The latest bulletin on the results of the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey, put together from the responses of over 9000 authors by Dana Beth Weinberg, Professor of Sociology at Queens College – CUNY, and DBW/Writer’s Digest, aims to demonstrate how writers are responding to the different opportunities of traditional, digital, and self-publishing. And Weinberg attempts to answer Hugh Howey’s comments that the only true comparison between digital and traditional publishing opportunities for authors nowadays is one that takes into account the comparative size of the virtual or actual collective slushpiles in both domains.
Weinberg did find that “self-published authors represented nearly two thirds (60.9%) of the published authors in the survey. Self-publishing has made it possible for these writers, 20% of authors in the total sample, to reach readers with stories that might otherwise never have been published or might still be languishing on submission.” However, she also noted that “about a quarter (23%) of authors with completed manuscripts traditionally published their first book.”
While I sympathize with Howey’s points on comparable income levels, I also see Weinberg’s view. “The lesson in the survey data is the fluidity in who is on the traditional or indie route or straddling both at any point in time.” Traditional publishing, self-publishing, or a combination of both are all available to writers, and the Author Solutions debacle shows that the sharks and exploiters are not just confined to the traditional side, as some self-publishing evangelists might occasionally imply.