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How Kickstarter is replacing the traditional publisher

31 March 2013

From author Michael J. Sullivan on A Dribble of Ink:

I’m a huge supporter of the hybrid model. Traditional publishing opened doors for me that I couldn’t get when I was self-published. Now that my books are in libraries and bookstore, my audience broadened. I received more foreign deals, and the advances on those were probably larger than they would have been without Orbit. There was even book club and audio versions produced, which paved the way so to Theft of Swords being named a finalist for an Audie (the audio book equivalent of the Grammy). These are all good things, but there are also aspects that I miss from my self-publishing days.

. . . .

Cash flow is one of the biggest. Money in traditional publishing comes in chunks separated by vast amounts of time. An advance is sometimes split over three or four payments. For instance, I receive a third when the contract is signed, another third when the manuscript is accepted, and the last third when the book is released. Multiple books deals are common in speculative fiction so that “big advance” is often stretched over several years. Also, eighty percent of titles never earn out, so the advance is the only money the author will ever receive. Even for those that do, royalty checks only come twice a year. With self-publishing, income comes every month like clockwork. It makes managing your life much easier.

Control is another obvious perk. I don’t dislike the covers that Orbit has produced, and as I said they sell well, but I do have my own “vision” for the package of my books and it’s incredibly satisfying to be able to produce Hollow World exactly the way I want…right down to the fonts used and the teaser copy on the back cover.

. . . .

I do know the incredible income potential of self-publishing. At my height I was earning more than $45,000 a month and I know hundreds of self-published authors who are earning more than comfortable incomes. In fact, I know more self-published authors who have quit their day jobs and earn a living wage than I do traditionally published ones.

. . . .

Hybrid authors, and particularly those that utilize Kickstarter as I and Brad have done, solved all of these problems. The Kickstarter provides the author with production capital, and if it goes well, will also receive an advance. Readers can buy with confidence because the author has previously received that all important “stamp of approval” from the publishers, and also validation from prior readers (the highest contributors to the Kickstarter) because they are willing to put down money to get more of what that author produces. Authors, who know firsthand the importance of editors and the value that they provide, will hire professionals from the money the Kickstarter raises.

Link to the rest at A Dribble of Ink

Kickstarter, Self-Publishing

4 Comments to “How Kickstarter is replacing the traditional publisher”

  1. I wonder how much of the change in publishing is really being driven by the demographics, values, and ideas of generation X and Y. The idea of empowerment has been big over the past decade in the world of business, and I am starting to see “self-publishing” really just as another example of the empowerment model being rolled out in business. New Authors, who are use to the idea of empowerment, seem to have less trouble with this idea than traditional legacy publishers. However, now the idea of empowerment is reaching that group as well, as functionality that was once the domain of the publisher, gets pushed out to the author. Empowerment is not easy, and I have experience a lot of push back in my own job where people do not feel at ease with the new tools, or their abilities and continue to see approval for issues which they really are empowered to solve on their own.

    • Thanks for sharing this, PG!

      David…great comment. I love your point about how the self publishing model empowers authors. It is a complete change from handing all responsibility over to a traditional publisher, and it requires that an author learn new skills, including the option of outsourcing part of the work to freelance service providers such as editors.

  2. Only two days left and Michael J. Sullivan’s raised over $23,000. That’s pretty impressive!

    I can definitely see this as something I might do in the future once I get more of a backlist and an increased mailing list. It’d be nice to get the money upfront to get the covers and editing done.

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