Why are bestselling authors now self-publishing?

Who is the best person to publish your book the way you want?  According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and playwright David Mamet, it would be him.  David Mamet plans to self-publish his next book.

According to Mamet, “Nobody ever does the marketing they promise.”  Mamet thinks he can do better.  So does Fred Waitzkin (“Searching for Bobby Fisher”).  So does Maryanne Vollers (“Ghosts of Mississippi”).

What will it improve?  They can control promotion.  They will get 70% of the sales revenue.  They can treat it and run it like a small business rather than passively waiting for someone else to take action or direction.

The downside?  Like any small business, it becomes reliant on sales, not an upfront advance.  If you are not good with promotion, you’re worse off.  There is a risk factor that falls on you; you become the only one you can blame.

But look who is pushing this:  Big Agents.  Trident Media Group, which represents 800 authors, has structured self-publishing deals with Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Two-hundred of their authors have chosen to self-publish.  ICM, which represents Mamet, is following suit with a deal with Argo Navis Author Services.  With the agents representing the authors in the deals, the authors get better terms, better support, and more control than just the average self-published author off the street.

Is this a new model?  We’ll have to wait and see.  But it is certainly something for authors to keep on the radar if they have a special project that would fit into this new paradigm.  How does Mamet think he is going to sell this work better than publishers can do?  “I am going to promote the hell out of it.”  I’m looking forward to see how that is going to work for him.


About Clay Stafford

Clay Stafford is an author / filmmaker (www.ClayStafford.com) and founder of Killer Nashville (www.KillerNashville.com). As a writer himself, he has over 1.5 million copies of his own books in print in over 14 languages. Stafford’s latest projects are the feature documentary “One of the Miracles” (www.OneOfTheMiracles.com) and the music CD “XO” (www.JefferyDeaverXOMusic.com). A champion of writers, Publishers Weekly has identified Stafford as playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” throughout “the nation’s book culture.” (PW 6/10/13)
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One Response to Why are bestselling authors now self-publishing?

  1. Paula Cappa says:

    I think it’s pretty easy for established authors to transition to self-publishing because they already have a readership, so promotion isn’t reinventing the wheel for them. All they have to do is connect to their ready audience.

    For the new or “average self-published author off the street” this is a whole different story since we have to get out there and establish a readership on our own with little or no advertising, no agents or managers to support, advise or make the deals. We have to rely on social media paths to get exposure, find our readership, and establish book reviews: takes a lot of perseverance, talent, and courage. Right now, if you’re a newly self-published author, there’s still a prejudice against you. I hope that changes since there are a good many of us who are professional, dedicated and talented; many are undiscovered gems blazing this new path. I’m happy to have established and successful authors join the self-published ranks as I think it will improve the credibility and reputation of being self-published.

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