Upon the Gears of Big Publishing - ASJA May 15, Berkeley, CA


Published on

This presentation was given in Berkeley, Calif. to the bay area chapter of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. The presenter, Mark Coker, was born in Berkeley, and attended UC Berkeley. In this presentation, he draws parallels between the Free Speech Movement which originated in the Fall of '64 at UC Berkeley, and the coming author uprising against traditional book publishing.

Published in: Education, Business
1 Comment
  • I agree, and this is with a publishing agreement I signed with an independant publisher who I signed my first contract with last year for my initial c ime novel----they refuse to tell me when it will be published, and refuse to answer simple question while I'm steadily bowing and scraping and all grateful It goes exactly to what this video is saying about the all-condescending great gods of Mt. Olympus. For the second novel I am riding with smashwords.
    I've read other material about the impending collapse of the almighty gatekeepers, some of whom are courteous enough to answer outlines or anachronistic and self-abasing queries and most don't. The most annoying and degrading thing about traditional publishing is that your writing future is in somebody else's hands----with e-book publishing it looks like you run the show yourself, on your own timetable. I can't wait to participate and learn more about it. Out with the old and in with the new. Some authors may be eating Duck Confit at the Four Seasons with their agents or publishers but what about everybody else? I had to remind myself that the publisher I'm signed with didn't sign me because they're trying to help me out or because they admire me personally. No more 'query letters!' No more 'No unsolicited submissions.' I'll always admire printed books, but the accessibility of self-publishing e-books is the way to fly. Now all I have to do is bone up on the publishing guide. Your own computer is your publishing company and this is a very informative, motivating and at the same time appropriately sarcastic [in places] post by Mark Coker.
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Upon the Gears of Big Publishing - ASJA May 15, Berkeley, CA

