for consumers to face without grimacing.
“In the market, currently, self-published books are on the decline,” said Josh Smith. “The rules of supply and demand say, that whenever a demand for something goes down, supply decreases. So if you are self-publishing right now on something that is not demanded, there is no reason to supply something that no one wants.”
There are, however, upsides to self-publishing, despite the market decrease. You essentially play the role of your own agent, manager, and owner, thus giving self-published writers creative freedom, and the freedom to choose when, where, and what they write.
“Whenever you are working by yourself to self-publish you get to keep more profit and have more creative freedom over the books that you write,” said Smith. “You have control over things that editors would normally remove.”
The market was once full of books that were in demand, readers wanted more from their e-reading experience, but that experience has long lost its luster and has been replaced by media streaming services such as Netflix, and now Amazon Prime. Some movement has been made in combatting this strain on the market, however.
Amazon recently added Kindle Unlimited, a service like Netflix that allows readers with an Amazon account to read as many books as they want for a monthly fee. Readers in this program can read any books listed in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited catalogue, a list chokeholded to mostly self-published books, which is good news for writers.