By now, most people interested in books and publishing have heard of Hugh Howey, a self-published SF writer whose eighth (I think) book Wool hit gold and became a runaway bestseller in ebook. It made a millionaire of the author, and led in the course of time to an extraordinary print contract with a major New York publisher, in which the publisher offered a large six-figure advance for print rights only, allowing the author to continue to mine his own ebook rights to the tune of six figures monthly.
Anyway, Hugh Howey writes on Salon.com about his views of traditional versus self-publishing. It’s pretty interesting, although I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says. (For one thing, he doesn’t mention the role that traditional publishers play in helping writers, especially new writers, improve their craft and produce better books. Some say that that role is diminishing these days, but I think it really depends on the publisher and the editor.) Still, it’s hard to argue with Howey’s success.
I write this as I’m taking a break from working on my taxes, wherein I discover that I sort of seriously underestimated the effect my own improved ebook sales would have on my tax bottom line. Ow. I’m not remotely in the same universe as Howey, sales-wise. Nevertheless, last year was one of the best years I’ve had in my modest career in terms of book income, and it was all from my backlist. The paradigms, they are a-shiftin’.