Many authors in the past have looked to large press at the holy grail of publishing, considering being published by companies like Random House or Penguin as a point of pride. If you were good enough to get a book published through one of those major channels, it was a sure sign of your skill and legitimacy as a writer.
Today, more and more authors are turning to small press and self-publishing. It's easy to see why. For one thing, publishing on Amazon or a similar site requires the author to jump fewer hurdles than traditional publishing has demanded. The lower cost, especially for e-books or print-on-demand, is also attractive to writers who don't have much money. Small press and self-publishing are the easy access route of the publishing world, but according to a report on Publishers Weekly, they may also be taking the place of large press as the most profitable route as well.
This article shows a quick and to-the-point breakdown of the decrease in sales for major publishers from 2014 to 2015. Across most categories, sales in books have dropped. The most dramatic decline in large press sales was college-level textbooks, and while trade paperback book sales rose, much of the revenue came from adult coloring books. Children's books also saw a decline, though somewhat offset by the popular Divergent series. Publishers have cited a lack of breakout books like Divergent as part of the reason sales have dropped.
According to this opinion piece by Hugh Howey, this excuse is just a way of large press publishers admitting that they are struggling to adapt to new audience preferences and market a book properly. Whether that's true may be up for debate, but there's no denying self-publishing and small press-friendly companies like Amazon are dominating today's book sales market.
So what does this all mean for independent small press authors? Well, it's actually a good sign! That holy grail of large press publishing might not be a shiny and coveted as it used to be, but that doesn't mean small press has lost value too. In fact, small press is on the rise and authors can expect an audience that's surprisingly open to giving self-published writers a chance. Where large press is struggling to keep up, small press is already succeeding, and that's something an independent author of any genre can find encouragement in.
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