Who needs publishers? We all do!


By Philip Goldberg in The Huffington Post:

Recently, Newsweek ran an article about the brave new world of self-publishing. Its title asked the question “Who Needs a Publisher?” Well, the short answer is, I do. The bigger answer is: we all do.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that self-publishing has evolved from stigma to respectability. I love that worthy authors who might be overlooked by the major houses can now be read. It’s great that writers with a special niche, an established following or an entrepreneurial bent can make more money self-publishing than they would in royalties. But I’m also concerned about the future of books and the larger issue of assuring the flow of reliable information.

Continue reading at huffingtonpost.com

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Publishing Talk is the online community for publishers and authors interested in social media marketing, digital publishing, self-publishing and the future of the industry. It is run by social media consultant, author and ex-publisher Jon Reed.


  1. I completely DISagree! If you want it enough, you can Indie publish, and get AWESOME results! Plus, you NEVER go out of print, KEEP the profits way more, and most importantly, KEEP CREATIVE CONTROL!

    Indie IS the future!

    – Jeff Emmerson

  2. Jessica Swift on

    My clients and I are excited about the changes taking place in the industry. The term “self-publishing” however, is rapidly becoming antiquated, replaced by the stronger and more apt “indie publishing.” Editors, designers, and typesetters who would also be overlooked by traditional publishers have a place in this new publishing world, too. As to assuring “the flow of reliable information”–what does that mean? That only books published “traditionally” can be considered reliable? I strongly disagree and urge all of us to continually question the dominate paradigm and think for ourselves.

  3. Indie publishing is great – it’s the marketting and selling that’s the chore. Friends will buy your books but making the move to friends of friends is tough. There are strategies but they take time and that’s time when you’d rather be writing.

  4. Yes, it’s great that individuals who write for a minority audience or have an unconventional view point can be out there but it’s still a struggle to get your book into bookshops. Despite digital printing, you’re still up against the economies of scale with printing and distributing.
    I’m not against self publishing; it’s what I do but it’s not a breeze.

  5. Jessica Swift on

    Lucy, you definitely have a valid point regarding the promotion of your work as an indie-published author. However, with traditional publishers scaling back and trying to catch up with the digital world, many new traditionally published authors are faced with similar self-promoting challanges as those who indie publish. Though they’re backed by a (potentially) recognizable publisher, the marketing and publicity support often just isn’t there. I’m not anti-traditional publishing by any means, but I appreciate that those with something to write have the opportunity to realize the dream of getting into print, regardless of who says it’s worthwhile.

  6. Well, this is a complex topic. Do I want a traditional publisher? Yes. Do I want the kind of relationships Goldberg enjoys with his publishers? Yes. I have an agent who opted not to try to sell certain books because they were too small and quiet or the market for the book wasn’t entirely clear to her…so, am I supposed to sit around and wait to be chosen some day? The huffpost article was important–not only does it show why all the support given in the traditional publishing arena is important, it also shows how unreliable the dictates that surround the process are. The author of the article (Goldberg) delineates the great degree to which he’s supported in shaping, revising and editing his work…well, that’s not the way it works for most. The prevailing thought for fiction is “hey bring it to us packaged exactly as we want it. Then we’ll talk.” Goldberg is fortunate and talented and it’s terrific that the world has worked that way for him. But, it’s about time there’s a doable option for the rest of the world. Yes, I want what he has. Perhaps, building an audience with my self-published work will get me there. I guess we’ll see. Good luck to us all!

  7. This is a complex topic, but I liken it to indie films in the movie arena, success is possible. The burden is on the indie publisher to produce something spectacular. Self-publishing has a negative stigma attached to it because, in many cases, those books are not taken seriously enough during their development, be it in the writing, illustrating/design, editing or production stage. The goal should be to produce books that can compete with large publishing houses. In fact, its fair to say that independent publishers need to produce books that are better than large publishers. The majority of self-publishers need more education before embarking on this endeavor. They gravely underestimate the time, expertise and budget it requires to produce a quality book.

  8. I am really interested in this discussion. For years I have fought against self-publishing on the basis that if I was good enough I would be picked up by a mainstream publisher. I do have some friends in the publishing industry and they tell me that my novel is a good read but that it’s not enough these days to write a good enjoyable story. It has to be ‘different’, have an edge. I can’t help wondering if the average reader only wants to read something that is ‘different’ or ‘edgy’. I finally gave in and published one of my books through Youwriteon on the basis that if I can sell at least 1000 I might be able to persuade a mainstream publisher to buy the sequel. Now half of me thinks that I’m just deluding myself while the other thinks ‘what have I got to lose.’

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