I was over at Electric Alphabet the other day and was interested in Kate Eltham’s examination of the question posed by Mark Coker in his article for The Huffington Post, do authors still need publishers?
Coker argues that an author (he uses names like Stephen King and JK Rowling) with a dedicated fanbase could get a much better return from the marketplace by self-publishing. And while there are few poets (if any) who boast fanbases with the size and sustainability of King or Rowling, this also rings true in the poetry world. But as Kate points out:
the author that can make a self-publishing project successful is the author who is an entrepreneur, a small business manager, a savvy marketer and a tireless communicator.
No easy feat…
But this is something that poets worldwide have known for sometime and many are now fulfilling all of these roles quite successfully. As Seth Godin suggests in the article Tribe Building 101, increased communication between author and reader through blogs, online forums, and in person, encourages greater transparency and will help to consolidate your fanbase.
Blogging has opened up a new world for me and the countless other poets who regularly post their words each day. It is a way of reaching out to other writers and readers. It facilitates collaboration. It helps build community. And for me, it is a way of discipling myself to write. I feel like a novice in the blogging field, but already it has opened up many new avenues for my work. Combined with regular submissions to journals (online and print), regular readings (open mic and features), organising events, attending events and in general lending support to the development of the greater poetry community, I feel I am finally laying a platform to build on. All this has been ten years in the making and it has all been worth it. I plan to release my next book independently in 2010 and am feeling confident about the process.
That is not to say I am anti-publisher. Nothing could be further from the truth… I am one half of the team that runs Small Change Press and have recently been working on the Brisbane New Voices project. Indeed, I believe publishers have an important role to play, bringing new voices to a wider public, but it has to be said that independent publishers also require their authors to be creating their own platform through blogging, reading, submitting to journals etc… Being published, so to speak, does not mean that you can sit back and watch the sales roll in. In today’s writing/reading world, the entrepreneurial skills of marketing and communication need to be embraced by all.
It is clear that the relationship between author and publisher has changed forever. Some would argue for better, others for worse. What I am most interested in is how authors and publishers can survive and thrive (together or alone) in the future. All thoughts welcome…