A spate of self-publishing companies have closed shop in the past year or so. Time and again I’ve discussed how even a multimillion-dollar budget that enables the hiring of top-shelf marketing talent doesn’t guarantee that a publisher’s titles will get read. I see no value in providing a list of self-publishers who have fallen by the wayside recently, but it’s important to note that those who have closed shop have predominately tackled print sales ineffectively. It also might be important to understand that it’s no different from puffing a resume; my guess is that some of these companies bit the dust because of faulty due diligence at verifying on-line sales. All a scammer/author had to do was jam the sales numbers on Amazon and elsewhere and then wait for the Internet “scouts” to come a callin’.
One can say these publishers were hoisted by their own petard, but I chose to believe the overzealousness was more the result of having to produce numbers and assuming that the authors’ sales numbers were legit. What makes this particularly hard to police is if a scammer/writer should use a firm like ResultSource on the print side to do the same with respect to blog participation. Firms exist for this, too, and on the converse side I find supporting a blog by a single person who’s busy (like me) an impossible prospect, and I have to believe that a megablogger author who claims to be able to communicate by herself or himself with hundreds of thousands of acolytes to be talking pure nonsense. But the success of Meyer and Hocking has created an industry at the “scout” level, and with it the attendant pressure on publishing company employees to find clients.
I want to make one other point regarding the self-publishing companies that have recently tossed in the towel, and it’s that this wasn’t confined solely to print, as I know of several purely digital outfits that have also performed dismally. Again, it’s all based on the assumption that learning marketing in college will apply to the book world (in particular). I recently discussed the publisher who went back to college to earn an MBA and believed this expanded education would lead to mastering the meta tag–and this knowledge (of course, esoteric) would guarantee the road to success. I’ll believe the accuracy of this when donkeys fly. All any self-published writer needs to do is start out with the meta tags on Amazon for his or her book and see how long the “tail” ultimately becomes before the book shows up on the screen. Yes, meta tags and “tails” (regardless of either’s length) aren’t the same thing, but I believe it’s hard to argue that there’s not a direct correlation.
If Amazon can’t market its own self-published books effectively, how can regular folks expect success? Without exception, my clients who have experienced sales in the thousands for their respective works have achieved the numbers by personally getting in front of the public in some fashion. Not one has “made it work” by posting a book and then blogging it to death (as well as the poor author, I might add). Meyer and Hocking are one in ten million (or more), and that’s not some pie-in-the-sky number, because I have to think there are now more than 20 million titles available if all outlets are pooled.
And for anyone still thinking that the Internet is the answer all by itself, I continue to paraphrase the publishing executive whose name escapes me but who said, “The Internet is great for hunters but not so good for gatherers.”