Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly posted some interesting numbers today about how self-pubbing is overtaking traditionally pubbed books. I was shocked to see that that ratio is nearly 3:1 with a total of over a million titles published last year. Wow.
My first impression that there's a hell of a lot of people out there who want to see their name on a cover. Yes, I have a bias, but it's been my experience, so I think it's safe to say - and I know I'll catch heat for this - but a lot of self-pubbed stuff is total crap. No, I don't deny that traditional houses don't publish crap, too, but when you have agents and editors filtering through it all, it does tend to raise the overall quality. Not sure where the trend to self-pub is going and what it'll mean for the future of publishing as a whole, but one downside of having access to so much is it tends to have a numbing effect on us.
Which makes me wonder: How are people supposed to find the best titles to read? I suppose there are processes in place to help, professional readers whose opinions we learn to churn through the muck, raising the cream to the top (to mix metaphors). But how well will this work when the publishing pond becomes an ocean?
I did find some encouraging news in the numbers. Areas that saw growth in titles sold last year include children's books (up 6%). Presumably, this includes all ages and genres. Well, I think this only substantiates what agents and editors have been telling us for the past 18 months. Let's hope the trend continues.
Also insightful, nonfiction (technical) rose by 11%. I think this is across the spectrum, from children's books to adult, but I'm wagering that if you write children's NF on a technology subject, you'll stand an easier chance of finding a home for it. It doesn't surprise me that tech should fare well, given how rapidly it's evolving. Just make sure the subject you're writing about is as up-to-date and forward looking as possible, or else it'll be out-of-date before it hits shelves.
Now, I think I'll go work on that emerging medicine series for children I've been thinking about...