Thursday, May 05, 2011

Indie publishing news: ebook mobile apps; why authors do not need agents

I've been following what has been called "the self-publishing revolution" for months, as my own first novel, HUNTER: A Thriller, nears publication. As many of you know, I am convinced for many reasons that self-publishing—especially via ebooks—is the best deal for most authors and also the wave of the future.

The latest exciting news on this front is that Smashwords, a major ebook distribution platform, has partnered with a company called ScrollMotion to develop individual mobile applications for Smashwords' Premium Catalog of over 34,000 original ebooks. ScrollMotion will create apps for these books for Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, and WebOS, among others.

This will allow the many thousands of "indie" authors now doing distribution through Smashwords (and I'll be one) to significantly expand the availability of their ebooks to a vast new range of mobile devices. Ebooks now will be readily accessible beyond the usual ereader devices (Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony Reader, Kobo, etc.); and that will mean many more future sales for authors, and many more new customers for ebooks.

In other words, I couldn't be publishing HUNTER and future ebooks at a more exciting time.

The second bit of news in the rapidly changing publishing industry concerns the role of book agents. After 25 years of disgust at what is going on in publishing, outspoken indie author Kristine Kathryn Rusch has just published a brutal blog about the the industry -- and about book agents. "I hadn’t realized until a few months ago that the adversarial relationship that sometimes existed between writer and publisher had moved into the agent/author relationship."

This long blog is an eye-opening look behind the closed doors of the Legacy Publishing Industry, by an experienced pro who has studied some 10,000 book contracts and worked at every level in the business. If you are an author, or even a wannabe author, and if you are considering the traditional approach of hiring an agent to negotiate with a publisher, you must read what Ms. Rusch has to say.

Put it this way: These days, neither the publisher nor the so-called "author's agent" is really representing the best interests of the author. More and more, their contract terms are taking writers to the cleaners, in ways that eager, naive authors can't begin to fathom, until it's too late.

Why has this been happening? "The business is changing as we have discussed in these posts for some time now," Rusch explains. "And as the business changes, publishers and agents are running scared. They’re not sure where they will fit in. So they’re trying to reserve as big a piece of the content pie as they possibly can for themselves—at the expense of the content creators. The writers."

Read the entire blog. If you've got an ounce of common sense, you'll want to run like hell from any traditional big-name publisher and any book agent.

But what, then, is your alternative to getting into print? Consider joining the Self-Publishing Revolution, where thousands of writers are beginning to take full control of their own work—and reap the full rewards, too, without any useless or double-crossing intermediaries bleeding them dry. If you need information about this brave new world, start by checking out the blogs by Rusch, her prolific writing partner Dean Wesley Smith, wildly successful self-pub author Joe Konrath, and indie-publishing guru Robin Sullivan.