I’ve written a good bit recently about my optimism in the future of publishing. Like most people, I love it when walls come tumbling down. Nothing like taking a chip of the 1989 Berlin Wall home with you. Lots to love about opening up creative industries to a vast population. And yet there’s a lot to be concerned with. For instance, according to Bowker, 211,269 self-published titles were released last year, up more than 60 percent from 2010. A vast majority sold fewer than 100 copies, but enough were successful, hitting USA Today‘s Best-Selling Books list. That’s way more than ever before. The gates may be flinging open, but it’s a madhouse if you want to get noticed for writing something of value. Is this trend a new form of industry gatekeeping? Is it tantamount to nothing more than another hoop for author’s to jump through to prove their marketability?
According to GalleyCat, Simon & Schuster has created Archway Publishing to help writers self-publish fiction, nonfiction, business and children’s books. They will run the new service with help from Author Solutions, the self-publishing company acquired by Pearson for $116 million in July. Self-publishing is a rapidly growing sector of the book industry, but big publishers have been tentative about entering the market, partly for fear of tarnishing their brand by allowing content they have not reviewed to be published under their name.
Archway will offer a range of services, from a basic $1,599 package that includes “editorial assessment” and “cover copy review” to a $24,999 “Outreach” program for business books that features an “author profile video” and a reception at BookExpo America, the industry’s annual national convention. Simon & Schuster will monitor the sales of Archway titles and may sign some authors for traditional publishing deals. In recent months, for instance, the publisher signed self-published romance authors Jamie McGuire and Colleen Hoover.
Certainly a form of consolidation here. I see it being quite lucrative for them if they run their business well. Does it basically mean you have to pay to play? Does it just come down to another form of gatekeeping?