Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
I was interested to see that David Mamet will be self-publishing his new book. It’s no doubt going to be a shrewd move for someone with his rep and name recognition. He’ll get to keep more of the revenue, and he’ll have complete control over the editorial and sales process. I bet he saw how well Louis C.K. did with his experiment last year.
What piques my interest is that he’s using a self-publishing service provided by his literary agency, ICM Partners, and that other big agencies are getting in on the trend. I’m not so sure, though, when a writer turns over the details to his or her agent, that it qualifies as true “self-publishing.” Mamet, after all, will have the massive clout of ICM behind him during all phases of publication. It’s not like he’ll be out there on his own.
Come to think of it, his use of the new service might just be a way of strengthening his negotiating position with his publisher for the next book. Wouldn’t put it past him.
But even if it’s a genuine attempt to seize some authorial power, Mamet, unlike the rest of us indies, will have access to an effective PR machine working in his behalf, legal advice, a broad distribution network, and all the rest of what corporate representation provides. In other words, though it was easy to perk up when I read the story, I have a stinky feeling that the big boys and girls will come to overshadow us little ones in the realm of self-publishing, sucking all the air out of the room and essentially doing to the indie market what they’ve done in traditional publishing. That is, readers are exposed to a relatively small universe of titles (the ones that are reviewed in influential outlets, that are advertised, whose authors appear on TV shows, and that stick to the bestseller lists long enough to be noticed at large), and have to take it upon themselves to seek out smaller gems in the sand heap.
I wonder how many readers actually do that. I do know, from my early research of independent ebook publishing, that they are extremely price-sensitive (free is always on their radar), so it’s possible that the Mamets of the world will insist on their $15.99 for a Kindle or Nook edition, leaving the $2.99 market to the little folk. It’ll be interesting to watch.
I’m not hoping to make a lot of money. I’m just trying to snag some readers and build on that.