  1. 2. A true story
  2. 3. Free Speech Started Here in Berkeley
  3. 4. I was here in utero ’64/’65 when it all started
  4. 5. My mom and I attended demonstrations almost every day
  5. 6. My mom tells me how armed police surrounded buildings, wouldn’t let students pass to go to class. She was scared, and angry too because she felt her unborn baby was threatened She recalls the media (and Governor Reagan) portrayed peaceful demonstrations as “riots”
  6. 7. Fast Forward ~17 years and I returned to Berkeley ’83-’88 to get my business degree (I then did tech PR for ~20 yrs)
  7. 8. Then I met my wife-to-be, a fmr. Soap Opera Weekly reporter, and we wrote a book together
  8. 9. Publishers Said “No” <ul><li>Despite representation from top NY literary agency, publishers said NO </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Previous soap-themed titles had not performed well </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A couple publishers offered constructive feedback </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We did a massive revision, reduced the length and strengthened characters (book got much better!) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our agent shopped it around again, and again they all said NO </li></ul></ul>
  9. 10. The experience opened my eyes to Big Publishing <ul><li>Business practices little-changed in 50 years </li></ul><ul><li>Backward looking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Books acquired based on perceived commercial potential, yet publishers don’t know how a book will do until readers decide </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Books should not be judged on commercial potential alone </li></ul><ul><li>Manhattan sky rise rents add no value to a book </li></ul><ul><li>Unable to take a risk on every deserving author </li></ul><ul><li>Readers shut out </li></ul>
  10. 11. My Answer to the Problem: Smashwords <ul><li>Ebook publishing and distribution platform </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free ebook publishing tools for authors and publishers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Distribution to major retailers (Apple, B&N, Sony, Kobo, etc.) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>85% of proceeds back to author/publisher </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. How Smashwords Works <ul><li>UPLOAD </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Author/publisher uploads a Microsoft Word file, formatted to our Style Guide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free conversion to 9 ebook formats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ready for immediate sale online </li></ul></ul><ul><li>DISTRIBUTE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribution to major retailers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>GET PAID </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Authors/publishers receive 85% of net = 60% list from major retailers </li></ul></ul>
  12. 13. Indie ebooks published at Smashwords 140 6,000 28,500 75,000 (est)
  13. 14. It’s Time Publishing Got with the Free Speech Program An uprising is in the words
  14. 15. Catalysts of the Free Speech Movement <ul><li>Oppression of freedom of expression, lack of political and academic freedom </li></ul><ul><li>Agents of change (ordinary people, empowered by simple yet powerful ideas) </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas that sparked the uprising </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Freedom of expression should be a right </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The current system is wrong </li></ul></ul>
  15. 16. Is Big Publishing next?
  16. 17. The Old World of Big Publishing <ul><li>Authors bowed subservient before the publishing gods, seeking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>blessing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>acceptance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>validation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>afterlife (a “published author” on your epitaph) </li></ul></ul>
  17. 18. Publishers controlled passage to the hereafter <ul><li>Highway to Heaven </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The book deal opened the pearly gates to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The respect </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The printing press </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The distribution </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The royalties </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The readers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The fame </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The realization of all writerly dreams </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 19. Is the allure of Big Publishing a mirage, a myth?
  19. 20. Reality is setting in for authors <ul><li>Publishers are in the business of selling books, not publishing authors </li></ul><ul><li>More difficult than ever for talented writers to land a book deal </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Advances are declining </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Publishers want authors with established platforms </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Books forced out of print before they’ve had a chance to find readers </li></ul><ul><li>Authors expected to shoulder most post-publication marketing on their own dime </li></ul><ul><li>Brick and mortar retail distribution disappearing </li></ul>
  20. 21. Drivers for the Overthrow of Big Publishing <ul><li>Lack of democratic participation ( Snooki got a book deal, did you? ) </li></ul><ul><li>Oppression of creative freedom by the publishing industrial complex ( you suck and don’t deserve to express yourself until publishers tell you otherwise ) </li></ul><ul><li>Exploitation ( you’re easily exploitable when you have no other option, publishers know writers will write for free ) </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of economic opportunity for authors </li></ul><ul><li>Agents of change ( successful indie ebook authors blazing new trails of inspiration ) </li></ul><ul><li>When myths unravel, simple questions can spark a revolution </li></ul>
  21. 22. The two questions that will spark an author rebellion against Big Publishing
  22. 23. Q1 What can a publisher do for me that I can’t do myself?
  23. 24. The Tools for Ebook Publishing and Distribution are Free and Available to All <ul><li>Authors become self-publishers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ebook printing press goes virtual, free to all </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>distribution democratized </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>no editorial gatekeeper, readers decide what’s worth reading </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rapid publishing & time to market </li></ul><ul><ul><li>publish in minutes (indie) vs. 12-18 months (trad.) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Indie ebook economics favor indies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>60-70% royalties on list price (indie), vs 5 - 17% (trad.) </li></ul></ul>
  24. 25. Q2 (the most dangerous) Will a traditional publisher harm my book’s success?
  25. 26. Can a Big Publisher Harm Author’s Ability to Reach Readers? <ul><li>Big publishers often squander an author’s full potential </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Slow-Motion Publishing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>They acquire books today for publication 12-18 months from now </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Books over-priced </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Renders books unaffordable to many readers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>At 60% royalty, an indie author earns $ 3.00 on a $ 5.00 ebook. To earn same amount from a traditionally pub’d ebook, the book would have to be priced at $ 17.00 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Books under-distributed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Archaic geographic rights limitations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>DRM restrict availability and discoverability </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 27. Indie Authors Can Out-Publish Big Publishers <ul><li>Playing field titled to advantage of smaller indie authors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>instant, free publishing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>democratized distribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>access to global market </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lower expenses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>closer to readers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>never go out of print </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>earn more per book, or give it away for free </li></ul></ul>
  27. 28. What happens when authors – the creators of books – lose faith in BIG PUBLISHING? God is dead. — Nietzsche
  28. 29. “ MARIO SAVIO BODIES UPON THE GEARS” SPEECH (view/listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5o_0ZYA5HM ) “ There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.&quot; Mario Savio , U.C. Berkeley Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964
  29. 30. Throw Yourself Upon the Gears of Big Publishing <ul><ul><li>Take control over your publishing destiny </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Go indie </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Publishing is a right, not a privilege </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Unleash your creativity and talent upon the world </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Let readers be the judge </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Like the free speech movement before it, we can’t even begin to fathom the profoundly positive changes to be sparked by the indie ebook publishing revolution </li></ul></ul>
  30. 31. Thanks for considering the future
  31. 32. Learn more about indie ebook publishing <ul><li>Free Resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Smashwords Style Guide (how to create, publish and distribute an ebook) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Smashwords Book Marketing Guide (how to market any book, 30 ideas that cost nothing) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Seven Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success (best practices for publishing, distributing and selling an ebook) </li></ul></ul>
  32. 33. Connect <ul><li>How to publish, distribute or partner with us - https://smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter – http://twitter.com/markcoker </li></ul><ul><li>Blog – http://blog.smashwords.com </li></ul><ul><li>Huffington Post – http://huffingtonpost.com/mark-coker </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn – http://linkedin.com/in/markcoker </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook – http://facebook.com/markcoker </li></ul><ul><li>My SW page - https://smashwords.com/profile/view/mc </li></ul><ul><li>Smashwords FAQ: https://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq </li></ul><ul><li>Email – Reach Mark Coker at first initial second initial at smashwords.com </li></ul>