simon and schuster

Note: Updated What We Saw launch details at the bottom, if publishing talk ain’t your thing.

Even if you are only a passing follower in publishing trends, you’ll have seen the latest major piece of news: Simon & Schuster have opened a ‘self-publishing’ service, attempting to tap into what is evidently a booming market of independent fiction.

Alarm bells always ring when publishers launch these companies. Penguin’s massive acquisition of Author Solutions and their premium rate ‘steps to success’ pretty much proved just how out of touch the major publishers are with the self-publishing trends, but Simon and Schuster have taken things a step further in teaming up to form the Archway Publishing imprint.

A quick glance through the press release is enough to leave a sickly taste in one’s mouth. The ‘Basic’ package, which I’d imagine consists of very little marketing support and offers nothing more than a book launch through Simon and Schuster’s self-publishing imprint, starts at $1,999.

And the insanity doesn’t stop there. The highest end package costs a whole $14,999. I daren’t even read what the package offers because I know it will infuriate me.

Out of Touch

I really don’t know what to think of this move. Are Simon and Schuster completely out of touch? This is NOT self-publishing. It’s vanity publishing, pure and simple, and if that is how the major publishers interpret the self-publishing landscape at present, then their demise is closer than I first thought.

On the other hand, it shows a sense of fear. A sense of little research. A misguided attempt to trick the rich and uneducated into believing that the only way to publish a book without approval from a major publisher is to pay a bucketload for it. Not only is this wrong, it’s stupid.

The perception of the self-publisher

Pretty much the first thing people ask me about independent publishing is how much I had to pay, often accompanied with a sort of, ‘ah, he’s been rejected’ expression. I don’t blame the questioners for this, because it’s a mindset that has been created by the major publishers. In a way, I think the term ‘self-publishing’ has forever been tarnished with vanity connotations, which is why I prefer the term ‘independent publishing’.

Let me spell this out for you: no, I did not have pay a single penny to independently publish my book, and neither do you. And no, I was not rejected because I chose not to submit to publishers because I believe the independent route is the best route right now.

I did spend money on professional cover design and professional editing, but that’s because I want to make a career out of my writing. You don’t have to, but I’d recommend it.

Seriously, you don’t have to spend a penny. If you’re considering Simon and Schuster’s package, I have a few simple steps for you.

1.) Slap yourself. Hard.

2.) Do a fucking Google search. There’s so much free information out there on marketing and publishing that I’m not even going to begin sharing them.

3.) Slap yourself again for almost making the mistake you did.

This is what frustrates me about authors who claim they ‘don’t know what to do’ so resort to spending money. It’s the same people who ‘don’t understand Twitter’ so incessantly spam links. Basically, it’s the money-hungry who want to see an instant return.

I have a bit of a grounder for you: you probably aren’t going to make much money when you only have one or two books out whether you spend $10k or not. In fact, I’d argue you’ll make more if you do a bit of research for yourself and save your money. You’ll thank me later.

What does this mean for self-publishing?

I know I’m annoyed, but that’s mainly because I don’t want innocent aspiring authors to get ripped off. That’s exactly what Simon and Schuster’s self-publishing service is: a rip-off of major proportions.

What does it mean for the rest of us who independently publish? Not much. The ‘self-publishing’ term is dirtied a little more in the eyes of the masses, but we’ve just got to keep on doing what we’re doing. Keep on blogging, tweeting, getting professional cover design and editing. Keep on building our platform, and keep on earning.

$14,999, wow. I’m trying to work that out in book sales but I’m not even going to begin.

If you’re still interested in Simon and Schuster’s premium package, or even the basic package, a little contest, perhaps? Okay. I bet I sell more books than you with my free (and infrequently paid at very low costs) marketing. Challenge accepted? Good. And don’t even think about asking me for a loan.

What We Saw Launch Update

On a more positive note costing much less than $14,999 (and $1,999 for that matter), What We Saw’s release date has been brought forward to 4th December (hopefully. I’ll let you know if earlier/later) That’s less that a week!

I have a few giveaways planned for launch week, so keep an eye on the blog if you’re interested.

What do you make of Simon and Schuster’s self-publishing service? Are they completely out of touch or do they fear the self-publishing boom threatens to swallow them up?

Image courtesy of theboyds via Flickr

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