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Notes on Self-Publishing from the Tools of Change Conference

I haven’t yet written about the Tools of Change Conference (because I wasn’t there), but there is a lot of great information being posted online by people who did attend.  The basic mood you see online is that self-publishing is gaining increasing legitimacy.  Obviously, the conference is devoted to publishing innovation, but the way that people talk of self-publishing these days is that it is integral to the future of publishing.

For instance, the Publishing Trends blog has a great piece on how some of the participants view self-publishing:

All the participants argued for greater interplay between author, reader, and publisher. Eileen Gittins of Blurb.com claimed that the company doesn’t publish, but rather goes after “folks who’ve got stuff” that they want to share.

That’s an interesting distinction and the reason why self-publishing is quickly gaining legitimacy.  Given the fact that there are so many new ways to disseminate information: Youtube, blogs, social networks, etc. – the word “publishing” has a broader stroke.  Blurb works in conjunction with Flickr and Tate Modern to “contribute their own urban portrait to a unique book, Street or Studio: A Photobook.”

With more mainstream outlets using instant-publishing technology, self-publishing will be seen as legitimate at every level.  She goes on, “Lulu.com’s Bob Young basically said he planned to follow Blurb’s lead, but meanwhile he also is seeing an uptick in revenues and titles published–5,000 a week.”

Mark Coker of Smashwords has a great play by play of the action at TOC – with an almost-disturbing depiction of how people are twittering and youtubing while within the conference.  He writes, “At one great panel on social media in publishing, moderated by Ron Hogan (@ronhogan for you Twitterers) of MediaBistro/GalleyCat, Ron actually introduced his panelists by their Twitter handles.”  If you need any more evidence that Twitter is a major new force on the Internet, and not just a new fad, there it is.

If you want the sense of being at TOC without actually going there, read Mark Coker’s blog post.  It’s also further evidence about just how seriously people take the new publishing technology and just how far it has come in recent years.  With the rate of technology increasing as rapidly as it does, self-publishing will become an everyday part of the dialog about the book industry.

In news about the site, the Tessa Dick interview has gone viral:

The New York Times
The L.A. Times
The Guardian
Io9
GalleyCat
Publisher’s Weekly

And many others.  Another piece to add to the self-publishing puzzle.  Very happy to have helped get Tessa Dick this sort of attention.

About Henry Baum

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Author of three self-published novels and one traditionally published (Soft Skull Press, Canongate, and Hachette Littératures). Recipient of Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival, the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction, and the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize. He lives with his wife Cate Baum in Spain. He's the founder of SPR.

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