No one needs a publisher in the digital age. A recording contract, an agent or even posters are not necessary, either. With technology advancing faster than the speed of light and up-and-coming talent not far behind, the Do It Yourself (DIY) ideology has taken over. Indie bands get discovered on YouTube, restaurants come on wheels and a social movement can start via Internet networking. From self-publishing authors writing bestsellers to YouTube making multiplatinum artists, it’s a do-it-yourself age.
The latest example of the rapid progression of DIY in the digital age is self-publishing. While the publishing industry is as hard to break into as actually writing the first manuscript, self-publishing, independent publishing companies and the rise of e-books have made it possible for unknown authors to promote themselves.
According to Bowker’s Annual Report, more than half of the new titles in 2011 were self- published. In addition, the Association of American Publishers and Book Industry Study Group reported that digital is now a more popular format for adult fiction than either paperback or hardcover publishing, accounting for 30 percent of the genre’s sales in 2011, and 15 percent of the publishing industry overall.
Online publishing resources have allowed independent writers to break into the industry and make a name for themselves as some of the top up-and-coming writers. British novelist Erika Leonard (also known as E.L. James) began her career writing Twilight fan fiction on a website in 2009 and eventually became the author of the bestselling trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, which has since been picked up for film adaptation.
Independent writers gain support from their followers not only because of their talent but also the effort they personally put into pleasing their fans. From fanfiction.net to goodreads.com, self-published authors make themselves available to their fans via email, Facebook, and twitter in order to get to know their preferences and even take recommendations for upcoming novels. Blog tours and book-giveaways also show how self-publishing writers truly consider their audience. Such care can lead to success in the big leagues.
Independent writers are a positive influence not only on their individual fan base but on our culture as well. The success of indie authors encourages aspiring writers to put their work out there and to have confidence in their own artistic abilities. Working their way to the top, self-published authors demonstrate not only hard work but also represent the raw talent and voice of the common people that are not seen in the mainstream publication industry.
Even with limited advertisement and assistance, the talent of these inspirational writers still shines through the cracks at the top of the publishing food chain. For the week of October 21, 2012, Sylvia Day’s Reflected in You (the second book of her Crossfire series) was number one on The New York Times Best Seller List with E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey still going strong at number four.
Self-publishing is a new and powerful digital sensation for writers all over the world. The independent writing market has expanded across genres without the assistance of the traditional publishing company or an agent. With the digital age ability to promote themselves through blogs and virtual book tours, multiple writers have transformed themselves from closet talent to bestselling authors.
Whether you’re a writer, musician or even a local small business, the digital phenomenon has made it possible for anyone to cheaply endorse themselves and, ultimately, get discovered. For those people who aren’t lucky enough to get a meeting with a big producer or agent, the internet age provides a unique alternative opportunity to succeed—so be your own publisher and get yourself out there.