CARLSBAD — The success of E.L. James’ eBook, “50 Shades of Grey,” is encouraging news for anyone interested in self-publishing. After proving itself as a best seller, the erotic romance novel trilogy was picked up by publisher Vintage Books for a reported seven-figure price. Today, a film is rumored to be in the works.Karla Olson is president of Publishers and Writers of San Diego (PWSD). She reports that today 65 percent of books are sold on Amazon.com.
This prompts many authors to pause and ask themselves why they need to go through all the work, and often rejection, associated with getting a literary agent to pursue the traditional publishing route.
“I am on my own personal campaign to call self-publishing ‘indie publishing,’” she said. “You don’t call it ‘self rock,’ you call it ‘indie rock.’ And you don’t call it ‘self film,’ you call it ‘indie film.’”
Attorney Mark Reichenthal practices with the Branfman Law Group, P.C. in Oceanside in the areas of intellectual property, licensing, new media, entertainment law, book publishing and general business contracts. Earlier in his career he served as senior counsel at Wiley Publishing, Inc., publisher of the successful “For Dummies” series.
Reichenthal will offer a presentation titled, “Self Publishing v. Traditional Publishing, A Fight to the Death? An IP Attorney’s Perspective” at 10 a.m. Aug. 31 at the Dove Library. The presentation is sponsored by PWSD.
Simply put, Reichenthal maintains that those writers who are most successful at self-publishing are those, usually popular bloggers, who already have an established following.
“I’m a guy who has a million people reading my blog,” he explained. “Why would I go to a traditional publisher?
Why would I give up 85 percent of the money and all of the control when I’m fully capable of publishing and marketing and there’s a line of people waiting to buy my book?”
The hard part for many self-published authors is that they need to be willing to market themselves aggressively.
This, along with having the money to contract the best experts in the fields of editing, book cover art and distribution drives many would-be authors to day dreams of traditional publishing with a handsome advance.
“Advances are a funny thing,” Reichenthal said. “They can be so big that it ‘earns out’. If you get $25,000 as an advance for your next book, publishers have to recoup the $25,000 in sales — then they will start paying you.”
The fact that Amazon.com has become, what Olson calls, “a necessary evil” since it was created has increased membership markedly in PWSD.
“I got involved eight years ago when there were only 35 members and now we have 350,” she said. “That’s an indication of where the publishing industry has gone. One of the major benefits to authors is that indie publishing has moved the power back to them.”
Olson explained that writers are not constrained anymore by having to prepare, polish and submit a book proposal only to have an agent, or their assistant, reject it.
For a minimal investment by publishing standards, they can produce a book and sell it on Amazon.com. To do it right, they also need to be mindful of the responsibility for educating themselves on issues such as copyright and intellectual property law.
She explained: “People ask, ‘When is my material copyrighted so that it can’t be taken away from me?’ Plagiarism is redefined these days because so much is out there on the Internet. It used to be the publishing company that addressed these kinds of questions. Now it’s up to the author to address them.”
PWSD meets one Saturday a month. For schedule and additional information visit http://publisherswriters.org.
Because 90 to 95 percent of the membership is independently published, meeting topics address an aspect of publishing. The September meeting will deal with eBooks.
The October meeting will feature Don Poynter, “the godfather of independent publishing.” Admission to each meeting is $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. Annual dues are $37.
The Dove Library is located at 1775 Dove Lane in the Plaza Paseo Real Shopping Center at Aviara Parkway and El Camino Real in Carlsbad.