Thursday, August 05, 2010

Smart Things

Sarah Monette saying smart things about learning.

Michelle Sagara explains why she's not fussed about people not reading her books. I am in complete agreement with this post.

Jim Hines saying smart things about how rapidly publishing has been changing. Or why pros who entered the filed at different times may give you wildly different advice on the same publishing questions.

Via Lilith Saintcrow: Michael Bhaskar on the production costs of ebooks—I think he misses a few things in terms of places where costs savings can enter the chain, including, warehousing, and returns, but he's right about the large fixed costs. Also, Nora O'Neill with a historical perspective on why paper books aren't going away any time soon—though I think the percentage of physical books as a part of the whole is going to go down substantially.


Shawn Enderlin said...

In regards to Michael Bhaskar's post: I guess I don't understand where all of these huge fixed digital production costs he refers to are coming from. the only thing he cited were subscriptions for DRM. The other things I'm aware of, typesetting, e-book format conversions, etc. are done every day by people who are quite successfully e-pubbing on their own.

Kelly, do you have any idea or can you point me in the right direction?

Kelly McCullough said...

He's talking about editorial staff, marketing, book design, typesetting, office space, legal department, liabilty insurance, etc. Basically, all the things a publisher needs to exist.

I suspect that he would make the argument, as would many publishing professionals that the people who are doing it on their own, by and large aren't doing any of those functions as well or as efficiently as a publisher does, and that doing those things on your own instead of outsourcing them to people who do it for a living is really bad use of time for a professional writer.

Also that particularly for things like the legal department a self-pubber can't afford to do it at all. Which, you know, doesn't matter until someone sues you. At which point, if you self-pub, you probably go bankrupt.

Shawn Enderlin said...

Yes, that all makes sense.

I've been doing a fair bit of reading about self-publishing and while there are a number of attractive aspects to it I keep coming back to two huge drawbacks: no agent, and no editor. the legal aspect you mentioned is a potential third.

I think that as the market continues to shift towards digital we will inevitably see a greater number of people self-publishing. I think it would logically follow that a number of the services currently supplied by the big publishers would appear in another form. I've already seen evidence of some agents and editors turning towards freelance work. A self publisher could potentially partner with these freelancers, but this begs the question of compensation and after all the cards are on the table would a self publisher still be able to make more than if they just went with a traditional publisher?

Interesting questions, eh? :-)