Self-Published Authors: Amateurs or Professionals?

Ted WeinsteinDana Beth WeinbergBrooke WarnerChristine Munroe

PubU LogoFor everyone from romance writers to cookbook creators, self-publishing today is easier and more affordable than ever. Certainly, the book-reading public has embraced “the selfie,” and along the way, they’ve made bestselling authors of writers who’ve boldly chosen to publish their own works. Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, and even E.L. James, began their rise to fame as authors of self-published books (though each eventually has moved on to “traditional” publishers).

Are we witnessing the triumph of free expression, or the invasion of the book business snatchers by the dreaded “amateurs”? Is the contest real or imagined? Are “professionally” published books always better than those from self-publishers? Do readers view the products interchangeably, particularly in digital form, or do they recognize the difference? If so, does it matter? Is the difference really only whether the authors make their living from their writings?

As a keynote session for the recent 2014 IBPA Publishing University, CCC’s Chris Kenneally explored the clash of amateurism and professionalism in independent publishing with four panelists whose own work confronts the issue directly.

Christine Munroe is the U.S. Manager for Kobo Writing Life, a leading self-publishing platform that is part of global eBook retailer Kobo Inc. She works directly with authors, agents, and small publishers to help them to successfully sell their eBooks on kobo.com, and also organizes events with local independent bookstores to build on Kobo’s partnership with the American Booksellers Association.

Brooke Warner is publisher of She Writes Press, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of What’s Your Book? and How to Sell Your Memoir. Brooke’s expertise is in traditional and new publishing, and she is an equal advocate for publishing with a traditional house and self-publishing. She lives and works in Berkeley, California.

Dana Beth Weinberg received her doctorate from Harvard University and is a Professor of Sociology at Queens College—CUNY, where she directs the MA Program in Data Analytics and Applied Social Research. Her research focuses on organizational behavior, work, and occupations. Inspired by her own personal experiences as a novelist (she writes and has self-published fiction as D. B. Shuster), her current research examines the way that digitization is changing the book industry for readers, writers, and publishers. This year, she co-authored the Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey and is a regular contributor to the Digital Book World expert publishing blog.

Ted Weinstein is a literary agent with broad experience on both the business and editorial sides of publishing. He represents a wide range of non-fiction authors including two-time NY Times bestseller Austin Kleon (Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work),  and NY Times bestseller Leander Kahney (The Cult of Mac; Inside Steve’s Brain, and Jony Ive: Apple’s Design Genius). In addition to his many traditional book deals, he has helped clients directly publish their work and has sold many subsidiary rights on such projects.

Recording courtesy VWTapes and Patrick von Wiegandt.

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