The question people consistently asked me over the last days at the RWA National Conference went something like this: “So, Courtney, now that you’ve stuck it to the traditional publishing world, how do you feel?”
I don’t really feel like I’ve hurt my traditional publisher. As far as I can tell, the success of my novella has spurred sales of my traditionally published books. This makes me happy–I want to sell lots of copies of those books. I suspect this also makes my publisher happy, because they make money when my books sell, too. My publisher also now has an additional argument to help sell my October book in to accounts, and they had to put forth zero resources to get it. I can’t imagine that they’re weeping into their cornflakes.
This is not a case of “I win; therefore they lose.” The one thing I found myself saying over and over again this last week is this: I believe that a diverse, vibrant ecosystem in publishing benefits all healthy players: authors, publishers, booksellers, and agents. I also believe that we will have healthy players in all four of those categories for years to come, and I hope that I’ve proven both that self-publishing is viable and that self-publishing can complement an author’s traditionally published career in a way that benefits both the author and the publisher.
Finally, on a pure process level, I am wary of a world without agents or publishers: that would mean that you have large booksellers, who have substantial market power, dealing with authors directly, the vast majority of whom do not have any substantial market power, and where there are antitrust issues that may arise from collective action. I do not think this would be good.
So there you have it: I don’t think publishers will die, I don’t think publishers deserve to die, and I don’t think I’m killing them.