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Self-Publishing’s Allure Brings In Unexpected Evolution

The usual suspects were shining at BEA, but it was the unusual that brought some surprise to the industry.

Publisher’s Weekly, Kobo and New York Review  of Books are looking to launch their own e-book line while Amazon Publishing builds and aggressively promotes its own imprints, picking up bestselling authors along the way.  With Barnes and Noble’s Pubit and Apple’s iBooks, the next question is, when will Google or Facebook jump on the e-band wagon? Don’t laugh, it could happen.

Self-publishing continues to bring in new vendors, or evolved vendors who were once an agency, a bookseller or a tech company.  Kobo, an e-reading device, announced it will be offering publishing opportunities for its device and Vook, a multimedia company has seamlessly integrated into the self-publishing business through its automated services.

BEA may have been a platform for these new ventures, but the evolution and creation of such ventures is not new.  Over the last year or two I’ve seen literary agents and publicists start their own publishing arm in order to capture clients who are self-publishing.  The term used at Publish America during BEA was “book shepherd” and I like the term.  Many agents are now finding themselves in the position of book shepherd, not only because they are catering to the self-publishing industry, but because many traditionally published authors are getting the rights back to their backlist and wanting to self-publish those titles.

BookBaby had a strong presence at BEA in the digital area of BEA while Publish America was at the opposite end of the Javitz Center, though the two companies offer opportunities for people to self-publish through them.  Why they would be on opposite ends of the convention center was a mystery to me, but I did find that Publish America was situated very near Amazon Publishing.  Whether that was an advantage or a disadvantage is hard to say.  But BookBaby certainly set itself apart by choosing to be in the area of the convention that displays and promotes all things digital.

From talking to literary agents and publicists there seemed to be a trend toward “book shepherding” where they assist authors who want to self-publish.  They help authors along the path to publishing. They may help with editing, formatting and even submitting the book to self-publishing outlets such as Amazon, Pubit, BookBaby or where ever the client wants their book to be submitted to. They may help with marketing as well.

Whether it’s a long-standing self-publishing company, a new venture or a book shepherd the publishing industry is evolving to be more accepting of self-published books and authors.

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