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May 20, 2010
It's In The Times, So It Must Be Respectable Now
Back in January, Seth Fischer dropped by to point out that if you want to escape the slush pile, small press is where it's at. Self-publishing has always had the taint of untalented egotism on it - they don't call it 'vanity press' for nothing.
But as Virginia Heffernan explains in a New York Times Magazine piece from last month, the size and quantity of self-published material is now more than double that produced by traditional (big) publishing houses. And the trend strongly favors the self-publishers, with a 180%+ rise in volume produced year-over-year while the big guys are down another fraction. Vanity it may be, but it's gotten cheap enough, easy enough, and dare we hope popular enough that it can be done by anyone with something to say.
Heffernan points to CreateSpace (still one of the most popular Copyright posts for the past few years) and a couple other outfits/imprints that are trying to help people preserve, create, and disseminate their own work. I confess I was surprised to see the degree to which the industry has grown in just the past two years.
The question now is whether the self-publishing industry will be a victim of its own success. One of the things that publication from a major house gets you is at least some level of review and editing, which people take as at least a first-order measure of quality. What will become the markers for quality in self-publishing? Every social media site has some kind of populist like/rate system but how useful is that?
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