Self Publishing: Friend or Foe?
Kevin Weiss, president and CEO of Author Solutions, calls this a "farm system" for authors. Publishers, he says, get a chance to track not only emerging talent, but possibly, market trends. "They get a chance to look and see what people are actually writing," he says. "They look at sales data, content, platforms the authors have [for promotion]. Many authors today spend time marketing themselves and their books. A lot today will take the advance [they get if offered a contract] and turn it around, and invest it into marketing."
Hosting their own self-publishing services internally gives publishers the opportunity to bring into their stable some of the most savvy self-promoting authors, while the ones who are less adept at promotion can make use of services offered by the publisher.
Publisher Hay House Inc.'s self-publishing division, Balboa Press (also the result of an Author Solutions partnership), offers a range of services for authors, from publishing packages of various sizes and prices to events such as I Can Do It!, a series of conferences that leverage Hay House's event and self-help expertise to provide motivation and inspiration for writers. It's one example of the ways publishers can utilize existing assets to create products geared to the writer's market.
"The best partners are those who offer branded services that can only be delivered through their imprints," Weiss says. "So, for example, at Hay House, if an author has the ability to do a book signing at the I Can Do It! event—and sometimes they get 4,000 people at these events—and you can only do it through the Hay House self-publishing imprint, that's something that gives the author who publishes with Balboa Press a differentiator from somebody that publishes with [Author Solutions imprint] AuthorHouse, for example. So we are constantly looking for unique things [to do] with our partners that can add value and that can only add value through their own imprints."