2016: The Year of Publishing Dangerously

I always like scouring the top 100 best-selling titles on amazon.co.uk on the first day of the New Year. All life is there. It’s the publishing equivalent of seeing the leaves fall from the trees as the seasons change. There are still some celebrity memoirs and humour books hanging around after their Christmas gifting peak.  And the colouring books of course. But they have now been joined by a host of self-help, diet and detox titles, jostling for prominence after the excesses of the holidays. New Year, New You, as the posters say. In amongst the top 100 on 1st January 2016 were two highly successful books that were both originally self-published.  Andy Weir’s The Martian was an e-book free to download from his website before being available on Kindle back in 2009.  The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssén Erhlin first came out in 2011 in Sweden.  Both hugely successful, both eventually chose to go to a publisher to amplify their success.

So the question is, is this the new established way forward for the larger publishers?

Spot what is working in indie land and then make the long term rights play with their international sales, and marketing machines? Or at some point this year will a writer who creates what could be the next big franchise or film go out on a limb and construct a new model? Where the creator still sits in the middle of the process and drives  the next phase of their own output for greater control and commercial benefit, without the traditional apparatus of the Publisher? It’s a risk. Some might describe it as publishing dangerously. But it will surely happen. Whether this year or not.

-J.B.

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