Prospect Magazine (UK) asks a question: Do writers need paper?. Unfortunately they don’t have an answer to that. But the story is run through with the anxiety many writers, especially literary writers, feel as digital publishing finally begins to make big changes in the publishing scene.
Robin Sullivan has put together a very interesting comparison of the self-reported sales of a commercially published author and a self-published author, both with similar numbers of works available, and both with a substantial number of readers. Her conclusion: the self-published writer is making a lot more money off his sales. Note: she’s specifically not arguing that everyone can reach this level of sales. These two are writers who have already proven themselves at their craft. Edit to add: Jim Hines responds a bit on his blog. Read the comments too as they are very useful. David Dalglish jumps in and has some friendly discussion as well.
Over at Joe Konrath’s blog, writer Guido Henkel has very forthrightly shared his experiences with publishing a series of novellas himself. He is discouraged that, after putting substantial time into upgrading his covers and his prose, sales have not yet turned around for him. Maybe over time that will change and his work will find its readers. But as Henkel and Konrath point out, there is a certain amount of luck or serendipity that goes into success, or the lack of success, in art.
Edit to add: You won’t want to miss this. Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath continue their conversation about digital self-publishing, and try to answer some of the questions raised by their last conversation.