Penguin Moves into Self-Publishing
Want to be published by Penguin, the historic press which is home to authors including Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter and Kathryn Stockett? Now you can be – and for as little as $99 (£60), as Penguin’s American arm announced a move into self-publishing.
Penguin USA will provide the service through its genre-fiction online community, Book Country, which launched in May offering wannabe authors the opportunity to post their work online and receive feedback. With 500 works of romance, science fiction, fantasy, mystery and thriller now online from 4,000 members, and “a small number” of those members having secured literary agents, Penguin has decided to provide “a direct path to publication for those who choose to go the self-publishing route”.
“A growing number of authors simply want to go directly to readers with their books. We respect that new reality and the changed landscape that technology has brought to book publishing,” said Molly Barton, president of Book Country and Penguin’s global digital director. “Self publishing is a trend that isn’t going away.” Penguin’s announcement follows the news last week that Amanda Hocking had become the second self-published writer to sell over 1m ebooks on the Amazon Kindle, after John Locke.
Costing between $99 and $549, depending on whether the writer wants to format their ebook themselves or plump for a “professional print and ebook” option, the Book Country self-publishing option will give writers 70% of the sale price of a book priced above $2.99, and 30% of a book priced between 99c and $2.95.
Harry Bingham, a bestselling UK author who also runs editorial consultancy The Writers’ Workshop, raised concerns about a traditional publisher dabbling in self-publishing. “I think it’s dubious,” he said. “I don’t have an issue with self-publishing, but I do think that the big traditional publishers are about editorial excellence, and as soon as you start to blur the boundaries and suggest it is all a question of marketing, you are in a way denigrating what your company stands for.”
But Bingham, who works with would-be writers every day through The Writers’ Workshop, expects other mainstream publishers to announce similar projects in the near future. “The issue for me is how do you as a publisher be really clear about the importance of editorial standards on one hand in your main business, and on the other hand say ‘you can do it, have a go, it’s fine’?” he asked. “It’d not quite clear how they will make that separation and serve both communities. One of those offerings is going to somewhat contradict the other.”
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