2012: the year of self-publishing(Read article summary)
The most recent sign that self-publishing is on the rise? New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani chose a self-released book as one of her favorite titles of the year.
In the publishing industry, 2012, we think, will be remembered as the year of self-publishing.
That‚Äôs because at a time when bookstores ‚Äď mainstream and indie ‚Äď are struggling to stay open and when top publishing houses are scrambling to keep footing in a rapidly changing industry, there is one bright spot in the publishing industry: self-publishing.
The latest evidence of self-publishing‚Äôs ascendency? New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani, one of the country‚Äôs most influential, and often scathing, critics, chose a self-published title as one of her favorite books of the year, a landmark moment for self-publishing.
Sharing shelf space with Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers, and Oliver Sacks on Kakatuni‚Äôs most prized picks of the year is Alan Sepinwall‚Äôs ‚ÄúThe Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever.‚ÄĚ Sepinwall, a TV blogger, self-published the book in November after failing to catch the interest of a traditional publisher. It‚Äôs a critical analysis of hit TV dramas like ‚ÄúThe Sopranos,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúMad Men,‚ÄĚ and ‚Äú24,‚ÄĚ which, Sepinwall argues, have transformed the TV landscape and allowed TV to ‚Äústep out from the shadow of the cinema.‚ÄĚ¬†
In her review of the book, Kakatuni, known as one of the country‚Äôs toughest critics, called the ‚ÄúThe Revolution‚ÄĚ ‚Äúengaging ... smart [and] observant.‚ÄĚ
Since being picked up by the New York Times, adds the UK‚Äôs Guardian, "The Revolution Was Televised" ‚Äúis currently number one on Amazon.com‚Äôs ‚Äėtelevision‚Äô chart, and has picked up adulatory write-ups in the New Yorker...."
Of course, this is simply the latest example of self-publishing‚Äôs ascendancy, but it‚Äôs certainly not the first, nor, we think, the last. In fact, points out NPR, self-publishing has enjoyed a remarkably rapid rise from last-rate reputation to best-seller status.
‚ÄúThey used to call it the ‚Äėvanity press,‚Äô and the phrase itself spoke volumes,‚ÄĚ said NPR‚Äôs Lynn Neary in a recent broadcast. ‚ÄúSelf-published authors were considered not good enough to get a real publishing contract. They had to pay to see their book in print. But with the advent of e-books, self-publishing has exploded, and a handful of writers have had huge best-sellers.‚ÄĚ
Writers like Amanda Hocking, the 20-something writer who was rejected by so many publishing houses that she sailed right past them ‚Äď and straight up the record books when her self-published supernatural romances hit 1 million-plus in sales.
And John Locke, the 60-something businessman-turned-thriller writer who has sold more than 1 million Kindle e-books. And Hugh Howey, whose self-published tales of life after the apocalypse have garnered him hundreds of thousands of fans.
It‚Äôs no wonder self-published books have almost tripled in production since 2008, making up 43 percent of print titles released in 2011, as the Monitor‚Äôs Molly Driscoll wrote in a blog post this fall.
In fact, so promising does self-publishing now appear, one of the country‚Äôs publishing giants, Simon & Schuster, recently teamed up with a self-publishing company to create a self-publishing imprint. That‚Äôs like the Boston Red Sox joining forces with Smalltown Little League.
NYT critic Kakatuni‚Äôs decision to include a self-published book in her list of the year‚Äôs best reads? As the the Guardian put it, it‚Äôs just ‚Äúthe cherry on the cake for a stellar year for self-publishing."
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.