With an audience made up almost entirely of wannabe authors, self-published author Simon Potter preached about the virtues of the DIY model in a morning session in the Author Lounge at the London Book Fair. (The Author Lounge is sponsored by Potter’s self-publishing press, FastPrint Publishing.) Potter, who now advises other writers on how they can self-publish, said the traditional publishing industry today holds a number of problems for the fledgling author.
Overstating some of the realities of the current business model—namely how heavily it skews to celebrities and how little is done to promote books—Potter said that most people cannot get published and that, when you think about it, a traditional publisher will do very little for you anyway. “If you’re looking for a publisher, ask yourself why,” Potter said. Noting that the bricks and mortar business model is dying, Potter said that the need for a publisher, who will get your title into physical bookstores, diminishes that much more and that aside from physical distribution, “a publisher doesn’t really do anything.”
While Potter mentioned vague success stories—he referenced the “many” people in America who have made millions self-publishing—he finally told the audience they could become authors and market their own books by paying a publicist. Potter told the crowd that what they needed did start with a ‘p’: “You need a publicist, not a publisher.” How this paid publicist might be able to successfully (and inexpensively) do what traditional publishers struggle with so mightily, though, was not addressed. Nor was pricing addressed, since Potter finally told the audience it might cost them £2 to £3 to produce a standard title--i.e. a roughly 300-page paprback--which they could then, presumably, sell at the reigning market price of £9.99. (This, of course, does not mesh with what the American market has consistently seen among self-publishing successes--namely a very competitive low price on titles in order to land on Amazon's most popular lists. This has been a strategy among many of America's biggest self-publishing success stories, among them Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath.)
Although Potter did at one point say that the chief reason to self-publish is for the "satisfaction" of seeing your work in print, the talk was not without peppered references to the ability to potentially make money self-publishing. He also focused on the self-publishing success stories almost entirely, at one point noting that a number of FastPrint customers have "sold thousands and even ten of thousands of books." How much those folks paid for an outside publicist was not mentioned.