Simon & Schuster Starts Self-Publishing Venture

3:50 PM, Nov 27, 2012   |    comments
After Amanda Hocking had seven self-published paranormal romance e-books, she signed a multimillion-dollar deal with a print publisher. (Photo: Charles Sykes, AP)
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Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • It's one of the fastest growing areas in book industry
  • Self-published titles were up 60% last year
  • Some authors moved from self-publishing to getting deals with traditional publishers

In the latest sign of consolidation as well as the growing role for self-published authors in the book business, Simon & Schuster, one of the largest traditional publishers, is partnering with Author Solutions, a leading provider of services to writers who do not have traditional publishers.

Technology has made it easier and cheaper to publish and distribute books. Led by Amazon and Author Solutions' imprints, which include iUniverse and Xlibris, self-publishing has become one of the fastest growing sectors in publishing.The two firms today announced the launch of Archway Publishing, which unlike traditional publishers, will not pay advances to authors, but instead charge fees to release, distribute and publicize their books in print or digital formats. In turn, those self-published authors get a larger share of the proceeds of any sales.

According to Bowker, a research firm, 211,269 self-published titles were released last year, up more than 60% from 2010. A vast majority sold fewer than 100 copies, but enough were successful - even hitting USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list - to draw attention to self-publishing. For example:

  • After Amanda Hocking had seven self-published paranormal romance e-books hit USA TODAY's list, she signed a multimillion-dollar deal with the traditional print publisher St. Martin's Press last year.
  • Brittany Geragotelis attracted 13 million readers to her free serial e-book aimed at teens, Life's a Witch, before offering the book as a print-on-demand paperback through Amazon's CreateSpace. She then signed a traditional book deal with Simon Schuster, a New York-based division of CBS.

AuthorSolutions, based in Bloomington, Ind., says it has published more than 190,000 books by 150,000 writers since going into business in 2007. In July, Author Solutions was bought by Penguin, a traditional publisher, for $116 million. Last month, Penguin and Random House announced plans to merge.

In a statement, Carolyn Reidy, president and chief executive officer of Simon & Schuster, said, "Self-publishing has become a viable and popular route to publication for many authors, and increasingly a source of content for traditional publishers. ... We're excited that we'll be able to help more authors find their own path to publication and at the same time create a more direct connection to those self-published authors ready to make the leap to traditional publishing."

Archway will not be an imprint of Simon & Schuster, nor will its editors be involved in Archway titles, but they will have access to Archway's sales data.

Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs, a traditional publisher, says self-published authors "are no longer consigned just to the margins of the marketplace," but what hasn't changed is that "with so many books pouring forth, gaining any attention is a formidable challenge."

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