self publishing

Author Solutions acquired by Pearson and now a member of the Penguin Group

ASI is now a member of the Penguin Group

I know this is old news by now if you follow publishing, but I would be remiss if I did not do a post about the story. It truly is a great day for authors and publishers. The articles that ran about the topic were too numerous to count. As with any change that is this significant, there were a few naysayers and crumudgeons, but almost all the writers recognonized this was a significant day in the history of publishing.  My favorite article on the event was posted on Forbes. com and written by Jeremy Greenfield. I copied below. Let  me know what you think of the news. Thanks.

When you look back at the history of the publishing industry ten or twenty years from now, you’ll point to today as the day when self-publishing went from the margins to mainstream.

Self-Publishing Turns a Corner With Penguin Acquisition

When you look back at the history of the publishing industry ten or twenty years from now, you’ll point to today as the day when self-publishing went from the margins to mainstream.

Today, major publisher Penguin acquired Author Solutions, one of the largest self-publishing platforms, for $116 million. This is a big deal because it signifies that the publishing industry believes now that it needs to embrace the new book ecosystem that has grown out of self-publishing for its own survival.

With this acquisition, self-publishing may have turned a corner, according to the Author Solutions CEO Kevin Weiss. “When IBM gave its stamp of approval to the PC industry, what happened next was nothing short of remarkable. This feels like what happened with the PC industry back in the early eighties,” he said.

Penguin, thought to be the second largest trade publisher in the world, is now also one of the largest self-publishing platforms in the world: Author Solutions has published about 190,000 books by about 150,000 authors.

In 2011, the self-publishing industry is estimated to have taken away $100 million from traditional publishers’ bottom lines. Sounds like a lot until you compare it to the trade publishing industry as a whole in 2011: $13.97 billion. Just a drop in the bucket, really. Though we won’t have numbers for 2012 until 2013, with self-published works a staple of the Kindle and New York Times best-seller lists, you can bet that $100 million number has ballooned.

It has never been better to be an author. In this regard, there are basically two types: ones who had few choices and now have many; and ones who had no choices and now have many. Traditionally published authors went from being able to choose between a number of publishers that would compete for the rights to publish and market their books to that same group of publishers plus a dizzying number of self-publishing options. And authors who were either ignored or rejected by traditional publishers can now publish their own books through those self-publishing options.

Which publishing option would you choose if given the choice? Either way, everything changed today, the day when self-publishing was welcomed into the big leagues.

For those fortunate few authors with options, they will be choosing between:

Traditional publishing: Possibility of an advance (up-front money); distribution in print and digital formats; editorial, production, design and marketing support provided by publisher; up to 15% of cover price for print royalties and up to 25% for e-book royalties; and limited creative control

Self-publishing: No advance; distribution in digital formats with possibility of print-on-demand distribution; a la carte editorial, production, design and marketing support that the author pays for; up to 70% of cover price for digital royalties; and complete creative control

Essentially, it’s up-front money, support and lower royalties versus no support and much higher royalties. Level of creative control may also be a factor for some authors.

For some authors, there’s a third option. Penguin made clear in a press conference call about the acquisition this morning that it would be accessing Author Solutions authors and looking for titles that it could publish traditionally or, as Penguin CEO John Makinson put it, “It will be interesting to explore opportunities that lie somewhere between self-publishing and traditional publishing as presently defined by Penguin.”

In fact, Penguin has a history of finding authors in non-traditional ways. Penguin picked up Kerry Schafer’s novel, Between, an urban fantasy starring a penguin, after she uploaded it on the company’s work-shopping and self-publishing site Book Country. Penguin gave Schafer a two-book deal.

Which publishing option would you choose if given the choice? Either way, everything changed today, the day when self-publishing was welcomed into the big leagues.

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2 thoughts on “Author Solutions acquired by Pearson and now a member of the Penguin Group

  1. As a writer that has used Author Solutions I can say just how good they are to work with. Professional, quick, kept me informed and all round nice people. You do have to watch the costs on things like corrections as these can quickly blow out the cost of the initial investment, but overall, they have done a superb job of my first book.

    Never would have received anything like this from a traditional publisher.

    • keithogorek says:

      Thanks for the insightful words Rob. I am working on a blog post right now that points out how important it is for authors today to make sure they are clear on their goals and budget before they embark on a publishing project. That used to be the responsibility of the publisher, but now it has shifted to the author.

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