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“If you really want to know about business, you should refer to Scott Steinberg.” -Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group

The Future of Publishing

We explore the future of digital and online publishing with help from top expert and New York Times bestselling author Patti Davis, who kindly provided the following guest post:

Recently, at a reading event, someone said I should not call myself a “self-published” author, but an “independently published” author. “There is a difference,” he said.

He had a point. I definitely didn’t publish my new novel Till Human Voices Wake Us by myself – I would have no idea how to do that. I published it with Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP) and then released it in print through CreateSpace. When, after eight conventionally published books, I took one giant step away from the publishing world, I turned to Amazon.com, which pretty much blazed the trail for this whole new trend – both new and established authors taking their careers into their own hands.

Independence is a powerful concept. The desire for it runs deep. We want autonomy over our lives, our work. When it’s taken away, we might defer to the powers-that-be for a while, feeling helpless and pushed down, but eventually we rebel. That’s what has happened in the world of publishing: Authors finally rebelled against the Goliath publishing houses.

Human VoicesWe all have our own reasons, our own war stories. Mine is that, because I’ve written a lot about my famous family, the Reagans, publishers wouldn’t consider publishing my fiction. Till Human Voices Wake Us made the rounds, got positive feedback, and no offers. I published two more non-fiction books, and completed two more novels. No one would publish those novels either. I found myself intrigued with what Amazon was doing – allowing writers an avenue through which their work could be put out into the world, which is all any writer wants – a chance to have their work read.

Traditional publishing can feel like an infantilizing situation. You beg for an agent to represent you; then you beg for a publisher to buy your work. If they do, and it’s published, you beg for them to promote it. All the while, you know you have a narrow window in which to keep their attention. If you don’t sell huge numbers right away, you’re considered a disappointment, or worse – a failure. (I’ve been called both.) The imposition of this timing – succeed quickly or you’re a failure – is not only punitive, it’s unnatural. Life doesn’t work that way. There is an evolution to everything – relationships, work, success. Yes, a few books have charged out of the gate and sold incredibly well. But not many. To put that kind of pressure on writers is horribly unfair; it makes us feel desperate, disposable.

I began Till Human Voices Wake Us twelve years ago. I have two other completed novels ready to go. I no longer feel as if I might get to the end of my life with unpublished books on my computer. From the moment I uploaded my novel to KDP, I suddenly had breathing room in my career. I was, for the first time, as excited about being an author as I have always been about being a writer.

Patti DavisI am a New York Times bestselling author and the creator of eight books, mostly non-fiction. I find myself in the same situation many authors do these days. Getting publishers to say yes is really hard. Particularly with fiction. So I’ve dipped my toe into self-publishing with my new novel, . It made the rounds of publishing houses, garnered a lot of interest but no offers. I’ve written a lot about my famous family, the Reagans – maybe this non-autobiographical novel was too much of a departure for publishers to wrap their heads around. But now there is KDP and the room to publish a book yourself. It’s exciting to me – a new era in publishing. Most writers have books they have labored over for years and long to put out into the world. I am a published author – 8 books, mostly non-fiction. I find myself in the same situation many authors do these days. Getting publishers to say yes is really hard. Particularly with fiction. So I’ve dipped my toe into self-publishing with my new novel, Till Human Voices Wake Us. It made the rounds of publishing houses, garnered a lot of interest but no offers. I’ve written a lot about my famous family, the Reagans – maybe this non-autobiographical novel was too much of a departure for publishers to wrap their heads around. But now there is KDP and the room to publish a book yourself. It’s exciting to me – a new era in publishing. Most writers have books they have labored over for years and long to put out into the world. Till Human Voices Wake Us is one of those books. is one of those books.

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