Archive for April, 2008

Self-Publishing Revolution? Uh, Not So Much!

Those who predict the Internet and digital content will spell the end of general trade publishing houses may feel supported by today’s Wired article How the Self-Published Debut Daemon Earned Serious Geek Cred. The article portrays a success story as “demonstrating that if you can get the geek grapevine on your side, you don’t need Random House”. All well and good… until the part about total sales adding up to mouse nuts: “A dozen or so bloggers wrote posts about the book, kindling sales of up to 50 copies a month”… then the big guns started promoting it, and sales got really hot: “As of March, more than 1,200 copies had been shipped”.
No insult intended to author Zeraus nee Suarez who “is planning to release a sequel”. It may be great stuff. But these are not stats to write home about, much less to hang a “who needs Random House” thesis on. Per an established literary agent:

Less than 5000 actual sales, result: misery… A solid midlist novel would reap on the order of 3,500-7,000 hardcover sales and 10,000-25,000 paperbacks in the US.

Was Daemon the best self-publishing succes story Josh McHugh could come up with? If that’s the case, and a Silicon Valley social-network-savvy marketing campaign and the support of A-list bloggers was insufficient to yield interesting sales, then predctions of imminent trade-publishing doom start to sound a lot less realistic.